Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bye bye baby

Today I had a small garage sale. Most of it is gone, but I had a few remnants of babyhood left in my basement. A bouncy seat, a boppy, a few bins of clothes, and some blankets were left. It was long time coming. These were the bits I had held on to "just in case".  Although I "feel done" there is that little piece of me that holds the hopes or memories of the sweet smell of newborn. A dear friend came over this afternoon with her sweet baby boy. I went down to the basement and pulled out a bag I'd secretly been hiding away. You mommas know that bag. The one with the favorite outfits from your babes. The ones that kept making the cut every time you sorted out each size. This bag had so many memories. I pulled each outfit out to give to my sweet friend. Each one that my babies wore when they were so small.  So perfect. Oh gracious, I can almost smell that baby head smell.

My boys now are so big. I realize it will only get worse. Soon I will look up to them. Tonight they all came down in their footie pajamas. Oh how I love those footie PJs. Since it is feeling more and more like fall around here I made an apple pie for dessert. So they each got a slice of pie and were allowed to stay up late to watch a little bit of football.

It was the strangest thing to watch these little boys shouting at the TV like grown men yet wearing footie pajamas. They are getting big. I have rid the house of all "baby stuff". We are moving into a world of sports and video games. We are moving out of a stage that seemed like it would never end. The diaper bags are a thing of the past. My trunk doesn't have a stroller in it. We don't have a highchair in our dining room. My living room doesn't have a bouncy seat, swing, or exersaucer. Those days were long. The feeding, the changing, the crying, seemed endless. But the weeks were fast. the months flew by, and now the years seem like only moments ago.

This new stage is a whole new kind of hard. There is scheduling, schooling, playing referee, and managing of chores. But I am seeing these awesome little people emerging out of those sweet little babies. I'm seeing future men who will change the world. I get a glimpse of those nerve wracking teenage years coming sooner than I'd like. I love the conversations I am having with these rough and tumble football loving boys. I love seeing their brains working as they are learning like crazy. I'm so blessed to be their mama. Even though saying good bye to the baby is a little sad. It is so exciting to see who these precious kiddos are going to be.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Another year

Well, I have not been blogging much lately. With moving and working and generally running a house with four kids my computer time has been limited. However, we are back in the swing of school now. I think that means my computer time will probably be even more limited. I wanted to just do a quick update to what we are up to this school year.

First off this is our school room:

 I'm going to do my best to keep my desk this clean or cleaner this year. On the side wall is our command center. I love it! There is a place for most of my papers.
 When I start going through all of our books and supplies I realize we have SO MUCH STUFF! I guess when you need workbooks, teacher guides and supplies for four kiddos it adds up. I love IKEA as you can see. The shelving units make me giddy.
 This is our circle time corner. I plan to change out the artwork every few weeks to keep the kids paying attention. Our library book basket is one of the kids' favorite spots.
This is my version of the command center. I saw a few other ideas online. This has a lot of our school goodies, but the biggest thing it does is keep all this off my desk. We have our straws to count days of school, our incentive systems (points for work, coins for behavior), bills, note cards, supplies, grading folders, and more. I think it is going to be a great organization help this year.

The name of the game this year is keeping it simple. We are trimming down a lot of extra workbooks and focusing on hands on activities that cover multiple subjects at once in a way that is engaging and enjoyable to the kids. Our curriculum choices for this year include:

Reading: lots of library books, K12 literature, Honey for a child's heart, teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons
Writing- Handwriting without tears cursive, confessions of a homeschooler's ABC tracers
Math- Math U See (so far the kids are loving this)
History- Story of the world
Science- Apologia Botany
Bible- Who is God, Long Story Short


This year on the biggest two boys will be going to a local hybrid school once a week. They are so excited to do art and drama, as well as recess and lunch. I'm excited for a few hours with only my littles each week.
  We will be doing Tuesday school again this year with my babies. Amelia is so excited to be a big girl and go to school. That will start soon, and I'm excited for two mornings a week with only two kiddos. It's like Christmas!

With the start of school also comes the start of soccer. This season we are involved with three different leagues if you count hubby dearest. We have a homeschool league, City rec for the bigs, and an adult rec league for the hubby. This means a lot of running five days a week. Through soccer season my menu plan is going to be very simple:

Monday- Meat and potatoes
Tuesday- Taco Tuesday (or other Mexican)
Wednesday- House Church
Thursday- Soup and salad
Friday- Brinner or pizza
Saturday- Crock pot
Sunday- Pasta

There is flexibility, but having the backbone makes for easy planning and shopping. I like keeping it simple.

So, there it is a quick peek at our beginning of the year. I'm hopeful that this will be our best year so far. We are getting in the grove of school slowly but surely. I'm so thankful I get the opportunity to stay home and teach my crew. What an awesome blessing to be with them and get to teach them.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Jesus Paid it All

Tonight as I was putting little Miss to bed I was cuddling and singing to her. We sing most nights before bed. I sing to the boys, too. Tonight I was singing "Jesus Paid it All". The boys heard it and came running in to join. Before I knew it I had three little boys with arms around each, other swaying back and forth, singing at the top of their lungs to their sister.  I love this! I love hearing my kids singing about Jesus to each other. I love watching the boys love on their sister. I just love these sweet moments.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Why I homeschool

It's almost rest time! That glorious part of the day where I eat without anyone asking to have some. I can watch a show while folding laundry without anyone talking over the characters. No one is fighting (well most of the time). No one is crying. I can do some house work, pay bills, prep dinner. Ah, freedom for about an hour.

While I do love rest time (please show me a mother that doesn't) I truly love having my kids around me. Two of my boys are old enough to be in school. My younger two could be in preschool. I could have much more freedom. My house could be cleaner, my dinners could be more elaborate, and my life could be much more organized. I could meet with girlfriends for coffee, have a quiet time with Jesus by myself, or I could even work part time and provide extra income for my growing family.

Instead, we choose to homeschool. I have learned to live with a picked up house that is not immaculate.  I have learned to freezer cook and menu plan so we can get dinner on the table in between lessons and play breaks. I have learned to be creative in our finances to accommodate a larger family in a single income home. In a world where two kids and two jobs makes sense we have stepped out of "the norm". And I love it.

This is our third year technically home schooling. My oldest is in second grade. I have one in Kindergarten and two in preschool . Already I am asked frequently when we will send them to school. At some point they will want to be around other kids, play sports, need a teacher, etc. Oh the joy of the defense.

I always say the same thing. "We take it year by year and kid by kid. So far this is working best for us all so we will stick with it as long as it is working." I try not to go into too much detail with everyone, but I really love teaching my kids. I love being with them. They are actually pretty cool little people. I love watching it all "click". I want to be the one to deal with the melt downs, temper tantrums, and hurt feelings. It isn't always fun, but it's always worth it. So, I want to share a few reasons why we homeschool.

1. I like to teach. 
Ok, so first you should know I have always wanted to teach. When I was a kid my poor sister was subjected to playing school most days. I would teach her everything I learned in school. I loved it. She not so much, but we aren't talking about her. I used my allowance to buy old text books at garage sales. I researched learning styles, birth order, and curriculum in my free time in high school. I've always wanted to teach. It was my major in college. It was a no brainer. I didn't want to waste all that energy so I'm taking it out on my poor children. :)  I love picking curriculum. I love reading aloud to my kids. I'm a nut for children's literature. I just have a passion for it. It was always plan A. Mostly because I wanted to do it.

2. I like to learn
I love learning with my kids. A lot of what we are covering is not new, but I sure didn't remember it all. I love exploring museums, going on field trips, doing experiments right along side them. Bonus is that I know what they are learning. We review at dinner. We talk about it in the car. They tell me their ideas on the subjects we are studying. It's great! It's messy, time consuming, and difficult, but great.

3. I get to teach my kids what I want
I love curriculum. I am slightly obsessed. I enjoy choosing the way that each of my children get to learn a subject. We as a family enjoy incorporating what we are learning into our day to day life. We especially love incorporating our beliefs into our education. They are connected. If we are going to study history let's study Biblical history. It is all important information. If we are studying earth  science let's study who made the earth, and how awesome He is evidenced through His creation. Handwriting is going to happen we may as well use it to teach memory verses. My kids love that it all connects. No need to compartmentalize Christianity. The Gospel is more than just Sunday school and AWANA. It is at the core of our very being. Shouldn't we teach it as such.

4. I have boys
I decided before I even had kids (or a husband) that I wanted to homeschool. Then I had little boys. These crazy little bundles of energy see a desk as jail. We do math fact jumping jacks, we reenact battles with action figures, we do science experiments that are edible or blow up. We live school we don't go to school. We do nature walks at the park. We go to museums, zoos, and art galleries. We listen to audio books on our way to the grocery store where my kids do math to calculate our cost. They help me read recipes. We play games that challenge their minds. They read...all the time. They know us well at the library. My big boys are at least one grade level ahead in most subjects and a little further in others. They are thriving academically, emotionally, and spiritually. I don't think they would be doing as well in a mainstream school environment.

5. I love the freedom
We wake up some days at 8 am. The kids all pile into my bed. We cuddle, wrestle, giggle, and enjoy time together. We do chores and get dressed, have breakfast, play, and relax before we start school. We go on vacation when we want. We are not restricted to a school schedule. We aren't bogged down by homework in the evenings. We get to enjoy time as a family. We are already plenty busy as is. I cannot imagine attempting to get every one up and out the door early. Then there is pick up, homework, extra curricular activities, etc. We already have house church, sports, co-op, Awana, Church weekend services, friends over, family outings, errands. Who has time for school!

6. It makes us closer
Believe it or not we really like being together. My soon to be eight year old still hugs me in public. My kids are each others best friends. They have other great friends, but they genuinely like each other and enjoy playing together. Not to say they don't fight some times, but they are close. I think a part of that is that they are not only siblings but peers. I love seeing them love on each other.


I could keep going, but I will spare you much more of my novel. There are so many benefits to our family. I am so thankful for the opportunity to teach and train my children the way I feel is best for them. It is such a blessing.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Dancing

video
So it has been cold around these parts. We have been a little cooped up. So we dance. A lot. I thought I'd share a few clips from one of our parties. Baby girl is doing most of the dancing at this point, but the DJ does a solo at the end of the video. Enjoy!

Little man

My little man is growing up. His sweet cuddles are getting a little harder to come by. Except at night. At bedtime he still wants to cuddle with mommy. I am fully aware that this is a stall tactic, but I don't care. He wants to snuggle and pray. How do I turn that down, seriously.

Last night he asked me to cuddle. I snuggled up with him under his covers. He still smelled like syrup from our breakfast for dinner. He smiled because he was pleased to have won mommy's full attention. Then he asked to pray.

"Dear God,
Thank you for this good day. Thank you for making me healthy. Thank you for all the people in the whole world who are healthy. Thank you for my good dinner (licks lips). Yum! Thank you for my good mommy and daddy. Thank you for my brothers and my sister and my house. And please let us go to Disney when we get lots of money. Amen."

Oh, the cuteness of his sweet prayer. I love when he prays. It reminds me to be thankful for all the small stuff that's really big. All the stuff that I just take for granted. I have four healthy kids. They have such a good daddy who loves me and takes wonderful care of us. We have plenty to eat. A safe warm home. All huge blessings I don't want to forget about. So, I'm so thankful my little man reminds me with each sweet prayer and sticky syrup face.

(this was a day he snuck in to the pack in play during naptime.)