Thursday, August 29, 2013

Second Hand Goodies

For those of you that don't know me, I have four beautiful children. Actually, girls. I have four beautiful little girls. A 13 year old, a 6 year old, a 20 month old, and a 5 month old. These sweet blessings keep me on my toes but I think even more than that, they keep me on my knees.

Our family does not have the resources to purchase brand new clothing for each child, each season. Instead, we graciously accept hand me downs from friends and donations from grandparents, we shop second hand stores and swap clothing with friends & other family members, and then we search for those key items still needed to bring a wardrobe together. This year for example, Mary needs a good pair of black boots. She has a decent selection of warm clothing and nice pair of brown boots but no black. So I'll probably purchase them new and pass them down (if they make it through Mary) to the other girls. Mary rarely gets new clothes because she destroys everything. Before you go all feeling sorry for poor Mary, here are two recent clothing incidents.

Nice huh?

Taylor (13) is another story. We pretty much try to give her money or clothing for birthdays and Christmas because she prefers to try on her clothes and she's way too cool to let me shop for her. She pretty much buys all of her own clothes. I buy her under clothing and shoes but if she wants that cute shirt from Target she better break out her pocketbook.

Last week we stopped in at Mimi's Closet, our favorite local children's consignment shop and picked up a few needed fall and winter pieces. I also have my artwork from Journey's Creations displayed there so I use my credit from those sales for whatever we need. This trip was totally successful. I found everything here for under $50.
Gymboree Christmas outfit for Victoria (20 Months)
Old Navy snowman dress for Victoria
Pumpkin outfit for Victoria to wear on our field trip to the pumpkin patch this year
Play clothes for Mary (6)
Super cute Thanksgiving outfit for Mary (notice the Gymboree tags still on the jeans)
I love the turkey shirt!
And a few random play clothes from the 50 cent rack and some tennis shoes

I hope everyone is having a great week!


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Schedule Break Down

So I posted our wonderful Homeschool schedule already but now I feel like I need to explain it. I'll try to break down each section with a few more details.
Breakfast & Chores: I hope to have the kids chore charts posted soon but I don't even have them typed right now. Basically, I wake up between 4:30 and 5:30 to pump and feed the baby. After my husband leaves for work around 6:00 I work on my art, enjoy my coffee, watch the news for a bit, prepare school work, start laundry, work on any chores I'm behind on (usually laundry), and start breakfast.
I don't wake my kids up. I just let them sleep until they're ready to get up on their own. Now and then I do wake up my 13 year old if the babies are tag teaming me and I need to do something important (like shower or use the bathroom, haha). Then I'll take one baby with me and bring the other one to her.
When the kids wake up, they usually play for a little while and start chores while I finish breakfast. We all eat together and I try to explain our plans for the day so they're not wondering around confused about everything.
Then they get dressed and finish chores.
10:00 Circle Time: Circle time is about the only time on the schedule that we try our very best to keep. I'll holler how much time is left before circle time a few times every morning so they can speed up their chores if needed.
We meet at 10:00 on the rug in the play/school room. We start with a prayer together, asking God to help us accomplish our tasks with joyful hearts and to guide us throughout the day. This is also when we name the sick, pray for the lost, and ask God to bring Daddy home safely each day.
After that, each day varies. We do mystery riddles like, "I am white and I fall in the winter. What am I? Snow" or one from yesterday was "I fly, but I do not carry people. I hunt at night. What am I? An owl." Mary actually got that one. She gets almost as many as Taylor. We also do a Character story from a favorite book of mine and read scripture.
10:30 Handwriting and Language Arts: Time varies but we always start with these after circle time, except on Kitchen Day.
Lunch: We always eat lunch together, even if we don't eat the same lunch, we still sit down together and eat. The girls clean up after themselves and I clean up the kitchen.
After lunch I put Victoria (1) down for her nap. I usually rock her to sleep. I have busy work I some times give to Mary (6) to do while I'm getting Victoria down.

This is my new favorite busy work. I bought this big activity pad at Michael's a few weeks ago and it has 50 pages of seasonal activities. Mary had so much fun working on it yesterday. I'd say it's good for grades K-2nd. It's always good to have something the little ones can do on their own. 

Then we do math. If the day is crazy or Mary isn't feeling like it, we may skip math. If we skip it we'll either do it later or catch up the next day. Some times math can be flash cards or a math activity that isn't actually in her book. She doesn't really like math very much so I don't stress her out about it.
Science and Social Studies: We are totally laid back about these two subjects. I try to work them in at least twice a week and they usually involve me reading something while Mary draws a picture of it, labels it, and colors it. Sometimes it's a movie or experiment. It all just depends on how the day has went so far and how long the babies sleep. It's better to do activities if the babies are awake because if I'm trying to read her a lesson or have her listen to a movie, she can't concentrate with all the noise.
Story time can be a library book or something from our book collection.
Free time & art are pretty self explanatory and times vary as well as activities. Today the girls painted wooden butterfly magnets and decorated them.
3:30 Clean up: By this time every day the house is in complete disorder. I know a few paragraphs ago I talked about chores and cleaning up but non of that matters. Kids still manage to destroy any and all progress we've made throughout the day. This is supposed to be a quick but thorough whole house cleaning before Daddy gets home. Some times it's just 30 minutes of me saying "Come one everyone should be cleaning" and "Get off the floor and help clean" and so on.
Dinner Prep: Me and the kids preparing dinner, the dinner table, and juggling babies.
Dinner: At last we all sit together and enjoy some together time. Victoria usually screams through the whole thing and afterwards Daddy reads scripture and we talk about what he read.
That's it! After dinner is play time and evening chores. If the evening chores get done well, then morning chores are a breeze.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Our Family's Daily/Weekly Plan

Today was our first official full day of the school year. I thought I was ready, but when you have two little ones under two, I don't think you can really be "ready" for anything. But somehow we finished our work and we all survived, barely.
Reflecting on what went right and what went terribly wrong, I can now see that it probably went better than it felt like it did. I was stressed at first but it all worked out over the course of the day. It does help to have a plan to follow but I can't expect to follow the schedule, to the minute, 5 days a week. There is no way! So maybe we should call this a guideline for a schedule. But whatever we call it, it works pretty well for us. We've been following this plan for a while now but I only put it on paper today. Instead of trying to figure out what I should do, I decided to use what we already do. This is about the only way to fit it all in. Notice Mom is not on the plan? That's because I'm bouncing around from kid to kid meeting their needs, answering questions, checking chores, pumping milk, rocking & feeding babies, and cooking, cleaning & organizing where ever I can find time.
Day one is over. The house is still pretty messy and my husband saved me by bringing home pizza. Then after dinner and Bible time he took the three big kids and went for our CSA box and milk.
My plan probably won't work for every family but maybe it will help just one.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Kitchen Scraps

Something new we've been working on this summer is saving our kitchen scraps for the compost pile and the chickens. We've not yet successfully made compost but a few years ago we made a compost bin and this year we're actually filling it up. To help prevent me and everyone else from being lazy and throwing away the scraps I placed two buckets on the kitchen counter next to the sink. One labeled for the chickens and one for the compost pile.

It really helps to have something with a lid so the kitchen doesn't stink. Well sometimes it stinks anyway but it's not from the scraps :)
So then there was the problem of what scraps to put in each bucket. So I printed this handy little picture from Healthy Homemakers that someone posted on Facebook and hung it over the sink. It lists what to compost, what not to compost, and how to compost.
I hope to find something similar to print that lists favorite chicken scraps. For now I'm just winging it and giving the chickens everything that's still good. I do have a website I reference to on my phone if something is questionable.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Kitchen Day Plus Some Laundry

I like the idea of having specific days for specific chores. I first heard of this in the book Large Family Logistics. It's a great way to stay focused on whatever it is that you're trying to accomplish for that day. It also helps you to not neglect the same area or the same chores for weeks.
Yesterday was Tuesday which is kitchen day. On kitchen day we do a number of things like bake bread, freeze smoothies, freeze beans, soak nuts, make muffins, and lots of other things that dirty up the kitchen. We also work on chores in the kitchen like cleaning out and reorganizing.
Unfortunately we never finished laundry day on Monday. So Tuesday was pretty busy! I try to not get discouraged about cleaning when I fall behind on my chores. We did a lot of extra work on Monday because we cleaned out the winter bins and took 8 trash bags of unneeded clothing to the Hope Center for donation and some things to Mimi's Closet for consignment. That took up more time than I had expected. But our storage closet is well on its way to being decluttered and organized because of it. To be honest, I still have two loads of laundry left to finish today (Wednesday).


Here's our leftover laundry mess. The bedroom is anything but relaxing and the laundry room is anything but organized. But I got up, started my bread and rolls (yes that's them on the dryer rising) and got to work. I worked my butt off and still didn't finish, but we made progress. That's what life's all about, right? Progress! We get a little better with each day. A little smarter each year and eventually we become a little more like the person we want to be.
I still managed to have dinner ready to go in the oven before I left to pick up my csa box and milk. So when Curtis came home, all he had to do was turn the oven on. Some extra planning made the night a little smoother.
Food and clothing, food and clothing. That's what mom's do. This morning we're waking up to a little more food in the house, a little more food prepared for the week, and a little more clean clothes to dirty.

Favorite Kindergarten Material

This book can be used over and over again. I can't say enough wonderful things about it. Even moms need character building and nothing teaches godly virtues better than teaching godly virtues.
Here's the description from Christian
Give your children the basics of godly virtues
Your child will discover and learn the basic building blocks of Christ like character with this imaginative, storybook approach to the teaching of basic virtues. Here is an enjoyable, fresh way for parents to teach children the vital character traits taught in the Bible. Designed especially for young children, A Child's Book of Character Building is unique in its approach.
Each virtue is introduced by a definition and Scripture verse, and then it is reinforced by stories about the virtue in the Bible, at home, at school and at play. Older children can read the book alone, but parents and teacher sill enjoy reading the book to their youngsters and helping them apply it to their lives. Book One includes:
  • Attentiveness
  • Obedience
  • Faith
  • Wisdom
  • Creativity
  • Tenderheartedness
  • Diligence
  • Thankfulness
  • Patience
  • Honesty
  • Contentment
  • Joy

 Love this fun, easy hands on science book. Perfect for beginning learners. Starts out simple and you can pick and choose what to teach. It contains about 50 projects you can do with materials found around the house and introduces your child to basic scientific knowledge.
We didn't actually use this for math but I will with my next two girls. We already had something similar and it worked fine but ideally this is what I would have bought if I had anything extra in my budget.

 Here's a description from Christian

No more hours of boring, endless repetition - your kids will actually thank you for this interactive math curriculum! Each level has two student workbooks, but the teacher handbook is the main component of the program. All instruction is provided through one-on-one teacher instruction, which is the biggest difference between Horizons and the self-guided Lifepacs.
Another big focus in Horizons is hands-on learning using a variety of manipulatives, which can mostly be found around the house: pencils, pipe cleaners, play or real money, thread, a timer, clock, yardstick, etc.
Novice home-educators should not be intimidated by the amount of teacher involvement as it is carefully layed out in the beginning of each year's teacher handbook. The teacher handbook also provides a variety of teaching suggestions and supplemental activities for additional practice.
The concepts covered in Horizons K include:
  • Counting 1-100
  • Number Recognition
  • Number Writing
  • Number Value
  • Number Before, After, and Between
  • Place Value
  • Addition and Subtraction
  • Money
  • Time
  • Calendar
  • Number Theory
  • Colors
  • Shapes
  • Size
  • Comparisons
  • Direction and Position
  • Coordination

Again, we didn't use this for Kindergarten but I ordered it for first grade and received it in the mail yesterday and it's awesome!! It was recommended by a friend who loved it.
  • Introduces students to the basic strokes used to form all the manuscript alphabet  
  • letters and numerals.
  • Provides meaningful practice, application, and easy step-by-step instruction.
  • Engages students with colorful, fun activities.
  • Includes letter cards and two sets of punch-out manipulatives to reinforce letter learning and the basic lines and strokes used to form letters and numerals.

  • Language

    Here's the website description from Christian Light.


    We plan to offer this black and white preliminary edition of Kindergarten II for several years while we refine the materials and add color to the booklets.
    Kindergarten II has five LittleLight Workbooks. They prepare students to use CLE’s Learning to Read program. They introduce the concepts of matching, dot-to-dot, color names, sounds, letter writing, recognizing and writing numbers 1-100, and more.
    The five LittleLight Activity Books are also included in the Kindergarten II course. They provide fun activities such as coloring, cutting and pasting, identifying, and more.
    The Teacher’s Guide includes answer keys that are reproductions of the student booklets. It also includes instructions needed to teach the course.