Thursday, August 14, 2014

Reading out loud....getting it done

Have you ever looked at your school schedule and wondered how on earth you were going to get all that reading done? Maybe the books are too advanced for the child to read on their own or maybe you are moving your kids through the subject together so need to read it aloud as a group.
This year I will have 2-7th graders, a 6th, 4th, 2nd and Kindergartner plus a 3 year old and toddler. I've used the free online curriculum Ambleside Online since the beginning but have decided this year for the sake of simplicity to combine everyone to the same History rotation and use TruthQuest History guides.
These changes will require that I gather all of the 6 older children together in one place and have their relative rapt attention while reading our chapter or book in history.
The problems that I have experienced in trying to get this done have been as follows: morning - toddler distracting, best time to do the 3 r's; afternoon - little ones need naps, chores need doing, mom can't stay awake to read for more than about 10 minutes! evening - supper to clean up and frankly with hubby working 2 jobs I am e.x.h.a.u.s.t.e.d........
So finally after much prayer and much trial and error we have finally hit on a method that works.......for now.

Insert: Mealtimes
Now the caveat to this method is that my dear husband is not able to join us for breakfast or lunch M-S and at least 2 nights a week is at his night job and not able to be with us for supper. Which means that our mealtimes can be utilized for our read alouds.
Food=quiet children
Not only are my kids occupied with eating, my toddler is lovingly strapped into his booster seat happily munching away. This means that we can spend part of our mealtime in reading. Mornings and Lunches we often read poetry and have our bible time and in the evening we can read our history books.
Problem solved.......for now.

If you've ever had the problem of your wall maps falling off of your walls then you need to try these. I have both the world and U.S.A maps posted on our dining room walls. Works great for times like tonight at supper when we were reading about the revolutionary war and could point to the map and find the places we have been reading.

Big, Scary Wilderness

Today we celebrated Not-Back-to-School.

I told my kids we would be traveling a few miles to the local arboretum and doing some hiking and after 2 hours of prep and packing and some mild attitude issues we were finally ready for our adventure.
I've been impressed lately for the need for us as a family to leave our comfort zones more often and do this thing called "travel". Some find this venture to be delightful but I personally would just rather stay home in my cluttered but familiar surroundings. So today we "traveled" a whole 20 minutes from our doorstop to the virtual wilderness of several acres filled with trees and wildlife but no people or comfort. Upon arrival we drove through the park and cased out a good picnic spot while I pointed out the nature trails we would be hiking later. I judiciously cautioned the kids to make sure they put on bug spray before hiking and to watch out for poison ivy.

That's when the most surprising thing happened.

My 5 year old daughter cried upon leaving the van because she was afraid of the grass. My 7 & 9 year old boys cautiously cased out the trees and grass before settling on a suitable tree to climb and my 3 year old son promptly unloaded his personally packed trike from the back of the van to ride.

So why was this all surprising?

Because these are the same children who are used to playing for hours in our yard. These are the children who are frequently covered in mud, water and various other means of filth on a regular basis. These are the same children who capture and proudly display icky little critters in glass jars.
Somehow I have had this notion that sending my children out of doors at home was enough to make them comfortable in the big wide wild world. I assumed assigning them to pick off potato bugs and harlequin beetles from garden plants would harden them to the unknown discoveries of hiking.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

We managed to "hike" a full 3/4 mile on 2 different trails. Most of our time was spent in waiting for the path to be cleared by the leading child from spiders and their webs. The most often repeated phrase was "I'm scared" used upon seeing greenbrier, mole holes, webs, tall grass, rickety bridges and mossy branches.

Somehow we survived.

My grand ideas of collecting nature objects to inspire nature journaling have been slightly dampened on seeing the need for my children to become comfortable in the wildness of being out of doors. I don't know if my children "learned" anything but I their mother did. There is a big difference between exploring your citified yard close to an air-conditioned house and working bathrooms and spending time in a primitive slightly wild adventure. It's not just about becoming familiar with the names and appearance of the natural world its about having the courage to explore and not being afraid to experience the consequences from that courage.

So I wonder who got too close to the poison ivy?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

When your baby has a cold

On Tuesday morning my little guy (5 month old) woke up with a stuffy nose and a cough.
Yes, this cold has been going through our house so I wasn't surprised. But being that we have no insurance and that I have a strong dislike toward medication I do my best to never let any cold or cough get out of control.

First things first. If you are breastfeeding your baby then do your best to double up or add extra feedings while they are sick. Never let your infant get dehydrated.
For me this was easy this time, Samuel is a big nurser anyway and thankfully his nose never got so plugged up that he couldn't nurse. In fact most nights he spent in bed nursing:)

Make sure you have everything you need on hand to fight the cold.

  • vaporizer (cold mist preferred although all I have are the cheapest warm mist available)
  • nose sucker (exactly like the ones they use at birth in the hospitals)

I have an old jar of vicks baby rub on hand that is probably 3 years old but works well to help clear out the nasal passages without the cool sensations of regular vicks rub. My personal favorite is Winter Breeze Vapor Rub or a blend of rosemary, lavender and eucalyptus essential oils diluted in olive or coconut oil.
As always do your own research into the essential oils to make sure that your baby won't react although I personally have never had an issue.

I also found it helpful this time, both for my back (nursing in bed and my back don't get along) and for his nose, to warm up my buckwheat hull neck pillow and then add a few drops of rosemary essential oil to the ends and drape it around my neck while nursing. 

One more helpful hint. When using the nasal aspirator it is sometimes helpful to drop a couple drops of a saline solution into each nostril prior to sucking. This helps to loosen up the mucous making it easier to remove. If you don't have saline solution on hand you can also squirt a bit of breast milk into the nostrils with the same effects:)

Hope this helps you weather the cold months ahead! 
Feel free to share any tips that you have found helpful.

And don't forget that keeping your little one healthy often means we as mommies will lose sleep so take naps when you can and drink plenty of water. 
Nothing worse that a sick baby AND a sick mommy.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bad Days

Today was tough.

I don't like to admit it often but being a mom is just plain hard work and some days I'd just rather not.

God is working though, to teach me obedience on bad days. Days where I'm frustrated and discouraged and where the enemy (Satan) is seeking to destroy me.

I sat back at the end of today and realized that instead of giving in to my bad feelings and taking my anger out on other (my kids). Somehow (by God's grace), I don't think my children even knew that I was having a "bad day". We read books, played games, went swimming, ate cookie dough, had pizza, didn't do chores and I didn't "lose" it all over any of them.

It made me stop and think...and then God stuck this post-it note in my brain.

Can you have a "bad day" and keep it a secret from your family? Do your children and husband really need to know that it's been a tough day? Can I take my pity party and lay it at my Father's feet and be content not to let anyone else know?

 "Be confident of this very thing, 
that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ,..." 
Philippians 1:6

Friday, December 10, 2010

Handmaking Christmas

With the emergence of Dollar stores in the past few years it is very tempting to load up on a bunch of cheapo toys and gadgets to give for niece and nephew gifts but something in me fights against doing that. So I'm going to pull out my long dormant crafty side and whip out some super cute gifts. I also wanted an excuse to buy fabric so that my kids will have some on hand to mess around with.

Here's what I will be working on:

I also have been throwing around different ideas for my sister and sister-in-laws but have settled on this super easy and cheap gift.
P.S. if you fall in the above category don't look at this link:)

And if I'm a good homeschooling mom!?! I will have my kids join me for some easy sewing lessons:)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Weekly Wrap-up: The Outdoors Version

On the 1st day of Spring it snowed......
On the last week of March it was summer.....

Not sure what happened to Spring but maybe we'll see it yet.

The temps read in the low 80's most of this week so we did light schooling in order to enjoy some extra outdoor free time. You never know how long it will last so I like to take advantage of the sun and warmth when able.

We are winding down our 2nd term of our school schedule and will be missing our beloved Little Duke but I'm excited to begin reading the Merry Adventures of Robin Hood!
In our History book "Our Island Story" we have been reading about the battles in the Hundred Year's War, this is written from a British perspective so Ali and Tom have been cheering on the English army in the battles with the French. I will be interested to see how they will react when in term 3 we will be a French perspective through Joan of Arc's eyes.

We are still focusing on Living Math through books I've snagged at our Library.
Our favorite this last week being "Math for All Seasons". Ali and Tom had already looked through it but we had a good time solving the riddles and looking for faster ways to figure the problems out.

We also picked up some math drills again this week and continue doing mental math informally. Next term I will use Ray's arithmetic more fully and we will add Miquon Math back into our routines.

Wes wanted to do his school so we pulled out the Cuisenaire Alphabet book for him to try. He is a hand-on learner and really enjoyed working these pages.

Pleased with his work on the "A" page.

Our Cecropia Cocoon in a jar....waiting to see if it will transform into the moth.

To close out our week we had a Fool's Day meal. All enjoyed the time and it will be a tradition to carry on for many years to come.

Menu Plan Monday - April 5th

Even though I skipped posting my menus last week I did continue to cook from my menu list.
I apparently hate to be tied to a strict schedule and ten to swap around the whole 2 weeks of menus to suit my time and taste needs but it is still working.

I have noticed now that I have been menuing for a month here that I have more food on hand than I would if I just winged each meal and shopping trip. I've also taken more time to prepare foods ahead so my freezer keeps fuller as well.

I've been setting Tuesday's aside as Kitchen Days and work on baking, cooking and cleaning for as much of the day as I can. By doing this I have been able to make and freeze: mega muffin mix x5, cooked hamburger x6, burritos x12, runzas x20, cooked beans x10 cups and cooked chicken and chicken broth. This has made prep for meals and afternoon snacks much easier.

Tomorrow I will be making and freezing: meatballs, cooked chicken and broth, brown-bag burritos and more mega muffin mix.

On to the Menu Plan for this week!
I keep my menu list in a clear vinyl cover sticky-tacked to my fridge.

same old, same old
Oatmeal - cooked, baked, boiled and's cheap and nutritious so it's a big staple for us:)
Rice pudding
Eggs and Toast

Beef & Cabbage Soup
Homemade Mac and Cheese
Brown Bag Burritos
Spaghetti & Meatballs
Scalloped Potatoes

(I add veggies and fruits to each meal just depends on what is in the freezer or fridge. We usually have at least 1-2 sandwich meals each week as well.)

Spanish Rice
Chili & Cornbread
Ranch House Chicken Casserole
Meatball Chowder

Hmmmmm, I need some more recipes here but what is on my list won't work because I ran out of cheddar cheese again and I am low on rice until I order it from my food co-op. I've got lots of chicken but need to do a refresh on my menus since it's getting warmer here and I don't like to cook many soups or casseroles in the spring and summer.
I'll probably work on supper meal ideas tomorrow during Kitchen Day.

If you are hitting a wall with recipe ideas I'd encourage you to check out books that your library has. I recently did this and came away with a great Amish cookbook as well as some "old" favorite type recipes. I find it helps to peruse a cookbook as opposed to a recipe website. If you are on a budget then I would recommend staying away from any recipe book that calls for odd or rarely used ingredients

Happy Cooking!

As always go Here to find tons more ideas and recipes.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook - March 23rd


Outside my's dark. Sun has set, kids and hubby are peacefully sleeping. I think the wind has died down a bit after a breezy but nice and sunny day.

I am thinking...that I should be in bed. I have been edgy this evening simply from tiredness and clingy babyness. Lord willing I will sleep better tonight but I should have turned in an hour ago.....slow learner.

I am thankful for...the days end, lol. Food on the table, husband's job, healthy children. There is much to be thankful for in my life.

From the learning rooms...scattered right now. Keeping it going but trying to get better organized. I should have waited to start using a work box/file method until after the term ends.

From the kitchen...had a profitable day. Made 5 double batches of Many Muffins Mix, cleaned the chest freezer, made a batch of Artisan Bread and mostly kept up with the dishes thanks to my hard-working children.

I am pants, blue shirt, shoes on sore feet.

I am creating...a ChorePack system.

I am town tomorrow, maybe. Hopefully it won't rain and we will be able to meet another family at the park to play!

I am reading...various articles, nothing much specific at this time just snatches here and there.

I am hoping...for clear weather tomorrow.

I am hubby snoring on the couch. Poor man is waiting up for me.

Around the house...we have hermit crabs from Louisiana thanks to a neighbor boy but I don't think they are going to make. There hasn't been any movement for a looooong time so they are probably dead. Only 1 moved since bringing them home and we simply are not prepared to keep and care for them at this time, but it's been neat for the kids to get a hands on lesson with them since we've been reading about hermit crabs in our Natural History lessons.

One of my favorite things...kisses from my kids. Ali likes to kiss lips for bedtime, Emi isn't much of a kisser, Tom gives sloppy kisses, Wes kisses cheeks, Will gives silly kisses and Sadie is still learning:) So sweet. Must collect more before they're gone.

A few plans for the rest of the week: more cleaning , more organizing. Taxes are at the CPA's so that's a load off and we should get them filed this week.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...
 from an adorable coffee shop that I wish was closer to me

Menu Plan for this 4th week of March

I'm really liking the general menu plan that I've made and have found it very easy to switch around the order as needed to help and not hinder my days.

I hang my menu list on my fridge so that it is always visible and I am working on getting myself into the routine of preparing my supper meal right after lunch or right along with preparing lunch.
I do need to start getting more detailed with my side dishes so will be trying to add that to this next set of menus.

Last time I went shopping I forgot to list exactly how many blocks of cheese I needed to buy to prepare the listed dishes so I did run out early but have been able to make needed adjustments without too much trouble.

  • 7-grain Cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Rice Pudding
  • Scrambled Eggs
  • Blueberry/Raisin Biscuits
  • Baked Oatmeal

  • Fried Rice
  • PB & J
  • Goulash
  • Potato Soup
  • Runzas

  • Honey Ginger Stir-Fry
  • Baked Beans 
  • Crockpot Hamburger Veggie Soup
  • Crock Cabbage Rolls
  • Chicken Lasagna
  • Crockpot Spanish Rice
  • Homemade Pizza

You will probably find repeats from last week here but that is simply because I didn't make it last week and swapped some meals around :)

I like the flexibility that this open-ended menu gives me. I have a tendency to get locked into a calendar menu and feel like I can't possibly prepare the Wednesday meal on Monday or I'm simply doing it all wrong......neurotic, I know.

Make sure to check out more menus and recipes at Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Mondays.

Priorites of a Home School

I have just finished reading a delightful and insightful article written by Charlotte Mason for the 3rd volume of The Parents' Review (1892-93) called "The Home School".

I am going to do my best to narrate back what I remember from my reading......and I'm seriously fighting the urge to grab the paper and re-read it (that would so be cheating!)

Miss Mason was writing for those parents that were homeschooling their children using the curriculum provided by her school. She felt that no parent should be ashamed or disappointed if their children were unable to attend a public or private school because she was convinced that on the whole the Home School was the best teaching and training ground for children provided the parents took a serious and active role in educating their children.

I was vastly encouraged when when she stated that it is nothing for a teacher to organize and teach a class of 20 or so children of the same age and grade but a much more difficult task to teach and organize a class of 3 children in 3 different grades.....Amen sister!

Miss Mason takes great pains to enumerate on the benefits of both education and experience for the teacher. She tells us that experience is not necessarily the best teacher in all matters because so often bad habits are trained through experience when this could have been avoided through better education.
She is quick to point out though that the experience of learning is quite a different thing and when one has a teachable spirit there are very few doors that aren't able to be opened.

Next she lays out the very basic priorities that should be included in every Home School.

Most importantly is the learning of the Bible. She places the importance of learning the stories from the bible for not only moral and language learning but mostly of spiritual training. The system used in her schools was for a short portion of the scriptures to be read and then to be narrated back word for word as possible by the student. She encourages the teacher or parent after the narration to feel free to ask a few questions if this will help the understanding of the student but to never consider the answers as narration. She also encourages the teacher to add any historical notes or insights that will be a help to the student.
She very specifically points out that there should be NO written narrations by children under the age of 10 siting that it is too easy for the child to put out poor work because they are not capably ready to write good composition before this time.
I was convicted by her statement that it is much easier for a teacher to set the student to write a narration because that then frees up her time for other things but that the more difficult task is for the teacher/parent to require a spoken narration from the student because it takes her time and attention.
(for a simple bible reading plan see my Scribd documents in the side bar)

Next in importance is the learning of History. She encourages the learning of Greek and Roman history and details some of the benefits of children learning from Plutarch's Lives.

She also encourages all teachers to put much effort into Natural History, not just in reading about areas of Natural History but to get in touch with Nature.
It is very important she says for children to keep tadpoles and caterpillars and other creatures to learn first hand about them. What is read in books should be a side benefit of learning Natural History not the whole of the education.

Physical Education and drills rank high in Miss Mason's list as well and she encourages teacher/parents to not just have their children go through the motions of the drills (Swedish) but to make sure that the children are using and training their muscles in the work.

Lastly, she encourages all parents to take the brave step into the world of foreign languages. I appreciate how she breaks down the learning to just 40 lines of a french tale for 1 term as a manageable amount. Miss Mason shows of the high esteem she has for children by affirming her belief that the students will surprise the teacher/parent by how much is learned and retained by consistent work in this area.

As a closing reminder Miss Mason clarifies that these schooling priorities should never consume a child's whole day. She reminds teacher/parents that 5 of the 13 waking hours of the child should be spent in free play and 3 of those say between the hours of 2 and 5 pm should be spent out-of-doors. Short lessons as always are an important essential and she places importance on not nagging or badgering or humiliating the student who does not complete the work set before them in the proper amount of time. There is nothing like personal experience for the child to learn to value time and do the work allotted for that specific time.

I hope you were encouraged and educated a little by my narration but I would highly recommened that you read the real article yourself.
You can find it here in the Parents' Review articles posted under Volume 3, title The Home School.

My Little Corner

A place to share home and school, children and family thoughts, ideas and inspirations.