Monday, July 30, 2018

A Surprise Back to School!

Well, a new school year is underway! We were not intending to start our school year until EPIC starts theirs in September, but with much prayer we felt very burdened to start as soon as I could pull it together.

We made the decision Tuesday, Wednesday I did my best to get everything out of the playroom, piled it unceremoniously on the microwave stand, threw together a quick Kindergarten corner, and Thursday we started. Half the pile is still on the microwave stand. We've only done two subjects per kid, because that's all I had ready. But that is ok with me! Because we didn't start school so suddenly because we wanted a jump start on academics, we did it because we had a little girl who couldn't even eat or sleep because of her anxiety. She was so worried about Kindergarten! But she has gotten steadily better since we started. She has eaten EIGHT meals in a row without serious problems. She has not woken up screaming one single time. She has still woken up, but without the terror and trauma and taking hours to get her soothed back to sleep - in fact, sometimes she is back asleep almost instantly. She has ended every day with the same clothes she started in, except when we played in the pool. And oh, she was able to play in the pool! She has not washed her hands any extra times AT ALL. Today, she has played with JAMES for hours on end, and when he didn’t take turns with the ball at first, she calmly asked him to please take turns, and kept on playing. It has been a miracle, and I am so very, incredibly thankful to have my baby back! Thank the Lord for His power and mercy! I feel like my heart is overflowing.

And now our usual back to school post! I can't believe I suddenly have a grown up little fourth grader, a rather enthusiastic second grader, and a sweet, fierce, and easily exhausted Kindergartner. And of course, a toddler who wants to do the exact same thing as everyone else at all cost :)

Cadence has apparently been planning for several weeks to pretend to GO to school, so the morning of she coaxed everyone into backpacks, then led them out the back door and in the front. The driveway was a busy, dangerous street they had to safely cross, before the door helper held the door open for everyone to be greeted by their teacher. ReC and Harmony were both melting on me by that point, so these are the only two pictures I got, but it was quite fun, and I think has the potential to be a nice little tradition.

We had to wait until later in the day to get pictures together because ReC needed us to move along and get started with actual school. God is helping Tony and I greatly through this, to grow in our ability to be flexible and deal with problems calmly as they arise.

On this first day she was still struggling considerably, so after we played in the pool her clothes didn't make it back on her for several hours because she was 'hot.' But she finished the day, and actually did better than I had hoped!

Our little Kindergarten Corner. The top shelf is her school stuff, the bottom has one bucket for resting and calming down, and one for playing. The 'rest' bucket has a jar of swirling glitter, a chew toy, and a photo album, and the 'play' bucket has whatever toy Harmony has grabbed from the cabinet for the day. The most important part of our corner so far has been the picture schedule along the side of the bulletin board. The older kids are invited to join us for calendar time and singing, but only if they are very, very quiet and still. Both of them opted in the first day, then decided it was really quite boring, and have chosen to get started on their Bible study for the day instead.

We are still really enjoying our whiteboard table with its shelves on the end. We start our morning here with a coloring page and Bible verse. Later in the year we will add in some daily map work. 

Anytime we have a new Kindergartner, we make it official by giving them their own mousepad, and go ahead and replace the other kids' old, worn out ones at the same time. They actually don't have much online work this year, but it's a nice little benchmark for them.

So there you go! We've started back to school nice in a hurry, but our daily pace has been slow and easy, and it has been quite enjoyable - exactly what we needed! Again, I am so grateful for God's guidance on this!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Happy 2nd Birthday Harmony!

We had an... interesting... day around here yesterday. But Harmony had a pretty good day anyway, especially the parts where she made us sing Happy Birthday twenty zillion times. And then insisted we sing it to ReC too. Because two year olds can do that. So here is how to have a happy 2nd birthday, by Harmony:

Make funny faces at breakfast. Be sure to eat your favorite foods. This step is crucial. 
Let your siblings teach you how to hold up two fingers. Proceed to spend the entire day screaming, "NO! I'M ONE!" and holding up one finger anytime someone comments on you being two now. 
Smash your sister. Take great delight in the process. 
Look cute. Don't smile when the camera is out. 
Be pretty anyway. And soft. And snuggly. 
Finally smile, but *shhh* only because Mommy poked you with a stick.
Refuse to come inside, so your whole family has to go on the front porch for gifts. 
Open gifts like a champ. Throw a ball at your brother repeatedly. 

Get all excited because your big sister drew your favorite thing ever - Pete's groovy buttons.
Stay clear of the four-year-old, who has had a rough day, but is now happily drawing a rainbow t-shirt design that she wants to sell in all sizes. 
Get a gorilla hug from your brother. 

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Homeschool Buyers Co-op Link

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I just discovered The Homeschool Buyer Co-op while I was searching for the cheapest place to buy the next level of Cadence's math curriculum. I compared with all the other places that sell the Math Mammoth product I was looking for, and it was the cheapest, with a 'points back' system for future purchases. They also have fun stuff like field trip reviews and online subscriptions. Check it out if you need to purchase something! Click here for more information.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Plant of Life According to Cadence (Epic of Gilgamesh)

Cadence's writing class is based on ancient history this year. James was thrilled when he found out she was supposed to retell part of the Epic of Gilgamesh. Apparently he has listened to the story on Story of the World, and it's one of his favorites. Go figure. So here is the part Cadence had to retell. I found it funny, so I thought I would share :) {Pardon the editing marks, she had to do that for her teacher for grading, and I'm too lazy to remove them ;)}

Gilgamesh, who was king of Urek for a long time, wished to discover how to live forever. He traveled through the mountains and desert till finally he discovered that the plant was in the  sea. He knew the Euphrates river would take him there so he plunged in. The current carried him swiftly until he saw the plant growing in the distance. The Seas smelled disgusting and the water tasted salty so he drifted by, and grabbed on to the plant and pulled extremely hard. It was covered in thorns and hurt his hands extremely badly. Finally it loosened and he swam up to the surface coughing and spluttering as he went. At the surface he looked at it. It was green slimy and covered with thorns. It looked disgusting.

On his way home Gilgamesh, whose hands stung, decided to bathe in a small pond,  so he stuck the plant under a smooth rock. Suddenly a sly serpent crawled sneakily over to the plant. Gilgamesh watched allit helplessly as the snake reached and ate his treasure. To his amazement the snake shed its ugly old scales and shiny new ones immediately appeared. Gilgamesh yelled into the sky in despair but there was nothing he could do. He felt terrible . His plant was gone forever. Glaring back at the water he murmured “snakes, those corrupt (voc) creatures”.

Gilgamesh, who was very sad, stood there crying bitterly when a voice called to him. It was his friend Enkidu, back from the afterlife. He was in the form of a mighty eagle but Gilgamesh could still validate (voc) that it was him. Thankful for his friend being there he was surprised that he did not feel contrary (voc) anymore. His friend took him on his back and flew over the rivers of Summer. It was hard to depict (voc) easily. There were many beautiful things. His friend said, “Here is the secret to being immortal. You will forever live in the hearts of your people for all your good deeds.”

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Happy 4th Birthday ReC!

Hard to believe another year has flown by with this sweet girl. She is our sweet, sensitive, smart, sanctifying child, with a wild imagination and fun, mighty spirit that makes every day an adventure!

Birthday breakfast - colored scrambled eggs and muffins.

With her tiger from when she was born.

We see this look a lot. It's usually followed by "Well...." and a long monologue with much hand gesturing. 

One of my favorites. 

"Wha...?! James, you are crazy, wrapping this up and giving it to me."

"And really funny!" 

She finally got her 'boy doll with hair' His name is - *drumroll* - Soft Hair. 

Birthday supper, which she chose in large part because she can make quesadillas herself, but also because STRAWBERRIES! 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

What Grade Are You In? {4 Great Reasons to Assign Grade Levels Based on Age}

I love the flexibility of homeschooling. I adore not having to work within a certain grade level just because that's how old my kids are - and I know a lot homeschoolers take advantage of that same exact thing. But for us it has worked out great to assign our kids' "official" grade level based strictly on their age. Here's why it works for us.

1. It gives an easy answer. This is nice for the kids, since they tend to get asked that question a lot. And saying, "Well, I just finished 5th grade science, and I'm playing catch up in spelling, so that was level 1, which is sort of half 1st grade, half 2nd grade, and in reading I'm doing middle school literature studies, and 2nd grade grammar, and my math curriculum is 3rd grade. Oh, and for social studies we mostly do unit studies, which don't really have a specific grade level" is just a *little* cumbersome. It's also nice for me when I'm filling out forms, since most forms are really asking about their age anyway!

2. It keeps expectations realistic. This is good for me because it helps me know what really needs to be focused on, what I can allow to slide for a while if we're having a bad week, and what I should be expecting from them as far as independence, behavior, and maturity.

3. It helps keep sibling comparisons in check. Having kids of different ages and abilities in the same 'class' can make it hard on the younger kids. since they are always 'short' of the older kid. This way I can say 'Ok, second grade is going to do this, and Kindergarten is going to do this', or remind my younger kiddo, 'You're in Kindergarten, this is what you are supposed to do, NOT the same things as the second graders. She had to work two whole years before she got to second grade!'

4. It keeps 'that's not fair' out of the house - some. This goes both ways, but the biggest way it helps us is by allowing me to say, "Hey, second graders have to do more work than Kindergarteners. They go to school a full day, not a half, and they have to do a lot more work. It's not that I'm being hard on you, it's just that your in an older grade!"

Our needs might change as the kids get older, but for now, we are really enjoying the freedom to call them a simple grade, but still use whatever level curriculum we want!