Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cloth Diaper Trial Wrap up

The week has come to an end and here are my final thoughts on our Cloth Diaper Trial run. 
I liked the cloth diapers enough to a) continue using them for another week, adding in night time and out and about, b)pick up some from a friend that her daughter can no longer use in order to increase my stash, and c)look into buying enough for a 3 day supply.  In short, I think I'm going to switch.  My biggest factor in the decision?  Cost.  With 12 diapers I have all ready, plus the extra diapers my friend will be lending me, I would only need to spend between $100 and $200 to buy enough diapers for a 3 day supply, plus a diaper sprayer.  So, for less than $200 I can diaper Bree for the next 2 years.  That's worth it to me!  Besides...have I mentioned that they're darn stinkin' cute?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cloth Diaper Update

We're halfway through my week of full cloth diapering.  Here are my thoughts:1)  Pee cloth diapers are JUST AS EASY as disposables.
2) Poopy cloth diapers take more effort and there IS the gross out factor of having to clean them in the toilet.  It takes more time to do so, and for me, rubber gloves are a MUST.  If I decide to switch completely I will invest in a diaper sprayer as well.
3) I go through approximatly 6 cloth diapers a day, and 2 disposables (for bedtime and out of the house).   I am thinking that next week I will use cloth exclusively with the rare exception of a LONG trip out of the house. 
4) Doing the laundry isn't hard at all.  At the end of the day I simply dump all the diapers that need to be washed into the washer when the kids are going to bed.  Then, when I check on the kids before I go to bed I take them out of the washer and hang them over a basket to dry.  Easy peasy.
5) Cloth diapers can be so CUTE!!!!  For me, personally, the drawback of poop is cancelled out by how ADORABLE the cloth can be.  Although I never would have known this if I hadn't tried them out.  If I switch I will be buying some really cute diapers to make me smile.
6) Since today was church, another pro for cloth diapering popped up.  If I used cloth diapers I wouldn't have to open the stinky diaper pail at church to put used diapers in when I change Bree at church!!  That thing REEKS!!! 
7) The big question I have is: If I switch, should I go with more pocket diapers (like the bum genius I already have) or get some covers and inserts/prefolds. 

So, to anyone considering switching I say this: GIVE IT A TRY!!!  It really hasn't been hard and you get a sense of accomplishment when you see your stack of cloth diapers all clean and waithing to be put on your baby.  And come on....what's cuter than THIS:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cloth Diaper Trial Run

So, here I go, embarking on my Cloth diapering saga.  I highly considered cloth diapering Bree before I had her.  Then, when she ended up in the hospital for 2 weeks and needed open heart surgery I got so used to the disposables that I was hesitant to try out my cloth diapers.  A week ago, a friend of mine who is considering cloth diapers kicked my rear in gear and "made" me put one on my precious little 6 month old.  However, she wanted to try them too and we were going to split the stash of diapers so we could both try them out but we forgot to split the stash and all I ended up with that week was the one that was ON Bree at the time.  So last week I only tried one cloth diaper a day.  I put it on her in the afternoon after her lunch, then changed her before her afternoon nap.  I didn't mind the cloth diapers, especially with just pee.  She did have one NASTY poopy in it though, and I now have decided that if I DO switch either gloves, or a diaper sprayer...maybe both, are essential for me!!!  Now, I have the stash back and a friend that is definitely going to switch to cloth, so I am going to give myself a week of cloth diapering to decide what I want to do.  Some of you are reading this and thinking, "what the heck are you thinking?!?!?!"  while other of my friends are thinking "Go for it!!"  Let me tell you my reasoning:
1) I have nothing to lose trying these diapers for a week.  They were given to me, for free, by a friend, so it's not like I spent money on something I don't know I'll do for sure. 
2) It would save my family a LOT of money.  When I crunched the numbers I figured that JUST using them for BREE for the next 1 1/2 years will save us over a thousand dollars.  That's taking into account the first time cost of the diapers and the laundering costs. 
3) I am not a fortunate person who's children can wear cheap diapers.  My kid's skin is such that the ONLY brand of diaper I can use, without them getting SERIOUS diaper rash, is Huggies.
4) They're darn stinkin' cute!!! 

Thus, I embark on my cloth diaper trial.  I will keep those interested posted on what I think over the week and what I finally decide. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

End of "First Semester" Evaluations

It's the middle of November, and over here at the Stephen home it means the end of our 2011 school work.  I'm going to give a quick evaluation of each of my kids, mostly for my own benefit.
Audrey (2nd Grade)
Reading:  Audrey has improved a LOT in her reading since we started in August.  She still isn't where I'd like her to be, but we're slowly getting there.  I hope to have her successfully  reading chapter books on her own by the end of the year.
Math:  She ROCKS at math, in my opinion.  She has mastered how to add and subtract large numbers even with borrowing and carrying.  I'm VERY proud of her.  My goal is to keep going forward with her math curriculum and try to help her memorize math facts along the way so she doesn't always have to use her fingers.
Handwriting: Her handwriting deteriorated greatly over the summer so I have been having her do an alphabet book to help remind and reinforce her writing skills.  It has helped a lot.  My goal here is to get her doing copywork starting in January and help her improve on formatting and writing her OWN sentences.
Piano:  Great strides are being made here.  I think I may have underestimated her ability and gotten books that were too easy for her.  She's almost done with her second set of books, so I'll have to look and choose more carefully for her third set of books.  She needs more of a challenge than her current books are giving her.

Marissa (Kindergarten)
Reading:  Marissa is doing EXCELLENT in this department.  She is now on lesson 65 in teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons.  I like this curriculum SO much better than what we used with Audrey.  Marissa is already leaps and bounds ahead of where Audrey was half way through kindergarten.  I wish I had been using this curriculum when Audrey learned to read!
Math:  She LOVES to do math.  She doesn't always GET the math but she loves to do the workbook with me.  We have just finished up a unit on addition and subtraction but it hasn't gellled in her head yet.  I plan to work more on helping her understand addition and subtraction more when we get back to work in January.  She IS doing first grade math as opposed to Kindergarten math though, so I figure I've got plenty of time to slow down and help her master things better.
Handwriting:  Marissa is doing the same book as Audrey, but it takes her longer since she is learning how to form and write the letters.  Audrey is just getting review and reinforcement.  She is about half way through her book and doing well.  I can already tell that she has improved in her pencil control since August. 
Piano:  I DID start Marissa this year, but I don't think she's fully ready for it yet.  I've put it on the backburner for now and only give her a lesson when she asks for one.  I think it will be much easier for her if we wait until next fall to really get going.

Trent (Pre K)
ABC's:  We have been working on one letter a week and he does well during the week.  He is still not retaining the letters much right now, but I don't feel any pressure about that.  He's got plenty of time, and right now I feel like it's more about EXPOSING him to all the letters than about him KNOWING all of them.
Numbers:  Trent can recognize the numbers 1,2,and 3.  We're working on expanding that to 5 right now.  We're also working on counting.  He's improved a LOT since August.  My goal is for him to be able to count to 10 and recognize the numbers 1-10 by the end of the year.
Colors and Shapes:  He's great at colors and can recognize about 10 different colors.  Shapes still need work, but we'll get there.  He knows circle, triangle, and star really well. 
Other Skills:  He's getting really good at doing puzzles by himself.  He is learning how to do prewriting worksheets where he follows the lines.  We need to work on cutting skills as he's still pretty shaky with a pair of scissors.  Overall he's doing great for only being 3!

Bree (Bree School)
Each day for Bree school we pick an activity out of a jar to do with her to help her learn and grow.  The activities range from singing songs, learning sign language, playing games like patty cake, and helping her master motor skills like rolling over and reaching for things.  The kids LOVE this part of the day.  My goal with Bree is to train her to do "blanket time."  Blanket time is a time where she will be given ONE toy and expected to stay on her blanket and play with her toy for a certain amount of time.  This is going to take time and lots of work, but it will pay off so much in the years to come!!

Since some of you are probably wondering why I'm talking like this is the end of 2011, that's because for traditional school in our house it IS.  Next week (Thanksgiving week) is a complete holiday week for my kids with no school at all.  Starting November 28th and going to December 24th we will be having "Christmas School."  Christmas School will consist of singing 8+ carols/day, reading Christmas books, studying the story of Jesus' birth, doing a craft/activity every day, and doing a family activitiy each day.  One of the reasons I am glad I chose to homeschool is because I CAN take all of December and focus on the reason for the season!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Beware: Ranting Ahead.

What happened to the good old days where children were taught RESPECT!? As a child growing up, not SO distantly, in the 80's I was expected to show respect for other people and their property.  It seems these days that less and less children are respectful of ANYTHING.  ALL people should be expected to respect other people and their property.

As a child I was taught to respect my elders.  I called my parents respectful titles of mom, dad, or mommy and daddy.  I called my friend's parents brother or sister so-and-so or mom and dad if they were parents of my best friends.

I was expected to use respectful speech towards everyone.  I was not allowed to swear.  I was not allowed to sass.  In fact the one time I REMEMBER being spanked was because it was my FATHER who spanked me (a very rare occasion) for sassing my MOTHER.  I know I was spanked more than that one time, but that one is ingrained in my memory. 

I was expected to ask permission for things.  If I was hungry I was expected to ask for something, not just take it and go to town.  If I wanted to play on the neighbor's basketball court I was expected to knock on the door and ask their permission, and if they weren't home I didn't play.  If I wanted to go to a friend's house I was expected to ask before going.  If I LEFT a friend's house to go to another friend's house I was expected to call and let my parents know.

I was expected to respect property, my own and others'.  I did not go around trashing my home or others' homes.  I was expected to clean up after myself whether at home or at a friend's.  I was expected to play NICELY with other people's things and not to ruin them.

So...why this rant?  I sit here in my home where I am looking out at a backyard that has been trashed by children (my own and neighbors).  There is garbage ALL OVER.  The children have ripped all the foam off the trampoline net bars and tossed it all over the yard.  Some child has ripped a giant hole in the trampoline net.  There are shoes, jackets, and various other items of clothing strewn across the yard.  Now, I know that my own children are as much to blame as anyone.  Whether or not they participated in the trashing is a moot point: they allowed it to happen.  Guess who will be cleaning it all up?  My children and me, because I realize that it is as much my own fault that this has happened.

I TRY very hard to teach my children respect.  I am not perfect at teaching the concept, and I am not perfect at always enforcing the conecpt.  I'm human, so sue me.  However, teaching your children respect and expecting them to follow through is hard enough.  Add to that, being surrounded by other children who have NO concept of respect and it seems that all my hard training and teaching flies out the window in the face of peer pressure. 

At times I want to ban ALL other children from my house unless they have PROVEN themselves to be respectful and responsible.  However, I know that MY house is a GOOD place for these children to be.  Here they will not be exposed to crude language and questionable media.  Here they will be exposed to a family with values, love, and high expectations.  It feels very much like a catch 22:  If I ban the children from my home they lose the good influence my family can be for them but allowing them into my home is sometimes a tough pill to swallow as they have no respect for other people or their property.  What is a girl to do?

Thanks for allowing me to rant.  Now I can get my rear in gear and take care of the backyard.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

House Craziness

After having read the Duggar's book "The Duggars: 20 and Counting" I was inspired to try a few things in our home.  Some of my inspirations dealt with homeschool and others dealt with the layout of our home.  This post deals with the changes to our house.  The first change we made in our home was to create a clothes room in the laundry room.  We moved all of the kid's clothes downstairs and they hang in a built in organizer that was already in our laundry room.  Ben and I hope to be able to add our clothes to the mix downstairs when we have the funds to purchase something for the clothes to hang on.  This has helped us out quite a bit.  1) We no longer have the issue that laundry gets DONE but never PUT AWAY.
2) We don't have as much trouble with clean clothes getting left on the floor of the kids's rooms and then rewashed because no one knows if they're clean or dirty.
3) The girls don't change clothes 5 times a day!

The next inspiration I had was that I felt the prompting to move the kids downstairs and create one room for the kids to share and move the family room upstairs to the main level.  Eventually, when we have the money we will actually build walls and have a boys room and a girls room but for now the 3 older kids are all together.  They LOVE being in the basement and I love having the family room upstairs in our main living area.  There are many things I love about my new set up.
1) There is no reason for ANY kids to be downstairs unless they are cleaning or doing laundry.
2) With nothing much more than just beds in the kids's room the room stays very neat and clean
3) They are right by all their clothes in the laundry room so they just wake up, make their beds, and get dressed before coming upstairs.
4) We spend more time together in the family room doing things as a family.
5) With the family room on the main level it is very easy to keep tabs on what the kids are watching and what they are playing.
6) It has made my front room a room that is usually company ready.
7)I'm not so worried about questionable neighborhood kids getting them to do bad things because I'm always in the know about what's going on.
8) All the toys just SEEM to be more accessible upstairs and the kids have played more with their toys than EVER.

All in all I LOVE the new set-up of my house and I am SO glad that we swapped everything.  I am thankful for revelations and inspirations that can come from so many good sources.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Week off school doesn't mean off work

We have hit our first scheduled week long break of our school year!!!  Yay!!  Around here we don't do 3 day weekends like the public schooled kids.  Why?  Because Ben always has to work them and they're just another day around here.  So I scheduled week long breaks about every 5-6 weeks throughout the school year.  Yesterday started the first break, but is it really a break?  This week off of school is being used for chore training.  I am working on training the kids to do the chores the way I WANT them done.  I made up check lists and everything.  Today's focus?  How to pick up a room.  All of the children participated since all of them have at least ONE room they are in charge of to pick up.  Audrey has the TV side of the family room, Marissa has the front room and toy side of the family room.  Trent has his bedroom.  Other chores on the docket are the toilet, sink, tub, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, clearing and washing the table to name a few. 
I will not excpect the children to execute their chores perfectly without guidance and adult support yet....well Audrey will be expected to, but not the others. 
We'll see how THIS plan goes..... 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Opinions wanted

Sooo....Ben and I have been contemplating puting all of the kids downstairs in the now family room.  All the kids would bunk downstairs with a curtain to separate the boy side from the girl side.  (Eventually we plan on making 2 permanent rooms down there and a bathroom)  Then all the family room stuff (couches, toys, TV, ect.) would be moved into the current master bedroom and become the family room.  Ben and I would move back into our old room (currently Trent's room) and the girls' current room would become a guest bedroom.  WHY you ask would we want to attempt this?  Mainly because with only bedrooms downstairs kids have no reason to BE downstairs unless it's bedtime.  It would put the family room up on the main level and make it easier for me to keep tabs on the kids when certain friends are over to play. 
So, what do you think?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Taking a page from the book of Duggar

Most of you probably don't know this, but I'm a bit obsessed with the Duggar family.  My obsession comes and goes in spurts.  Right now I'm actively obsessed.  So, after watching every episode of the last season on youtube and thoroughly exploring their updated website I have decided a few things:
1)  I need to make my religion as prevalent in my life as it is in theirs.  If I were to be convicted of Mormonism, I want to be put away for life with no chance of probation. 
2) I want 19 mom said she wasn't going to move in to help me out though.  Well, there goes that plan.
3) I still think it would be fun to have a ton of kids and in part I envy the Duggar family for their lifestyle.
4) I am intrigued with the idea of my girls only wearing dresses and skirts.
5) I want to live in a big house with my 19 kids, in the middle of the country and we must have a sledding hill right outside the front door.
6) Now to the point of this whole post......I have decided to try out two of the Duggars' systems.  The first being chore juristictions the second being character qualities.
I want my kids to have a chore and learn to do that chore EXTREMELY well so we decided yesterday to have the kids choose chores and they will do those chores until April's General Conference.  Then we will switch for another 6 months.  That means, that day in and day out my kids will be responsible for the same chore for the next 6 months.  We divided the chores into 3 zones in our home: upstairs, kitchen, and downstairs.  The kids chose one area from each zone.  Here's what they chose:
Audrey:  Kids Bathroom, Clear and Wash Table, and TV side of the family room.
Marissa:  Front room, Kitchen Floor, and Laundry/Storage room Floor.
Trent: His bedroom, Unloading dishwasher, and Laundry. (Trent gets help from Mom and Dad on all chores)
The other chores not chosen will be delegated as family chores or they are Mom/Dad chores.
Hopefully this works!!!

On to Character Qualities.  I ran across a printable page on the Duggar website that has a HUGE list of Character Qualities that they instill in their children.  The really nice thing is that each character quality lists the quality, it's opposite quality, and a scripture to back it up.  I think I'm going to print it off and start adding charater training to our devotional and daily life. 

So, there we go.  There is my post about my deep dark secret!!!!!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Safe From Invading Armies

THIS is what happens when my kids actually PLAY with their toys.  lol.  The kids built a wall of blocks around their baby sister.  Needless to say, the activity table idea worked GREAT!  Can't wait to see what they come up with next week!!!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

My New Brain Child

See this?  This is my new brain child: the activity table.  What is my activity table?  It's a table in my kitchen with a bunch of different activities for the kids to do on it.  The idea is that while I am working with one child, the other children can play with activities from the table.  I will switch out the activities each week.  I have compiled 5 weeks' worth of activities to rotate through.  Here we have week 1's activities.  They are as follows:
Wooden blocks (the white bag in the top left)
Cutting Tray (right in front of the blocks)
Coloring books (under the cutting tray.  These will actually be a permanent fixture on the table but I'll rotate through our bazillion coloring books)
Magnet Tray (in front of the cutting tray)
Littlest pet shop sets (top middle)
Marble Race (The tub under the pet shops)
Sequence for Kids (front and center)
Rush Hour (on top of sequence)
Animal Dominoes (also on top of sequence)
Laptop (bottom right, with pet shop toys on top of it because Trent put them there right before I snapped the picture)
Laugh and Learn Piggy Bank (top right)
What you can't really see around the piggy bank are:
A shoe tieing set to practice tieing and
Paint with water books

Today, our first day using it, went GREAT!  The kids played with a variety of toys.  All 3 of them played with the blocks and the paint with water books at one point or another.  The cutting tray, magnet tray, pet shops, shoe tieing, and piggy bank were also used at one point or another by at least one child.  I tried to put a variety of activities on the table each week from different categories:
Electronic toys (lap tops, leapsters, videos, ect.)
Tot Trays (cutting tray, glueing tray, pom pom transferring, ect.)
Play toys (pet shops, blocks, ect.)
Teaching toys (piggy bank, alphabet soup, puzzles, ect.)
Art supplies (painting, drawing, coloring, clay, ect.)
and Board Games (sequence, candy land, chutes and ladders, ect.)

If any of you are familiar with my children you will know that they are not big TOY players.  Their poor toys sit in neglect most of the time because they would rather play outside, watch TV, or play on computers.  This is one of my sneaky attempts to encourage them to actually PLAY with their toys.  So far, so good!

Friday, September 16, 2011

School Day Revamp

After 4 weeks of school, I've decided that we're going to try something a little different for our schedule.  Up until now we have done breakfast, cleaned up, devotional, all kids do workboxes 1-6, lunch break, then workboxes 7-9 (which are combined subjects of Science, History, and English).  Now, I really like the IDEA of how this system is supposed to work, but I have run into a couple of snags. 
Snag #1) For my set up to work, all the kids need to work at the same pace and finish each box at the same time.  This is more hassle than it's worth most of the time.  Kids finish early, or aren't finished when everyone else is and then it throws off everyone else.  But my children aren't independent enough in their school work to go at their own individual paces.
Snag #2) The girls frequently need help, or at least monitoring on subjects I didn't think they would need help with.
Snag #3) Trent needs to learn how to do his preschool activities, and right now he just kinda does his own thing rather than doing his "work."  Thus we have permanent marker on the wall, toothpaste all over the bathroom, and a little boy sporting eyeshadow and nail polish.  You get the drift.

So......the NEW IDEA is to set up an activity table each monday with about 10 activities on it (things like sensory bins, toys, art supplies, tot trays, ect.).  Each child will do their school with me in a one on one block while the other two play with the activity table things, outside, or with their baby sister. 
Our new schedule will look something like this:
Breakfast and clean up
Audrey's school time with mom - Trent and Marissa play
Trent's school time with mom - Marissa and Audrey play
Marissa's school time with mom - Audrey and Trent play
Lunch, clean up, and break time
Science - History - English when Bree goes down for an afternoon nap

Seeing as how I need to account for Bree's feedings in the morning routine as well as her naps and wake times things will not always go directly from one thing to another but we'll strive for the best!!!  I figure that by January Bree will be on a set schedule which will allow us to have a more timely school day. 
We'll try out the new plan on Monday and see how it goes.  Wish me luck!!!!  If it doesn't work out I'm sure you'll see a similar post in about 4

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

First REAL day of Co-op

Today was the first day of doing our co-op activities.  We met last week, but it was mainly a mom's meeting while the kids ran around and played.  This week (sorry no pictures) we got back into doing our co-op activities.
We started off with music time.  Singing time is who we will call Ms. L's time.  We reviewed a song from last year "The Best of Friends" from Disney's "The Fox and the Hound."  I was very impressed with how much the kids remembered.  Then we got into a couple of Halloween songs to learn: "I'm a Mean Old Witch" and "There's No Such Thing as a Witch."  They are both fun songs and the kids enjoyed them. 
After singing time we moved on to Art.  Ms. J and Ms. N are in charge of art.  The kids were able to paint a "stained glass" butterfly.  They are currently all on top of a bookshelf drying until next week when we will put ribbon on them for the kids to hang in windows, or around their necks. 
Last of all today we did PE. I am in charge of PE. I pulled out my parachute (a gift from last Christmas) and had some parachute fun.  First I taught the kids how to get on the ground with the parachute flat, then on the count of 3 we all stood up and raised the parachute above our heads, then back down to the ground.  After they had mastered the raising and lowering of the parachute we added in the piece de resistance.  I called out two kids' names and when we raised the parachute those two children had to run under the parachute and switch places.  It was a lot of fun.  I can't wait to have more parachute fun!!!  I also plan on teaching the kids jump rope, four square, yoga, and red rover.
Ms. A does a story time.  We didn't do story time this week. We are a very haphazard co-op, in that the only "subject" we really do every week is music time. Some weeks we get all the subjects in and that's great, and some days we just let the kids play and socialize with each other.  Most weeks are a combo 2-3 subjects.  It's all great fun. 
As with last year we will be trying to do a field trip once a month and will have class parties to celebrate holidays and birthdays.  We are adding in a show and tell week each month this year.  I love my co-op!!!  My ladies are the BEST!  Here's to a great year of co-op on the horizon!!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A birthday, a picnic, the state fair, and a fun run

This week was fun and crazy at our house.  Not only did we start in on our full school schedule but we had a lot of family fun!  To start off the week we celebrated Audrey's 8th Birthday.  I can't believe how old she is getting.  She went to her first activity days activity this week and in her words "It was AWESOME!!!!"
 On Labor Day, Ben was sent home early because the office was just completely DEAD.  So we packed up a picnic lunch and headed up the canyon.  We found the BEST picnic spot!!  It had two trees with a natural branch bridge that the kids had fun climbing on.  Then we found a cool hide-out under a hollow bush along a trail.  After that we came upon a playground where the kids enjoyed playing.  Last but not least, right by the playground was a dammed off area of the river that was a PERFECT wading pool for kids.  Sorry I didn't get any pictures, we forgot the camera. 

Thursday was the opening day of the State Fair.  We always go on opening day because it's cheap to get in.  So here are the kids all ready to head out to the fair. 
 At the fair the first thing the kids wanted to do was ride the giant yellow slide.  They each got to go two times.  The girls were tall enough to ride alone, and Trent was allowed to ride with Audrey.  They love that yellow slide!
 Then we did the "Little Hands on the Farm" activity.  Each child gets an apron and a basket.  Then you go through all the stops and do "farming" activities like picking apples, milking a cow (a fake one), planting and harvesting vegetables, riding tractors (trikes that look like tractors), and collecting eggs.  At each stop the kids collect an item to turn in at the end.  They "sell" their items at the end and receive a "dollar" to buy a treat at the store. 
After that we met up with our friends the Hess family.  We wandered around, let the kids ride one ride, ate fair food, and just had a grand old time.  On the way to the animal sheds we came across this wonderful Balloon Clown.  She was great fun, but the best thing is she was just WAITING for children to come by.  She snagged us as we walked past and made balloon, we'll call them things since all the kids didn't get an animal.   

 Here's the kids with their balloon things.  Audrey got a parrot to sit on her shoulder.  Marissa got a baby turtle that wrapped around her wrist like a bracelet.  Trent got a space gun. 

 I just had to share this picture that Audrey snapped of Bree while we were getting in the car to head home from the fair.  Great pic for an 8 year old!!!  The others she took weren't so good and got 
Last but not least, we participated in our Stake's annual 5K Fun Run and One Mile Walk.  We all did the one mile walk.  The girls did GREAT.  Trent made Ben carry him on his shoulders the entire mile.  Go Ben!!!!  Then we had a yummy breakfast provided by the stake.  It was a great week!!!  Oh, and we did lots of school work too. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

A look back at our week

We "waded" into school this week.  We started with our back to school bash on Monday where we had a special breakfast of French Toast, Juice, and Yogurt.  Then we made a height wall downstairs in our laundry room to track how tall the kids are each year.  We made name tracers for the kids to practice writing their names.  We made an art wall (below) for the kids to display their art work.  We also looked at all our new school books and talked about how school was going to work.
 Tuesday, we started in with doing 1/3 of our school work.  Wednesday we had our free day, since it will be co-op day starting next week.  Wednesday was AWFUL!!!!!  We will NOT be having another non structured school day for a LONG time.  They were whiney, they fought more, and every 5 minutes I heard "when will my friends be home from school?!?!?"  Thursday we did 2/3s of our school work.  Today, Friday, we did all of our school subjects.  The week was a great sucess!!!  Bring on full time school starting next week!
 Here's Marissa doing her math.  Isn't she happy?!?!?!  She started coloring the pictures very elaborately with multiple colors (if you click the pic you might be able to see how her first 2 fish at the top of the page are rainbow colored).....she quickly figured out that it would take her FOREVER to color the whole page that way and started coloring less elaborately. 
 Here's Trent doing a pattern block activity.  (Ignore the junk mail behind  He had a lot of fun making dinosaurs, trains, sailboats, and rockets. 
 Audrey is coming right along with her piano.  (See her "nice" flat fingers?  That is thanks to the fake nails she put on.  This is why pianists don't have long nails!)  Luckily for me, after a long summer break of no piano at all, she picked right up where we left off and didn't really need a review.  She's got a real knack for playing the piano.  I can't wait to see where she is in a year from now!
And here my friends is our science experiment from today.  Can you guess what's going on?????  Ok, I'll tell you even though you probably already guessed.  We are blowing up a balloon using yeast, sugar and water.  My kids now know that yeast is alive, that it eats the sugar, then "burps" out air bubbles which blow up the balloon.
What did babykins do during all of this?  She played with toys (mobiles, play mat, bouncer, and swing), ate (my kids like it when she eats because they get a mini break from schooling), napped, got held while kids did work, and got played with by everyone in this house....especially when children were supposed to be doing OTHER things.  LOL
Hope you enjoyed the peek at our week!!!  We had a good time.  I think school is going to be great this year. 

Butterfly Fly Away

 Our first science project for the year went really well.  We watched caterpillars turn into butterflies.  The kids were all super excited the day our kit arrived.  Here is Audrey (above) with our new little caterpillars.  You probably can't see just how tiny they are, but trust me, they were small.  Then they grew like nothing else!!!  That book about the Hungry Caterpillar really is true!  Those caterpillars ate, and ate, and ate and within days had more than doubled in size!
 Then they started turn into Chrysalides (yes, that's the correct term for more than one Chrysalis...who knew?)  It was CRAZY to watch.  The caterpillars would hang upside down and then start "dancing" while they turned into a chrysalis.  Weird. 
 Audre watned her picture taken with the there is it.  lol
About a week later we had butterflies!!  Beautiful Painted Lady butterflies.  All 6 of our caterpillars turned into butterflies.  After observing them for a couple of days we released them.  Too bad I didn't get a picture of that.  One of the butterlies had a torn wing and didn't take off as quickly as the others.  Audrey and Marissa were able to hold it on their fingers and get up close and personal with it before it too flew off.  It was a great project for my kids.  I think next year we'll see what happens with Lady bugs!!!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Next Week's Plan

This week went really well over at our house. We managed to get back into some semblance of a routine and had a lot of fun along the way. I kept the week low key and mainly focused on getting the kids used to routine days again.
Now on to next week!!! The plan:
Monday: Have a back to school bash! We are going to have a special breakfast, make a height wall to track how much the kids grow each year, make display areas for each of the kids to display work they are proud of (rather than on my fridge), make name tracers for the kids to practice writing their names each day, and introduce the kids to their new curriculum and school schedule.

Tuesday: Start working up to our full routine. We'll get up and get dressed, and clean bedrooms then have breakfast. After we clean up breakfast we'll do our morning devotional then do workboxes 1-4.

Wednesday: Is our day off/fun day. If we have gotten our art, PE, and music appreciation kits yet we'll start on those. If not, it will just be a complete day off, as starting on September 7th wednesdays will be co-op day.

Thursday: Do everything from Tuesday as well as add in boxes 5-7.

Friday: Do everything from Tuesday and Thursday plus add in boxes 8-10. Friday will be our first day doing our FULL routine. It will set us up for our first full week of school that will start September 5th.
Now the question will it all REALLY turn out?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sidewalk Paint!

One of our activities for our first week of school was to do sidewalk paint. I put cornstarch and some food coloring drops in each cup, then headed outside on the grass with a water bottle, a spoon, and 3 paintbrushes to mix up our paint.

Here it is in all its colorful glory!!! Some of the colors didn't come out the color I was shooting for, but I wasn't anal enough to go and fix them. The kids had fun trying to predict what color the paint would be when we mixed each cup.

I made all the kids put on clothes that I wouldn't mind getting ruined, since I didn't know if they would get paint all over their clothes and if they did if it would EVER wash out.
We had 3 different sized paintbrushes to use. The largest one worked the best for this activity. The kids rotated brushes every 5 minutes.
Most of our painting was just lines, blobs, and running around the driveway with a very saturated brush and letting it drip and dribble all over the cement.

In the end, each girl actually painted SOMETHING.

Marissa painted a transformer (top) and Audrey painted a rainbow (bottom). We had a fun time and this occupied a good chunk of our morning.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Our "first" week of school

My children are acting out more, they are getting bored more frequently, they are being more whiney. All this screams to me that it's time to get back into school. Now, I don't have school SCHEDULED to start until Labor Day (I know, I know, you are all thinking WHY would you start school on a holiday?!?!!? Well, because for my family it's going to be a normal day with Ben at work and no car). So I had to make a decision: Start school officially this week or wait until Labor Day when we have things scheduled to start? In the end I decided that we would "start school" today but we will be focusing this week on doing fun things. Each day we have an art activity, an outdoor activity, and a "game" to do. This will allow us to get back into the routine of school without going all out. Oh, and the kids will also be doing math, science (we've been "growing" butterflies. A post on them will come after we have released them) and reading which they have been doing already for the last few weeks. I also plan to start the girls on their piano lessons again this week.
If you are interested here is what is on the docket for this week:
Monday: fingerpainting, Riding Bikes, and Chutes and Ladders
Tuesday: Coloring Contest, Go for a Walk, and an Educational Video
Wednesday: Sidewalk Paint, Play in the Sprinkler, Assemble our new Fairy puzzle
Thursday: Playdoh, Make Giant Bubbles, and Ladybug Game
Friday: Cut and Paste activity, Obstacle course, and play the Wii.
All this should make for some fun, low key days that get us back into our school routine.

Friday, August 19, 2011

My First Homeschool Post; AKA Our Curriculum for the Year

Well, here we go. My first official homeschool post. I thought I'd share what we are using this year as our curriculum. As you can see I have laid out MOST of our curriculum on my kitchen table for your viewing pleasure. In addition to what you see here we will be receiving kits for Music Appreciation, Art, PE, Typing, and Spelling in the mail from Harmony Education. Now, let's delve into the stuff you SEE.

Elemental Science (bottom left): Both girls will be doing Elemental Science this year. We're excited to try it out. It looks like a lot of fun and comes highly recommended by my friend. We are doing Biology this year so we'll be studying Animals, the Human Body, and Plants. We have already started our first project of growing butterflies!!!

Singapore Math (top left): Audrey will be doing levels 2A and B. Marissa will be doing 1A and B. Because Harmony Ed required Marissa to start as a 1st grader if we enrolled her I am not going to stress getting through the entire curriculum with her this year. We'll get done what we get done. It's better for her to internalize the concepts than to finish the books. We have the textbooks and workbooks for each level and this year we decided to buy the test books for Audrey.

Music for Little Mozarts (top middle): Both girls will be taking piano this year taught by yours truly. Audrey started last year and is doing really well. I had PLANNED to keep her going all summer so that she'd finish the second set of books, but we didn't get around to it with everything else going on. So she'll have to finish up the second set of books when we start up again. Marissa will start on the first set of books and go from there. Audrey does REALLY well with piano. I think she's got a real natural talent for it. Marissa is very excited to start up. She loves to pretend to play and make up her own songs, which really don't sound too bad!

First Language Lessons (middle of the table): Both girls will start this English book this year. They will learn about verbs, nouns, adjectives, ect. While practicing copy work and memorizing poems.

Preschool Packs (top right): These are for Trent. Thanks to a homeschooling blog I love ( Trent will be learning all 26 letters of the alphabet. There is a pack for each letter. Here are my bags for A and B. We will also be tossing in some fun packs thanks to another site ( Trent is really excited for the Monster Truck pack and the Star Wars Pack. Each pack has many activities such as sorting the Capital and Lowercase letter of the week, counting activities, color matching, shape matching, lacing cards, tracing letters and prewriting activities. They were a lot of work to print, cut, and laminate but worth it as in the end they will have gone through 2 1/2 of my kids.

Story of the World (bottom right): For History this year we've decided to go with Story of the World Volume 2 which covers from the fall or Rome through the beginning of the Renaissance. After skimming through the books I'm really excited to start. The "lessons" are made simple enough for young children to understand the History and written in story format. There are TONS of fun activities in the activity book. We will be doing 4 weeks of learning, followed by a project week where we will do an Activity for each chapter we covered.

Dry Erase Tablets (bottom middle): These are for the girls to practice their handwriting and to do copywork on.

That sums up our curriculum! Once a week the girls will do art and music appreciation with the kits we'll be receiving. PE will be done formally once a week in our Co-op, in addition to our "recess" break at lunch time. Audrey will be doing typing and spelling as well.
It should be a busy busy year filled with lots of fun and learning! I hope it all goes as nicely as it does in my head!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Yes, No, Maybe so....

A friend of mine has suggested that I turn my blog into a homeschooling blog. Hmmmm.....What shall I do? I'm not so good at blogging anymore as it is, however doing a homeschool blog would help me document all the things we do for school. I think I'll have to ponder this a bit more. would anyone be interested in knowing what we do?

Friday, May 20, 2011

One more month to go before Breanne comes!

Friday, January 14, 2011

My Little Boy Turns 3!!

The days have gone so fast. It seems like not too long ago that I was bringing home my brand-new baby boy. Now he is a big (LITERALLY) 3 year old!
Trent had a good birthday. We asked everyone (a whopping 3 families) to bring a pack of underwear for the little man. Plans are underway for potty training! He runs out of diapers this weekend, and the "fun" will commence. He was very excited about all his new underwear. He got Spiderman, Toy Story, Sports Balls, a Variety Disney pack, and Cars.
He also got some Toy Story toys that he absolutely adores. He carries them around the house with him. It's pretty cute.
His BIG gift from mom, dad, and sisters was a new bike! His tricycle AND his scooter got ran over last summer, WHILE ON THE GRASS, so he got a new scooter for Christmas and his new bike for his b-day. He loves to ride them in the kitchen. I have the feeling he's going to be VERY active this summer...but that will be good since I'll have a new baby and being active will keep him occupied!
All in all, Trent had a very good third birthday. I can't believe he's so big though!!!!!