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!!!!