Friday, June 29, 2012

Photo Friday - Our Week In Pictures!

Our little athlete.  Papa gave her a soccer ball to take home and she LOVES it.  She's actually got quite a kick (not to mention the attitude to go with it)!

Tim and Amelia were seeing who could make the sillier face... not sure who won.

This is what the girls do every night before they go to bed, wrestling matches with daddy.  Somehow they always win!

A rare occasion, the girls actually letting Tim read a story to them... mommy must've been busy!

So thankful to have such a happy baby in the mornings!  Loving him some Kix!

The girls' favorite new pass time, "do-a-dotting"!  

One of my projects for the week... you'll have to stay tuned to see what it's all about!

I was told it got up to 92degrees on Wednesday, yet my lovely daughter wanted to wear her snow gear (she was begging to put on her snowpants too but I had to draw the line somewhere).  Her and Sophia were pretending to go skiing (using magazines on the carpet to slide on).

Zucchini bread!  A favorite around here... and no wonder with Miss Debbie's recipe!

The end of a very long but productive day, a couple of stories with mommy before bedtime!

My tired buddy, no nap for him today, he was out before I had even shut the door to his room.

Trouble!  He has learned how to climb up onto beds and our recliners, then he hangs on to the back of the chair and jumps up and down.  So proud of himself!

My little ballerina (she picked this outfit) feeding her baby doll!

Block party!  This is before all the trays of blocks were dumped all over the flour!

Skateboarding on the cart for the blocks (they aren't suppose to do this - I took this picture about 5 seconds before she crashed in to the fridge and ended up with a welt on her shin)!

I am SO PROUD of Amelia.  The big smiley face in this picture is the first recognizable smiley she's ever drawn!  Now that she's done one, she covered the rest of the paper with smiley guys!

Fresh out of bed, a little early if you ask me but bubba needed some snuggles and I wanted the girls to sleep longer so we snuggled on the couch for a while!

Bleary eyed!

It was SO HOT on Friday, we got to Grandma and Papa's pool at about 9 and left for home around 4:30!  

Playing dress-up with the magnetic dolls, taking a break from the heat and enjoying the A/C!

Another fun filled busy week, lots of school planning, swimming and enjoying time with the littles!  Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Teaching Toddlers: Choosing Curriculum (YIKES)

Why is it that this word is so scary? When we were first looking into homeschooling I was terrified of having to choose “the right curriculum.” One thing that I am loving about homeschooling is the options that are out there. And I have found that there is no “right curriculum.” Every home looks different, every child learns differently, and every parent/teacher has a different preference for how much work they want to put in to what they teach. HOW GREAT IS THAT?!

With that being said, finding the right fit for us still seemed like an overwhelming task. A very wise and seasoned homeschooling mom encouraged me to write a list of what I needed as a mom out of a curriculum, and what I thought my child would need. This helped SO MUCH to narrow down our options. These were my lists last fall when I started researching:

Thankfully most moms that I talked to were more than willing to let me get my hands on the curriculum they have used. It is so helpful to actually read through the material that you'll be teaching, look through the books, etc. For me, just reading online reviews and talking to others wasn't enough, I needed to really sit and study each option. This of course took time, lots of time, and probably lots of unneeded stress. I was so focused on choosing “the right one.” Once I got over that, (which took a long time and lots of reassurance from Tim) I realized it wasn't stressful, but really fun to pick what was going to work for our family.

So without further ado; the main “curriculum” that we've decided to use for Preschool and Kindergarten is called Learning at Home by Ann Ward. A big reason we chose this is because the lesson plans are all laid out. It's a 36 week program and each week is divided up into 5 days, each day has everything laid out for you. This curriculum covers subjects such as: Bible, Reading, Music, Math, Phys Ed, Art, and Health/Manners. Every Friday is a field trip (we won't be doing all of these) and each Friday they give you a list of all the supplies you'll need for the next week. The lessons are really gentle, once you complete the preschool portion of the program, the second half of the book is for Kindergarten, it's the same lessons as the first year just beefed up a bit!

Like I said, I love homeschooling because we can customize it however we need. Some of the lessons are things Amelia already knows, colors, shapes, hopping on one foot etc, so we will be leaving out some things and adding others.

For the additional things that we're adding we are using Rod and Staff preschool workbooks
(where we got our workbooks)

There are also several websites that I've been using for preschool resources, to gather ideas and activities, my two favorites are:
Confessions of a Homeschooler

These sights offer great free printables, as well as lots of creative ways to introduce concepts to your toddlers. Even though Amelia is the one doing preschool this year, Sophia will soak up a lot of the material as well, we've already tried several of the activities and both girls are able to do them just at different levels.  Just to give you an idea, here are a couple of the activities that we've already tried that both girls LOVE!


Pre-writing mazes.  These are dry-erase and Amelia is surprisingly  very good at them, they work on "letter shapes" (curves for "s", mountains for "n" and "m" etc) and keeping a straight line. I bought this book on Amazon after seeing it on a few other sites and so far Amelia LOVES it!

 Letter mazes from Plus 1.  Both girls can do these, we use do-a-dot markers, or magnets or pom-poms.  I've also put these in page protectors so they can use dry erase markers and do them over and over (Plus 1 has these available A-Z for free).


 Practice tracing numbers, we use page protectors and dry erase markers.  This is Amelia's favorite page because she's 3 years old so she asked me to show you this page!  This is also available at Plus 1 in the TotNotebook (link below).


 Letter recognition and tracing!  Again, Amelia picked which sheet to show you, since this is "her letter" it's her favorite!  Plus 1 has these available A-Z in the TotNotebook (link below).

Amelia has been so excited for school to start that it has rubbed off on Sophia and I just don't have the heart to tell her she won't be able to “go to school.” So we are doing TotSchool with her, basically special activities for her to do while Amelia is doing her work. I'm hoping they both love it!
Here's the link to TotSchool: and the notebook I'm doing for Soph:

Phew!  Lots of information but I am so, so, SO excited to get school started!  The girls would start TODAY if we could, however with a new baby coming in September there's a few things I feel need to get done before we can start full-force with the school year!  Our first day will be August 1 and Amelia is counting down!

Not Back to School Blog Hop

We've had an excited week so far, stay tuned Friday for our week in pictures!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Day in the Life...

At 5:30am (most mornings anyway) I roll over in bed to the sound of baby giggles from the upstairs nursery, I shut the baby monitor off as quickly as I can and pray I can fall back to sleep before anymore of the kids are awake.

At 6:00am I hear tiny footsteps on the stairs and a small voice "mommy, I need to go potty"... my sweet Sophia is up for the day.  It takes 4 or 5 times of marching her back to her bed and reminding her to stay in bed until her alarm goes off before she gets the point (at this point it's 6:45am - so much for falling back to sleep).

At 7:00am I can't hold them off any longer!  Amelia would sleep longer if it wasn't for her siblings waking her up.  It seems they all want something different at exactly the same time.  Thankfully Tim is home for this chaotic part of the day!  Breakfast, diaper changes and clothes on before we play!

By 7:30am all kiddos have been fed, mommy is lucky to have 10 minutes to myself to shower and dress before the day really begins!  By the time I come upstairs I find all three kids have dog-piled on daddy and he is desperately looking for an escape.

8:15am means nap time all around.  The girls fight over who gets to hug and kiss daddy first as he heads off to bed.  I lay Abram down for his nap and the three of us girls start our "joy jobs!"  Between cleaning up breakfast dishes (and usually dinner dishes from the night before), starting laundry, multiple trips to the potty, and settling lots of squabbles this nap time goes WAY TOO FAST.

10:30am Abram rejoins the world of crazy!  We all head downstairs to play and fold laundry.

11:45am usually by this time the troops are "starving" for lunch so we pick up a little then head upstairs!  If I let the girls choose, Amelia would have PB & J every day (with crunchy peanut butter), Sophia would have Mac& Cheese every day.  We've been working really hard on table manners with the girls, they both are practicing saying please and thank you, and they have to ask to be excused and be washed off before they can leave the table.

12:30pm brings my favorite part of my day!  Abram goes down for his nap, then the girls and I read some stories, then Sophia goes down for her nap!  This is the time that we'll use for school this coming year.  Generally I use this time to do things that I can't do with lots of helping hands, mopping floors, cleaning bathrooms, bible study, toy purging ;) etc.  This is also Amelia's "quiet time."  She has a few options to choose from, she can watch a video, or pick an activity from our toy closet (toys that I don't keep out when Soph and Abram are around).  Once a week I try to do something special just the two of us, make cookies or do a fun craft etc.

3:00pm means everyone's awake!  Amelia and Sophia take turns waking daddy up, then Tim and the kids all have a snack (and Tim starts his IV of coffee).  This is the part of the afternoon that I think all mothers dread, that time before dinner when the kids are restless, hungry and bored.  Usually Tim will take the kids outside or the girls will help me prep dinner while Tim plays with Abram.

5:00pm is our dinner time - yes we eat kind of early.  Amelia helps set the table and we all hold hands to pray before we eat!  Dinner is pure chaos!  I'm lucky if I am able to take three bites without having to get up to get something for someone.  It would be easier probably to drag the kids outside and just hose them off once they're done but we wipe them off as best we can then pile them into the tub!

6:30pm by now, kids are jammied, teeth are brushed and we're finishing up the "joy jobs" for the day - generally this means picking up the toys in the basement.

6:45pm Abram gets some special snuggles then it's time for bed.  Once he's down the girls and Tim and I snuggle on the couch to read some bedtime stories and the bible story for the day.

7:15pm the girls go to bed (notice I didn't say go to "sleep").  Amelia is great at staying in bed and will usually fall asleep within 15 minutes or so.  Sophia on the other hand may get out of bed 15-20 times before she actually falls asleep, some nights this means she's up until after 9pm.

Once the girls are in bed I take a deep breath and realize that we (barely) made it through another day full of precious moments and small blessings and in just 12 very short hours we get to start all over again.  Now, I realize I spared you the gory details (the squabbles, accidents, tears, time-outs etc) but when I look back on the day and think of all the GOOD moments, I have to wonder, how could anyone NOT want to be a parent?  Yes, it's exhausting, and yes there are times during the day when I'm not sure I can make it through one more hour; but at the end of the day, when those littles are giving bedtime hugs and kisses and when my 2 and 3 year olds tell me "good night mommy, I love you" I know that it's so very worth it!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fabulous Photo Friday

 Our week in pictures!  We started out our week by celebrating Abram's first birthday on Monday night!

Here's his amazing John Deere tractor cake!

Daddy and sisters helping open his presents!  This truck has been the favorite toy all week (and has caused many children to sit in time-out)

Grandma and sisters playing with the toys!


After!  We threw him right into the tub after this as his entire torso was covered in green frosting!

Tim had been promising the girls a "camp out" for a while so he put up the tent, about two hours later it started storming.  Amelia had fun playing in there, although if you notice her red cheeks it was pretty hot.  Sophia won't go in it, she's terrified of it!

Too tired even to eat!

 Playgroup this week was a pool date, both girls went down the BIG water slide in the deep end!

Snack time pool side!

Playing with the tub of beans   

 We started our new "joy job chart"  (instead of "chores").  The girls each have a tickets they can put in the slot when they've completed a task.  As you can see Abram was all about helping with the dishes!

We're still working on getting them into his mouth rather than on the floor!

We ended the week at the doctor's office for Abram's 1 year check up! 

20lb 14oz and 29 inches long - 25th percentile for both!

He did fine for his shots but SCREAMED when we got in the elevator, as soon as the doors closed he started shaking and crying, once we got out he was fine.  Silly boy!

*Stay tuned next week for more exciting happenings!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Why We've Chosen to Go Against the Flow

Since deciding that we would home school we have gotten lots of questions, the basic how and when but usually it's why.  So in a nut-shell, here are our answers to your questions!

Why are we choosing to homeschool?

  1. Feeling called. God has blessed us with these children and I want as much time with them as possible. That may sound selfish, but I have been put in their lives to teach them, just as they've been put in my life to sanctify me. How can teaching and sanctification happen when we aren't spending time together?
  2. There are things you learn at home that you just can't learn in school. Plain and simple, when you are in a school setting with one teacher and 30 kids there just aren't the same opportunities available as there are when it's one mom and 3 kids. (if you really want specific examples, I'd be happy to share some!)
  3. Deuteronomy 6:5-7 says “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” How can I teach my children when they aren't with me? Once kids are in school full time (from 1st grade on), they are out of the house more than they are home, this doesn't leave much time for us to instill truth into their little souls.
  4. Luke 6:40 “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” Which teacher do I want them to be like?
  5. I can go at the child's pace instead of the classroom. Some kids are kinetic learners, others are auditory, I can base our curriculum on what my kids need instead of state mandates.
Won't they miss out on socialization?
Between having a large family, church, playgroup, ballet class and the kids in our neighborhood our kids get lots of socialization. :)

How will you have time to home school?
Thankfully, preschoolers don't require a lot of “school time”. Yes we are busy, but other than my oldest, the other kids all take wonderfully long afternoon naps (the time which we've designated for “school time”). We are starting school this fall the first week of August to get a few weeks under our belt before the new baby comes. It's a priority that we are willing to make time for.

What will you teach (as far as concepts and curriculum)? *Lots more on this next week!
We'll be using lots of different things to teach fun concepts (counting, shapes, letters, writing etc).

As far as “curriculum” goes I'm using several different resources, including “Learning at Home” by Ann Ward and “Rod and Staff” workbooks.


Wouldn't it be nice to have the kids out of the house for a while each day?
Honestly, there are days (okay most days) when I think it would be nice to have an hour or two of uninterrupted time to get things done, laundry, dishes etc. However when I really think about it, my ultimate job in this life is to take care of the precious souls God has entrusted to me. Again, I can't do that when I'm sending them off to school everyday for 8 hours a day.

There is so much more to it and I'm more than happy to share what's on my heart but these are the questions we get most often. I'm sure I've forgotten things and I'm sure I've offended someone but you asked, I answered. Feel free to leave questions if you have them. 
*Coming next - a post of pictures, including Abram's first birthday party! 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Learning if the Hard Way

I have never been much of a writer, so to put into words what God has been doing in my life over the past month is proving to be more difficult than I thought it would be. Bear with me! :)

Those of you who know me well, know that I like to have my ducks in a row, get as much done in a day as I can, do not do well with change and I do not (I repeat DO NOT) enjoy asking for help. So, in April when my back started bothering me I realized I needed to slow down – lesson #1. I figured my body was telling me that this pregnancy was taking it's toll on me a little more than the first three. Then in May when it was getting hard just to get up and down the stairs without crying I figured, okay, I guess chasing three littles and being pregnant is just going to be hard until September.

What I hadn't planned on however was my doctor telling me that I would need to go on modified bed rest – lesson #2. * For those of you who have done the bed rest thing I applaud you* Right away I knew this would present a problem, for one I have three kids 3 years old and under, and secondly, I don't sit around doing nothing very well. After a week of that and my pain only worsening, my doctor figured the pain probably wasn't related to the pregnancy. Bla bla bla, three doctors and a physical therapist later I have a bulging disk, am issued a cane and am signed up for 6 weeks of water therapy at the local senior center!

For those of you moms who are reading this, if someone told you to rest and only be on your feet when necessary how would you respond? EXACTLY! I asked my doctor if he provided child care! :) Now, because I am who I am, I figured, no big deal, I can handle bed rest and my three kiddos – WRONG. Boy did I try though. It took me a full three days before I could choke down my pride and call my mom for help – lesson #3.

That phone call was a little over 6 weeks ago and I am so thankful that God led me to that place. I can honestly say that I have never been put in a more humbling position. Most people are quick to say “sure I can bring a meal” (or watch your kids, or whatever your need may be), but how quick are we to say “I really need help right now.” ?

So what did I learn in all this (am still learning)?
  1. I am not, nor will I ever be Super Mom.
  2. It is okay to ask for help, it has been good for my kids to see other people helping in our home and it has been good for them to realize that mommy needs their help too.
  3. It is okay for the house to not look company ready 100% of the time.
  4. My priorities need to change

I really feel like God is showing me through all of this that how I spend my time is what matters most. Am I focusing on things eternal or on the here and now? So often I miss opportunities with my kids because it's “just a minute, let me finish the dishes” or “we'll read a story once we pick up all the toys”. I think about all the chances that I've missed to have those “eternal” moments. In the long run, once this 4th baby comes, I probably won't have time to make sure the house is spotless before you come over to visit (although I'll try), and the laundry will probably never be caught up completely. It's not to say that taking care of our things isn't important, because it is, but if that's my primary focus, something more important than my back is out of alignment. The jobs He has given me right now need to be my primary focus, and that is being the best wife for Tim, and mommy I can be to my three precious blessings.

So, what's your focus? 

*Stay tuned later in the week for a post all about what we'll be doing for school! (with LOTS of pictures :) ) 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Fabulous Photo Friday - Our Week in Pictures!

 Warming up after a swim in Papa's pool!

 Playgroup at the park - Amelia wasn't in a cooperative mood :)

 Lots of time reading!

 Abram was helping the girls make brownies!

 Sophia doing the dishes

 Sister snuggles

 Amelia learned how to do a puzzle ALL BY HERSELF this week!

 A hot day in the pool - again, not in a cooperative mood!

 Watermelon at the Farmer's Market


 26 Weeks with baby #4 (this is my "hurry up and take the picture already" face)

 Amelia found a bag of clothes pins and decided to clip them on the edge of the cookie sheet...

 Bike races (and yes Sophia is wearing winter boots)


Helping in the yard

 Abram vs. the coffee table... the table won

New swim suit, ready for a dip in the pool!

 A fantastically busy week!