A Few Birthdays and a Farm

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Being very pregnant during “birthday season” around here can be a tad trying.  So this year wasn’t huge themed Pinterest Perfect Parties, but small and sweet celebrations.  First up, little Max turned 4.  He was very excited and told everyone that he spoke to that he’s not3anymorethankyouverymuch!  Max is such a sweet, empathetic child.  He always makes sure to ask me how my day was or how I’m feeling.  It’s really very sweet.

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Matilda turned 8!!!  Yes, the cake doesn’t look the best, but oh my word did it taste goooood!  Matilda requested a sleepover party.  I never knew 7 and 8 year old girls could be so loud!  My suggestion is to invest in good ear plugs for any future sleepovers you may have. 🙂 Matilda is growing into a little proficient chef.  She loves helping to bake and cook and has a few solo things that she can do now.  I love watching the kids find their passions.

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Matthew turned 6.  His aging seems to go more quickly than all the others for some reason.  He’s no longer the bouncing everywhere toddler, but a (mostly) calm kid who devours books.  He’s almost ready for chapter books, which amazes me since he only started really reading last September.

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The day before Matthew’s birthday, we went on a field trip with a little Charlotte Mason homeschool co-op we attend.  I think Stella wanted to take all of the animals home.  I mean, look at this piglet!!

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A few of the kids tried their hands at milking a cow.  I didn’t.

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We also got to feed calfs.  I think it was a sweet little birthday celebration for Matthew.  It was nice to be out in the sunshine with all the animals.  Plus we got to buy some raw milk and made mozzarella cheese with it when we got home.  Best cheese evah!!

That’s it for birthday round ups!  The next group of birthdays comes in July with Jack, Stella, and Henry will finally be here!!!!!!

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A Much Needed Slow Down

Lent…I had so many plans.  Stations of the cross, daily family rosaries, carefully planned out Lenten crafts for the kids, etc. Then my back gave out on me.  Not the “oh it’s a bit sore” kind of pain but the “I can’t believe walking is causing this many tears” kind of pain.  Most of my Lent plans flew out the window.

As always, God had different plans for me, and as always, He was right.  Having to be still has allowed me to take quiet time to pray, study my hobbies (obsessions) of rosary making and Iconography, and mostly to just sit down and chat with my kids.  My not being able to move much has also given my kids the opportunity to serve someone in need.  It’s amazing to see them brighten up when they have a chance to help me out by handing out snacks at snack time, or getting me a book from across the room.  I sometimes forget that they need the chance to earn graces as much as I do.

So I’m glad my Lent isn’t going the way I planned.  It’s going the way He planned, and it’s much, much better that way.

 

First things first…

Before I delve into one thousand and one posts about what and how we use our home school curriculum, I’d like to talk a little about how I keep all those balls I juggle up in the air.

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Let’s face it, teaching multiple grade levels at once is TOUGH! So to stay on top of things, I’ve come up with a few little tricks to make the school day run more smoothly.

First, assignment sheets!  Every evening I fill out an assignment sheet for the next day.  This details all of the work each child is supposed to do that day.  The kids have to finish every thing I list on the sheet before they can call the school day done.  If there are incomplete subjects done, they have to finish it on their own time.  All work is due Friday by the end of the school day.  Honestly though, the kids never have problems finishing the assigned work.  And this is for 3rd grade and up.  2nd grade down kiddos do most of their work with me. 🙂

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Second, I must be prepared!  Once a month or so, I have a copy or print out fiesta.  I copy math forms (used in Saxon), religion quizzes, and print out anything needed for crafts etc.  I made the mistake of not doing this last school year (new move, little baby to take care of, excuse, excuse, excuse!) and I found myself constantly running back and forth from the school room to the office to make copies often.  Those little minutes add up!  Not to mention if I’m out of the class room for more than 5 minutes, the giggles start and the school work stops.  Not that I mind the cute giggles!

Third, and most important, prayer!!!!  I try to start each school day with prayer time.  I’ll admit I forget more than I like (which means a lot during our busy morning routine), and those days are always hardest.  Prayer in the morning calms and centers us so well!  I also set a reminder to go off every day at noon for the Angelus.  And I found a wonderful scriptural Rosary book we’ve been using.  My goal is to say at least one decade a day.

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I hope to eventually add “circle time” in the mornings where we read a bit of scripture, pray and practice reciting some of the kids poetry memorization.  But in order to do this, I have to actually wake up before the kids do.

Yes, I realize the pictures in this post are random.  C’est la vie.

It only took 6 years

We’re on our 6th year of homeschooling.  This seems so strange to me.  I never intended to homeschool, and up until this point, I considered us a “new” homeschool family.  I never really let it settle in my mind that this is a permanent situation.

Until this year.  And this year has been such an amazing school year so far, that I find myself eagerly looking forward to homeschooling years beyond this one.

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This year I’ve embraced my homeschool vocation and have really allowed education to thoroughly weave its way through our day to day life.  And because of my attitude change, my children are much happier and eager to learn.  IMG_0353

I know that my attitude isn’t the sole reason why our school year is going so well. 🙂  Aside from my kids trying their best and just being awesome kids, I’ve finally found the mix of curriculums and resources that work extremely well for our family.  So over the next few weeks, I’ll give little reviews about different programs and insights to how we use them.

I’m not an expert on homeschooling, but I’m getting to be an expert on my kids!  Perhaps someone out there can benefit reading how to homeschool a kid with ADHD or how to manage teaching 4 grade levels while taking care of a toddler and a baby while juggling (kidding!) or how to encourage little ones to keep a nature journal.  These are things I’m learning along the way, so maybe, just maybe I can help someone out there!

So stay tuned for an overload of homeschooling posts!

Cabin in the Woods part 2

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Picking up where we left off…Liam drawing on a snowy day.

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Matilda stole the camera for a quick selfie.

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The kids found these really fantastic building blocks that were made from stone. A quick google told me they were made from sand quartz, chalk, and linseed oil.

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Tilly bird watching.  Two little magpies greeted us every morning.  The kids loved watching the magpies play and fly around.

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Zelda was saved by Link, Luigi, and Michelangelo.

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Liam is special.

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The snow in the forest was breathtaking.

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Can you spot the chipmunk?

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I’m really impressed with how well the littlest guys kept up with all the hiking.  I was holding Stella, so she made me do all the work.

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I took so many pictures of Moraine park, but I couldn’t capture it well.  This area was so beautiful!  The fog lifted after a while and herds of elk grazed along the park.  All so wonderful.

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Just a few more pictures to come…

Capulin Volcano National Monument

Around January, the husband and I were discussing vacations.  We’ve been on one together before we had kids.  We didn’t even go on a honeymoon!  So we decided to change that this year.  On our two week vacation our first stop was Capulin Volcano National Monument.

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Capulin is an extinct volcano that is part of the Raton-Clayton Volcanic field, and the kids were amazed that we got to hike into the crater.  However we first had to drive two miles up the volcano with a sheer drop off on one side of the road.  I would have taken pictures of the drive, but I couldn’t look out the window!

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Once at the top, we hiked to the very bottom of the crater.  I really, really wanted to hike around the rim as well, but it was really windy and the littlest ones had a hard time walking.  It’s hard to tell how far down we were from these pictures, but it was far and the kids loved it.

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After the hike, the kids didn’t want me taking any more pictures of them.  The only reason they’re all looking at the camera in this one is because I yelled, “Look! A mule deer!”

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On a clear day, the views from the top are amazing.

More to come about our next destination…

No More Teacher’s Dirty Looks…

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The school year is DONE! This was our family’s 5th year homeschooling, and I have to say it was, by far, hardest.  The end of last year was tough because I was very pregnant and we were trying to sell our house.  Because of moving and having a baby, I didn’t prepare as much during the summer as I should have for this school year.  I also, for some insane reason, decided to change curricula.  Let’s just say that next school year, we are running back to Kolbe Academy.

Here are are a few things I learned from this school year:

1. Make a schedule and stick to it.  The day doesn’t have to be scheduled down to 15 minute increments, but having math, lunch, etc at the same time every day really keeps the kids in a better mood.

2. The more positive I am, the more positive the kids are.  It’s hard, really hard sometimes to stay chipper all day.  This year Liam was in 4th, Jack was in 3rd, Matilda was in 1st/2nd, and Matthew was learning how to read.  On top of that I was caring for a toddler and a newborn.  There is always a lot going on here!!   But I found that the days where I found humor in everything and joked around with the kids all day were some of the most productive days we’ve had.  Don’t get me wrong, the kids complained a lot about doing school, but what kid doesn’t!  But I’m the one setting the attitude example, not the kids.

3. A messy house is ok.  Really, it is.  At the top of my list of things that stress me out is clutter.  But realistically, there will be clutter in my house.  We homeschool 6 kids, and that equals mess.  I can’t change that.  But what I can change is how I feel about it.  I read a great quote by Simcha Fisher that hit me in the heart. “Given the choice,  I will  almost always choose cleaning up a mess over keeping things under reasonable control.”  Yep.

I’ll be back with summer reading lists and activities and curriculum reviews!  Yay for summer!!