A Glimpse into Neverlands

IMG_0028

I find that the best conversations and learning opportunities I have with my kids are while they’re freely doing their own thing and wanting to verbalize what’s going on in their mind, imagination, little worlds.  I cherish those little peeks into their puzzlers.

IMG_0062

I decided to start adapting that learning style to parts of our homeschool day.  Instead of sticking to a strict schedule with clock times written down, we now follow more of a routine, not necessarily tethered to a clock.

IMG_0020

Our day starts with a bit of scripture time (when I remember!  I’m getting better) and discussion followed by some keyboarding and math facts practice.  After that, the older kids go off their own way to complete independent school work while I spend around 1 and 1/2 hours with Matthew.  He’s the type of “get all my school done in one sitting so I can spend the rest of the day playing outside or with toys” type of kid.  He really does enjoy our little school time together though, and so do I.

We then break for snack and play time.  After play time, I start helping the older kids until lunch.  Lunch break is good and looooong!  The kids usually talk me into reading to them. We’re reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and my voice hasn’t given up yet!  After lunch, the big kids and I take about 2 more hours to finish up our work.

Since we’ve adapted this loose routine, I find the kids are much more thoughtful and not rushing through their work.  I also find that I’m more keen to let conversations veer a bit off track when one of the kids is processing some thought.  This especially happens during literature time, which is my favorite time to let minds wander!

IMG_6104

I love being visited by the littlest ones during the school day.  I’m able to sneak in a few (a lot) of books for those cuties.  Stella, Max and Matthew flitter in and out of the classroom, steal pencils, and cause general mayhem which usually leads to laughter, or sometimes fights and tears to be honest.

IMG_0025

This way of teaching the children always makes me feel like Mrs. Darling in the first chapter of Peter Pan.  She tidies up the kids minds as they are sleeping and puts things straight and in their proper places.  A bonus to tidying up the kids minds is that I get a small glimpse into their Neverlands.

St. Francis

IMG_8284

IMG_8285

IMG_8299

IMG_8302

IMG_8306

IMG_8313

One of the many blessings of being Catholic is liturgical living.  Sunday was the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. We had our dog, Annie, and our turtle, Hermione (Fr. Chuck’s first turtle to bless), blessed at our parish then went to a nearby bird sanctuary for a short hike. St. Francis, pray for us.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

Cabin in the woods part 3

IMG_8050

Here we are at the beautiful Bear Lake.

IMG_8049

Believe it or not, the hiking paths here were pretty crowded.  However, the snow and ice gave everything a feeling of enormous stillness.  Everything was so soft and quiet.  I could have spent hours here, but poor Max and Matthew were finally done by this point.

IMG_8072

These three amassed a great collection of Junior Ranger badges on this vacation.

IMG_8075

Estes Park is such a cute little town.  The food is wonderful (and thanks to the anonymous couple that paid for our meal at Poppy’s Pizza!!!  We said a rosary for you, whoever you are!)

IMG_8076

IMG_8079

IMG_8081

Liam and Jack had mountain man training from Jason.

IMG_8084IMG_8087

Mirror selfies!  Stella was really sick for most of the trip.  She finally felt better the last few days but still begged for me to hold her the entire time.  I didn’t mind one bit!

IMG_8088

Matthew and Max honed their climbing skills.  This was a pretty steep hike and these tough little boys handled it!

IMG_8089

IMG_8093IMG_8094

Over the ridge we found blue skies and gorgeous fields.

IMG_8095

One of the kids took a picture of “butt rock” because we’re classy.

IMG_8102

Qwirkle was our game of choice while waiting for dinner.

IMG_8104IMG_8106

If only the chipmunk knew what the BBQ pit was used for…

The repeated sentence on this trip was, “When we come back here…”, so I think the kids had a great time.  Even though it’s a lot of work for me and Jason to take so many little ones on a hiking vacation, we still had a great time too.  I am looking forward to the day when our hikes can last longer and over much harder terrain.  Soon!

Cabin in the woods part 1

Here are a TON of pictures from our vacation that was allll the way back in May.  We stayed at an off-the-grid (run by nothing but a couple of solar panels, no interenet, no phone, no tv…Heaven!) cabin in the middle of nowhere in Roosevelt National Forest.  So here’s how a family of 8 vacations! Enjoy.

IMG_7867

How sweet are Jack and Stella by the fire?!

IMG_7869IMG_7872

An elk visiting for breakfast.

IMG_7875

Yes, I bathed my baby in the kitchen sink!  One shower with 8 people, so I had to make do.

IMG_7896

Jason became our bearded mountain man.  It was super cold, so we had to keep the fire going all week.  Pa Ingalls would have been proud!

IMG_7882

The kids spent hours by the creek in front of the cabin.  They spent the time rock hunting, rock tossing, and building forts.

IMG_7890IMG_7915IMG_7902IMG_7908IMG_7910

This is a completely working outhouse.  Last school year, the kids learned that outhouses in Colonial Williamsburg were called necessaries. Max kept running to this outhouse saying, “I need the necessary!”

IMG_7914

This fog was carrying some huge snow clouds behind it.

IMG_7927

When it was too cold and snowy to be outside, the kids spent time drawing or writing comics.  Here is Matthew explaining to Matilda the robot he wants her to draw.

IMG_7929

This is Matilda’s robot creation.

IMG_7918

A hill rose up behind the cabin.  This is the “mountain” Liam told everyone he almost reached the peak of.

IMG_7930

Vacation reading: The Road, Pioneer Girl, and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  Reading The Road in the middle of nowhere with pitch black nights was not a good idea.  I was kinda scared!

IMG_7931

Jack creating a comic.

More pictures to come…

No More Teacher’s Dirty Looks…

AngryTeacher

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!!

Slacker post!

We’ve been so busy with school/birthdays/moving/baby growing that I forgot about this poor ol’ blog.  So for the few readers (who are mostly my family) here are a few pictures for you…Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

So we have pictures of Matthew turning 4, Max turning 2 and Matilda turning 6.  Whew! 

Thankfully, we’re wrapping up school for this year, but then we’re moving (just to a neighborhood closer to the city for those family members thinking it’s some cross country move. :))!!!  And the same weekend we’re moving, Jack is having his First Communion!!  So it’ll be busy here for the next 3 weeks.  I’ll try to remember to keep my camera out.  Meanwhile, I’m @elainemariej on Instagram, which is where I post most of our daily pictures, so follow me there!