Monday, August 26, 2013

Homeschool ~ Weeks 1 and 2

We have two weeks of school under our belts this year.  We started week three off today.  How are things going?

Things are going well....very well.  The girls are plugging along and learning.  Yes, there were a few tears and a bit of whining the first week.  However, I am happy to say that those are less frequent now. 

I am uber organized this year.  I have been setting aside an hour or two on Sunday afternoons when Claire is napping.  I spend that time prepping everything for the coming week.  I go over my lesson plans so that I am fresh on what we will be covering.  I print out or copy any papers that we will need.  I bookmark websites that we will need to utilize.  I order library books for the coming lessons.  I prep supplies for upcoming experiments.  It has made a world of difference.  In years past I wasn't as organized and it showed.  It was not uncommon for me to have to scrounge things together at the last minute.  I am homeschooling three kids this year!  One thing I could not afford to do was to be unorganized.  I was bound and determined to stay on top of things this year and so far it is paying off.  I am less stressed and happier and so are the kids.  I asked Annie what she thought of the school year so far and she said that it was better than previous years because it was more organized!  From the mouths of babes....

We did our first science experiment last week.  We made gliders with different wing shapes to reinforce our lesson on air pressure.  It went perfectly because I was organized.  I had everything ready to go ahead of time.  The kids enjoyed it and I enjoyed watching them learn outside the classroom. 

I prepped everything for this week yesterday.  We are making our own teepees and longhouses as well as dioramas to learn about habitats.  It's going to be great!  Know why?  Because I am organized!  I am declaring "organized" my favorite word for this school year!

The Kentucky State Fair

I grew up going to my local town fair.  It was the first week in August every year and I looked forward to it all year.  I have so many memories of the fair.  I remember the goldfish I won, the funnel cakes, the sound of country music filling the air mingled with the screams and laughter of children on the rides.  I remember throwing up on my neighbor after riding the swings for the 10th time in one evening. 

The Kentucky State Fair was last week.  Carlos and I remortgaged our house so we could take our family of seven.  Joking about the remortgaging part but not joking about the cost.  Good grief it was expensive!  The entry fee, the parking, the ride tickets, the games, the food, the souvenirs.....  It was hot and muggy the day we went.  Standing on the pavement watching the kids ride on carnival rides was pure torture.  I was so sweaty and sticky by the time we got home and my shower felt pretty close to nirvana.  Carlos swears he never wants to go again.  It was exhausting.


The kids had the time of their lives!  Those smiles are priceless.  The money was well spent and the exhaustion and sweat were worth it just to see them light up.  I would wager that we will do it all again next year. 


I don't consider myself a total girly girl.  I am not adept at the application of make-up.  I don't own many dresses nor do I loose my mind over shoes.  I am not afraid to get dirty and most bugs don't phase me.  However, I adore the color pink.  I love romantic movies and books.  I like to shop for clothes.  I like to consider myself a nice blend of girly girl and a touch of tom boy. 

I have been blessed with four daughters.  Four little females that all have their own unique personalities and interests.  Annie is more tom boy than girly girl.  Lily is like her Mom, a good blend of both.  Claire is still too little to swing one way or the other.  Megan, however, is all girly girl.  She loves all things pink and glittery.  Her closet is full of dresses and nightgowns.  She has an entire make-up kit that gets brought out daily and her jewelry box is full to the brim. 

When Megan was four I signed her up for soccer.  I should have known better.  Soccer involved getting sweaty and mingling with boys.  At age four Megan detested boys.  She acted like they were a plague on the earth.  *Side note, this attitude about boys lasted for several years.  When I was pregnant with my 4th child and we found out it was going to be a boy, Megan cried.  Real honest to goodness tears that we would be bringing a boy into this world.* was a disaster.  Megan refused to participate and would stand on the field with her arms crossed over her chest.  She wouldn't participate in the drills and she would not touch the soccer ball.  In one of my more brilliant moves, I bribed her to play soccer with a fancy as all get out jersey.  The team colors were red and black.  Megan hated them.  So, I broke out my glue gun and glitter and transformed that jersey into something any little girly girl would be proud to wear.  It worked, sort of.  Megan did more than just stand on the field with her arms crossed.  She ran a bit and even kicked the ball once or twice.  Of course, that was until one of her shoes came off during a game and she got grass on her sock.  At that point I pretty much gave up. 

Fast forward a few years and I signed Megan up for her first ballet class.  She loved it!  She got to dress up in a pink leotard, wear a little pink skirt and pink ballet slippers.  Her teacher was gentle and kind with a soft voice.  Megan was on cloud nine.  She danced the entire summer.  Twirled around the house when she wasn't in class and practiced ballet positions using the deck rail as a bar.  It was adorable.  She had found her niche.  Summer ended and we tried to find another dance class to sign her up for.  We tried for several months and never found the perfect place for my gentle little girl. 

Summer was upon us again and Megan once again signed up to take dance class from that same wonderful instructor.  She loved dancing the entire summer.  Her recital was a couple of weeks ago.  She looked beautiful and was thrilled with the roses presented by her Daddy when she was finished. 

Thankfully, her wonderful instructor is teaching ballet at a local homeschool co-op this school year.  So, Megan will get to continue dancing through the school year.  She had her first class this past week and she was over the moon.  I am so happy that I was able to find something that Megan could be passionate about and I hope she continues to enjoy dance.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Summer Photo Dump

I figured I would just take a moment and recap our summer via a phone dump.  So, here goes....
Lily enjoying a local park.  Funny children have named this toy at a local park "the spinning toilet of death".  I have no idea why but they love it!
Annie and Megan have turned into quite the tree climbers this summer.  They search out any available climbing trees at whatever park we are at.
I took this photo of Annie at the start of the summer.  She looks so grown up to me.  It makes me smile and also want to cry a little.
Lily learned to ride her bike without training wheels!  She decided one day that she wanted them off and she was riding on her own within five minutes!  She has spent a good portion of the summer riding around in our cul-de-sac.
Claire has enjoyed her wading pool on the deck.  One of my favorite things about our house is the covered deck.  It is the perfect place to set up a wading pool and let the little ones splash without having to worry about sunburns or lots of bugs.
Lily underwent allergy testing at the start of summer.  We had eaten at a local frozen yogurt place one day and she had a pretty severe reaction, so we set up testing for food allergies.  The results were a reaction to about a dozen common foods.  Poor baby has spent the entire summer on a restricted diet while we have tried to figure out what caused such a reaction.  The good news is that it wasn't any of her favorite foods.  The bad news is that after all of this we still don't know.  The doctor said that could happen and that she may have had a reaction to a preservative that was present at the store.  So, our only action is to not eat there again and carry an epi pen around in case it's needed someday.
Fathers Day 2013!  The kids and I made candy filled trophies out of cups.  They were a hit.
Noah has been working on his fine motor skills this summer.
This is how our 1966 Airstream currently looks.  Carlos took the shell off the frame and is repairing it and replacing the axles.  Just one more step in the restoration process.
Cool treats on a hot day!
4th of July!  We celebrated with a BBQ with friends and a fireworks show in the driveway.
Claire goes nuts over balloons!  So, for her 2nd birthday I decked out the house with lots of them.
She was a little unsure about the whole candle/cake/singing thing but she got over it.  We celebrated at home with just our immediate family.
Just one of Noah's many looks this summer!
Swimming, bounce house and sleepover fun with friends!
A sweaty face after a run!  I started trying to get back into running this summer.  I managed quite well for two months but then an injury sidelined me.  I seem to have pulled some muscle in my leg/groin so I have been taking it easy for a couple of weeks.  Lots of quality time spent with ice and a heating pad.  Hoping to get back to it soon though!
We spent the day at the Salato Wildlife Center in Frankfort....met up with good friends and had fun.
So, summer is coming to a close and we have already started our new school year.  I am looking forward to the's my favorite season.  I am already anticipating the smell of pumpkins and apples, the taste of yummy fall foods and the cooler temps.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Life Lately

 Life Lately
We started school for the year!  I am now teaching a sixth grader, a fourth grader and a first grader!  I am praying that I am up to the task.  This is my first year homeschooling three children. 

The kids have been trying to squeeze every last drop out of summer.  The older kids have been swimming in the pool almost daily and Claire has been getting lots of use out of her water table.  Of course, we will still have summer temps for another month but now that we have gone back to school there will be less free time for such activities. 

We have been visiting local parks!  It's nice that my gang are all old enough that visiting a park isn't as stressful.  Yes, Claire can still get into to trouble at age two but the other four are good to go.  I can now spend time pushing Claire on the swings and not have to worry about one of the other kids injuring themselves in some major way.  My daughter, Megan, has dance class every Thursday afternoon and our church's playground is right around the corner, so we have spent lots of time playing there in the shade of the trees while Megan dances her little heart out.
I have also spent the last couple of weeks getting everything ready for our upcoming school year.  I completely revamped the classroom and planned out my lessons until Christmas.  It took a lot of time but I am happy with the results.
So, that's our life lately. 

2013 -2014 Schoolroom

2013 - 2014 Schoolroom
We are blessed to have a finished basement that serves as our homeschool classroom and our family/playroom.  In years past I have tried doing school out of a cabinet in our kitchen/dining room but it never worked out well.  I have found that I really need a dedicated space to homeschool my children.  So, here is our homeschool classroom for the upcoming school year.
This is the half of our finished basement that serves as our homeschool classroom.  On one end there are built in cabinets with a counter and a mini frig.  The original intent of this space was for entertaining purposes, however, I have found it functions better for us as a part of our homeschool room.  I use the cabinets for storing arts and craft supplies, the counter is home to our printer and grade/file/copy box and the frig is full of water bottles and healthy snacks to help get us through our day.
The giant dry erase board was a new addition to our classroom this year.  It is simply a piece of hardboard (also called shower board) from Lowes.  It functions as a dry erase surface quite well.  The best part is that the entire sheet was only $13!  I priced similar sized dry erase boards from office supply stores and I realized that I needed to come up with something else because there was no way that I was spending hundreds of dollars on a dry erase board.  So, after a bit of googling I found this idea and ran with it.  My hubby trimmed it out for me and I added a cute little bunting to give it flair. 

The bookshelves are also a recent addition.  I used to have a large Ikea bookshelf along this wall but it took up too much space.  So, I found some plans for smaller bookcases and asked my hubby to build them for me.  Luckily he is quite talented when it comes to building things so he banged these out in a weekend!  Having two smaller shelves enabled me to have room for my large dry erase board.  I sanded and stained the shelves myself, which is an accomplishment I am quite proud of!
The shelves are filled with our homeschool binders (Geography, Science, Literature, etc...), books that we use for reference, easy reader books and past curriculum books.  I have our calendar, school rules, sign language reference sheet and address/phone info hanging on the sides.  I topped each shelf with a framed print that I found via Pinterest and added a cute little globe and a candy jar for fun.

This a better view of the back of our classroom.  We have a world map, a blank USA map that we will fill in over the course of the year and our animal board to fill in as we study various animals throughout the year.
On the wall opposite the book shelves and dry erase board are my childrens' desks.  I scored these from another homeschooler for a grand total of $10 per desk!  The girls love having their own space to go off and work at.  Each girl has a folder in their desk that has a variety of activities to keep them busy if they find themselves with time on their hands.  So, if I am busy working with one of their sisters and they finish up their current work, they simply pull something from their folder to occupy their time until I am available to set them up with their next subject. 
I also use this wall to hang up any posters that I think will help them over the course of the year.  New this year I also incorporated a word wall.  I found these cute labels on Pinterest and used four sheets of poster board to create my word wall.  Now when the girls ask me how to spell a word, we sound it out together and add it to our word wall.  Next time they get stuck they can check the wall to see if the word is already there or not. 


I use an old entertainment system to hold our curriculum and more arts and craft supplies.  I used letter trays to organize the girls' curriculum/workbooks.  My oldest daughter, Annie, has her books on the top shelf and Megan and Lily have their curriculum housed in the lower portion.  My son's preschool activities/fine motor activities are on top of the cabinet.

This is a view of the other half of our schoolroom/family room/playroom.  We have two large couches and a large chair/ottoman, which are perfect for snuggling up on when we do reading.  We also have a small closet on this side of the room that houses the majority of the toys.  I try to be disciplined about having the kids pick up and put away the toys each night so that when we are ready to start school the next day we aren't tripping over toys.  The French doors lead out to our backyard and playground area. 
So, that's our schoolroom for this year!  I hope you enjoyed the little tour.  If you have any specific questions about any of it just let me know and I will be happy to answer them.