Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: As They Have Grown

Every year for the past 6 years we have taken the kids to Hoffman's Chocolates to have their picture taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Last night after we got home from this year's picture taking I could not believe how much they have grown. Take a look....






And Finally.......

Monday, December 17, 2012

Hug Your Kiddos....

    I have taken a break from the internet for the last couple days. Mostly because I just can not stomach any more media coverage regarding the recent tragic event that took place in Newtown CT. I can not even begin to imagine the grief and emptiness that those parents are feeling. I felt their grief as though I was grieving for my own..... I know that is not healthy, and so I had to remove myself from all of the coverage and stories and just take a minute to reflect. I am lucky that my children are still here to hold....and I am so grateful.
    As parents we sometimes take for granted that tomorrow will always come. We have a false sense of security that our children will be safe no matter where they go. We homeschool now, but there was a time when my daughter attended school and my son attended a part time pre-school and we just always dropped them off and took for granted that they would be there and be well when we picked them up later that afternoon.
    I don't know what the answer is. We can't live in a bubble and we certainly can't live in fear.  What we can do is cherish every moment we get with our children and be present with them. Neither us as parents or them as children are promised tomorrow. Live in the now, enjoy every moment no matter how small. Hug your children, kiss them, listen to them, tell them you love them. Most of all, please pray for those who have lost their loved ones in this horrifying ordeal and for those young children that have been called home all too young. May God watch over those families and provide them with comfort.

Friday, December 14, 2012

All About The States....

    The kids and I have been studying the individual states of the United States of America. We started during the summer and have slowly been working our way through the states one by one. This has been a very fun and interesting unit to study and I was very surprised out how much the kids enjoyed learning about all the different facts and places.

    We have used a variety of materials while studying the different states. Each child has their own States work book that tells a little bit about each state and includes some fun activities for the kids to do. We have not really gone in alphabetical order as the book is designed because I have let the kids pick the states they wanted to study first. ( Caleb loves Texas and California for some reason lol)

We also have used puzzles and flashcards. The flashcards are filled with all kinds of fun facts and the kids love the flashcards so much that sometimes I see them playing with them on their own even when we aren't doing school :)

I also found the cutest game called The Scrambled States of America Game ( there is also book that you can buy separately that goes with it). The kids love to play this game and it can easily be adapted for all ages and skill levels.

We of course listened to the Fifty Nifty United States Song. It is very catchy and very easy for them to memorize. If you have never heard it before you can catch the you tube video here:

Lastly, as we have learned about the different states, if the kids can recall the location and the capital later when we are reviewing, we write the state name on our map that is in our school room. This has been a great way for them to review and a good visual for them to see how many states they have learned about.

What activities have you used to teach the states to your children?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Many Hats of A Homeschooling Mom

    My neighbor and I were talking the other day ( she is also a homeschooler) and it seems that some people are under the impression that because we home school we just sit around the house all day eating Bon Bons and watching soap operas while the children run around like wild animals!
    Now I know that every mom has a lot on her plate. Working moms have lots to balance both inside and outside the house. Stay at home moms, whose children attend school, have to take care of the house as well as activities and school functions. Home school moms have to do a little bit of everything. All of us, as mothers, are just trying to find that balance and raise our children the best we can. When I heard some of the misconceptions of what a home school mom actually does, I thought I would try to lay out some of  the many hats a homeschooling mother has to wear. I know that many of these hats can describe any mom, but i specifically wrote them with the homeschooling mom in mind.

1. Teacher (of every subject) - this one is the most obvious but also probably the most time consuming. Being a teacher at home not only means conducting the lessons and helping the children with their work, but it also means researching curriculum, planning lessons, grading papers, planning filed trips and much more. I don't think you can truly appreciate the time and effort it takes to research through curriculum and pick out ones that are suitable for your child and then plan lessons, sometimes for multiple grades all at once, unless you have experienced it for yourself.

2. Referee / Mediator - this might not apply to everyone, but I am sure that for those of us with more than one child this is a very big one. When your children are home all day with each other they form a strong bond. With that bond sometimes comes A LOT of arguing and bickering! As the parent that is home with them it is our job to break up arguments and mediate resolutions.

3. Housekeeper - Many homeschooling families, though not all of them, operate on one income. In most cases this means that the mom is home with the children and is responsible for the daily schooling and up keep of the house while the father is at work. I personally find this one the hardest to stay on top of. I do not work outside of the house, BUT I am working all day long with the children. Plus, to be honest with you, they call it home school but we actually spend a good bit of our time running around to field trips,clubs, sports, home school meetings, etc. Sometimes it is hard to keep up on all the house work, but for the most part the homeschooling mom is still responsible for the cleaning, laundry, dishes, etc.

4. Cook - In addition to being responsible for the housekeeping, us moms are also responsible for a majority of the cooking, and because our children are home all day this usually involves cooking multiple meals a day!

5. Chauffeur -  I am sure every parent can relate to feeling like a chauffeur. We spend so much time running our children from one activity to the next. Factor in doctor appointments, grocery shopping, errand running, field trips, church activities,and you find yourself in the car a good majority of the week!

6. Mom - Sometimes us homeschooling moms get so caught up in the schooling part of our day, that we forget that we are a mom first and that our children mostly need our love and attention.

7. Wife - I hear a lot of homeschooling moms that are so exhausted from their days and their hectic schedules that they don't take the time to tend to their husbands. This is a really important one, in my opinion, because a family only functions well if the mom and dad are both happy and healthy. When one parent is feeling neglected or unimportant it can make for a bad situation at home.

These are just some of the hats that I could think of that a homeschooling mother wears. There are many many more that we could mention. What hats can you add?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Thursday Treats

For this Thursday Treats I decided to make by mother in law's "No Bake Cookies".

These are by far my husband's most favorite cookies and the kiddos like them too. Plus I love them because they are extremely easy and quick to make!

Enjoy -

1/2 cup of butter ( 1 stick salted)
2 cups of sugar
4 tablespoons of Hershey's coco
1/2 cup of milk
1/2 cup of peanut butter ( creamy)
3 cups of quick cooking oats
1 tablespoon of vanilla
a pinch of salt

Mix butter,sugar,Hershey's coco and milk in a medium sized pan and bring to a full rolling boil for 2 minutes.( do not over cook)Then immediately remove it from the heat.
Quickly add in the peanut butter,oatmeal,vanilla and salt and mix together until all ingredients are blended together. ( If you feel like the ingredients are not forming together well enough you can add a bit more peanut butter)

Then using a tablespoon, you will scoop the cookies directly onto the counter for them to harden. ( I usually put wax paper down on the counter before scooping the cookies.) Form the cookie shape as you scoop them out, you can use the back of the spoon to form a more flat shape. 

It only takes about 15 - 20 minutes for the cookies to harden, and they will just lift right off of the counter. ( or you can use a spatula).
Once they harden a little bit they are ready to eat!! Yum!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Lego Land...... he loves his Batman and Robin!!
Love This Picture @ My Gym :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Different Perspective

   I read a blog today on another website that I wanted to share with everyone. The blogger has recently lost a child ( at 4 days old) and was reflecting on what is really important about this homeschooling journey we are on. I really think that everyone should read this posting ( Kleenex in hand). The original article can be found here ( please read it) :


  The story really made me stop and think about what my priorities are in our school. Is it absolutely imperative that everything be done exactly when I have it planned and in a perfect manner? Is it worth fighting with my kids over something not being done just exactly right?
   I am the first to admit I am pretty much a perfectionist. I tend to stick to a very rigid schedule and expect a lot out of my two young children. What is that drive towards perfection doing for them though? I think maybe I need to reevaluate what is important to me. Tomorrow is never promised. Of course I think that education is important, but isn't building character and forming long lasting healthy relationships important too?
   I need to learn to take a step back and enjoy each minute that I have been blessed with. I want to enjoy my children as they are learning, not be stressed out about if their work is perfect. For me I think this means more flexibility and more hands on learning, more fun. Isn't that one of the biggest reasons I started homeschooling to begin with?
   So from now on my goal is to try and not let those little things bother me and to try and enjoy our school days instead of dictate them. I am of course realistic and I know that life happens, schedules get busy, and parents get stressed, but I think that at least making a conscious effort at it will make a world of a difference.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Monthly Wrap Up: November

    Like most families our every day lives are very busy and filled with lots of different activities. I have decided to do a monthly wrap up at the end of every month in order to summarize some of the great things we did that month and as a way for friends and family to be able to see some pictures and see everything we have had going on. Enjoy!

    November was a very busy month for us. Cheerleading was full swing and we participated in two different competitions and came in first place for our division at BOTH competitions.

 We also did a squid dissection class with our homeschool group at the local science museum.

After Thanksgiving we of course decorated the house for Christmas and put up our Christmas tree.
 We also had the arrival of our Elf on The Shelf, Nikolas........

And last but certainly not least, we visited Walt Disney World Orlando and enjoyed the Osborne Family Lights and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.
I can't wait to see what adventures December will bring!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Ideas for Making Christmas About Others

    If your children are anything like mine I am sure they have a long list of things they would like to see under the tree come Christmas morning. Although I love Christmas time and I truly enjoy seeing their faces light up on Christmas morning as they come downstairs and see their gifts, I also worry about them getting too caught up in the receiving and forgetting about the giving.
    This year I wanted my children to really focus on the spirit of giving and to realize the real meaning of Christmas. Normally we would do a chocolate advent calendar to help them count down the days until Christmas, but this year we will be focusing on others as we count down the days.
     Here are a list of ideas my daughter and I compiled to celebrate the season and count down the days to Christmas:

1. Family movie night ( we ordered Chinese food, watched a Christmas movie, and snacked on holiday treats)

2. Baking Christmas cookies.

3. Write Grandparent Letters ( the kids are compiling a list of why they love each of their grandparents and why they are so special and we are going to mail these off with their Christmas cards to the grandparents)

4. Decorate Daddy's Car ( we are using sticky notes and washable car markers to let Dad know how much he means to us and how much we love him)

5. Thank you letters to Librarians and bring them a special sweet treat. ( as homeschoolers we utilize the library a lot so this seemed like a good way to give back a little)

6. Make a Special Christmas craft ( clay nativity set)

7. Go to the movies to see a special Christmas movie. ( We are thinking Rise of the Guardians)

8. Invite friends over for a cookie decorating party and hot chocolate.

9. Make thank you cards and goodies for the children's leaders at church that serve our family each week.

10. Make goodies for each of our neighbors and deliver them each with a special note attached.

11. Go to Toys R Us and have each child pick out a small toy to be donated to the Toys for Tots program.

12. Polar Express Night ( watch polar express than pop popcorn and make hot chocolate and drive around in the car listening to Christmas music and looking at all the Christmas lights.) I originally got this idea from Pintrest and it can be traced to this blog: http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com/blog/2011/12/mini-van-express-tickets.html

13. Tape quarters or dollars to vending machines and little gum ball machines as a special surprise to the next person who comes by.

14. Bring canned goods to our local pantry.

15. Clean out our rooms before Christmas and donate some used toys and clothes to those who need them.

16. Make a special ornament for the tree.

17. Bring donuts to our local fire/ police station.

18. Bake and decorate a Happy Birthday Jesus cake.

How do you and your family celebrate the season of giving?

Our New Homeschooling Room

While it may not be necessary to have a specific room dedicated to homeschooling, our family found it to be something that was extremely helpful for us!
This is our second year of homeschooling. For the first year we conducted our school days at the dinning room table and moved books and paper,etc back and forth when it was time for dinner or if we were having guest over. This proved to be exhausting and for someone as organized as me it was a very difficult transition.
This year my amazing husband turned half of our one car garage in to a school room! The impact has been great. Everyone has their own desk area (including me) and everyone is always organized and ready for their day when we start school. I could not be happier with the room and have personalized it just for our family.

Where does your family do their schooling? And how do you get creative when homeschooling in small places?