A peak inside our homeschool and a really great podcast

Some people don’t really count preschool at home as homeschooling but in my world it totally counts. I’ve been calling our family a homeschool family since my children were born. Homeschooling is so much more than the time spent on book work. If you’re a homeschooler you’ll understand that homeschooling is both a mind set and a way of life.

Yesterday was the first day of school in our area. Over the summer I never really stopped doing preschool activities with E, I just kind of worked them around other summer fun and family time.

I recently was super excited to be able to purchase quite a bit of Mother Goose Time curriculum from a friend who was selling several months worth at a tiny fraction of the cost. Instead of telling you all about it I’ll invite you into our day through pictures and let you see for yourself.

This month’s theme is Alphabet Island. It was actually the Mother Goose time June theme but since I bought it from someone who didn’t use it, we’re using it in August. It doesn’t matter at all what order the months are used. Today we are focusing on the letter’s R and Q and the theme of the day was all about crabs.

 

After dancing around to our circle time song (which I don’t use every day or else I would go crazy from it being stuck in my head!), E put up the number 15 on our calendar and we reviewed the month and day of the week. We had a huge storm roll through this morning that left flooding in some areas so E appropriately moved the dark clouds and the rain to the empty spot on the board. Without being too lengthy I introduced her to the letter Q and the letter R discussing the sounds they make. E looked at the crab photo and noticed that the crab’s eyes are black.

Each month of the curriculum comes with a CD of music that matches the theme of the month. This month’s CD is Dancing on Alphabet Island. It’s reggae inspired music, a very danceable beat. The ribbons above come one for each month but since E already knows her colors I just gave them to her and T.J to dance with. 

 

 

Today’s craft was a crab made out of a soufflé cup filled with red sand so it makes noise when it’s shaken. It came with a sheet of different eyeball stickers and E decided to make a monster crab with using 3 sets of eyeballs. The little lego things came with the curriculum and they have all sorts of uses. Today’s suggested activity was to float them in water and let the kids pretend to be crabs and use salad tongs as their “claws”. We did that one outside!

The curriculum comes with a square that can be tossed and new photos can be put in the sleeves each day but I had gotten rid of the one I had before I was offered a good deal on more of the curriculum. Since I didn’t have the square to use for today’s game, T (my husband) made a cardboard one for the kids last night. For the game we used a towel to toss it into the air and every time it landed on the crab the kids would do the crab walk. If you haven’t done that in a while- it’s a good work out! The curriculum provided word cards as well for kids who are reading but we stuck with the photos.

While T.J napped E and I worked on her alphabet island workbook. I was explaining to her the difference between the words aquarium and aquatic and I used the example of an aquatic center. She asked, “Can we go to an aquatic center?” When I surprised her by saying yes she gave me the honor of being told that I was “sometimes nice.”

We really did pack up and leave! I had been wanting to check out the new aquatic center built here in town and it was raining so it seemed like a perfect time. We spent about 2 hours there and then got home right before their daddy did.

I think E’s favorite part of the day was when we watched youtube videos about crabs. There was one video where an octopus was eating crabs inside a crab trap and then escaped. It must have left an impression on her because she kept talking about it and she insisted daddy watch it when he got home.

On another note, this morning I listened to this podcast by Amy at Raising Arrows. It resonated so much with me that I really felt emotional while listening to it. Do you feel burdened by homeschooling? Listen to these words of grace and wisdom that are so freeing!

https://www.raisingarrows.net/2017/08/homeschooling-purpose-rap-podcast-019/

Here’s a hint… and “World Schooling”

This morning before the kids woke up while I got dressed and tidied up my bedroom and bathroom I listened to this power of moms podcast. I listened to it a long time ago and I’ve been thinking about it and wanting to listen to it again.

So here’s your hint… We’re going to be traveling internationally. That’s kind of an understatement about the situation but it’s your hint for now!

Like most areas of my life I’ve spent so much mental energy thinking about how to make this trip productive I’ve forgotten about the fact that this trip is going to be fun and adventurous and educational and an amazing bonding time for our family! We are going to a place in the world that will allow us to interact with people from all over the world all at once!

 

Anyways, this podcast is so inspiring and so much fun to listen to! Listen in on a conversation with a mom with 5 kids who took them on a trip around the world. It includes how they afforded it, comical stories from their trip, tips for traveling for young children and more. She also makes a case for why experiencing radically different things as a family is really positive for a family. I also really now love the word “Worldschooling”. Yeah, that’s my hint, we’re going to become a World school family!

https://powerofmoms.com/encore-make-family-travel-dream-reality-episode-177/

Family fun from this weekend and Monday goals

My husband has been on a different work assignment at work the last couple weeks and he’s been working 4 days a week (day shift) and has had 2, 3 day weekends in a row. It has been AWESOME! This past weekend we crammed so much fun stuff in.

Saturday morning was cooler than usual so T wanted to bring the kids to the zoo. Once we got to the city though it had already gotten above 90 degrees. I remembered someone telling me about this indoor kids place called the Wonder Place so we brought the kids there instead. They had an indoor climbing area and a dress up station and a pretend market and restaurant, lots of imaginative play stuff. They had a craft room and a water table and a sand area. The kids had a blast!

http://www.thewonderplace.com

We ate lunch at the Root Cafe which is a place that uses locally sourced ingredients. It was neat to show E the map on the wall that showed the location of the different farms that grew the food we were eating and also the scrapbook that had photos of the farms. http://www.therootcafe.com/menu/

That same day we went to their grandma and grandpa’s and visited with two of my husbands siblings and their kids. Doesn’t T.J look so cute on Grandpa’s tractor?!  I can’t remember but this may have been his first time on the tractor.

Today it’s Monday and I have goals for today! I’ll share my goals and then you drop your goals in the comments below! We’ll help each other get stuff done!

  1. do mother goose preschool time with the kids (which includes sand and tin foil boats today-they are going to have so much fun!)
  2. do my Monday chore- 1 hour of mopping and vacuuming and picking up the floor area
  3. remember to read the kids today’s chapter from the book of Proverbs
  4. get done my daily morning chores
  5. since T figured out how to get the jets to turn on in our jacuzzi tub, give the kids a super bubbly bath with the jets on!
  6. I realized that it’s been over month since I’ve painted my toenails and they look um, bad. lol! Give myself a pedicure!

What does your Monday look like? Enjoy your day!

So this happened today…

I don’t know if I’ve ever read the book of Obadiah or not but this morning it was part of my Bible reading plan. It’s just one chapter long and as I was reading about the Edomites towards the end of the chapter I start thinking, “wait, is he no longer talking about Edom? It sounds like he’s talking about the whole world now. Is this prophecy?” I looked up the Bible Project’s video on Obadiah and it’s really good. Watch it and read the book!


This morning I took the kids to story time at the library and theme of the day was shapes and colors. This afternoon we continued the color and shape theme by getting out the new play dough set I picked up off the clearance shelf yesterday at Wal-Mart.  After we cleaned up dad helped E with some handwriting practice while I snuck outside to set up this surprise!

It’s bubble bath in the kiddie pool and ice on top the tarp and in the bowl. I came in the house after setting it up and looked out the window squinting at the pool saying, “Hey, E! Something strange is happening to the pool, we better go check it out.” I guess my tone of voice was a little too serious because she got scared and didn’t want to look! We had to convince her it was going to be something she would like and to go look. She tip toed until she got close enough to see what it was and then got really excited! T.J liked the ice and entertained himself by putting it in a little beach toy and carrying it around the yard a few pieces at a time until it all melted.

Hope you’re enjoying your summer and finding ways to stay cool!

2 minute date and other fun stuff

So today I did some cool stuff. This morning I took the kids to the splash pad at city park. We got there around 9:00 so we could try and beat the heat but it was HOT! When we left a couple hours later it was already 98 degrees and this afternoon got over 100 degrees so I had to come up with some stuff to do with the kids indoors. E has been asking to make slime ever since she made a slime experiment a couple months back at the library’s “mad scientist club.” I googled “slime for kids” and came up with this very easy and totally fun slime. Seriously-it took about 30 seconds to stir together and E loved it! I was pretty impressed with this stuff! 3 ingredients- glitter glue, contact solution and baking soda. The slime was strong enough and stretchy enough to stretch across the room but pliable enough to play with like play dough. It felt like silly putty- just an enormous ball of it!

http://www.elmers.com/projects/project/elmers-glitter-recipe 

 

While at Wal-Mart today I saw on clearance these cute little toy mailboxes and while I very rarely buy my kids toys for no reason they were only $2.50 so I surprised them with them. Totally worth the money when E “read” to me her letter that told me she loved me as high as the trees. (how cute is that!?) When I tucked her in tonight I told her that hearing her read me her letters was my favorite part of the day.    

 

While at Wal-Mart I picked up one of these dark chocolate with chili bars. I was thinking about it because I had recently been reading a date night at home idea on tolovehonorandvacuum.com and she mentioned these chocolate bars. It was fun to bring it home and having something new to try with T. He was headed to work but we tried it together and I dubbed it a “2 minute date”. We both agreed the concept of mixing the chocolate with the chili was good but would have been better if it had been like a 80% dark chocolate because at 47% the predominate flavor was just the sweet. Anyways! It was something new and we laughed. 

And why do I not make my kids smoothies more often!? Tonight they sucked down both spinach and cod liver oil that I added to the fruit and yogurt. I need to do smoothies way more often! 

Helping my 4 year old be more independent..

I’m wanting my daughter to learn to be more independent and do things for herself. I realize though that in our home there are some obstacles to her being independent because she is so tiny! I was looking at her closet and drawer and decided to make a few changes to simplify things for her and help her to be able to reach her clothes.

I lowered the bar that the clothes hang from to her height on one side of the closet. On the right side I left the bar up high and put all her winter clothes and clothes that are too big that I am saving for next year. Now, I can tell her to go put a shirt on and it’s a job she can do!

I also marked each of the drawers with a little drawing. Under wear, socks and shorts. When I’m folding laundry I can pass her her things and say, “put theses in the drawers they belong in,” and she can open the drawers and see my drawing and know what goes where.

I did take photos to share with you. I first walked around the house repeatedly for two days with the laptop and my cell phone in hand trying to get decent enough 4G to create a hot spot with my phone. I even took the laptop and cell phone outside to try and get some coverage. I’m currently at Chick Fil A with the kids while some one looks at our house. I’m connected to the wi-fi but the photos still won’t load. Oh well, I give up! I’m sure you’ve seen a closet before 🙂

Yep, we live too far out in the country to have decent wi-fi at the house. We tried a couple different providers but I would guess 80% of the time it didn’t work so it just wasn’t worth paying for.

Anyways! Share with me little ways you help your little kids feel like big kids around the house.

 

What’s in a name? Giving children a family identity

“We’re the Snow family, mama.” E said to me the other day. I smiled the same way I do whenever I write “Snow” on the left hand corner of an envelope.

As a child that’s something I couldn’t do. I remember in elementary school an assignment that was supposed to be really simple reducing me to frustration and tears. The instructions were ‘draw a picture of your family and hang it on this wall for parent’s night.’. I sat there with my colored pencils trying to come up with a way to represent my very complicated family. It was easy for the other kids- mom, dad, themselves, some siblings. For me, I had a mom and dad but they were divorced. Each of them were remarried and both their spouses had kids and I also had a couple half siblings.

I asked my teacher what I should do but she couldn’t really understand the emotion this assignment brought out. I thought that if I drew me and my brother with my moms family that it would leave out my dad and if I drew us with my dad’s family the opposite would happen. I didn’t want to draw every one together because honestly I couldn’t imagine my mom and dad in the same room. In the end, I drew my mom and step dad and his and their children on one side of the page, my dad and step mom and her children on the other side and I drew my brother and I alone in the center of the page. I didn’t know where we belonged. I didn’t have a family identity.

I used to have the same issue with things like holiday cards. (I was a very creative kid and loved mailing stuff!) Who’s name do I put in the left hand corner to represent our family when we had 3 last names under one roof? I sent our cards with no return name on them, simply an address, there was no name that I could put that was a family identity.

My husband and I just celebrate our 7 year wedding anniversary. I’ve been told that it was suprising that my brother and I both wanted to get married at a young age after having grown up the children of divorced parents. I can’t speak for him but for me I view my marriage as a chance to create something that I never had. Through marriage and having children I have created an identity and a name. A single unit that I belong to. The name of this blog is a testament to how much I love having a family name as an identity.

In life we have the choice to continue unhealthy cycles which unfortunately is what many people do. Or, we have the choice to run hard the other way and learn from where we came from and choose to do something different, to create something better.

Ask God for help and for wisdom. He is strong enough to “…give unto them beauty for ashes…” (Isaiah 61:3)

And remember, if you are a follower of Jesus, you have an identity and a family in Him which trumps any other identity and is more secure than our earthly families. Ultimately there awaits us a healing and a redemption which includes a new name. With this post, I’m not trying to say marriage and babies is the only way to find healing from the past or to create an identity. Marriage is temporary in the light of eternity where believers are the bride of Christ and belong to Him.

“…for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren..” Heb. 2:11

“One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Eph. 4:6

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” Jn 1:12

“…To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give hime a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” Rev. 2:17

 

 

 

Happy Father’s Day to my husband

From the time we meet I remember how much you wanted to be a dad. I remember how so much of what you talked about centered around your hopes for having children in the future. Your desire for fatherhood is one of the things that made me fall in love with you.

We didn’t reveal to each other the wedding vows we had separately written before our wedding day but when we got to the alter we both vowed that any children that came from our marriage we would raise in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We were so looking forward to getting to be parents!

I remember the first month we got married you were disappointed we hadn’t gotten pregnant yet! The second month you were thrilled with the news that you were going to be a dad.

 

Fatherhood instead became a road of pain, grief and confusion as we both had to learn what it meant to parent a child that was in heaven instead of with us. You were and are a good dad to Titus by the way you cared for me and kept us together.

1 year and 3 months later you got home from a night shift and I got to tell you that you were a dad again. The following March your princess was born.

   

Tanner, I have never seen a father daughter relationship any where like the relationship you and her have. I remember all the hours when I was pregnant with her that you spent making her bedroom beautiful and picking out dresses and buying the best and softest cloth diapers you could find!

      

Because of the emergency situation that happened after she was born I couldn’t be with her but I felt a total peace because you were with her. Her first photos, bath and skin to skin you got to experience and I although I feel sad for me that I missed out on that I don’t feel she missed out on anything because she had you.

Everything you do in your day to day life and every decision you make you base off of what is best for your family. You truly give your life for your family.

Your patience and your kindness during the sleep deprivation of parenthood far outweighs my own!

I love the way it looks so easy for you to put aside everything and just be present with our children to do whatever it is they want to do. You are their favorite play mate.

When our second son was born I named him after you because if he grows up to be a man like his daddy, I will be a proud mommy and the future world will be a better place.

When T.J had feeding problems in the NICU, you lovingly syringe feed him one tiny drop of milk at a time.

Before going in for the c-section I said to you, “if anything happens and I can’t hold him after he is born please make sure you do skin to skin contact with him on your chest. That’s really important to me that he has that.” And as soon as you were able to you did and I love you for that.

I’m thankful today and every day that our children are being raised by a man of integrity like you. I’m thankful I can say to my son, be a man like your daddy. One day when our daughter is grown I’ll tell her to look for a man that will treat her as well as you treat her and me. You set a pretty high bar!

Thank you for all the hours and difficult shifts you work to provide for your family. And thank you that after getting up at 4:30 a.m, at 8:00 at night you are playing one more game of hide and seek before rocking our four year old to sleep like a baby because you just want another chance to hold her.

It’s so cliche to end this letter like this but the saying is true, the only thing better than having you as my husband is our children having you as their father.

Happy Father’s Day! I love you!

Psalm 103:13 “Like as a father pitieth his children. so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.”

Bible time with little children

At some point during the day when things are calm and I’m not in the middle of doing anything- usually late morning but sometimes in the afternoon, I say to the kids, “Bible time!”

I have a toddler and a very active four year old. Sitting down for a Bible lesson just isn’t going to happen right now. Each day we go to the same spot- the nursery. It’s baby proof, there are toys and a rocking chair. I close the door so the baby doesn’t escape and I pull a bucket of toys out of the closet. They can play, the only rule is no talking during Bible time.

I start off by singing the same song every day. “This is the day that the Lord has made.” I clap my hands, act animated and they ignore me and play with their toys. I don’t ask them to participate. I read them a chapter out of the book of Proverbs. Today since it’s the 8th I read them Proverbs chapter 8. After I ask E, “Is there anything you want to pray about?” She always responds no. (one time she responded horses so I thanked God for horses.) I then ask T.J, “is there anything you want to pray about?” He can’t talk so he doesn’t say much lol.

That’s it. I then tell them we are done. It lasts about 10 or less minutes.

Why do I do this?

Because even if they are just ignoring me and playing with their toys I think it’s important that they see their mother reading the Bible each day. Even if they don’t participate I think it’s important that they hear me pray over them, I believe that eventually they will learn to pray by hearing my prayers. I don’t think they comprehend any of the Proverbs but I believe that the discipline of faithfully reading them the scriptures will eventually grow fruit as they grow in understanding. I don’t know when that will happen but I will keep offering it through reading it to them until one day they do understand.

A couple other benefits are they have to practice a certain measure of self control since there is the no talking during Bible time rule. Also, they are hearing a portion of good literature and proper english each day that from an academic stand point is important for language development.

One day maybe they will join in with me for the singing. Even if they don’t I know E knows the song after hearing me sing it every day and I know T.J recognizes it.

I don’t try and get them to participate in any way other than  making them be in the same room as me and not talk. Our Bible time gives them an opportunity each day to observe my relationship with God and I pray for them that they will come to know God themselves.

I’m not 100% consistent but most days we get it done. Sometimes if my husband is driving I use that time as an opportunity to read to my trapped audience. 🙂

Do you have a Bible time with your toddlers and preschoolers? If so, what do you do?

 

A morning routine and real life with kids

The other day I gave you a peak into using the checklist on the Flylady app for the evening, today I thought I’d give you a peak into our morning. As you’ll see we are not highly scheduled people at all. I like the app because there is no time frame on it. I just check off the next item as time comes up during my morning.

This morning we are getting a bit of a late start. We went out to visit my in laws and for me to do some cleaning for my mother in law and we were surprised by some family that we didn’t know was going to be there. It needed up being after 10:00 before we got home. I usually get up at 5:00 but I slept an hour later and got up as my husband was going to sleep for the day. (Night shift life)

I enjoyed the serenity of the quiet house as I sipped my coffee and read the Bible and spent time in prayer. It’s my favorite part of every day and always worth getting up for. In the list below you can see I added this to my Flylady app to do for each morning.

Morning Routine
Make bed
Get dressed to shoes
swish and swipe
eat breakfast
empty dishwasher
start a load of laundry
check you calendar
read Bible and pray (my addition)

Before the kids woke up I was able to get dressed, set up a couple activities from E’s homeschool curriculum, start a load of laundry, and I’m so glad it’s nice and cool this morning and that I can open the windows because I didn’t take out the trash yesterday and my house smells like a poopy diaper!

The kids woke up and I made them breakfast while dealing with their morning time fussiness and pulling clothes on them. (Is the first 30 minutes your kids are awake this crazy for everyone else?!)

Since I did not clean the kitchen last night instead of unloading the dishwasher I had to first load it. That’s the real life part of keeping a routine- it doesn’t always happen! About half way through cleaning the kitchen I had to give up and stop because T.J still had not stopped crying. I sat down and read the kids several books to try and calm him. As soon as I started into the kitchen again he started crying so I tried to get him down for a nap (that failed to result in a nap.) Meanwhile, E was looking for seeds inside some cantaloupe I had just cut up and got cantaloupe all over the floor and herself and she had to be washed and redressed. Some how through all this I did manage to load and start the dish washer!

I instructed E to turn over the laundry and for a good 10 minutes she dug in her heels and would not do it. I didn’t let her off the hook though and I calmly worked through it until she obeyed. After she finished and started the dryer her face lit up and she said, “I did it!” It reminded me that children do want help doing the right thing.
We did her preschool activities and cleaned up. T.J was acting really fussy (he’s teething) and I was getting really stressed so I packed up the jogging stroller, drove to a park and did a mile or so on a trail with the kids. We saw a rabbit and mushrooms and went to go check out a crane that was doing some work.

On the way home T.J finally fell asleep. I put him in his crib when we got home and then made lunch for E and I. Even though my baby is a year and a half I still need to rest when the baby does so I put on a movie for E and laid down on the couch.

I got up a little before T.J and managed to get the dishwasher unloaded before having to feed him lunch. I quickly made the bed since my husband woke up earlier than usual because he needed to run an errand before work.

I rocked E in the rocking chair and laid her down. I’m sitting on the porch supervising T.J play in the kiddie pool we have on the porch. I can’t bring him in the house right now to clean the bathrooms or E will not fall asleep for sure. I’m wanting her to nap so we can go to VBS tonight. If she doesn’t sleep I know she will be in meltdown mode instead of having fun and it won’t be worth going. Since starting this paragraph I have already had to put her back in her bed so we’ll see.

Anyways, today is a good example to share of having a routine but knowing that kids don’t always get on board with our plans. It’s after 2:00 in the afternoon and I still have not completed what should be about 30 or 40 minutes worth of things to do. Will I finish? Eh..  What about my afternoon routine? I think that’s going out the window along with the rest of the weekly chores I was supposed to have done over the last 5 days… keeping’ it real folks!

How do you balance house work and the needs of your children? What kind of morning routine are you able to stick with while meeting the ever-changing needs of your children?