Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful

That all of our caterpillars survived to become butterflies in our butterfly garden.  It has delighted the children immensely.

That Princess' top teeth finally broke through and that growth spurts CAN'T last forever - I will sleep again someday!

That Squirrel monkey's adult teeth are growing in (even if one of them is way ahead of the game as it's baby tooth hasn't even come out yet!).

That my children have the opportunity to read and know the word of God and a fun place to learn about Him at our church's Wednesday night awana program.

That our Savior came to our darkened world, gave so much of himself while He was here, including His life and that He rose again.  That He sacrificed His own will for the good of the rest of us and that if we just choose to accept His gift we can spend eternity with Him in heaven.

It's the week we celebrate the passion of our Lord and I'm super excited about it this year.  Maybe it's because Squirrel and Howler are a bit older and better able to understand what it all means.  Maybe it's just where I am in my walk right now.  I think it is perfectly fitting that we celebrate the death and resurrection of our savior right at the time that spring is breaking through the winter doldrums because I imagine the resurrection to be just like that.  Before Jesus made his sacrifice for us the people were living in a centuries long winter.  Then He died and resurrected and Spring enveloped them.  The hope of life and Son.  Amazing!  Simply amazing.  God knows what He's doing.  We can see it all around us if we open our eyes and look.  So do me a favor today and take a look.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Blogging through the Gospels

Someone out there might recall that one of my goals in the 3 in 30 link up was to read my bible daily using Blogging through the Gospels.  I got a late start (about a week and a half late) because well I'm a flake.  But I did finally start and I just picked up where the group was at so I didn't actually read the first 11 chapters of Matthew.  But I have worked on reading chapters 12-15 this week.  Now I haven't followed all of the "rules" as far as journaling about the reading because mostly I'm able to read while putting a child to sleep or nursing the baby.  But I still have a few nuggets that I want to share.

Nugget 1: Matthew 12:35-36 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. v36 But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.

This spoke to me because trying to keep control of my temper lately most often means watching what I allow to come out of my mouth in anger.  I have an awful temper and it's definitely something I'm working on because I don't want to be easily angered and being angry all the time really isn't all that fun.  So I pray that God will help me to remember not to speak careless words.  I'm also praying that reading His word more puts more good in for me to pull out in times of upset with the kids.

Nugget 2: The Parable of the weeds - Matthew 13:24-30.  I don't recall ever having read or heard this parable before but it spoke to me because I have struggled a lot in the last year or so with why God allows so many bad things to happen to so many good people and these verses seemed to speak to that for me.  In regards to attempting to pull the weeds planted amongst the crop verse 29 "No," he answered, "because while you are pulling the weeds you may root up the wheat with them. v30 Let both grow together until the harvest.  At that time I will tell the harvesters to collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then I gather the wheat and bring it into my barn."

It doesn't really give a reason about why bad things have to happen to good people but it does tell me that God is aware of the problem but pulling the weeds could also pull out the good harvest to come and so if one good person has to suffer that even one more person should be harvested in the end at least good can and will come of it.

Nugget 3: Matthew Chapter 14 - there wasn't really one nugget or verse that I pulled from this chapter but more the overall impression of the people constantly following Jesus and him seeking solitude.  I realized that sometimes we just have to rely on the supernatural strength of God to accomplish His calling on our lives.  In verse 13 Jesus sought solitude in a boat and when Jesus got to the land a large crowd was there and it says He had compassion on them and healed their sick.  There are times with my children that I just seek some solitude (or sleep) and one of them needs something, gets sick, or crawls into my bed in the night.  It is at these times that I need God's supernatural power to show compassion and care for them above my own need of solitude.

Nugget 4: Matthew 15:11 What goes into a man's mouth does not make him unclean but what comes OUT of his mouth, that is what makes him unclean.

Wow, this verse really hit me.  See nugget 1.  I wonder if God is trying to talk to me this week.  No I don't wonder.  I know He is talking to me this week.  I'm very blessed that I have taken some time to read His word and see these nuggets of truth.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Noise and such

Do ya'll have any idea how much noise four children make??  No?  Maybe I should make an audio clip and post it one of these days.  This evening as KOJ chatted with one monkey while the other two monkeys were talking excitedly with one another in the next room and Princess was jabbering in her high chair I realized that I constantly feel like I'm at a large and very noisy dinner party.  I've been trying for some time to find a solution to the noise pollution here but short of making the monkeys move out I haven't found one yet.  And in these here parts they look down on making your monkeys move out before they're adults so I guess I'm stuck for now.

And such... I took four kids to the peds today for Princess' 9 mo well check.  Yeah I'm THAT mom.  The one who comes in looking bedraggled with three little monkeys following or preceding her in a disorganized fashion while lugging the baby much like a football or a well loved stuffed animal.  The one who sits down and allows her children to play and move about as long as they aren't running or being terribly loud.  The one who allows the wiggly princess onto the floor even if means she eats a piece or two of lint.... God made dirt and dirt don't hurt right?  I'm the one who makes what can really only be idle threats when all can see that I'm clearly WAY outnumbered by the naughty monkeys.  But at least I try.  I try to teach the kids to be respectful of the other people in the office.  I try to allow my kids a little bit of freedom and independence in what is truly not an ideal situation for any of us.  And I try to hide my irritation as the teenage girl I've never met before attempts to discipline my children with disgust on her face.  Once we're back in the room though I feel better.  I don't worry as much about the kids bothering anyone and of course I bring things to try to help occupy them.  And our Ped always jokes about how at home we seem to have made ourselves in the room.  But really, better they be quietly occupied than running to and fro and getting into the medical supplies right?

So Princess is happy and healthy and adorably cute and evidently the ped has noticed how very girly I dress her at every opportunity, as his joke about needing to dress her more girly (as she crawled past him with a bright bow on her head) indicated.  She was 16lbs and 13oz and 26 in long.  She's going to be 1yr old in just under three months and I can't even fathom.  I hope the three months goes slowly.  And I hope that I can find the energy to enjoy every moment of it with her.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday: Resurrection theme

This week for Muffin tin Monday I went with a resurrection theme.  We're learning about the last week of Jesus' life more in depth this week which will of course culminate in Easter or Resurrection Sunday.  Here we call it Easter but we've been really putting the emphasis on the resurrection this year regardless of what we call it.  Without further ado here are the pics of our lunch:

From left to right and top to bottom: lettuce leaf to represent Palm Sunday, pb&j to represent bread, and the cup of juice to represent the wine/juice of the last supper.  String cheese stick cut in half and shaped like a cross, apple pieces cut into squares with peanut butter dots to represent the dice they used to cast lots for Jesus' garments.  Applesauce with cinnamon (spices they put on Jesus), napkin to represent the cloth the wrapped Jesus in, and under the apple stone is an empty tomb.

Before I let them eat we talked about what each of the things represented as we went through the story.  Then they dug in:

And I had some very satisfied customers:
And as a bonus here's a picture I took of my grandma holding Princess at our family Easter egg hunt yesterday:

And one more bonus a group shot of all the kids together:
Spider 2.5, Nephew1 7, Squirrel 5.5, nephew2 5.5, nephew3 4.5, niece3 11.5mo, niece14, Howler 3.95, niece2 2.5,  Princess 9 months.

But this is what they're really like when we haven't spent ten minutes posing them:
You can only imagine the noise that went along with this picture and it was indeed a true candid.  But it was a great time had by all.

Alright ya'll that's it for today, as usual I'm linked up at Muffin Tin Mom so head on over and check out all the other great tins from today.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The wherefore and what not of schooling the kids

When I was pregnant with Squirrel monkey I recall announcing that I planned to home school him and any future monkeys that came along.  At the time my initial motivation was the realization that I, not being a morning person, was NOT going to do well with getting little kids up and off to school at the crack of dawn.  As time passed and I did more research, more things appealed to me about home schooling.  Now my passion for home schooling is rivaled only by my passion for car seat safety.  KOJ and I have a million reasons for home schooling the children.  Though I definitely feel more strongly about it than KOJ, he is definitely on board with it.

The top 5 reasons I am home schooling:
1 - I can tailor my children's education to fit THEIR needs.  Squirrel is a visual learner, he has to see pictures and read text.  And Howler is a kinistetic learner, he HAS to move and manipulate with his hands etc.  That's as far as I've gotten because the other two are still quite young.  But in a public school setting the teacher would be unable to specifically teach and tailor the curriculum to meet each of their learning styles as they could NOT possibly do that for each of their 30+ students.

2 - As my children grow we will be able to identify and encourage their gifts and strengths while also working on their weaknesses.  In a public school setting they are all expected to be average in all subjects.  I personally want my children to delve into the talents that God has given them, to hone them for future use.  I believe strongly that if my child has a particular talent in one area that God has blessed them with that for a purpose and it is our responsibility as their parents to really help them develop that and seek out the reason behind it.  Don't worry we won't let the other things fall by the wayside but I'm not going to force a child who isn't great at science to spend most of their time on science and ignore the thing they are great at.

3 - Socialization!  The number one most annoying question I get is "What about their socialization?"  Um what about it?  We're not hermits.  We don't live in a bubble.  Even if we did they have three siblings VERY close in age with whom to socialize.  But really have these people who ask this question never met my children?  Even my "shy" child will speak up and ask questions or share interesting (albeit generally off topic) facts.  My children have no problem having conversation with adults.  They have no problem playing and having conversation with other children, of all ages.  Don't worry folks, I promise to let them out at least once a week for church.

4 - It's fun.  It is fun to me to watch my children grow and learn.  To get to be the one there when they have a light bulb moment of realization about one thing or another.  It's even more fun to watch my older children teach and explain things to my younger children.  It makes for a super proud mommy moment to hear Squirrel quizzing Howler on what letter makes a certain sound or gently saying the name of the color of whatever toy Spider just called blue.

5 - Character development.  Because the kids are home with me and I choose our curriculum I am able to better correct behavior as it happens and tailor our curriculum to our particular world view.  I am able to teach them about having good character according to the bible on a full time basis.

What I actually meant to post about was the curriculum I've purchased for the fall.  I LOVE researching and choosing curriculum.  But when it goes time to actually hit the little BUY button and send money out of our bank account I feel sick to my stomach.  What if I made a mistake? What if it doesn't work as well for Squirrel or Howler as I thought it would?  And KOJ is no help.  He's all "It's good, you researched, it's fine, just buy it."  No batting of eyelashes.  So I went with simple because really schooling with four children 6 and under should be kept simple.

Squirrel with be in 1st grade this fall his curriculum looks like this:
Math - Math Mammoth grade 1
All about Spelling - grade 1
First language lessons
handwriting practice with his weekly awana verses.
Reading - he just does this on his own.  So I'll just make sure he continues to read regularly.

The thing about Squirrel's curriculum is that it's very much lesson by lesson so even if we take a break for vacation or sickness we just pick up at the next lesson in each subject when we get back.  Similar story with Howler's more laid back pre-k4 stuff.

Howler will be doing pre-k 4 using:
Ordinary parents guide to teaching reading
Letter of the week curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler
Math manipulatives such as patterning blocks, cuisinaire rods, etc.  We do plenty of counting and such already.
Handwriting without tears for his handwriting practice

Spider will just play with the math manipulatives and LOTW games, I will not be doing any formal teaching with him at all as he won't even be three until after the start of the school year.  I plan to do pre-k 4 with him the fall of 2012.  And Princess will just have to play independently in the playroom while we work. 

For our content learning such as history, geography, science, art, etc we'll be working together with Five in a Row curriculum.  Basically you read one of the books (gotten from the library) each day for five days and each day do one or more of the activities in the guide to go along with the book.  So in The Story of Ping we might learn about china.  Madeline would include discussion on France. So on and so forth.  I love this in particular because its something that we can do as a group and tailor the activities to their particular readiness and because it will provide a wide array of subjects to explore.  It's also very flexible.  I can pick the books in any order I want to and choose any of the activities in the unit that I want.

Flexible is key with this many kids at the ages my kids are at.  It's also a huge key in my teaching style.  So while our main school subjects are set and they will do a lesson in each subject on each school day the flexibility that FIAR provides will allow us to take detours if the kids want to.  It's a happy mix I think.  I'll let you know about this time next year how it all worked out for us.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday: Butterfly/spring

This week at school we're learning about butterflies.  So of course I made a butterfly/spring themed muffin tin for today.  Check it out:

Add caption
So from the top down: cantaloupe and cheese make a sun, bunny marshmallows for clouds, tuna and cheese butterfly shaped sandwich, pretzel butterflies, ranch dressing flower, cucumber frog, raspberry flower, and lettuce grass.

And after I took the first picture I took away the marshmallows and gave them a bunny toothpick to to eat with.  As shown here:
Over all it was a hit.  They all ate the raspberries and cantloupe right up though the sandwich was met with mixed reactions.  As usual I'm linked up here at Muffin Tin Mom so head on over and check it out.

In other exciting news my oldest monkey had something very exciting happen.  He lost his first tooth!  Congrats Squirrel, you are officially a bigger boy than I like to believe!

Friday, April 8, 2011

3 in 30 update and some miscelaneous

Ok lets start with the 3 in 30.  How have I done?  AWFUL!  I haven't met one goal this week.  Not one.  Fortunately tomorrow is a new day, God's mercies are new every morning and I still have several hours in THIS day to try to rectify the situation. 

Can I make my excuses now?  First we spent Tuesday and Wednesday mostly out of the house and with four children 5 and under that is no small task.  Also being out of the house makes it more difficult for me to measure and track my food.  Wed we spent the morning at the peds for Princess who has bronchitis and an ear infection but has gained to weigh 18lbs!  That is a 2lbs gain in one month.  Which for Princess is amazing.  She was having some slow gain issues but she seems to be holding her own now.  She still looks super tiny though.

Being out of the house also means I'm not here to work on the laundry room declutter project.  And I have NO excuse for not getting into my bible daily.  It's just such an after thought that I completely forget.  I hate that about myself and that's why I made it a goal this month.  It's a habit I hope to change for the better and for good.

Now that I've given my excuses for totally bombing my first week in the 3 in 30 challenge lets move on.  I meant to get a post up yesterday with a few things I was thankful for but time ran out and I didn't manage to do so.  So I will now post a few things I'm thankful for the past few days.

1 - Thankful for a pre-teen friend who came and played with the boys while Princess and I got a much needed nap yesterday afternoon!

2 - Thankful for a pediatrician's office that we love and trust because frankly Princess has been my sickest child of the four.

3 - Thankful for good food, good time, and great fellowship with friends last night.

4 - Thankful for the rain today because it's making going out with the kids completely unappealing so I won't be tempted to run around town again today.

5 - Thankful that it's the weekend!  Can't wait for KOJ to get home tonight and praying we have a great weekend this weekend.

Just a few things the past few days here that I can be thankful for.

And with that I'm outta here.  I have a princess to wash up (she discovered the yumminess of cereal bars for breakfast this morning!)  I have monkey's to school.  I have a home to attempt to put to rights.  And I have a day in which to do it!  Have a great weekend all!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Flat Stanley

We got a visitor in the mail the other day.  Flat Stanley!  He's visiting from NY.  Today we took him to the city sign and snapped a pic with him.
It was drizzly so only Squirrel got out with him.

Then we took him on our playdate with our cousins.  He enjoyed being a part of doing The Very Hungry Caterpillar story board.

We tried to watch the movie Tangled.  Had the popcorn ready and everything but then it wouldn't load on the player.  Serious bummer!  Flat Stanley was pretty disappointed.
See him there on Howler's lap?

And he enjoyed watching as niece 1 opened her birthday gift.  She is 4 today!  Happy 4th birthday!

All in all I hope Flat Stanley has enjoyed visiting our family.  We enjoyed having him.  Now he's off on another adventure to California!  Hope he has a sunnier time there than he had here!
(Ok so I cheated and took both the welcome and come back again pictures at the same time today. I don't feel one bit of guilt about it either!)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The season

The season is well... spring supposedly but that isn't the season I'm talking about.

This season of my life is very challenging for me.  Those that have gone before me have bestowed their wisdom on me in phrases such as "Enjoy it because you'll miss it"  and "One day you'll wonder where your babies have gone." and while I get it and I do appreciate their wisdom and encouragement I just want to kick and scream and throw a tantrum that could be likened to that of my two year old Spider monkey.

I don't know that it's specifically the ages of my children so much as the fact that I had my children so close in age means that I've been stuck in the same ages/season for going on 5.5yrs!  It's like the season that never ends and it goes on and on my friends.  And I'm so worn out.  I'm so tired.  Not just physically but emotionally and mentally.

Trying to find the balance between playing with and caring for the kids, cleaning the house, doing things outside the home - such as field trips, playdates, shopping etc, and trying to find the time to refresh and renew my own spirit has been a challenge.  The balance has thus far eluded me in this role I took on 5yrs ago of mother, wife, teacher, home maker.  I don't resent it, (most of the time), I'm just weary.

I'm weary of the two year old who is in the throws of the tortuous threes courtesy of the example his three year old brother sets for him and his ever growing need to emulate his brothers.  I'm weary of the whining involved with trying to get the kids to help clean up around the house.  Weary of the bedtime battles and water messes that go with bath time.  Weary of feeling like I'm doing one child a disservice when I can't meet a need or want immediately because I'm in the middle of dealing with another child's want or need.

But today, today I'm thankful.  I'm thankful that the kids don't seem to care or notice that the living room floor is covered with what used to be a pile of coupon papers meant for the recycle bin, they don't care that I haven't had time to unload, reload, and run the dishwasher and so they are using "adult" bowls and "silver" ware for breakfast and eating sandwiches that require no dishes for lunch on a regular basis.  I'm thankful that they prefer to live in their pj's on days we don't leave the house and save me untold amounts of laundry to wash.  I'm thankful that Squirrel is learning to play cooperatively (if reluctantly so at times) with other children at the water table at the kids museum.  I'm thankful that Howler's favorite thing about the museum today other than the store part was me taking time to sit in the giant pretend truck while he "drove" us around.  I'm thankful that Spider monkey made it out of the museum alive and without harming any other children.  I'm thankful that they all left the museum without one bit of whining, and with complete cooperation.  I'm so very thankful for the times they say or do something completely wacky and make me laugh or smile despite myself!  I'm thankful that my baby girl can still be soothed to sleep in my arms, that my big boy Spider still needs my hugs and snuggles, that my precious Howler is at an age where spending time doing something simple with me is the highlight of his day, and that my Squirrel monkey is so smart and understanding and helpful - I really couldn't have been blessed with a better oldest child.

And so while I am weary and while I look forward to this season ending I can also see the wisdom of the mom's who have gone before me.  I can see that I will miss these days when the innocent smiles on not so innocent faces have the ability to make me laugh.  And so I will do my best despite my weariness to embrace these moments with my babies and while I will still strive to at least keep up with the laundry and the dishes I'm going to give myself a break about the rest of it and make the most of the remaining portion of this season.  It's not going to last all that much longer.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

This week at school we're doing the letter C for caterpillar.  I was inspired by The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle for today's muffin tin lunch.  Take a look:

The train of grapes is the caterpillar.  Starting at the top left and going down is column: 1 apple slice, 2 pear slices, 3 plum slices, 4 strawyberries, 5 oranges, 1 piece of salami and 1 slice of swiss cheese, 1 sausage link, a piece of pizza (watermelon is out of season), a piece of cherry pie, a pickle, and a leaf.  And there not in a spot is the cupcake.  It's a mini cupcake.

They super loved these.  They dug right in.  See?

Squirrel ate almost everything - including the leaf but not the orange slices (he doesn't care for these much anyway and his pickle and cheese (he did try a bite of the cheese though).  Howler left a few strawberries and his entire cupcake.  I don't know why.  Spider ate some of everything and left some of a few things.

A few more pics of them eating, for fun.

Lunch from Howler's point of view.
So all in all it took me almost 45 min to put this meal together.  There wasn't really much I could do ahead of time as far as prepping the fruit and such so I did it all today.  I started at about 11:10 and finished at about 11:55.  It was so worth it though.  I'm wondering how on earth I will top it with a butterfly themed lunch next week though.  Well good thing I have a week to plan.  So what do you think?  A win?  I think so.  All of you visiting from the Muffin Tin Monday link up please feel free to leave a comment and I'll do the same when I make it to your blog!  Have a great week!

I'm linked up over at Muffin Tin Mom check it out!
Muffin Tin Monday at

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Princess book give away

I don't - as rule - normally post on Sundays.  BUT I came across a give away that I want to get a quick post out there about.  Encouraging Hearts at a Home (a blog) is having a give away for a Princess Parables book.  It sounds totally adorable and I kinda hope I win but go on over, check it out, and enter yourself!  Go on now, what better things do you possibly have to do on a Sunday afternoon??

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Letter Q school in review

This week we were learning about the letter Q.  There's not much to learn really.  I mean they already know what sound it makes, can name several words that start with it, and know what it looks like.  But still we had fun with our Quilt activities from Confessions of a Homeschooler's Letter of the Week curriculum.  Take a look:

Monday we started off with a few Q activities at the table as seen here:
Note the letter Q do a dot pages, the Letter Q magnet page, and Quilt puzzle by Kayd, and somewhere there was another Q activity.

Then we had a playdate on Tuesday that looked something like this:

My nephew, Princess, my sister's nephew, and Sis 1

Sis 1's nephew and the princess - he is four months older than her.

Niece 2 with Princess

Niece 1 with princess

The kids - niece 1, nephew 2, and Squirrel monkey watching Bubble Guppies.  Strange show btw.   

Then Wednesday we did a lot of house cleaning and worked on our verses for awana which I did not take pictures of.  And Thursday we went to help Sister 2 out at her home while she is recuperating from a surgery.  Again I did not take pictures.  Sorry.

Friday though we really dove into our learning.  We started the day checking on our plants for our garden.  That looked a bit like this:
The cucumber seedlings.
The tomato seedlings - some are for large tomatoes and some are for cherry tomatoes.

Then we checked on our caterpillars who are getting remarkably bigger.  In another couple of days they should turn into chrysalis' which will be fun and exciting.
They LOVE the caterpillars.  So fascinated.

We had an interesting question about them that we stopped to look up online.  FYI they have teeth called mandibals, that move from side to side in opposing ways in order to eat their food.  Butterlies though do NOT have mandibals, they have a long thingy that is like a double barrel straw and drink things like nectar, mud, cow poop, water, and tree sap.  Not all butterflies eat all of these but different ones eat different of these.  Fascinating right?  I never knew so much about butterflies before home schooling my children.

Then we took a break for lunch cause who wouldn't want to eat after learning that some butterflies eat cow poop?  There are no pics of lunch, it wasn't really that fascinating.

Then while Spider monkey was napping I did school with the other two.

Howler monkey finishing his fudge pop while matching capital and lower case q's, and shape puzzles.

Squirrel finishes his fudgesicle while planning his approach to putting mini clothespins on these graphing cards.

A one handed puzzle doer - now THAT'S talent!

Very intent on his activity.

Howler plays with the pom pom magnets and the magnet page.  This is a favorite of all the kids.

Squirrel works on his Qq poke page (you poke a toothpick through the black outline of the Qs.  Good fine motor and hand/eye coordination practice.

How the princess does school - she loves to eat.

Finished graphing cards.  These are laminated so we could've used dry erase markers to actually graph them but I wanted to get out the mini clothespins today so I did.

Letter Q find - he did great, found all of them.

Color by number quilt page.
He really LOVES the color by number pages.  He's hilarious.
Doing the color block puzzles and trying to put them together to make his own "quilt"

And that was school this week.  Check us out on Monday to see our Very Hungry Caterpillar muffin tin meal for muffin tin Monday.