Monday, January 30, 2012

Moving Monday!

Usually I post our fun muffin tin lunches on Monday but we did not have a muffin tin lunch last week so I'm taking the day off from that.

Moving Monday could mean so many things.

It could mean that I want to motivate myself to get in more movement - ie exercise - and while this is true it wasn't my true intent in the title.

It could mean that I'm moving houses or cities or states but that's not happening.

It DOES mean that I'm re-arranging some things in our home again. 

When we moved bedrooms around back in the fall we moved the school room to the landing upstairs.  I like the space but it's presented a couple of problems.  Problem one is that school is best done while Sierra is napping for the time being and her bedroom is upstairs right off the landing.  Problem two is that the kids' toys are all upstairs and I send them up to play in the mornings after breakfast and they often have (age appropriate) trouble with the boundaries of staying out of our fantastically fun looking school stuff.  This has been an issue for a while now but I've just been trying to live with it.  I just can't live with it anymore.  But WHERE?? will I put all of our school stuff??  I don't want it back in the dining room.  I like the clean streamlined look I accomplished in the dining room a long while back.  And then it occurred to me that the laundry room would be the perfect place to store things so they are accessible but out of the children's general life path.  Right now the laundry room has been a family closet.  KOJ and I moved our clothes out a month or so ago and into our bedroom.  So really it's just the kids' clothes and a junk dropping spot.  So we're going to move the kids' dressers/clothes upstairs to the landing and create a huge closet for our school stuff.

So this Monday I'm telling you about it and hopefully next Monday I'll have pictures of the finished product.  Don't worry though I plan to have a Muffin tin to post next Monday as well.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Organizing project week 4

The "coffee counter" in the kitchen was a wreck.  This happens often but I'm trying to keep it cleared off and neatly organized.  We put this shelf up on the wall to add a little bit of extra surface space as counter space in our kitchen is at a premium.

This shelf had become a bit of a collect all and just a hodge podge of mess.

I removed everything that didn't actually belong on the shelf, washed the shelf, hung the menu board, added the basket to corral my instant coffee mixes.  It looks much neater now.  It's amazing how the neatness of one shelf can affect a whole room.  It was a simple project that didn't take me very long at all.  The basket I used for the coffees is from the dollar store.  I found that menu board at goodwill for .99!  Love great deals like that.

I used to have a coffee pot on the shelf but I moved it and soon I'm going to remove it from the kitchen altogether.  I rarely use it anymore after discovering the instant cappuccino coffee mixes.  Brewing a whole pot for one cup was always a waste.  I'll store the coffee pot in the laundry room with other occassional use appliances to be used when we have company or a party or something.

I'm very happy with how the shelf looks at the end of the day.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Muffin Tin Monday: Stopping by the woods on a Snowy Evening

This week in school we're reading Stopping By The Woods On A Snowy Evening by Robert Frost. In that vein I made a Snowy Woods tin.

marshmallow snowballs, ranch dip icy pond, snowy mound of cottage cheese, fallen branches pretzels, and broccoli trees with parmesan cheese snow.

Princess loved using the "trees" to eat the "pond" lol

The tin was a hit over all!

It's always interesting trying to theme our tin to match what we're doing in school. Thankfully we're always doing a couple of things so I always have something fun to choose from.
As usual I'm linking up with other Muffin Tin moms so go check out the other great tins this week!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Choosing next year's curriculum

I know it seems early being that it is still January and we won't start a new curriculum until August BUT we purchase our school stuff with tax refund money so I spend most of January and February researching my options.

This year for 1st grade with Kayd we've used:

Math Mammoth
All About Spelling level 1
First Language Lessons (grammar)
Awana - bible
FIAR for social studies/geography/art/science/applied math

I will say that we LOVE FLL and AAS - in fact he flew through the first level of AAS and now needs level two already so we'll be getting that shortly.

Math Mammoth is a very solid curriculum BUT and this really is the only issue - it is VERY handwriting intense and Kayd HATES writing.  It's also not age/maturity level appropriate to expect that much handwriting from him at this point.  Math has been a constant fight - not because he doesn't know the material, because actually he does great orally with the material, but because he hate the writing.

FIAR has been meh.  It's not that it's not a great curriculum because I think that overall FIAR is fantastic.  The books are great.  But as a busy mom of four kids the prep work is killing me and more often than not I feel like we only do things half way.  I'm starting to see that at the ages my kids are at that is ok but it's not what I want for next year.  And amazingly I'm still going to have four monkeys hanging around come school time in the fall.

So I've been weighing my options.  Mostly for Kayd.  For math we'll be switching to Math U See.  This has MUCH less handwriting involved, more hands on manipulatives, and is a video teacher.  Kayd learns very well through videos so I know this will be a great fit for him.  It was my initial choice last year but I changed my mind because of price and high recommendations for Math Mammoth.  If I had a child who didn't mind the writing we'd stick with Math Mammoth.  As it is I'll be switching the whole family over to Math U See for now.

Now really though what I've been researching most is the "fun stuff".  It's the stuff that isn't as vital to some at the young ages I have here but for me it's the stuff that school and learning is about.  I've got the math, and the language arts, and spelling covered.  So now lets find something fantastically FUN to do for the history/geography/science/reading practice!  I looked into My Father's world again.  The Adventures in My Father's world actually looks amazingly fun.  But I think it would still end up being a LOT of prep work for me.  While my kids enjoy the hands on activities and we'll still do some, something has to give this coming school year.  So I looked at doing Expedition Earth that Erica at Confessions of a homeschooler came out with and while I love it and I think it looks fun and exciting, it is again just a LOT of prep work each week as far as getting the books from the library, and art supplies and such.  I know I sound lazy but trust me with four kids there isn't a lot of time to be lazy, ESP during the hours of the day when we are supposed to be doing school.  I've looked at combining the boys together and trying to make something work that way but the idea of that was stressing me out.  Someone mentioned Sonlight to me recently.  So that's the one I've been researching the past couple of days.  Really digging in.  Asking questions on the sonlight forum.  Getting a feel for the program.

The thing is we love to read.  Kayd loves to read and KOJ and I have always been big readers.  Sonlight is a reading intensive program.  The more I look at it the more I love it.  The teachers guide is all laid out, and the program comes with all the books you need.  It's a truly open and go system (or so it appears and so people on the forums have told me lol) that takes little prep other than pulling out the books I'll need each week.  THIS is what I need.  It does come with suggestions for the hands on crafts/activities to go along each week so we will still have the option to do or not do those as time and interest allows.  The science looks fantastic and I was thrilled to see in the preview of the teacher's guide on the science manual that the current week has notes at the bottom letting you know what supplies you will need NEXT week!  How awesome is that??

So despite a bit of cost this is the way I'm leaning as far as a program for Kayd.  Colton would be welcome to sit and listen to the read alouds too but I wouldn't stress it.  Tune back in to the blog in August to see what decision I finally made. lol

Colton will be continuing to work through Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading, playing with reading eggs online, and use Math U See's primer program to get a start on the very basics of math.  He will be an official kindergartner this fall.

Sawyer will continue to do activities with the Letter of the Week program from Confessions of a Homeschooler as well as other resources I find and print off the great world wide web and blog land!  Once he's able to identify all of his letters and knows their names we'll slowly start using Ordinary Parents guide with him also.  I don't anticipate that happening until next spring but we'll see.

For Sierra, I have some color wonder paper and  a small end table she's going to use as a little desk.  She can color to her little hearts content without ruining my other stuff and feel like she's doing her own school.  I also have age appropriate puzzles and learning activities she can play with.  Mostly though I expect her to spend her time playing in her room and generally making a disaster of things (this is what she typically does now).  I might try to do a day or two a week of "tot school" with her but we'll see how I'm feeling as far as schooling the older two boys.

The links I've provided in this post are solely for YOUR convenience. I am not an affiliate to any of these companies and do not gain anything monetarily or otherwise if you click on them.  Just thought I'd make it easier for others to find the things I was talking about in case it piqued their own interests.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Organizing project - week 3

This week I'm going to show you how I organized the lego situation.  I got the drawers right after Christmas and the boys and my SIL helped sort them out by color.  But really today what I want to show you is this fantastic idea (which of course was NOT my own) of letting the kids each have an "in progress bin".  See they enjoy using the legos but my floor ends up looking like this:

An in progress bin will give them somewhere to store those pieces without having to put them all back in the right drawers every single time I want to walk without killing myself.

I just took the clear shoebox containers you can get at walmart or the dollar store and labeled them with a mailing address label - one for each boy.
And this is how it's been working out this week:

I moved the bins out of the dining room into the living room and moved in a nightstand I was moving out of my bedroom for the kids to use as a lego/play table.  It has been a BIG hit this weekend and has REALLY cut down on the legos on the floor.  It hasn't stopped it altogether because of little miss there but the boys are being better about it for the most part.

Oh and I got this idea from Jen at Iheartorganizing - GREAT blog to check out for lots of organizing tips and inspiration.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for:

trash bags and dumpsters.  With six people living in our home STUFF gets accumulated quickly and in mass quantities and it's so nice to have a place to purge some of it to so that we're not constantly living in piles of trash.

children who are best friends and play together and love each other.  I'm thankful for the grin on Sierra's face when Sawyer comes down from his nap and her eagerness to hug him. 

I'm thankful that I'm able to be relaxed about schooling and if my son truly feels he thinks better on his head he's able to do so without getting into trouble.

I'm thankful for the other people who take turns with me staffing the nursery for the Wed night awana program.  Mostly because the break from little miss high needs was super appreciated and productive (I DO have a desk, who knew?).

I'm just thankful to take my next breath and I try to remember that when I discover the next crazy thing one of my monkeys has done (usually the girly monkey these days!).

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday Anniversary edition

In honor of our 7th wedding anniversary this past Monday here's a few from our special day:

This is pretty much how I STILL feel about him.

Muffin Tin Monday - Snow

Well it's January.  Or so they say.  For the most part we haven't had much of the white stuff.  But none the less it's what we're talking about in school.  We're reading Katy and the Big Snow for our FIAR book these last two weeks and so I did a snow themed muffin tin.
Clementine sun, snow juice (milk), pasta with snow (parm cheese), snowman banana slices, more banana slices with some snow sprinkles, and snowflake and snowman cut outs of mozzarella cheese.
I used some mini wilton cookie cutters to cut the snowmen and snowflakes.  I mixed the cheese scraps from each slice into the child's pasta.
They seemed to enjoy it.  Though Kayd tried to tell me that the orange had nothing to do with snow.
Sawyer and Sierra didn't really care if the orange had anything to do with the snow, they love them snow or not.

As always I'm linking up with the Muffin Tin posts over here so go check out all the other great tins this week.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Saturday - School in review - Snow, Katy And The Big Snow (FIAR)

Yay!  Saturday morning.  Time to review some things that we did in school.  First let me warn you that this post is going to be pic heavy.  Second this post is going to actually involve two weeks of school because we have been working on the same FIAR book/theme the last two weeks and I neglected to post last Saturday.

Onward.  We've spent the last two weeks reading Katy and the Big Snow for FIAR.
Kayd reading to his brothers.
We've been doing lots of letter S activities.  I love the stuff out there that allows us to use our letter of the week in both math and phonics amongst other things.  Take a look at some of the things we've done.  I'll link at the end where I got the different activities from.
Colton counts snowflakes and circles the right number with a dry erase marker while Sawyer builds a snowman with our pattern blocks.
Kayd does his math on the couch.
Sawyer works on a matching activity with some Thomas memory game pieces.
Sawyer sorts out clothes - winter or summer?
He did a pretty good job though only people down south are wearing flip flops this time of year.
Little miss climbed right up on that stool all by herself.
She was very proud of herself with that marker.  She enjoyed herself until I caught her trying to eat it and made her get down.
Road signs are important to Katy in Katy and the big snow, we made a little booklet of different road signs.
Sawyer "reads" his booklet.
The older two boys finish gluing their road signs in the right spots.
Trying to keep Sierra happy with the pattern blocks.
handwriting practice
And this is what the littles do while I do Kayd's other subjects with him.

We had a blast with lots of great snow activities.  There were other things we did too that I don't have pics of.  But here are a few links to things we did (pictured or not).

The Snowy Day printables from Jolanthe at Homeschool creations.  Appreciate all of the hard work that she does.  The snowflake cards Colton is using in the 2nd pic and the handwriting page and clothing sort Sawyer is using later on are both from this printable pack.  Check out this post she did on her own adventures with The Snowy Day book - I'm inspired.  I feel another row coming on.

Letter of the Week printables from Erica at confessions of a homeschooler (not pictured but we used them all week both weeks).  We bought the curriculum so I can just print at will.  I love it.

The road sign booklet I found at homeschoolshare filed under Katy and the Big Snow.

The pattern block pages I found by searching on pinterest.  I probably have them linked on my school board.

Also not shown but after our group time together Kayd and I go in his room and work on his math, grammar, and spelling.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Thankful Thursday - marriage time

This week my husband and I went away for two days.  A friend kept our older two boys and my sister kept the younger two kids.  We got a later start than we planned to after having to stop back at home a couple times for forgotten things.  Got to my sisters house (she lives about 15 min from us) and realized that neither of us ever put Sierra's overnight bag in the car.  Thankfully the small town my sister lives in has a dollar general and Sierra got a new outfit, new jammies, and we just grabbed some diapers and wipes too.

When we finally got on the road without any children in the backseat we breathed a sigh at the sound of quiet.  We enjoyed a leisurely drive up to our destination about two hours north of where we live.  We stopped for lunch.  Got lost a couple times.  Shopped at a goodwill we found along the way (thrift store shopping is one of the few things we have in common oddly enough lol).  Got to the cottage we were renting for the night and enjoyed the peace and quiet.

We talked.  Without interruption.  Entire conversations were had.  We talked about getting into a routine at home to cut down on the chaos.  We talked about my desires for our homeschooling.  We talked about how wonderful it was to be together without children.  We went out for a nice dinner.  We woke up and played a board game together.  Two rounds of it in fact.  We lazed around until it was time to pack back up and head home.  We stopped for lunch together before getting on the road to pick up the kids.

Today I'm thankful for our personal marriage retreat this week.  I'm also thankful for the 7yrs of marriage we will celebrate on Monday.  I'm so thankful that however it happened God put us together.  I'm thankful that we take our marriage seriously and know that it takes work and aren't afraid to put the effort in.  I'm thankful for a husband who loves me.  I'm thankful for a husband who said as we were getting ready to come home last Thursday morning "this was the BEST PTA meeting EVER!"  What a great way to look at it.

Organization project 2012 week 2

And I see it's Friday again.  Oops.  Life gets busy over here.  The girl child keeps me actively on my toes pretty much non stop.  Not to worry though because I definitely have an organization post for you.  Today we're going to look at under the kitchen sink.



I found those baskets at the dollar store and LOVE them.  They are the perfect baskets for this space as they are tall and square.  They work great at containing our millions of washcloths, and our rags, trash bags, and extra pot holders.  We're a primarily cloth house - when the kids spill we grab a rag not a roll or paper towels.  So finding space to hold the cloth is important.  Having that space organized is kinda nice too.  This project was pretty simple and only took a few minutes but I love it and it makes a huge difference in the functionality of this space.

Friday, January 6, 2012

2012 Organizing project week 1

Ok so we had a great break off of school during the holidays.  Unfortunately somehow during that time the school room became a dumping grounds and not exactly a peaceful place to do school.  Our old set up was the school/playroom was downstairs and our bedrooms were upstairs, the kids in one room and me and KOJ and in the other.  A few months ago now we switched things around and it works great this way (I definitely had my reservations).  The landing upstairs is the school room for the k-4 and preschool boys and the first grader has a desk and his workboxes in his bedroom.  The majority of our toys are in the other bedroom and we gave Princess in there during school so she can't get into trouble or get into our school work.

So I apparently didn't think to take before pics but here are the after pics:

Preschool desk - Colton works on the left and Sawyer on the right.  The middle chair is mine.

activity bins - a couple phonics, a couple math, and a couple skills.  I change these weekly based on the theme of our school work that week.

our calendar, seasonal books, and my teacher closet

There you can see Kayd's desk and his workboxes.

I obviously didn't snap any pics of the other bedroom which is Sierra's play space during school time.  It feels great to have a clean and organized space.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Wordless Wednesday AND Thankful Thursday

First week into the new blog routine and I already messed up!  Geesh.  Ok I snapped this pic for yesterday's wordless Wednesday post but I never got a chance to blog yesterday so here it is today:
Seriously are there words for this?

Thankful Thursday - as today is Thursday this post is actually current.

I am thankful for Colton who loves to sing and watch people drive away from our house and is so comfortable with himself that making up songs to bless others just comes naturally without a second thought.

I am thankful for a baby girl who even though she's testy lately is just so amazingly fun to watch growing into an independent toddler.

I am thankful for a super logical six year old who realizes that a water leak in the downstairs ceiling SHOULD mean a leak in the upstairs ceiling as well. 

I am thankful for a 3yr old who aspires to be a six year old.

I am thankful that I get to be home with them and teach them to love each other and those around us and teach them the "boring" stuff like math.

I am thankful that my daughter sleeps until at least 8am.  At least one of my children gives me a break in the morning.

I am thankful for winter days that make me want to stay snug in my house with my children and my routines.

I hope you all have a blessed and thankful day today!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A new routine on the blog

I'm bringing a new posting routine to the blog.  This first month of the new year is about new routines in our home and I'm incorporating my little blog in that too.  Right now I just post when I feel like it with no real rhyme or reason and I feel like the blog is boring and directionless.  So for right now I'm going to assign each day a subject to post about.  It's going to look something like the following:

Mondays - Muffin Tin Monday
Tuesdays - day off
Wednesdays - Wordless Wednesday - a chance for me to just share pics I love
Thursdays -  Thankful Thursdays
Fridays - Organizing/decluttering post for the week
Saturdays - school week in review post
Sudnays - Bible reading recap for the week

Hopefully this will help me be more regular about posting.  It will give you guys a sense of consistency and me as well.  I need that right now.  Routine and consistency.  So those of you already loyal readers THANKS!  I hope you find my new blog routine a fresh and positive change.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Some of my favorite things from 2011

Next week on Monday there will be a Muffin tin Monday post!  I'm so excited to get back to doing muffin tin Monday and sharing our lunch creations.  But for today I thought I'd share a few of my favorite things from 2011.  I meant to do it on New Year's Eve but well life is busy and I didn't have the time that day.

So let's get to it then.

1 - Watching Princess girl growing into a toddler has been one of my favorite things as of late.  She is so fantastically sweet and dramatic and boy is she smart.  She can con anyone who doesn't know her little looks well.  She's just amazing and it's really fun to watch her develop into her own little personality.

2 - My dad's visit back in July.  It was so great to see him and my step-mom and baby sis.  I really enjoyed the camping even though it was mostly a fiasco.  Isn't that truly what great memories are made of?  Bad situations you can laugh at later?

3 - Finding curriculum that both Kayd and I like and do well with.  I worried that I would forever be wishy washy but I researched the heck out of it and I really thought out the years to come too (because as long as it works well for the next kid they'll just pass curriculum down) and the learning styles of our other children also.  We settled on some great things that I feel confident in using.

4 - moving our school stuff upstairs and our master bedroom downstairs.  I LOVE having my bedroom downstairs and I LOVE that most of the toy mess is contained upstairs.  I also love that it allowed me to separate out Kayd and the younger two for schooling as they were a distraction to Kayd and that Sierra can be safely gated into her bedroom while I work with her brothers and still be in sight and hearing at all times.

5 - I've loved living through this 7th year of marriage with my husband.  We celebrate 7yrs in two weeks and it's so exciting.  I love him just as much or more than I did at the start and even though we are very different people in a very different place I'm blessed that we both consciously make an effort to stay connected and deepen our marriage rather than grow apart as can so easily be done.

6 - I love that I've found more of a balance with the housekeeping and the child rearing.  I LOVE being a mommy and being able to relax some and embrace it more has been such a blessing this year.

I'll leave it at that.  I'm thankful for a wonderful year of growth in many personal areas of life.  I'm thankful for this blog - a place where I can speak my mind and share my trials and triumphs.  I hope we all have a fantastic new year now in 2012.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's resolutions

So it's New Year's day.  Time for new beginnings.  Time to resolve to do things better this year.  To do things differently this year.  Time to make promises to myself that I will likely grow bored of or simply forget about until about 11.5 months from now.  Not this year.  This year will be different.  I hope anyway.  I could grow cynical and say what's the point but hope springs eternal and I have hope anew each year that THIS will be the year I do what I say I will.  I only have a few resolutions.

1 - Lose weight - yeah I know this is a common one but it's one that I need to do.  It's one that I have a new determination to do.  My goal is to lose 100lbs by my birthday next year (my birthday is in mid-January).  That's about 2lbs a week and if I actually put the effort into it a completely do-able goal.  What this looks like for me:
  1.  drink at least 64oz of water a day
  2. workout five days a week
  3. plan my meals and make them healthy
  4. daily track calories at

2 - Bible time - I want to have daily bible time.  I want to read through the bible this year using a new kind of plan.  I'll post more on that in the near future.  I also want to more thoroughly delve into the bible study my women's bible study group is doing.  I get a lot out of it already and I can just imagine how much more I'd get out of it if I spent more in depth time on it.

3 - organize my home and get rid of the clutter.  The clutter in our home is driving me nuts.  We have so much STUFF.  And I want to get our home organized and be vigilant about keeping it that way.  I'm aiming for at least one organization project a week.  Keep an eye out because I'm sure to post about it.

4 - Embrace time with the kids.  I want to really actively embrace doing things with the kids.  Sometimes it's easy to get stuck in the "house cleaning, no nonsense down to business" mommy routine but I want to make an effort to do something fun with my kids every day this year.  A board game, reading a book, playing a wii game, making a yummy treat.  SOMETHING, anything.  As long as it's fun and involves the kids it qualifies.

Those are my resolutions for this new year of 2012.  I can't wait to look back in 11.5 months and see how far I've come from where I sit right now.