Here in Indiana, we've just been blanketed in another layer of snow. Spring has forgotten us. It feels like it will be winter forever. One of the things I love about living here is the change of seasons. When it's time for the next season, I'm ready for it to move on! Each season brings its own set of sights, sounds, and feelings.
Spring. Life bursting forth before our very eyes. Renewal. Hope. Spring breaths life into our very souls. A reminder of the constant renewal given to us by our Father in Heaven. Though we may seem dead, through His forgiveness, we can have new life. A life filled with beauty. A precious gift from a loving God.
Spring holds such a special place in my heart ... year after year. It marks the passage of time by reminding of the hope I have. Showing me that God is faithful, even when it feels like he's forgotten us. Sometimes I really need that reminder.
I'm waiting and dreaming that you will return to us ... soon!
The last two weeks have gone pretty well. One of the biggest events of the 2 weeks was Sarah celebrating her 4th birthday. She had to have a pink cake!
We've finished the first 2 weeks of Sonlight's Core F and we're enjoying it for the most part. I don't think the kids are enjoying the Encyclopedia, and I wish there was a "spine" book in addition to (or in place of?) the encyclopedia. We're loving our first Read Aloud - Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. All 4 kids have read Li Lun, Lad of Courage and Silkworms. The older three also read God's Adventurer.
We've been reading through John. We take turns reading verses aloud, which is a great way for the kids to practice reading aloud and a bit of "public" speaking. Math is still going well ... they all four do their math without complaints. We also have restarted All About Spelling (Jada is about to finish level 1, and Joe and Rachel are both in level 2). We're also working our way through Writing with Ease (Jada in Level 1, Rachel just starting level 2, and Joe about to finish level 2). Now that we have Math under control it is much easier to get to these subjects that were getting skipped.
For Science, Caleb has been studying Simple Machines. The other three have learned at about our atmosphere and about atmospheric pressure. We finished up our week this week by making a barometer. I had trouble finding a clear straw, so we used a white one instead. We also had a lot of trouble keeping gum on hand to use for our project! Every time we'd buy some, a couple of little ones (who shall remain nameless, LOL) would chew it up. (In their defense, I think they probably had some help from the older kids).
Our pathetic barometer. We're expecting some weather changes this weekend - so we'll see how it works!
For Sarah and Alex, we're reading a book through the week and doing activities to go along with it ... kind of Five in A Row style. Last week we read Don't let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. This book is a fun one for kids! We kept things pretty simple last week. We acted out the story, with each one taking a turn being the Pigeon and begging to drive. We also made an adorable handprint pigeon that I found on Pinterest. I didn't have that color of paint - so I mixed green, white and blue until I got a color that was close. Sarah made a really cute one (and I love that it's her handprint - I may just have to frame it!). When I stuck Alex's hand in the paint, he freaked out and tried to wipe the paint off on his pants. Needless to say, we didn't end up with a handprint pigeon from him. We also sung "Wheels on the Bus" and watched a movie of "Wheels on the Bus" on Netflix.
This week, we read If You Give a Moose a Muffin. We made very simple sock puppets. They both loved these and have played with them all week. I just hot glued two wiggly eyes onto the sock. You could obviously be much more elaborate with these, but my two didn't seem to mind the simplicity.
We also made muffins. Sarah chose pumpkin muffins, and we made enough to not only for a snack, but also for our poetry tea on Friday morning. Sarah and Alex each ate 6 or 7 mini muffins, so I think they were happy with the handiwork! I looked for printables to go along with the book, but couldn't find anything, so I decided to make my own. I made Muffin Counting, where she had to count out the number of muffins on the moose. I also made some sequencing cards to practice sequencing.
When Aaron and I first got married, we inherited a bedroom suite from his parents. It included a bed, dresser and mirror. Over the years, we moved up from that full bed to a queen and then to our current king. The mirror continued to hang on our wall. Then, the mirror broke at some point. We stuck it out in our shed.
I thought a chalkboard would be perfect in the short hall leading to the nursery. Then, I remembered that broken mirrror. I decided I would try to remake the mirror into a chalkboard. This was my first attempt at a furniture "makeover". I painted the frame white (it was an oak color, before). Then, I just painted the cardboard insert with several layers of chalkboard paint. A perfect chalkboard!
I added a few buckets from the dollar spot at Target to hold the chalk. A perfect place to be creative!
Our living room has a dead corner where the hallway, dining room, and living room all meet. Over the years we've tried different pieces of furniture in this area. Last year, I decided I really needed to have a desk area. I needed a place to organize, plan, and blog.
So, I turned that dead corner into my little area. I bought my "desk" at ikea, when Aaron and I made our first trip there last fall. It's actually a small table with leaves that pop out. I just keep the leaves in, and it makes a perfect desk. I used the step stool Caleb made for 4H last year to store a few more books on the floor. The red case on the floor was from Hobby Lobby and holds various papers, notebooks and my hole punch and paper trimmer.
I have an organizer which holds file folders and other various papers. Even though it's often cluttered, I still love my little corner.
My family (except for one) loves soft pretzels. I found this recipe several years ago online. My family likes them better that Auntie Anne's or even Jo Jo's (a local pretzel place).
1 1/4 cups warm water 2 cups flour
1 T. yeast
1/4 cup brown sugar 1/2 cup baking soda mixed into 3 cups hot water
2 cups bread flour
1 - Dissolve yeast into warm water.
2 - Add sugar, then flour. Mix well.
3 - Let rise until doubled, at least 20 minutes.
4 - Make pretzels. I made pretzels during summers in college, so I've made a video of my technique. You can just form them into a pretzel shape, though.
5 - Dip the pretzels in baking soda solution.
6 - Place on a GREASED (don't forget this part like I occasionally do!) cookie sheet. At the shop I worked at in college we used non-stick baking sheet liners, so you can use those as well. I think that's why I forget to grease them ... I didn't have to when I made them all those years ago.
7 - Sprinkle with pretzel salt. I use Morton's Kosher coarse salt.
8 - Bake at 500-550 degrees F for 4-6 minutes. A very hot oven is very important for making soft pretzels!
9 - Once they come out of the oven, dip them in melted butter. They taste fine without this step, if you're wanting to keep the calories down. Of course, they taste even better with the butter!
We usually serve ours with cheese sauce or honey mustard. You can also dip them in cinnamon sugar for a sweet snack! We have snacky things for dinner on Sunday nights, and this has become the favorite Sunday night meal at our house.
It's hard to believe that my baby girl is now four!!
She loves playing with her big sisters.
She loves playing with her little brother.
She loves mermaids. She wanted to be one when she grew up earlier this year, but now she says she's old enough to be one.
She loves princesses.
She loves to do puzzles.
Pink is her favorite color.
She loves wearing dresses - sundresses especially - I have trouble keeping her in warm clothes in the winter.
Her favorite TV show is Team Umizoomi.
Her favorite foods are macaroni and cheese and broccoli
When she grows up she wants to be 14.
She is outgoing, yet can get overwhelmed in new situations.
She is funny and super silly.
She loves to cuddle.
She still sucks her two fingers.
She lights up our lives and makes us laugh every day.
I asked her at the end of the day if she had a good birthday. She thought for a second and then replied, "Ehhh. It was all right." So I asked her what wasn't good. She replied, "I only got one pink candle on my birthday cake." Two greens, one yellow, and one pink candle ... the way to ruin a birthday!
Our laundry room is a laundry closet. Above the washer and dryer, I have old shelves that I use to store cleaners, toiletries, and all kinds of odds and ends. My shelves were a mess (I didn't take a before shot!), so I knew I needed to do something to organize it better. I have big dreams for this room, but if they ever happen it won't be for years and years and years. So, for now, I must make do with what I have. This summer we might try to paint the walls, but I have a pretty big to-do list for the summer, so I doubt we get to it.
So, on to the organization! I bought these black bins at walmart. I was hoping to find what I needed at the dollar store, but they didn't have the size I wanted. I tried to organize everything into different categories. In case you can't read them, my categories are: Kleenex and bathroom buddies, Laundry, Heating Pad and Light Bulbs, Misc. Cleaning and Chemicals, Cleaning, Toilet Paper, Toiletries, First Aid.
I put the things we need to access frequently on the bottom shelf and reserved the top shelf for things that I don't use as often. I then printed labels, laminated them, and tied them on with ribbon. Voila!
This is our scheduled week off, so the kids have been relaxing while I've been trying to get things ready for the changes we'll be making in our school next week.
We've been Sonlight users since Caleb was in Preschool. Last year, I was worried about the logistics of using Sonlight with 6 kids. I knew I would have trouble doing 3 or 4 cores. I also heard that Sonlight wasn't strenuous enough for High School and I didn't want to short change my kids. So, I made the decision to leave Sonlight.
Instead, we read our own literature selections and used Story of the World for History. Although we enjoyed our read alouds over the first half of the year, finding some new favorites that we wouldn't have probably read with Sonlight (The Princess and the Goblin, for one), we haven't really gotten into Story of the World that much. I've also come to the conclusion that a super strenuous education isn't a good fit for my kids. A few weeks ago (as we were making math changes) I asked the boys if they missed Sonlight at all. They both said yes.
I started looking back at Sonlight's Cores and decided that we could make Core F work for all 4 kids. Jada is below the recommended age, but I will just adjust her assignments accordingly. So, I made plans to switch back next year. Aaron and I were talking and decided to just go ahead and start now. We often would get behind a week or two on cores, so starting early will allow for catch up weeks and rabbit trails.
I'm really excited to start next week. Core F is a little different than the other cores, studying cultures instead of chronological history. I'm really looking forward to learning more about an area of the world that I know very little about.
We've also changed math programs. All of the kids have switched to Teaching Textbooks over the last several weeks. They're all liking it. Rachel has even done math on Saturdays! My kids have never like Horizons and, frankly, I was tired of the daily fights. Teaching Textbooks also frees me up to work on other subjects (and with Sarah and Alex) while they do their math. Before, between the four of them, Math was taking pretty much the whole morning.
So, those are the changes we are making here. Hopefully the rest of our school year goes smoothly and we enjoy our studies!
This year I decided to make my own planner. I usually have schedules for our homeschool, a calendar with all of our family obligations, and lots and lots of to do lists. I've wanted to just make my own planner for years now, because pre-made ones never have all the stuff I need. I was never sure how to bind one, though. I know most people just use binders, but I'm not a big fan of binders ... especially for something I'll be using every day. They're big and bulky and hard.
At the end of last year, I figured out that I can take my finished planner into any office supply store and have it bound for a little bit of nothing. So I set out deciding what all I wanted in my binder and designing my pages. I made all of my pages in pages (mac's version of Word). I tried to think of all the different things I keep track of throughout the year. Here's what I ended up with.
I used red cardstock for my covers. I added a patterned paper and some pictures to make it pretty. Then, I laminated both the front and back. I have a cardstock divider for each section. I added a tab (from my smash books) and added a bible verse to each divider.
The first section of my planner is calendar pages. I just designed a page for each month of the year. I added our immediate family's birthdays. I think next year I'll start working on it earlier and add more birthdays and holidays.
The next section is my daily planner pages. I made a two page spread for each week. Across the top I have two small boxes for the date and my monthly cleaning area, and two larger boxes for notes. The middle of the page consists of an area for each day of the week. Here, I can add any outside commitments as well as my to do list for each day. I designed the bottom with squares that were the perfect size to fit small post it notes. This is my area for school planning. I wanted the option of using post its so I could move things from week to week. There are also two larger rectangles on each side that I can use for more notes. You can download it for free, here.
The next section is my homeschool section. This is where I can plan curriculum choices and activities for the next school year.
Then, I have a section for my reading list. I also try to keep a record of everything I read here on my blog, but I decided it would be nice to have a hard copy, also.
The next Section is the Homemaking Section. This is where I keep all of my cleaning lists and my blank menu planning pages.
I have a section for notes - just blank paper for any lists I decide I want to make during the year. I also have one for addresses. My last section is miscellaneous. The miscellaneous contains my goals for the year, date night plans, vacation planning sheets, and all of my Christmas planning sheets.
After using it for a month, I am so excited about having a record for my year in one bound book. I try to write down any cute things the little ones say or do throughout the day. I also use the notes sections to record little notes about what we did and what I was thinking during the week. I've already began making notes about pages I would like to add or remove for next year. I really recommend making your own planner. It was so much fun to make, and is designed perfectly for me!