Saturday, March 17, 2012

Busy, Busy!

This past week has been busy, busy, busy, thus the reason there was no post on Sunday. We've been busy shopping for a car, finally deciding on and buying a car (2002 Ford Windstar...LOVE IT!), purchasing homeschooling equipment (more on that later), and Hubs has been temporarily moved to second shift beginning this past week, so things have been a bit chaotic. We've still be homeschooing, it's just been pretty informal and a lot has been "in the field" leaerning for the children. Watching us car shop was a great learning experience to them and I'm happy Goober got to take part in that experience because this was his first week schooling at home. In addition to our on-site learning, we also had a trip to the circus this week, which the children loved and, naturally, I hated. The circus is an evil place, I think. It turns even the best kids into "gimme" kids who want everything in sight. Ugh. They did get to see some pretty cool stuff and learn about self-control, I suppose.

So far, the Time4Learning curriculum is going very well, but I won't delve completely into that stuff just yet but will save it for my later review. I do, however, want to talk about the new "gear" we got. We decided to do our homeschooling "plugged in", meaning we plan on utilizing technology to the fullest. We are eco-friendly and hate to be wasteful, not to mention I don't need any more clutter in my house, and homeschooling brings in a lot of clutter, so we feel like using technology to the fullest is our best bet.  We started researching our technology options and narrowed it down to using laptops or iPads, with each kiddo having their own device to use. In the end, we decided to go with iPads. The main reasons were the versatility, total portability, and battery life of the iPad. The iPad is so much more than a computer, so they can use them for so many things. Laptops are small and portable, certainly, but iPads are smaller and more portable and their battery life is about 9 hours, which is spectacular! Their work can even be done in the car, which is an option not available with using a laptop. Plus, the iPad has options for homeschooling that laptops don't. Like textbooks from iTunes U, educational apps, and the ability to practice handwriting using a stylus and special apps for that. We really feel the possibilities are endless with the iPad.

With the help of the internet and helpful people at a local store, we have purchased four refurbished/used iPad 2's. Hubs will mainly use his for fun, I'll use mine for fun, homeschooling, and some other side jobs I have, and the kids' will be for school, educational fun, and mindless fun as well. Also, Goober will start fostering his love of math and technology by learning coding with the iPad and Bub is going to be using his for bringing out his creative side. So far I am thrilled with the iPads! I never dreamed of the possibilities we'd have when we bought them and I am so excited that we will be almost completely paper-free in our schooling. I've found out that I can scan and convert any worksheets I come across (mainly from borrowed books) to PDF's and they can be handwritten on their iPads and submitted back to me electronically. I've even found a journaling app, which we do a lot of, that the kids can make e-journals where they can hand write, type, draw, insert pictures, and more. They store all their journals on virtual bookshelves and can keep writing on and on. They can practice any subject on the iPad as well, via fun paid and free apps, to solidify what they're learning. I am so excited, and so are they! This will be so much fun!

Special thanks to my hard-working Hubs for making this possible for us. My income is meager now that I'm a homeschooling mama and without him, we couldn't have bought these.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What I Want

I wish broccoli tasted like pizza.

Or peas like white chocolate.

Or that pizza and white chocolate tasted like broccoli and peas.

I wish I loved exercising. Like, really loved it.

I wish marriage were easier.

And parenthood.

Heck, life in general.

But I'm also thankful in a weird way that it's not, because nothing worth having is ever easy.

I wish that things worth having were easier to get.

I wish I were thin.

I wish everyone could truly know who they are.

I wish I had more money so that I could bless people who need help.

I wish I were more motivated.

I wish people listened and paid attention more.

I wish people were more empathetic to the needs of others.

I wish every person in the world knew that someone out there loves them.

I wish everyone in the world could be happy. Truly happy.

I wish peacefulness in one's self was a given. The world would be a better place if everyone had true happiness and peace.

I wish everyone understood the impact they have on others and the environment.

I wish more people would be others' cheerleaders and encouragers instead of their obstacles and sense of self loathing.

I wish people would just leave each other alone to live their lives as they see fit, so long as they are doing no harm.

I wish people were honest.

And respectful.

I wish everyone had self-confidence that no one ever could tear down.

I wish I were brave.

I wish I were everything I want to be.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A BIG Announcement

The past few weeks, Goober has started having some difficulty at school. First, it was a "friend" of his (he's such a sweet kid, everyone's his friend even if they don't deserve that title) who is teasing him in a non-friendly way. Then it was his grades, which are suffering because he is so bored and has just lost interest in waiting for everyone else to catch up to him. He is very bright and masters things pretty quickly, something a lot of people just don't do. The final straw was the sudden sadness and envy in wishing he could be home learning with Bub and I. He was actually making himself physically ill because of his regret of not getting to homeschool. Now, that final reason alone was not enough for me to decide he should homeschool, but combining that with all the other things, I decided it was time to have a discussion.

Goober and I talked very heavily over the upsides and downs of staying at home. In the end, he said he wants to try because he wants to see what learning at his own pace would be like. He's a math whiz, so he is really looking forward to the-sky's-the-limit math problems.After weighing pros and cons (both his and mine), thinking, prayerful consideration, and many, many discussions, we've decided to give it a go. There are only 2 1/2 months left of 4th grade, so we figure now's a great time to try. If it isn't working out, we'll spend from now until August making sure he's ready for 5th grade and he'll start back in the fall. If it is working, then we'll stick it out for 5th grade and beyond.

Goob is a very social child, so socialization will be heavy on the agenda for him. We will attend many field trips, group trips, and small group "play dates" so he gets lots of interaction with children and adults of all ages. He will miss his friends, but knows that he will make new ones and with children who are like him in many ways, not just in age. His close friend at church is a homeschoolers, so he is looking forward to spending lots of time with him. The only reservation Hubs and I have is this issue, so I will make sure it's got resolution. I would never do anything to make my children's lives more difficult, so part of doing what's right here is making sure he gets to see lots of people. As for the rest of it, that will be a breeze with my little smarty.

We are fully aware that this will not be without strife and is a huge sacrifice for each of us to make, but we know that the right decision for now is to give it a whirl. We are not looking for anyone to back us up, we know we've made the right choice, but we would hope that you will keep any negative opinions about this to yourself. I am more than willing to answer questions, but not willing to argue or to be convinced to change my mind. We will be using a fantastic curriculum and I have no doubt that Goob will blossom educationally from this choice. We are both thrilled and excited to get started.

Beginning in one week, I will be homeschooling mama of two. I am excited, scared, thrilled, nervous, and oh-so thankful we are getting this opportunity. I can't wait to get started!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Week in Review: February 27

It was a week dedicated to the fabulous Dr. Seuss! We had a blast this week with tons of crafts and hands-on learning experiences. Plus, we bought this:
So next week we'll start lessons for the ukulele! We're very excited.

Language Arts: This week Bub learned -ip and -im sounds with Hooked On Phonics. I am so proud because he has almost reached the halfway point in his HOP kindergarten level. Essentially, he's done half of kindergarten language in about 6 weeks. Photobucket He's such a smarty! We also read tons and tons of Dr. Seuss this week. He loved reading The Cat In The Hat, Fox in Socks, Green Eggs and Ham, and The Sneetches most, but didn't dislike any of the stories. Dr. Seuss has that effect on kids.We also continued our reading of Beverly Cleary's Ramona Quimby series by completing both Ramona the Brave and Ramona And Her Father. We did library storytime this week on Monday as well and that was a snow-themed storytime where they read Jingle, Jingle, Jingle and a couple others. Bub particularly enjoyed throwing paper snowballs there.

Math/Science: We used our new math game site, quite a bit and we did a lot of dice addition with these cute little dice-in-dice this week. They are so cute and fun and Bub loved adding and subtracting with the dice. We also did lots of great activities with our new Super Sorting Pie including introducing simple fractions. Math is not Bub's favorite, but he does a great job at it for a kindergartener.

Social Studies/Life Skills: We continued working out of our Visual Perceptual Skill Building and Tuned In To Learning for social skills. We also had a home visit this week with a local home educator support group who helped engage Bub in one-on-one conversations, which he did great it. We also did conversational practice at the library storytime. He's getting so much better with his eye contact! I rarely have to remind him anymore. Yay for progress!

Bible Study: We continued reading in our devotional Bible as well as our regularly attended church services. We also talked a lot about being judgmental and trying not to judge others. I feel that, as a Christian, it's very important to teach my children that true Christianity is not judgmental of others, but accepts and loves everyone. I want them to know that it's not their place to judge. Photobucket On Saturday we went to our local Christian book store and bought a new devotional, Veggie Tales 365 Day Starter Devos For Boys. Veggie Tales rocks!

PE: In OT this week, Bub did lots of arm strengthening activities and got to play in shaving cream, which he loved. We had gorgeous weather this week, so at home, we did lots of playing outside and building big obstacle course to get those muscles working. He really loves pulling himself around using his arms on a skateboard. That, and his tunnel.

Foreign Language: We're still working on mastering the alphabet. It's slow going, but it uses so many fine motor muscles and takes so much self-awareness that it's difficult for him. He's about halfway through learning them though, so he's getting there.

The Arts: Finally, it's time for our crafts for the week! I have tons of pictures to illustrate our fun for the week, so enjoy!

Pardon the fuzzy pics (iPhone photos), my messy background and hideous wall paper. Feel free to share my pictures on Facebook or Pinterest, but do not claim them as your own or crop them. Thanks!

First we made The Cat's hat and later Bub decided it needed a "real Cat in the Hat" attached to it. He did all the work to the cat himself, with a little helps from me with the bow and hands. I was pretty proud of his handiwork.
The Lorax moustache. Every time he holds it up he uses a "man" voice and says, "I'm the Lorax!" It's cute!

Our very, very one-of-a-kind pipe cleaner Cat in the Hat. We didn't have any black pipe cleaners or pompoms, so we improvised. He's unorthodox but oh so cute!

Thing One & Thing Two handprint art. Adorable!

This one and the next one are our (also unorthodox) felt Thing One & Thing Two. We filled them with plastic Easter grass, so they're "crunchy" and we used hot glue to close them up. They turned out so cute!
The other side.

We definitely had a craft-heavy week! He also played with chalk outside lots, painted, and made loop-weaved potholders. Bub really, really loves being artsy!

Saturday we had a fun day with a Veggie Tales movie premier, Robin Good, which was super fun and FREE! We love Veggie Tales! We also pet puppies and kitties at the pet store and visited a music store to buy an instrument. We decided on the ukulele because it will be an easy starter and can segway into the guitar, violin, or other strings later if they choose. Plus, it's the perfect size so either child can play it and it was super cheap. We also got each kid a recorder so they can start practicing winds as well. I played the clarinet and saxophone and can also play the flute, so I think between the recorder and ukulele, they'll have a good foundation for playing anything they want later. We also went to church on Sunday, which is always a pleasure.

I leave you with one more picture of our Dr. Seuss' birthday breakfast for Goober, Bub, and my nephew (6). Green Eggs (and bacon). None of them would eat ham, so I improvised.They loved it and weren't at all freaked out. Well, my nephew didn't eat it, but he's very picky.


We had a great week celebrating Dr. Seuss, who I think is a genius. Next week is a transportation-themed week with Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel as our FIAR book.

"Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than you!" ~Dr. Seuss