Thursday, August 27, 2009

Workbox Wednesday

So I told you that this year we are using workboxes to organize our schoolwork. Well, our school year started on Monday and we are really enjoying this new system! Next week I'll do a post showing the actual workings of the boxes, but for now I'll just tell you that it's going *really well*. The kids are excited about doing their work. They know exactly what is expected of them and can see easily where they are in their day and how much work they have left. They are enjoying each subject more because it's so clearly laid out for them and prepared, so there isn't the stress of finding things, copying things, cutting things - it's just ready to go.

Our first history lesson of the year was about Jubal and Tubal-Cain so the kids got to play musical instruments . . .

We used the laptop quite a bit - here's Graham using it to watch his math video . . .
Moxy has been having his usual days, peering through the window at us and wondering what we are doing and why he's not invited . . .
Canaan's book of the week (we're using Before Five in a Row) is Jessie Bear, What Will You Wear. He's doing all kinds of fun activities to go along with it - here he is having dressed Jessie Bear and is now feeding him Teddy Grahams. One day I even dressed Canaan in a shirt of red and pants of blue, just like Jessie Bear. Oh, he loves it!
When he's not immersed in activity he's been busy finding fun things to do on his own (well, that or crying for mum-mum LOL) like photographing Mommy from all angles . . .
Playing file folder games with Graham . . .

And a favorite activity thus far has been the daily journal. I thought the kids would bristle like crazy at writing in their journal every day but they actually ask for it! After they write they get a sticker to put on the front (or inside, wherever they want it) and that has been really enjoyable for them as I have built quite a sticker collection for them to choose from.

I honestly can't believe how much workboxes have transformed our home school. We are getting so much more done, and enjoying it! Love!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Photo overload

Sorry about the random mishmash of photos but anyway, here goes. Pardon the toys everywhere but isn't it funny how Canaan hid himself under a blanket so the tiger flashlight would have more impact? Thank you for the cute flashlight Grandma B!

Sweet spaced-out siblings

Yet another hairdo for Miss Caris - make a ponytail. Make a part in the hair on the crown side of the rubber band, and shove the ponytail up through the part. Yank both sides so the rubber band is nice and tight and the ponytail makes a fountain through the top. Is that clear as mud? Curl everything up and bobby-pin some pieces up high for flair.

Today was our annual not-back-to-school trip to the museum, and I daresay it was the best yet! We had such a good time and up until the end it was nice and cool.

Here are my bunch outside by the clock tower . . .
Canaan, who will enjoy Before Five in a Row this year - soo cute!!
Caris, my first-grader!
Graham's in fourth grade this year!
And though I can hardly force myself to believe it, Malachi's in sixth grade this year.

Here's the whole gang out at the museum. Aren't they a good-looking bunch? I think you should especially note Anna's adorableness in slinging baby Olivia. What a mother she will make someday!

And I don't know who these crazy ladies are but I think I heard one of them say that they homeschool their children. Mercy!
Here are our workboxes, loaded and ready for a half-day's work today. I'll post on Wednesday to let you know how it went!

Friday, August 21, 2009

I want you to know

Dear Grandma,

Today is your Birthday. You're celebrating in Heaven, if we celebrate Birthdays in Heaven. Malachi asked me today, "so, once you die you get flowers for your gifts always?" I laughed and said that I think being in Heaven is probably more amazing a gift than any we could dream up on Earth. Anyway, there are some things I want you to know today, on your Birthday.

I want you to know . . .

that your legacy lives on. I talk about you to my children and they know things about you, and they do and say things that I learned from you.

That we took flowers to your grave today. I couldn't afford to buy a bouquet, so I cut some from my garden and took them in a little mason jar, which reminded me of the juice glasses you used to serve us juice in every morning when we visited.

That I cry when I think of you, but not bitter tears. I cry because I miss you and because the profound impact you had on my life makes me feel emotional and so thankful to be your granddaughter. And sometimes I cry because my children won't know you like I did - at least not until we're all in Heaven together.

That I remember you. I remember your hands tucking me in and bouncing me, your soft face, your loving eyes. I remember what your voice sounded like singing hymns next to me in the Baptist church.

That your sense of humor has carried down through the generations, and when we get together, we laugh until we cry.

That I am so glad you met three of my kids, and so sad that you didn't meet one of them. How you would love Canaan's bright eyes and sparkling smile, Grandma.

That the kids and I sang "Happy Birthday" to you at your grave. And that as I looked down and saw that enough time has passed for the grass to have completely covered over the scarred earth, I could hardly finish the song.

That, most of all, I am thankful that you passed along a love for the Lord. That you held your little girls and sang to them and took them to church and taught them to love Jesus, so that my own mother could do the same for me, and now I can pass it along to my own children. There's nothing greater that you could have done, Grandma. Your life counts for so much.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

and He loves me, too!

So believe it or not, because I hardly can, I'm still reading through the Bible chronologically. I started out in the New Testament in July of last year and when I got to Revelation, I continued on - in Genesis. I've tried so many times to read through the Bible but I always started in Genesis, and by Leviticus I was propping my eyelids open. I do read in my bed at night but still, it was ridiculous. I thought I was doomed to never have read the whole thing as a piece. Well, starting in the New Testament made all the difference for me. Something about knowing what all the Old Testament craziness was leading up to just has made it so much more interesting to read.

Anyway, I'm in 2 Samuel now, and there's been a lot of drama between Saul and David. The house of Saul keeps getting smaller and weaker and the house of David more powerful until ultimately, Saul dies and David truly becomes King. Now, I have to admit that I've never been much on history or war or things like that. All the names and order of things just lose me - now who does that guy belong to? Whose wife is that? Why do they hate each other so much, again? It's just a lot to follow.

One thing that really DID stand out to me though is that as I read all of this, in my mind it sort of plays like a movie where Saul's the bad guy and David's the good guy. I'm an Einstein, I know. Anyway. I was thinking about all of this in the shower this morning. And by the way, allow me to sidetrack and tell you that when I woke up this morning Canaan needed to pee so I took him, and since Alif was in the shower I reached Canaan's hands in there to wash them, and my husband was taking a cool shower. Not freezing, but not at all warm. How could he stand it? Ok so in my nice HOT shower, I was thinking about all the fighting and everything between the Israelites and the Philistines and how darn that Saul, couldn't he just listen to the Lord?

Then I realized something. Maybe Saul WAS the bad guy. I don't know, I can't judge his heart. But what I can know absolutely, 100%, is that God loved him desperately. It grieved Him to have to allow Saul to go to his own destruction. As much as I long to be like David, there's certainly some Saul in me. How thankful I am that He loves me, longs for me, even when I'm not listening. And that he responds immediately when I reach out to Him and ask for help. Our God is so complex. There is so much to learn. But His love is unfailing, all-encompassing, and that I can know for sure.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Workbox Wednesday

I am so lucky to have such smart friends! Last year Lynette came up with a great idea to get her daughter Ellie working independently and just keep everything organized. She decided ahead of time what Ellie would need to do that day and load the work into file folders the night before. That way Ellie knew exactly what was coming next and what she needed to complete for the day. I thought this was a smart idea but a lot of our work is straight out of books, and I wasn't sure I was up for getting that organized.

Enter workboxes! If you read many homeschooling blogs, you have surely seen this system by now. Sue Patrick's brainstorm, workboxes have many many benefits. I'd read about them but still thought it was crazy to load all those boxes every day with work for the next day, especially for someone with more than a couple kids.

Then I saw Alison's workbox system. And I fell in looooove! So simple, so smart. They don't take up much room, which was one of the things I didn't like about the workbox system. I started to realize as I read through Alison's post that this system would save us so much time during the day, and not only that but how much more we would get done. We are pretty good about getting the essentials in, but there is not usually time for the things the kids truly enjoy - art projects, history projects, Latin, nature journals etc. With workboxes, all of that will be worked into our day.

My first favorite thing is that each drawer will have *everything* the child needs to complete his task. Let's say we're doing a Color the Classics page - then that drawer will have a pack of colored pencils, the coloring sheet and the CD. Each drawer will have a pencil if it needs it, glue, whatever is required. I am giddy thinking of how much time this will save, how many arguments it will avoid ("he has my pencils!" "no, they're mine!" "where is my glue stick? someone used it all! wah!").

We're going to go out later today to buy the first few drawers. I'm going to need 12 sets of 3 drawers, and since I don't have room in my budget for that right now, I will acquire them over the next few weeks.

I did go ahead and make my lesson plans. Sometime between Friday afternoon and Monday morning I will fill in each child's lesson plans with what I plan to put into their boxes for the week. When the week is done, these will serve as records of what we accomplished.Each Wednesday I'll post about how it's going and some things that we've put in the drawers. Since it's not set up yet, I'll show you a few of the things we bought this week in anticipation of the new year starting. I got each child a composition book (50 cents at Target) that they will use to journal in each day - this will be the last drawer of the day most days. I got a couple of sets of glue sticks for 22 cents each, and everything else is from Target's dollar section: math and alphabet bingo and several sets of flash cards. We went back to Target the next day and Malachi bought a couple sets of flash cards to keep in his room. I also got each of the kids a sketch notebook to use as a nature journal, 2.49 each with 70 pages. That should last us the year if we do nature journals several times a week. It'll be fine with me if we need more!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

. . . and a half

Today Canaan is two - and a half. Another half a year has slipped away, and now he is officially closer to three than he is to two. Here's what he's up to these days:
Brings me Sissy's rubber bands and says, "ban-aik in my hair?" Rubber bands and band-aids are called ban-aik. Last night he wanted two in - cute look, piggies on my boy, no? He sat next to me with his piggies, drinking ranch out of a little cup. Nice!

When he smells something, or wants us to, he makes this face and blows out really fast with his nose.

Wears size 2T-3T, size 8-9 shoes, 4T undies ("unnies"), weighs 34 pounds as of yesterday.

Everywhere we go - literally - people stop us to say how cute, sweet, gentle, precious, darling (etc.) he is.

Very, very sensitive. If he does something he knows he shouldn't, like last week when he opened up the emergency exit at the pizza place and caused the alarm to go off, (by the way, they're not very loud of scary, in case you ever wondered) I will gently say something like, "honey, you may not open doors without asking Mommy or Daddy." and he will be reduced to very sad tears.

After said tears, upon waking, before sleeping, when bored, hurt, lonely, he asks for mum-mum - Mommy almost always obliges.

Speaks mostly in complete sentences, but as of the last week or two, there's lots of stuttering. "Can I have a popsicle?" might sound more like, "C'I-c'I-c'I-c'I have a poppysickle?"

Almost completely potty trained. Poops are hit and miss. Yesterday I bribed him with Skittles and he pooped twice in the potty! YAY!

Out of the crib and into a twin bed. We only had a mattress (no box spring) so that worked out pretty well since it means that his bed is low to the ground. For the first few nights I put his crib mattress next to the bed in case he rolled off. On night two he did. Caris saw it and said he rolled right down onto - and off of - the crib mattress. He lay there crying until Alif ran in to get him and bring him into our bed. It hasn't happened since.

He finally, finally sleeps through the night consistently in his bed. Every morning around 6 or 6:30 he comes into my bed to nurse and then falls back asleep for another hour or so. This morning I left him up there to come down here and blog and I thought Alif had wakened him because I heard him yell, "nooooo!" I asked Alif what happened and he said he'd yelled in his sleep. LOL

He loves to "swim"! That boy is not afraid of water at all, though thankfully this summer he doesn't just run right in like last year. He waits at the edge until we're ready for him. Maybe next year he'll learn to swim!

Canaan, Mommy and Daddy are absolutely, head over heels in love with you! We joke that if we ever have another baby, we might wish we'd stopped while we were ahead. You are seriously delightful to have around, love bug. You make us -and everyone else - smile all day long. You are so obedient and compliant, with just a touch of fire to keep life interesting. You are strong and sweet and funny and we adore you!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Baker's Dozen review

It can be hard to choose toys that are both educational and actually toys our children LIKE to play with. A website called ebeanstalk is dedicated to selecting good, safe learning toys and 5 year old toys. They sent me a game to review, called Baker's Dozen from Playroom Entertainment, who makes great educational toys.

We were all super excited when this game arrived in the mail, and just look how cute the packaging is! Totally engaging. The kids wanted to play right away. It's recommended for ages 8-adult, but Caris is only 6 and she picked up on it very quickly. Canaan likes to play with us too even though he doesn't understand the rules yet.

The kids describe this game as sort of a cross between dominoes and skip-bo. The basic idea is to use up all of your cards and end up with the least amount of points at the end. Watch out or you might get waylaid by moldy donut cards!

What's educational about a bunch of donuts, you ask? Each pile created by the players can total up to 13 (get it, a baker's dozen?) and once it goes over, you have to collect that pile and keep it. Each donut has a value from 1-7 so each time you're going to lay down a card, you have to count or add to be sure of the pile's point value.

We took the game over to my in-laws' house and played, and a couple of the adults thought it was too childish to be fun for adults, but the rest of us really enjoy it. We have played this game at least 20 times in the week we have had it. I will admit that the first time we played, Mommy got a big donut craving so we had to pile in the car and go get some. LOL

After being charmed by the cute packaging, we decided later that the cards would do better to be packaged in a flat box instead of this type, because the tabs at the top got ripped by little hands. Thanks to a certain 9-year-old's crafty ingenuity, it's all repaired.

All in all, a great game that is fun, funny (the moldy cards get high marks for hilarity from my kids), strategic and smart!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Time marches on

More time passes between blogs than I intend. I think of things to write about, but when I sit down I get lost in weighty endeavors like Restaurant City, my February message board, Farm Town, Google Reader, e-mail, IMs . . . and then it's time for the kids to get up and I have forgotten to blog.

Plus, nothing terribly exciting has been going on so you'll have to excuse my ramblings.

We went to a birthday party last night for our friend Emma, who turned 5. We had such a nice time! They have one of those blue above-ground pools and my kids thought it was sure fun. Canaan asked to get in so I had Malachi take care of him in there. He could just barely stand - the water was right up to his neck. After a while Malachi wanted to get out and chase and wrestle with other boys at the party, so I nervously stayed right at the edge of the pool while Canaan walked all around that pool. First it was just around the edges, but soon he was walking all over everywhere. I couldn't imagine how he was able to stay upright at all, but he did. A couple times he got water splashed into his mouth and one time he tried to throw a noodle at me, which sent him under water. He made swimming motions with that drowny face and I snatched him out of the pool. Fifteen seconds later he was back in. The next time he choked on water I put my foot down and told him that was enough swimming for the night. Dry drowning makes me fearful.

I told Alif I was going to have Canaan sleep with us because I was such a nervous nellie about the whole dry drowning thing. Well, he seemed so okay by the time I put him to be that - well, I put him to bed. I checked on him when I went to bed at 11:30 and he was fine. Guess what I had a dream about, though? I dreamed that we were crossing a very long bridge, like the one on Horton Hears a Who, if you've seen that, and there was a little section that was missing the wooden boards. Canaan laid down next to it so he could peer down at the grass below, and right as I started to say, "Canaan, scoot back!" he slipped through. I watched in horror as he fell, laid-out, all the way down to the grass and laid there motionless. We rushed to the end of the bridge and down to him as quickly as we could and somehow got him to the hospital, where it became clear that he would be ok. Ack, the horror!

In more positive news, I watched the show Ruby thanks to Netflix. I cried happy tears through the whole show! The basic story is that a 500-pound woman decides it's time to live a normal life so she goes on a major weight-loss journey. It's incrediby inspirational. I think almost more than the actual weight loss, which is great, I really loved watching her friends love her, seeing what a magnetic personality she has - she is truly a positive thinker - and just seeing what life would be like as someone that big. Amazing viewing - highly recommended.

Are you tired of my movie reviews yet? I don't normally watch many of them! The kids and I went to the dollar theater and saw Night at the Museum 2 this week. It was - eh. Boring for me, but the kids liked it, and it did have a few cute historical references. Lynette and I went to see The Proposal and oh - my - gosh. You HAVE to see it. You have to ignore the cussing and the nudity and just laugh. We laughed so hard I seriously thought we might get kicked out. I am not kidding. Of course, I was having a horrible, awful, everything's-going-wrong kind of day that day, and I maaaaay have been just a wee bit giddy about being out of my house with my bff.

What are YOU up to?