My mothering days

At church last Sunday for Mother’s Day, these words were mentioned in a talk, and I just loved them. They are also in the following video:

“Life, every life, and every heartbeat..began with a mom.  Who willingly accepted a divine role. A thankless job. A sticky, sleepless, soul stretching career.

For nine months, ninety months, ninety years.

She taught us right from wrong, left from right, baking soda from baking powder. She slept little and worried much. She laughed, lathered, rinsed, and repeated, and repeated.

Who taught us to love God? To love others? To love ourselves? Who prayed with us? Who prayed for us? Who read to us and taught us what the words meant? It was mom.

Who was the champion, the cheerleader, the chief inspiring officer? Who was the queen of bed time, dinner time, holidays, holy days, early mornings, late nights? Music lessons, life lessons, and everything we cling to with all our hearts? It was, it is, and forever will be Mom.”

Thank you to all the mothers in my life–my own mother and mother-in-law, my grandmothers, my aunts, my sisters, my friends, my teachers who have sacrificed so much, worrying, praying, supporting, and cheering me on.

__________________________

5 years ago, my kids ages 1, 4, 7, and 9 were huddled around me on the couch, and a quick photo was taken.  I’ve loved it–a frozen moment in time, capturing my life as a younger mother.  I look tired, but so content and happy.  On Mother’s Day, we took a similar pose on the same couch and wow, have my kids grown!  We had to squish to fit us all in and not one could sit on my lap anymore.  My oldest is taller than me, has only 3 years left under my wing, and then she may be off to college or other adventures. Didn’t we just bring her home, nervous to drive fast with our new, sweet bundle in the back seat?  14 years later, I’m a mother to these four blessings!

my 4 blessings

When they were little, my mothering days seemed ever so long with late night feedings, buckling in seat belts and strollers, tying shoes, dressing, diapering, snacks on the go, napping–a constant stream of demands.  Now that we’re out of that stage, I’m realizing the years we have raising our children are really short and I miss my babies.  President Monson said it well:

I’m not missing the laundry piles and messy toy rooms quite yet, but I’m holding onto the days I do have…for they are precious.

Painting, plays, and past field trips

I figured it was time for another edition of “Monthly Memories” since the last time I posted about our schooling was in Feb.  I’ve missed sharing because it helps me look back and realize all that we’ve done and learned together.

monthly-memories-2014-2015

THEATER

This has been the year of theater for our family.  J. goes to the local junior high and was able to participate in the “Aladdin” school play in March.  She was in the ensemble and played a villager.  It was a lot of work, staying after school for weeks to practice, but she had so much fun performing with her friends and being more involved at the school.

DSCN1267

W. and E. took a triple threat class (singing, acting, and dancing) at the Scera every Tuesday.  They recently performed “The Jungle Book.”  W. was a monkey and snake dancer and E. was Shere Khan the tiger.  I was never allowed at the rehearsals, so I had no idea what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised that they both seemed to love the stage and performing in their roles.  E. as the tiger did a great job “scaring” the jungle animals and W. had 1 line where she threw a banana at Baloo the bear. My favorite scenes were when all the kids popped out of the curtain to sing “That’s What Friends Are For” and at the end when Mowgli and Shere Khan have a brawl and the tiger is carried off stage.  The way they attacked each other back and forth in slow motion had us all laughing.  It was fun to have other homeschool friends in the play with us as well.  Everyone did a great job!  I’ll miss visiting with the moms after their weekly practices, but not having to drive to and from rehearsals.

DSCN1377

LITERATURE and MOVIES

Because the kids were in the play, we decided to read “The Jungle Book” by Rudyard Kipling aloud. We’re reading the first 3 stories about Mowgli and Rikki Tikki Tavi.  We’ve enjoyed it so far–with the characters being so familiar, it has been quite interesting to read because the stories are a little different than the Disney and play version that we’re used to.

I took my girls to see the new Cinderella movie.  I loved the message that Cinderella’s mother gives her–have courage and be kind.  I’ve taken it as my new favorite motto, framed it, and placed it on my piano, so we can all remember.

have courage

FIELD TRIPS

As a family, we recently went to the tulip festival at Thanksgiving point.  Such a beautiful place to visit!  We just got our garden in and flowers in the front yard.  I love this time of year!

DSCN1343

In February, I organized a field trip to see “Pinkalicious”–a musical play based after the popular Pinkalicious books. (I’m not sure why D. wanted to stick out his tongue, maybe to lick the pink cupcake. Ha!)

DSCN1251

In March, my friend and neighbor Jessie planned a field trip to the post office.  We took a tour and the kids got to mail their own letters off to pen pals in Idaho, which she arranged for us ahead of time.  It was such a great idea!

photo credit:  Arianne Cope (thank you!)

Then in April, we took a field trip to the Springville art museum.  The tour was very child friendly and hands-on.  Our favorite exhibit was Beyond Memory: The Daydreams of Corinne Geertsen.  The artist took old photographs and re-created them in a whimsical, fun way.  The kids were able to play a game matching the old photographs with the new art.  Here’s one of the artist’s creations to get an idea:

ART

We learned about the artist Monet and Impressionism using Home Art Studio.  The kids made two projects–Monet Bridge based off of Monet’s lily garden paintings:

monet bridge

and Impressionist Landscape, using short, spotty brushstrokes, like he would have done:

landscapes

We read Monet by Mike Venezia and enjoyed putting together a magnet puzzle of Monet’s art from World’s Greatest Artists.

KINDERGARTEN

D. did a few fun activities for kindergarten.

B for Butterfly–drew his own butterfly

DSCN1397a

E for Elephant–made an elephant mask and ate peanuts

DSCN1244

R for rock–made stone soup

DSCN1297

X for foX–made a fox hat and tail

DSCN1393

D. made his own calendar and decorated each month’s page.  We had it bound to hang on his wall by his bed.

DSCN1396a

HISTORY

We took a detour of our Family school history and did a unit on ancient India from Story of the World, since we’ve loved eating Indian food lately and J. did a Indian wedding project in her geography class at school. These were are favorite books on the topic:

One Grain of Rice

Once a Mouse

The Brave Little Parrot

Sacred River

I Once Was a Monkey

The Monkey and the Crocodile

Nine Animals and the Well

WRITING

We have really enjoyed using Institute for Excellence in Writing this year.  E. and W. chose their own non-fiction topics to write reports on and they turned out great. W. chose pigs and E. chose guns.  I’m amazed at their ability to sit down and write paragraphs easily using the outlines and tips from this program.  I highly recommend it if you want something more structured for writing.  The videos with Andrew Pudewa keep the kids interested and even laughing at times!

Well, that’s a wrap-up of the last few months.  We only have 3 weeks left and we’re done with this school year.  I can’t believe it!  Trying to make the most of it and at the same time some days I’m barely making it through.  One day at a time.  Summer here we come!

Hanging on to homeschooling

This time of year is hard for me to homeschool as I always get a little tired of teaching and burned out, ready for summer to come.  We’ve also prayerfully decided to send E. to junior high next fall.  I took him to the 7th grade orientation meeting and we both came away excited for him to go, so that was a good sign.  The electives he wants to do are drama and band. They have some really good teachers for these classes. He went to a band “petting zoo” and got one on one help with the band teacher to find the instrument that would be just the right fit for him.  He wants to play the saxophone, but was recommended to try the clarinet for his first year.  I’m grateful that he will have opportunities like this.

As a result of this decision, I’ve come to the conclusion that my homeschooling days will never be the same.  I’ve been in mourning over the days when my 4 children were young, huddled around me on the couch reading or at the table doing projects together, learning at home.  I look back with such fondness on those days.  I’ll never forget them, but we’re onto a new chapter in our family–two in school and two at home.  I’ve been thinking a lot about W. and D., who will still be at home with me, and what we’re going to do next year, wanting to make our time together more meaningful and precious because really it is so short.

I’ve been homeschooling for many years that it seemed as if I always would, and now I’m realizing that the time I have to do this won’t be forever.  I’ve needed a pick me up.  Something to help me have the desire to keep homeschooling my younger ones and make me excited about teaching again. I’m sure it will come after a summer break.  It always does, but I also came across a series of videos for parents to teach your children using literature based curriculum.  Of course, it caught my eye because I absolutely love books and use this approach.  I’ve only watched 3 episodes so far of Homeschool Made Simple by Carole Joy Seid, but I’m enjoying every minute of it, taking copious notes, and soaking up all the information from this homeschool veteran.  I could listen to her all day.  She’s introduced me to books and authors that I’ve never even heard of before and I am really excited to try them out.  This is giving me just what I need to continue homeschooling, but to do it a little differently than I’ve done in the past–making it more “simple, enjoyable, and affordable.”  I’m looking forward to what next year holds for us.  Instead of just hanging onto homeschooling, we’re going to soar!

Six!

My baby turned 6 and I just can’t believe it!

A few weeks ago, on a date with my husband, we ran into Mary–D.’s occupational therapist when he was 1 year old. She would come into our home to help him learn to work through his mouth sensitivity problems and ultimately learn to eat from a spoon, which wasn’t until he was 18 months old.  I told her how thankful I was for her because now he is one of my biggest eaters.  He’s just making up for lost time. :)

Also, I recently sat in on his speech class.  Before he starts each lesson, his teacher asks him to tell her one thing he loves.  I read through his favorites during the school year and over and over he tells her, “I love food.” or “I love to eat.” It was so cute to realize it is something he overcame as a baby and really consciously enjoys doing.

D. wanted a rainbow cake for his birthday, so we made one with skittles and marshmallows for the clouds.

DSCN1282

The gift he wanted most was to get a haircut.  He no longer wanted his curls, so I consented, but only if Dad took him. I would have cried watching them cut off all those beautiful curls.

haircut

He’s all grown up!

My love of books

I absolutely love children’s books.

Mind you, this is why I have a membership to 3 different libraries, so I can find whatever book I am looking for.

I am like a child in a candy shop when I’m surrounded by so many wonderful selections.

This is why in my down time I’m headed to a library to find treasures for my children to read based on our most recent science or history lesson.

This is why I’m reading through the Sonlight book lists on my own, like Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, because there are so many great titles of children’s literature that I don’t want to miss out on.

If you didn’t know, in my life before children, I used to be a 3rd grade teacher and my favorite time with my class was when they came in from lunch and recess and I read aloud to them.

My favorite class in college was Children’s Literature, so of course being able to read aloud with my children on a daily basis is a dream come true for me.  We’ve read about 80 chapter books…and counting over our 10 years of homeschooling and there are still so many more I want to read and re-read with them.

One of our favorite family traditions is watching the movie version of the books we’ve read.

It’s my happy place when we’ve read an amazing book together and then get to experience it all over again watching it at home or in the theater.

Just this week, we huddled around the couch with popcorn & blankets and laughed our heads off to Anne’s antics in Anne of Green Gables.

Books give us new experiences and inspire us to learn new things.

When we read Capyboppy, we pulled out Dad’s mission photos of him sharing a blade of grass with a capabara in Argentina, and learned all we could about this unusual animal.

Homer Price and Farmer Boy made us want to try our hand at making homemade doughnuts.

A pet cricket and learning all about China came about after reading A Cricket in Times Square.

Eating rainbow cereal and making “green” spectacles was a highlight with The Wizard of Oz.

Dressing up as Indians, complete with dollar store bow and arrows & cowboy and Indian plastic figures, was a hit when we read The Indian in the Cupboard.

Building penguins out of legos while we listened to Mr. Popper’s Penguins and later watched “March of the Penguins” documentary.

Sending our own Flat Stanley in the mail to friends and family across the country after we watched the play on stage and read the book.

Playing pooh-sticks under the bridge like in House at Pooh Corner and reciting “The more it snows, tiddely pom” poem.

Finding a red caboose to explore when we read The Boxcar Children together.

Dressing up in togas and having our own Roman dinner after reading Detectives in Togas.

The list could go on….but if you want to truly experience life with your children, read books with them.  Check out our favorites here.

books

Valentines and a birthday

I celebrated my birthday 2 weeks ago!  G. and I try to avoid the weekend of Valentine’s Day, so we went out to eat at Macaroni Grill the Saturday before. We had a party with my dad on Sunday to celebrate together, since our birthdays are only 2 days apart.  On my actual birthday, G. treated me to a Coldstone chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream cake.  We were out of candles, so he had this crazy idea to use 4 sparklers on the cake.  (Although, I’m not quite 40 yet!) I don’t know what we were thinking, but about half way through the singing, the fire alarm went off.  It sure made for a scary/funny moment!

DSCN1218

We had a fun Valentine’s Day.  Our homeschool group met at the city park and we gave out valentines, decorated sugar cookies, and recited poetry.  E. memorized “Smart” by Shel Silverstein, W. recited “Valentine” by Shel Silverstein, and D. sang the nursery rhyme “Little Boy Blue.”

Earlier in the week, we made love notes for each other that we hung on the windows,

DSCN1238

used conversation hearts in math,

DSCN1227

and had a heart pizza from Papa Murphy’s.

DSCN1220

For Valentine’s Day, we read our favorite Valentine books,

DSCN1233

and had a red dinner as a family with red sauce/pasta, cherry lime-made, bread, and vegetables.

DSCN1239

The kids and I were so excited to give daddy a box of Candy Crush fruit snacks that we found at Walmart because his latest past time has been playing the Candy Crush game online.  I sure love my family!

DSCN1232

A memory-filled 2 months

Our day to day lives can seem so monotonous, but when I finally find time to record what we have been up to, we’ve really done a lot of things. Here’s a recap of life/homeschool from the last 2 months:

monthly-memories-2014-2015

We have had unusually mild weather this winter.  I’ve loved listening to my kids and their friends play basketball in the front yard.  Our hoop has become a “magnet” for many of the neighborhood kids to come play at and it makes me happy that they’re exercising and having fun at the same time. I recently joined a women’s basketball league at church and it has been fun to get back to playing again.  I think it’s been about 10 years since I played last. :)

We visited the art museum for E.’s art merit badge and came upon an origami exhibit.  My favorite was “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes“–Sadako was a Japanese girl who got leukemia after the atomic bomb exploded in her country during WWII.  She hoped that if she made 1000 paper cranes while in the hospital that she would get well.  There was a miniature candy wrapper crane that she made in 1955 that was on display.  It was so fascinating to me that we read the book and spent an afternoon doing our own origami.  I love learning new things with my children!

origami

D. loves to draw.  We found an Ed Emberly drawing book from the library and it has been a hit! A few times this week, he has been very quiet, so I go looking for him, thinking he is making trouble, and then find him busily drawing creations from the book.

Since Christmas, the favorite toy at our house as been magna-tiles.  The kids play with them almost every day creating homes and castles.

DSCN1130

We learned about different kinds of clouds in science and I’ve loved looking for them in the sky. Next to the mountains they are so beautiful.  God’s creations are truly magnificent!

In Kindergarten, D. learned about C for cows.  We made homemade butter by shaking cream in a jar. Then we had a “dairy” party complete with milk, butter on bread, cream cheese on a bagel, yogurt, ice cream, and cheese.  We read The Story of Ferdinand and then he made his own paper flowers. We sprayed them with perfume, so he could smell them under a tree just like Ferdinand did in the book.

c for cows

For Christmas, we got a yearly pass to Thanksgiving Point, which includes access to 4 different museums.  Last month, we went on a field trip to the dinosaur museum.  The kids had a blast making islands for their dinosaurs, creating dams in the water/sand area, and digging for bones.

dinosaur museum

We decided to check out the curiosity museum on President’s Day, along with everyone else in the area.  It was very crowded, and we didn’t get to everything, so we can’t wait to go back.  Afterwards, we treated the kids to Golden Corral as an incentive for a family goal we recently accomplished. They have an amazing dessert bar with chocolate fondue and cotton candy.  The kids were in heaven!  J., who is trying to have no sugar for a month for her nutrition class, was pleased that they had sugar free cookies and soft serve, so she could still have dessert.

W. has been our little baker.  She pulled out the easy bake oven and made red velvet cupcakes several times with her friends.

DSCN1158

D. lost his first “real” tooth.  When he was 2, his top tooth had to be pulled because he knocked it up into his gums after falling off the toliet. This was extra special for him to loose one all on his own.  It was bittersweet for me to be the tooth fairy for our last child!

DSCN1169

J. and W. both had piano recitals.  We love their teachers at Art City.  W. performed “Tortoise” & “Little Dance” and J. played “All of Me” by Jon Schmidt.  It was a favorite because she bangs/uses her whole arm to play certain parts.  She truly uses all of herself to play it. :)

DSCN1184

W. and Julianne

DSCN1216

Tara and J.

I’ve been trying out new dinner recipes.  One that was a favorite was Indian Chicken Tiki Masala. We loved it with rice, broccoli and carrots, and naan bread.  So easy and yummy that we’ll definitely try it again.

DSCN1207

We had an art day with our homeschool group.  Sara, one of the moms, has her own art studio in her home and invited all of us over to have an art lesson.  We made silhouette sunsets.  Then a week later, we had an art showcase and the kids could show off art they have done this year. E. displayed a name alien that he made out of his name in cursive with markers.

Name Alien 2014

W. showed her princess and the pea bed that she made out of glue and watercolors.

Princess and the pea 2014 for blog

D. drew a bird in a nest with eggs using colored pencils.

nest

On top of all that, I co-chaired a UT county homeschool spelling bee. It was quite the adventure being in charge of running the junior bees for grades 1-4.  My kids didn’t participate, but next year we hope to as I will be the main one in charge of the whole thing.  What a busy and interesting 2 months!

I Love Insects

D. has loved learning about insects in My Father’s World Kindergarten.  We studied ants, bees, and ladybugs.

We pulled out our plastic ant farm (this is our third time using it) and had live harvester ants and sand sent to our home to fill it.  It is amazing how busy they start building their tunnels.  D. enjoys watching his new pets. He feeds them a small piece of carrot, apple, or celery every few days with a few drops of water.  They are still alive and it’s been almost a month since they arrived.

DSCN1194

We read Ant Cities and he made an ant lapbook to reinforce what he learned.

DSCN1225DSCN1224

When we read about bees in Are You a Bee?, D. decided to draw its life cycle.  In math, we cut out hexagons, so we used them to represent the honey comb and he placed his drawings on top.  I love when my kids come up with their own ideas of learning!

DSCN1157a

Then we read The Grouchy Ladybug and he painted a ladybug rock.

DSCN1221

My life in a few paragraphs…

  • I am feeling so old lately as this year makes 20 years since I graduated from high school.  I cannot believe it!  A reunion is in the works, but not sure if I will go.
  • Last week, I went skiing for the first time in about 18 years.  We went with my dad and took the 3 oldest kids.  I’m definitely not as adventurous as I used to be.  I enjoyed the tow rope and going down the small hill with my 9 year old the most.  The next day, I was so sore, I couldn’t get out of bed, but it sure was fun trying something I hadn’t done in so long.  For years, I’ve missed out because I was home taking care of the babies. Now my baby is turning 6 in two months.  Crazy how I feel my life changing as they get older.
  • “It’s my one weakness.”  If you’ve watched Lark Rise to Candleford, you know the quote I’m referring to.  I can’t get enough of watching this series.  It’s my new favorite–love the time period, the costumes, the love stories, and the different characters.  Makes me want to live in a cottage, bake bread and try other homemaking skills, and invite my friends over for tea. It’s so clean and refreshing.  I just love how the characters make decisions based on integrity.  You don’t find many shows like that on TV anymore.  I’m almost done watching the last season and I’m really going to miss it.
  • I’ve been working on a Project Life scrapbook of our 5 week trip back East in 2013.  It’s bringing back such fond memories.  I can’t believe we actually did it–driving through 14 states, covering 7,000 miles, and spending 100 hours in the car.  I hope having all the photos and memories in one place will help us never forget it!
  • We had a two week break during Christmas.  I did nothing related to homeschooling and it was heavenly.  I realized how homeschooling has been my #1 hobby for so long.  This year, I’m going to change it up and do other things.  I think I have this homeschooling thing down–I’ve been doing it for 10 years now, so instead of it consuming all my time, I’m going to find more of a balance.  During the break, I played games, watched movies, scrapbooked, and read.  It was so nice to do something different.
  • I also have to say being around the youth, sure makes you feel young.  I recently got called to work with the youth in my ward at church.  I love teaching the Sunday lessons and getting to know the girls at weekly activities.  I’m working with the Mia Maids, which is my oldest daughter’s age, so it is nice to spend more time with her and her friends.  Life is good!

A little homeschool recap

I can’t believe a new year is upon us!  My idea in the fall to post our memories every month has fallen by the wayside.  Here’s a little homeschool recap before heading into 2015.

SCIENCE:  After learning about astronomy, the kids chose a planet to do a report on.  They each presented in different ways.  E. made a poster about Saturn.

DSCN0975

W. decided to do her report on Neptune as a power point presentation.  We used emaze.com to put it together.  Very simple and fun!

neptune

first page of her Neptune power point presentation

Their reports were both so creative and helped them present in a unique way what they had learned with the family.

FIELD TRIPS:

We took a trip to Hee Haw farms.  We enjoyed feeding the goats and sheep, watching the piglets drink from their mother (so funny to watch them fighting over who was drinking and then running over to another pen to drink from another pig since they didn’t get enough), taking a hayride, exploring the corn maze, picking a pumpkin to take home, sliding down a hill with potato sacks, playing in the corn box, and burying each other.

We also saw a play based on the book–Miss Nelson is Missing with homeschool friends.

DSCN0976

We participated in a musical showcase.  Each of the kids played the piano.  We used a music store recital hall to play in.  D. played “Notes”–a song he made up, W. played “When I am Baptized” and E. played “Waterfall” which he has been working on for some time.  I wanted to especially give the boys an opportunity to perform since they weren’t taking lessons.

HISTORY:  We finished up a history unit on ancient Roman times.  We made our own Roman wreaths out of paper leaves.

DSCN0894

One of our favorite resources was an Ancient Rome Treasure Chest, which included paper dolls, making a Roman villa, using a wax tablet to write Roman numerals, a board game, and much more.

ancient rome activities

Other books/resources we enjoyed:

The Family School History Year 2 lessons, flashcards, and timeline

Story of the World Vol. 1 book, CD, and activity guide

History Odyssey Ancients Level 1

Romulus and Remus

Hannibal and His 37 Elephants

The Roman News

You Wouldn’t Want to be a Roman Gladiator

Roman Numerals I to MM

Wisdom from Heidi

I love the classics.  I’ve been reading Heidi by Johanna Spyri aloud to my children.  I love when I read a passage from a book and it shares little bits of wisdom that reiterate what I want my children to know.  These words were given to Heidi from the grandmother:

“Then, dear child, let me tell you what to do: you know that when we are in great trouble, and cannot speak about it to anybody, we must turn to God and pray Him to help, for He can deliver us from every care, that oppresses us. You understand that, do you not? You say your prayers every evening to the dear God in Heaven, and thank Him for all He has done for you, and pray Him to keep you from all evil, do you not?”

“No, I never say any prayers,” answered Heidi.

“Have you never been taught to pray, Heidi; do you not know even what it means?”

“I used to say prayers with the first grandmother, but that is a long time ago, and I have forgotten them.”

“That is the reason, Heidi, that you are so unhappy, because you know no one who can help you. Think what a comfort it is when the heart is heavy with grief to be able at any moment to go and tell everything to God, and pray Him for the help that no one else can give us. And He can help us and give us everything that will make us happy again.”

A sudden gleam of joy came into Heidi’s eyes. “May I tell Him everything, everything?”

“Yes, everything, Heidi, everything.”

Words from my boys

  • I love to sing, so occasionally, I’ll be listening to a song on Pandora and start belting it out while I’m working in the kitchen. The other day, it was Gravity by Sara Bareilles. Then I hear my five year old yell from the other room, “I like your singing mommy.”  Thanks bud, I didn’t realize I had an audience.
  • E. and I were discussing a recent book that he was reading for school and he was trying to explain to me why the girl in the story was sick.  “She had petunia, Mom.” “Don’t you mean pneumonia?”  We had a good laugh about that.  They do both have a P and N in them, so pretty close.
  • My husband says to D., “Your mom is hot.”  “How can mommy be hot in the winter?,” says D.  Of course, we chuckle.  “Oh, you mean cute girl hot?,” he adds.
  • My 11 year old son had the interesting idea to make up his own language.  He called it–Zelkin. He wrote his own alphabet for it and started writing and speaking it to us everyday for what seemed like weeks. He would respond to me during the day in Zelkin, but I had no idea what he was saying.  I finally had to make a rule that he could use Zelkin, just not during school hours, because I couldn’t understand him. Thankfully it was just a little phase, until he decided to come up with a new one called Calihikoo. Where does he come up with these ideas?  I wonder if he’ll have a knack for speaking “real” languages one day.
  • Today D. came and brought me an (empty) chocolate advent calendar.  “Mommy, some how all the chocolates fell out…And then I ate them.”  Oh, well.  I guess it was just too tempting for him to wait.

Kindergarten Fun

Here are some fun projects that I wanted to document of D.’s Kindergarten year (many of the ideas have come from My Father’s World K):

Creation:  Colored a poster of the 7 days of creation

DSCN0738

S for sun:  Made homemade raisins=grapes + sun

DSCN0782

M for moon:  Read “Little Bear Goes to the Moon”–narrated and acted it out with his own space helmet (Of course, he had to growl like a bear!)

DSCN0801

N for nest:  Built a nest all on his own with leaves from the yard

DSCN0957

Halloween:  Counted pumpkin seeds by tens

DSCN0977

Thanksgiving:  Painted a handprint turkey

DSCN1093

D for Dinosaur:  Went digging for dinosaur bones

dinosaur dig

O for Octopus:  Created his own ocean scene

DSCN1099

(See full curriculum review of our experience using My Father’s World Kindergarten.  We’ve loved using it!  This is our 3rd time around.)

Capturing the Christmas Spirit

I’ve really taken the message of the Christmas video I recently posted to heart.  I’ve felt so stressed with all the Christmas preparations, and getting my kids to all their holiday performances/recitals, while having to homeschool, and just keep the house clean.  Yesterday, I had had enough.  Instead of our usual routine, I started the day by pulling out one of our favorite Christmas books on CD–The Polar Express.  I loved cuddling on the couch with my kids, with just the Christmas lights on, and listening to it together.  The message about the boy receiving a bell as “the first gift of Christmas” really spoke to me.  I was able to tie it into the video’s message and share with my children that the first and most important gift given was by our Heavenly Father–the gift of His Son.  It was a simple thing, but made such a difference in my day.  I needed to make time to slow down, so I could feel the spirit of Christ with my children.

Yesterday, my daughter also had an activity where the moms were invited to come sing carols at a senior home with them.  I didn’t know how I was going to make time to go to one more thing, but I did. Once I was there, I knew why I needed to be.  A feeling of peace, of love, of service entered my heart and I was able to really capture the Christmas spirit.  Despite the craziness of this season, I’m so grateful I could take a step back and share these moments with my children reading books and serving together.

I was reminded of these words that my friend recently shared in a blog post about how she survives the Christmas season,

What is most important to you? Make sure it happens…Maybe you love snuggling on the couch with the kids and reading Christmas stories. Make it THE priority over other obligations…We choose to keep it simple, cozy, and focused on the Savior.

Thank you Arianne for reminding me of this, so I could capture what Christmas really means to me and enjoy, not just survive, the month of December.

Books hot off the press

My kids spent several days writing and illustrating their own series of books on their own free time.

Their drawings and dedications were so cute.

The Robbins Family by W.

” For D. my loving 5 year old brother.”

DSCN0994

They also included dates for upcoming titles:

“Another story will come out on Oct.16-18 (a Halloween story) and Oct. 17-18 (a Christmas story).  And look out for more to come!”

The Robbin’s Halloween by W. and D.

“For Julianne, my piano teacher.”

DSCN0996

The Robbin’s Christmas by J.  Pictures by D. and W.

“For all the kids in the world who fight.”

DSCN0997

Funny lines

You know the moment, when you’re at the dinner table and your kids keep repeating the same jokes or stories over and over again.  At our house, most often it is lines from a movie or Studio C episode and it gets old very fast.  I read this today and it made me laugh out loud.  I’m definitely going to use this line on them next time…

Ramona,” said Mr. Quimby, “my grandmother used to have a saying, ‘First time is funny, second time is silly, third time is a spanking.’ “

Monthly Memories

This homeschool year, instead of trying to post every 1-2 weeks,  I’ve decided to share what we’ve been up to just once a month. I’ll call it our “Monthly Memories.”

monthly-memories-2014-2015

HOMESCHOOL:

We’ve enjoyed the themes D. has been learning in Kindergarten.  A favorite this month was apples–we made homemade applesauce from our own apple tree and learned about Johnny Appleseed.

We’re not doing any homeschool co-ops or registration through a charter school this year. Usually, these groups require extra lesson planning, making weekly reports, and taking reading & end of year tests. It has been so freeing to not be involved with them.  Less stress and work for me.  My kids are still involved in activities, like field trips, theater or speech classes, sports, and park days, so it is working out.

Our curriculum changed a bit too.  I decided to simplify since I wouldn’t be reimbursed, so I sold or returned a few things.  My oldest is doing math independently on the computer.  I combined my 2 older kids for writing.  We’re using IEW that I borrowed from a friend.  They love listening to Andrew Pudewa on the DVDs.  He is a great writing teacher and my kids are enjoying the lessons so far.  This is a huge blessing for us!  Our writing schedule is working out really well–Mondays:  write and test key outlines, Tuesdays:  write paragraphs,  Wednesdays:  edit and rewrite,  Thursdays:  read and share, Fridays: do journals.

J.’s enjoying her 9th grade year. Here’s a regular scene at our house.  Thank goodness for Dad who is a math teacher!

DSCN0874

helping with math homework

We’ve read a few books together on our own and then watched the movies to go along with them–Pinocchio, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Little Bear Goes to the Moon, and Sarah Plain and Tall. Our latest read aloud was Homer Price.  When we read about the automatic doughnut machine, we made homemade, melt in your mouth, cinnamon sugar donuts.  It would have been 10x easier to take the kids to see the donuts being freshly made at Krispy Kreme, but it was a fun memory made that day and we baked them, so they were a little healthier.

DSCN0814

yummy homemade donuts

SPORTS

W. finished up a great soccer season.  She enjoyed being the goalie, so she played keeper at least half of every game.  She had a wonderful coach and her team won every game, except 1 when they were missing 4 or 5 players.  They ended up being the 3rd-4th grade girls soccer champs.  A first in our family!

DSCN0791

W.’s  favorite position as goalie

E. completed his flag football season as well–He learned a lot about the sport and seemed to enjoy it even though it was a hard lesson for him losing every game.  The experience encouraged him to run faster, so for a few weeks he got all the kids on board to run around the block every day, keeping track of his times on a graph, and trying to improve.

DSCN0901

E.’s running graph

FAMILY LIFE

D. got hand, foot, and mouth disease.  He had a fever and was so sleepy, taking naps, which he never does.  We had to keep him away from friends for 2 weeks as he was very contagious. Luckily, no one else in our family got it.  His hands and feet peeled really bad, but he is finally over it.

DSCN0800

D.’s peeling skin

My sister Kari graciously took some family photos of us this year.  I had forgotten what a process it is–finding matching outfits, getting everyone ready, and making sure we all smile at the same time.  It is a miracle that it actually comes together. Now I know why we don’t do them every year.  My favorite shot was when the kids were done with the formal poses and just wanted to be silly.

silly kids

Never a dull moment at our house with these 4!

We took the whole family to see the Barnum and Bailey Circus.  It was a real treat as none of our kids had ever been.  It was for a late celebration of W.’s 9th birthday.  We loved watching the dog and elephant tricks, the taming of the lions and tigers, the swinging acrobats, the ring master and midget clown, and the death defying horse riders and motorcyclists.  It is unbelievable what they do in those circus rings. It really is the greatest show on earth!

DSCN0817

at the circus

J. and I got to ride horses for her cousin Emily’s birthday party.

DSCN0857

Look at her go!

We went to the season premiere of our favorite comedy show–Studio C.  We went with our friends–The Olsens and got to watch it outside on a big screen and listen to the cast answer questions.  The kids loved the free glasses, posters, and bracelets.

DSCN0840

DSCN0842

Did we really do all of that and more in 1 month?  That’s a wrap-up of weeks 4-8.

Letting go of the to do list

This summer, I read a book called Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford.  The author shared her journey of letting go of to do lists, putting down her phone, and other distractions to enjoy and live a more simple life.  I loved the “pledge” in the book so much that I’ve posted it near my computer as a daily reminder:

A mother’s job is never really finished, so if we can just let go of these distractions that aren’t important, how sweeter life could be.

Yesterday, I saw this video that I had share as well.

To all my mother friends, you’re doing what really matters, even if it isn’t on your to do list.

Many of you think you are failures. You feel you cannot do well, that with all of your effort it is not sufficient. We all worry about our performance. We all wish we could do better. But unfortunately we do not realize, we do not often see the results that come of what we do. You never know how much good you do.  -President Gordon B. Hinckley (from his talk To The Women of the Church)