Catch up from the holidays and a birthday

A few of our favorite Christmas traditions from December–gingerbread train, nativity scene, lining up on the stairs, birthday cake for Jesus
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Took a fun family trip to Midway over Christmas break.  It was a winter wonderland–ice skating in frigid temperatures, wearing snow gear just to get to the indoor pool, and seeing how the ice castles are made.
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Sending out the new year with Christmas “crackers” and crowns, Martinelli’s, egg nog, onion dip and potato chips, veggies, and little smokies.
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We celebrated G.’s birthday on the 5th.  I attempted to make a bundt cake, but it fell apart when one of my kids offered help to get it out, then tears by another that daddy’s cake was ruined.   Luckily, we pieced it back together and everyone was happy!
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Every January, we measure each of the kids and mark it on the laundry room wall to see how much they have grown in a year.  E. grew 4 inches and is about to pass me up!
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Finally got around to mopping the kitchen floor, so the kids set up the chairs and pillows to make a train.  Love their creativity!
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Poor D. was sick 3 different times this month.  This is where I found him one Sunday afternoon sleeping.  Sweet boy!
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I love to see the temple

Those of you who know me, know how important my church and family are to me. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, our worship is centered on Christ and His holy house or the temple.  There are about 150 Mormon temples that have been built around the world.

My husband and I were married in 1999 in the Washington, D.C. temple, so it has a special place in our hearts.

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In temples, we believe that those married there will be for time and for all eternity, not just death do you part.  What an amazing blessing to be with our families forever!  The work we continue to do there is for our ancestors as well.  Family is everything to us!

Here is a sweet video called “Families Can Be Together Forever” from the Mormon channel:

I feel so blessed that I have been able to take my children to 5 different temples in Utah for an open house to show them what it is like before it is closed to the public and used by our members.

We’ve seen the Draper (January 2009),

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Oquirrh Mountain (July 2009),

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Ogden (August 2014),

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Payson (May 2015)–it sure was a bright/windy day :)

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and now Provo City Center (just last week).

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When my son E. went through one of the temples, he compared it to an old cathedral we toured a few summers ago.  Instead of it feeling sad and gloomy, he noticed how white and beautiful the temple was.  Whenever I go, I have such a feeling of peace and am able to leave the cares of the world behind.

The Payson temple has become our favorite.  It has the most beautiful stain glass apple blossom windows. It is also the temple in our district and we have seen it from its very beginnings.  We went by it when it was first being built and gathered a few rocks from the site to remember.

After attending the open house, my husband, oldest daughter, and I were able to volunteer to help visitors walk through, play the piano, and/or put on shoe covers.

One Sunday, all the mothers and daughters in our ward were able to go through the temple and see the bride’s room and sealing room where couples are married.

My husband I attended the dedication of the temple in the temple, instead of by broadcast.

All summer, our teenage kids worked hard to participate in a cultural celebration at the the BYU football stadium in honor of the temple being built.

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My youngest sister Kari was one of the first brides to be married in the Payson Temple after it opened in June, so that was really special.

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My two teenagers attended the temple after it was open to do baptisms for the dead and are trying to fill their Utah temple passport by going to all 15 temples in Utah by the end of the year. We are doing a lot more indexing and family history on Sundays as a family too.

The Payson temple truly has become “our” temple and I feel so blessed that the Lord has built one close to us so that my children can see its importance and so we can attend often and receive these blessings:

As we touch the temple and love the temple, our lives will reflect our faith.  As we go to the holy house, as we remember the covenants we make therein we will be able to bear every trial and overcome every temptation. -President Thomas S. Monson

 

A peek into our week: Weeks 9-16

Before we get into a new year of learning, I wanted to post our homeschool and family highlights from October to early December.

a peek into our week 2015-2016

With our homeschool group:

We went to the Scera to see the play of James and the Giant Peach–the lead was a girl in our homeschool group and it was one of the best productions I’ve seen there!

james and the giant peach

photo from the Daily Herald

The kids participated in a talent showcase held at Boothe Brothers Music–W. played the ukelele and D. played a piano piece he made up on his own.

Field trips:

We saw the BYU folk dancers in Christmas Around the World-enjoyed the 12 days of Christmas, Indian, Ukraine, and fan dancers.

We went to the Museum of Curiosity as part of our year membership to Thanksgiving Point–the outdoor zip-line was a hit this time and seeing Santa’s reindeer.

We also watched The Nutcrackerloved the growing Christmas tree, the snow and fog during the waltz of the snowflakes, and Mother Ginger and the polichinelles who hid under her skirt. D. chuckled when he realized Mother Ginger was really a grown man playing the part.

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My two dates to the Nutcracker

Home Art Studio:

We did a few art projects–an Aboriginal painting from Australia,

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we learned about Henry Rousseau and made tigers in the jungle,

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and danced with our Korean fans.

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Family Life

NEW GLASSES:  We were surprised at W.’s well check up that she didn’t pass her eye exam. Apparently, she can’t see far distances.  I had no idea as she has had no problem being able to read. We went to the optometrist at Costco.  She was excited to get glasses and finally be able to see better, the first in our family!

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CRAZY WEATHER:  This time of year, Utah is always confused what season it is.  All in the one week, the kids were playing in the leaves (fall), helping me plant bulbs (for spring), and making a snowman (winter).seasons

MY MOM’S BIRTHDAY:  I took my “missionary” mom out for her 60th!  We surprised her with a video of all the family sharing their birthdays wishes and a slide show of photos throughout the years.

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TEEN BIRTHDAY–Can’t believe we have another teenager in the house! In November, E. turned 13.  All he wanted was a pizza party and root beer floats.  The boys spent most of their time outside playing basketball on our hoop and watching Big Hero 6.  It was the easiest party to plan.  Teen boys are easy to please with food, sports, and a movie.

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DONUTS:  “You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy donuts.”  My all time favorite donut–blueberry cake was out during the holiday season to make room for pumpkin, but I do love a Krispy Kreme, especially with these two.  They loved these hats when we went as a family.  Also, we scored with free donuts for the older two’s grades.

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COUSINS: My kids love it when they can get together with their cousins. All the boys (7 total) went my husband and his brother to see a BYU basketball game, while I took the girls out for a movie and frostys at Wendy’s.  We saw Once I Was a Beehive–such a cute movie about girl’s camp.  We couldn’t stop singing the theme song “Together.”

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Girl’s Night Out

THANKSGIVING:  Our oven broke the week of Thanksgiving and we had to wait a week for the part to come.  Sure made me appreciate a working oven.  Thankfully, I wasn’t in charge of cooking the turkey because we had Thanksgiving at my Uncle David and Aunt Joi’s house this year.

Fun, Hands-on math

We are really enjoying all the fun, hands-on activities and literature books used in the math program of  My Father’s World First grade.  Some of our favorite math books from the program are here.  Here’s a sample of the activities:

  • D. made a menu for his own restaurant, took our orders, served us, and wrote out receipts using his addition skills

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  • we read How Big is a Foot?, measured items with paper hands, and recorded them on a “helping hands” sheet

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  • sorted and graphed animal crackers

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  • made a sugar cookie clock when learning about time

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Yes, math can be fun, especially in first grade!

All about the Pilgrims: Trail Guide to Learning

We decided to jump ahead to UNIT 3:  The Pilgrims for the month of November and Thanksgiving.  We really gained an appreciation for the Pilgrims.  We filled our thanksgiving trees with words like, I am thankful for:

glass windows because the Pilgrims only had paper oiled ones

clean laundry because one of the first things the Pilgrims wished to do when they finally arrived on land was to wash their clothes

good health, food, and a warm home because half of the Pilgrims died from sickness and arrived during the cold winter months when it was too late to plant crops and build an adequate home for themselves

We read Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims, which is the reader for this unit with our book club.  W. made a map outlining the 5 voyages that Squanto took.

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D. drew pictures of Indian and Pilgrim boys and girls and named them.

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(In this story, I was amazed at the miracle of Squanto being there when the Pilgrims arrived, already knowing English because he had lived in England, and teaching them the skills they needed to survive their first winter.  I truly believe it was Divine Providence that brought the Pilgrims and Squanto together at that moment in history.  The Pilgrims also found buried baskets of corn that they were able to survive on as well.)

PROS:  We really liked the read aloud book Stories of the Pilgrims.  The Pilgrims lived in Holland for a time and we enjoyed learning about windmills, wooden shoes, water canal roads, and tulips.  I was already going to plant tulip bulbs in the front yard, so the kids (and our neighbor) helped me plant them after we learned about Holland.  Can’t wait to see them bloom in the spring!

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Overall, the Trail Guide to Learning has been a great fit for our family.  The end of unit bingo games are perfect for reviewing.  Their presentations to the family really help to solidify their learning.  Together they sang, “Thank you Pilgrims.”  We had a turkey feast, just like the Pilgrims, then D. shared his pop-up pilgrim village he made with paper oil windows.  I loved his creativity!

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W. enjoyed making another power point presentation including photos and information about all the animals we learned in the nature study.

CONS:  Grammar–None has been covered so far, so I decided to add in First Language Lessons at least once a week.  Science–I’m not a fan of the Handbook of Nature Study lessons used.  For this unit, I found my own resources, so we could still learn about corn and pumpkins, but in a fun, more hands-on way. We observed real Indian corn and pumpkins and used these free printable books to add to our studies:

Corn booklet (scroll down to bottom of page to print)

Pumpkin Science and Math booklet–My kids couldn’t believe that pumpkins actually float in water!

pumpkin math and science

One additional activity we did was choose our own Pilgrim names.  Many of the Pilgrims were named for virtues in the Bible, like Patience, Faith, and Remember.  I found it interesting that both my kids wanted to call me Comfort because I cuddle up with Daddy and give them comfort.  For D., his sister chose Wrestling because of course he likes to wrestle.  For himself, he chose Purity because he wants to be pure.  W. was Honesty because she thinks she is honest and her brother chose Experience for her because she experiences stuff.  Good perspectives!

Here’s the resources we used to learn about the Pilgrims:

pilgrim resources

Main books–

Stories of the Pilgrims by Margaret B. Pumphrey (read aloud)

Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde Bulla (reader)

Extras–

The Thanksgiving Story  by Alice Dalgliesh

William Bradford video by Nest Learning

Squanto’s Journey:  The Story of the First Thanksgiving by Josephy Bruchac

Sarah Morton’s Day:  A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl by Kate Waters

Samuel Eaton’s Day:  A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy by Kate Waters

A Journey to the New World: The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple by Kathryn Lasky

The First Thanksgiving by Linda Hayward

One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims by B. G. Hennessy

Starry Messenger:  Galileo Galilei by Peter Sis

Galileo video by Nest Learning

books about  Holland:

The Great Tulip Trade by Beth Brust

Hana in the Time of the Tulips by Deborah Noyes

The Hole in the Dike by Eric Carle

The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong

Halloween 2015

This year Halloween was so different!  Both of my teenagers decided to stay home to watch a movie or help pass out candy.  They didn’t even want to carve pumpkins. :( Here’s the younger ones with their pumpkin creations–

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We did have our traditional Halloween dinner together and I surprised the kids with Harry Potter jelly beans.  You should have seen their faces when they ate the yucky flavors.  Yes, they really tried ones like earwax, dirt, boogers, and vomit!  I wish I had their reactions on video.

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For costumes, W. was Glinda from the Wizard of Oz and went trick or treating with a friend, so I only had my 6 year old Darth Vader to take around with his friend. E. did dress up for a Halloween band concert that he had.  He put a last minute costume together–combining his softball jersey, a hula skirt and lei, cape, cowboy hat, and pirate eye patch.  I call it “A la dress-up box.”  You can see how excited he was about Halloween this year.

halloween 2015

A peek into our week: Weeks 1-8

a peek into our week 2015-2016

AUGUST-OCTOBER

Besides our Trail Guide to Learning units, I hope to post “A peek into our week” to share what we’ve been up to in our homeschool and family life. Here’s for weeks 1-8 (trying to catch up):

Fall field trips

  • Timpanogas Storytelling Festival, Museum of Peoples and Cultures, Cornbelly’s corn maze, and Jaker’s Jack -o-lanternsfall 2015

Art Study-

  • painting on the ceiling just like Michaelangelo may have done to the Sistine Chapel

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Monthly book club-

This year, we are in a book club with 2 other families who homeschool from our church and neighborhood.  Each month, we read a chapter book and then come together to play games, do crafts, share projects based on the book, have a treat, and play.

For September, we read The Hundred Dresses.  W.’s project was designing dresses using a paper fashion kit and D. drew 100 dresses on paper.  I hosted–we had a question game, played with our dress-ups, and decorated sugar cookie dresses.  the hundred dresses

For October, we read My Father’s Dragon.  My neighbor had the kids make a craft with the alligators eating lollipops across the river, like in the book, that they could take home and hang up.

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First grade:

D. wrote the alphabet, made it into a scroll, and dressed up like someone in Bible times from My Father’s World curriculum.

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Math doodles–D. is always drawing in his free time.  After math one day, he drew this ocean theme on his worksheet that I just loved.

math doodles

Family Life:

  • my husband spent hours fixing the toilet seals on both bathroom floors, not an easy job!
  • E. started junior high–got his locker combo down on his first try and is really enjoying his first year in public school

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  • W. celebrated her 10th birthday at the roller skating rink

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  • My parents surprised us on skype with their full-time stake mission call

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  • Guess who’s in the driver’s seat?  J.  got her driver’s permit.  It was a little bumpy coming into the driveway her first time, but she’ll get this.

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  • D. started his first soccer season–it’s always more fun when Daddy is your coach.

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  • J.’s first choir concert at the high school–it was so beautiful, it brought me to tears.  Who knew you could feel the spirit at a public school choir concert?

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  • D. wanted to grow a watermelon in our garden this year.  He was so excited when “his” finally grew and we could harvest it.

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Trail Guide to Learning: Columbus

We finished our first unit in Trail Guide to Learning:  Paths of Exploration about Columbus.

What we loved:

  • planning for the week was easy–pull out the books you need, print the pages for the week, open the manual, and go!
  • the literature books were excellent choices that made for good discussions and incorporated a Christian viewpoint–Did you know Christopher means Christ-bearer and part of his mission was to share the gospel?
  • the projects my kids came up with at the end really cemented their learning about Columbus.  D. made the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria ships out of cardboard boxes and paper.  He wrote the names of the captains on each ship.  columbus ships
  • W. made an emaze power point presentation, choosing poems, photos, and information she remembered from the unit.  Here’s the cover photo she used:

  •  the timeline figures used in Profiles of History were great to add to our timeline books
  • the kids loved using the large geography map and dry erase markers to fill in places around the world.  On her own, W. read The Scrambled States of America and decided to fill in all the U.S. states, even though we weren’t studying them.

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  • the curriculum encourages independent, creative learning through reading, notebook pages, and projects

What we didn’t love:

  • still not sure about the writing, grammar, and science portions; if they are meaty enough.  It also takes multiple days to do the science activities, which makes it difficult to complete them.
  • spelling words aren’t included every week in the first edition we have, so we are adding in Spelling City to study words for our upcoming homeschool spelling bee in February
  • instead of 6 weeks, we covered the material in about 7-8 weeks, leaving room for field trips and activities with our homeschool group, so we’re a little behind, but that’s okay
  • by the end of the Columbus unit we were so ready to start a new topic.  Next up, we’re jumping ahead to unit 3 about the Pilgrims, as it lines up perfectly with Thanksgiving!

Here’s the resources we used learning about Columbus:

columbus resources

Main books–

Meet Christopher Columbus by James T. de Kay (reader)

Christopher Columbus:  Adventurer of Faith and Courage by Bennie Rhodes (read aloud)

Extras added in–

Columbus by Edgar Parin D’Aulaire

Columbus video by Nest Learning

Christopher Columbus by Stephen Krensky

Carry On Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham

Marco Polo by Charles Graves

Marco Polo video by Nest Learning

Fine Print:  A Story About Johann Gutenberg by Joann Johansen Burch

Michelangelo by Mike Venezia (may want to edit for nudity)

Our daily homeschool “schedule”

I meant to post this weeks ago, but now I find it rather ironic after a forum discussion I had with my homeschool group.  We were talking about having schedules vs. routines in our homeschool day:

I said, “I tend to be more ‘structured’, but the longer that I homeschool, I find myself wanting to enjoy the learning with my kids more and giving them more choices rather than trying to get them to ‘finish’ their school work.  Thanks to many of you for your examples.  I’m realizing this time homeschooling with my younger ones is so precious. Last week, I did a math lesson with my son about geometric solids using a wooden set and it was so cool to watch his little mind work.  He pulled out our magna tiles and built some 3 dimensional shapes all on his own based on what we had talked about.  You ladies are right, they come up with things better than I ever could and it is neat to see them make connections with things all around them.  I am learning to let go and enjoy the whole homeschool ride.  This month, we are going on more field trips because we can and it is okay to let go of the guilt that we aren’t doing more school at home. They are still learning.  Still trying to find a balance, but appreciate all that I learn from you ladies!”

So, when we’re not out learning on field trips or taking rabbit trails of learning at home, here’s the schedule or routine we may follow. :)  For me, I do like having it in place.

Also, I’m really loving our quiet time at the end of the day.  It allows the kids to work on their own projects quietly or read or take a nap in their rooms, while I have a little down time too.  Wish I had implemented this sooner in our homeschool.

daily schedule 2015-2016

Our curriculum and school theme for 2015-2016

We’re trying something new this year–learning science, geography, history, and art all together using the Trail Guide to Learning series. Grammar, spelling, reading, and writing are also included.  Depending on how it goes, we may add in more language arts with some of our favorites from All About Spelling, IEW, and First Language Lessons.

It’s my 11th year homeschooling!  With only 2 at home, we’re trying something different to get us excited for the new changes. I love how everything is integrated into one. We’re going for more simple this year and taking the first week SLOW, adding in a little each day.  Of course, my kids already wanted to do the extras–art and Spanish, so we’ve done those along with the basics and met with our homeschool group for a fun day at the reservoir. We’ll start our main curriculum next week!

Our school theme goes along perfectly with teaching just 1 son and 1 daughter this year:

O, remember, my son [and daughter], and learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God. Alma 37:35

Here’s an outline of what we’ll be using for the 2015-2016 school year: (subject to change, of course!)

All Together

Devotional: continue family scripture study of The Book of Mormon, scripture memorizations, Standing Tall Series and Articles of Faith (for younger), For the Strength of Youth (for older)

Unit Study: Trail Guide to LearningPaths of Exploration

Book Club Read-Alouds: The Hundred Dresses, My Father’s Dragon, Squanto Friend of the Pilgrims (so far)

Poetry:  Now We Are Six, When We Were Very Young, A Child’s Garden of Verses

Extras:  Dance Mat (typing), Home Art Studio (art), La Clase Divertida (Spanish), Family Fitness and Chicken Fat (PE) [when we can get to them]; monthly homeschool book club with neighbors; field trips, showcases, park days, and MNOs with our homeschool group

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W. │ Grade Four

Language Arts:  Abeka cursive, pick and choose from Sonlight core D advanced readers and the Good and Beautiful book list, journal, Spelling City, First Language Lessons 3
Math:  Singapore 3B-4A with Vroot and Vroom CD-romLife of Fred books–Goldfish, Honey, Ice cream; various math games, windows, flashcards, and wrap-ups
Extra-curricular:  piano lessons, summer swim lessons, fall soccer, winter basketball, church Activity Days

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D. │ Grade One

Language Arts:  Sonlight 1 readers, Frontline phonics long vowel readers, My Father’s World 1st grade, journal
Math: Complete Book of Math level 1-2, Pattern Animals, and math literature books (used in My Father’s World 1st grade), finish Right Start Math level A
Extra-curricular:  summer swim lessons, fall soccer

The last 3 weeks of homeschool

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I never actually posted about our last 3 weeks of school and now we’re almost wrapping up the summer.  Here’s a few snippets from the end of school year for 2014-2015:

KINDERGARTEN

We had a 100th day party.  We read Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the 100th day of Kindergarten and D. chose to count 100 marshmallows and made his own creations with toothpicks.

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LITERATURE

We read aloud Otto of the Silver Hand–a beautiful medieval story with such lovely illustrations that we found free online.

E. read The Hobbit and W. read The Tale of Despereaux.  On our last day of school, we headed to the library to get the movies of each of these books and sign up for the summer reading program.

SCIENCE

The kids picked an amphibian or reptile to report.  They each presented their projects using a power point presentation from emaze.com

E. chose to do a diamond back rattle snake and W. did an alligator snapping turtle.

MATH

I’m so glad we at least tried Right Start math with my youngest this year.  We didn’t finish all the lessons, so we’ll do some more next year.  I don’t think we’ll purchase the next level though–it was too teacher intensive for me, but we’ll definitely keep using all of the math manipulatives and games.

JUNIOR HIGH

J.’s school has a yearly 5k run. My husband ran with her and I took the rest of the kids to cheer them on.  The younger ones decided to join them in the last mile, and so they ran across the finish line together.  I think it will be a fun family tradition we’ll have to do again with E. going there next year!

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END OF YEAR SHOWCASE

We had our yearly homeschool showcase where the kids showed Daddy all they had learned with their notebooks, I gave them certificates, and we made a trip to the frozen yogurt shop to celebrate all their hard work.

showcase 2015

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——————————-

There are lots of changes for next school year with 1 in high school, 1 in junior high, and 2 at home. We’re hoping to go for a more simple approach that I can do together with my 4th and 1st grader.  A curriculum post to come!

Happiness is…

We went to Disneyland a few weeks ago.  Known as “the happiest place on earth”, of course it was fun and magical for all of us, but also very worldly. You could tell many people were looking for happiness, perhaps in the wrong places.  I found these quotes about happiness recently and wanted to share:

joy

“It is one of the great ironies of our age that we are blessed with so much and yet we can be so unhappy. The wonders of prosperity and technology overwhelm us and shower us with security, entertainment, instant gratification, and convenience. And yet all around us we see so much unhappiness…Happiness doesn’t come as a result of luck or accident. It most certainly doesn’t come from having all of our wishes come true. Happiness doesn’t come from external circumstances. It comes from the inside—regardless of what is happening around us.  [We can find] happiness in every circumstance and in every trial—”–Elder Uchtdorf

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 “It was Mom:  A Mother’s Day Tribute to Moms” from Mormon.org:

“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!)

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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:

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

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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

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E for Elephant–made an elephant mask and ate peanuts

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R for rock–made stone soup

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X for foX–made a fox hat and tail

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

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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!

A spring break unplanned

A post missed from Spring break, April 2015:

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Our spring break trip to St. George wasn’t quite what we had planned.

The temple was closed, so I couldn’t take the older two to do baptisms.

We were so tired getting to Zion’s and having to travel by bus to even get to a trail that we ended up only going on 1 hike at Emerald pools.

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The kids were full of lots of whining and teasing.

But…

We enjoyed a nice dinner with G.’s co-worker and their family–talking, Uno games, and swimming in the pool.  The kids loved trying out these battery operated fishes, even though they only lasted a few days in the water.

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The spirit was thick when we went to walk around the temple instead and we visited with a sister missionary from Germany in the Christus room.  We also enjoyed touring the Brigham Young summer home there.

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We had lots of down time to read and watch the Disney channel for the kids, Fixer upper and the Bleak House series for me, March Madness basketball games for G., and listening to the audiobook of Harry Potter for all.

The trip wouldn’t have been complete without a yummy lasagna dinner in our room and Costa Vida lunch on the drive home–so much better than fast food.

We even found a little car on a red rock hike in town from a family who was placing Matchbox cars in different locations in honor of their 5 year old son who passed away.  The kids found it and we took a photo and put it on the family’s facebook page as they requested.

for Carson

This put it into perspective for me–how thankful I am to have this family of mine and to be on a trip like this, making memories together.

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Life’s plans don’t always turn out, but when you focus on the good and are grateful, it can be better than you expected.

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.

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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.

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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!

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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,

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used conversation hearts in math,

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and had a heart pizza from Papa Murphy’s.

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

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

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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!

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