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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Weekly Goals: August 30-September 3

I was brave and let the three big kids paint at the same time earlier this week.  It was Hannah's first time painting, and she thought it was fun.  So fun, in fact, that she's requested painting at least once a day since then...

Last Week's Goals:

  • Figure out how the request system at the library works.  Done!  I got a list of the libraries that are a part of the van route (i.e. the ones where I can request books for free) and the librarian said to just bring her a list of what I want.
  • Prep for the first week/month of school.  Almost done.  I just have to print off a few things.
  • Read a book.  Done! I finished The History of the Pink Carnation.
This Week's Goals:
  • Continue with my chores looping system (read more about looping here) and see if it works.
  • Read What Alice Forgot.
  • Menu plan the first part of September, and grocery shop on Wednesday (not our usual shopping day, but that's just how it worked out this month).  
  • Take 1st day of school pictures on Monday!
If things are a little quieter on here for the next little while, it's because we're getting used to our new school/life schedule.  

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Books I've Read: August 2015

Two books from the library, plus one on the bottom of the stack that's been on my bookshelf for several moves since I found it on the bargain shelf at a Barnes & Noble once upon a time.  I started it, got about 15 pages in, and then both my library requests came through, so I read those first.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie KondoI posted about my ventures into the KonMari method of organizing, but here are a few more of my favorite quotations from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

"Effective tidying involves only two essential actions: discarding and deciding where to store things.  Of the two, discarding must come first."

"The best sequence is this: clothes first, then books, papers, komono (miscellany), and lastly, mementos.  This order has also proven to be the most efficient in terms of the level of difficulty for the subsequent task of storing. [...] If you can dramatically accelerate the speed of the decision-making process just by changing the order in which you discard, don't you think it's worth a try?"

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.  I've been trying to request books from the library that are on my Goodreads list, and I wanted something by Rainbow Rowell, who I've heard good things about.  This wasn't my first choice, but it was the only one of hers that the library had, so I went with it anyways.  It was okay.  There are some YA fiction books that are really relatable and make me think back fondly on high school and my teen years.  This one just made me feel like too much of an adult, if that makes sense.  It was a quick and easy read, but I think there's a reason it wasn't my first Rainbow Rowell choice.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.  I didn't even know this book existed until a friend posted something on facebook lamenting how far down the library wait list she was.  I looked up the book and the description looked interesting, so I requested it from the library, and it came almost immediately (sorry Erin! wish you had better luck!).  This was another quick read, and it was an interesting concept for a story - a woman kind of sees something from the train, and becomes involved in a missing persons case.

The problem was that none of the characters were really likable.  I kept trying to root for the main character, but I just couldn't.  She kept making stupid life choices and I kind of wanted to smack her upside the head.  I figured out what was going to happen about halfway through the story, and I was right.  The writing style was descriptive without being overly wordy, and the plot moved pretty quickly, even with multiple character points-of-view.  I liked that.  I just didn't like the characters.

The History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig.  I got this book a looong time ago in the bargain bin, and at the time, I thought it was part of a trilogy.  I added it to my Goodreads account and discovered that the 12th book in the series came out this year.  Yikes!  Anyways, this was a good, easy historical fiction read.  I really enjoyed the story within a story aspect of it, although sometimes I'd get so caught up in the history part that the jump back to the present day was a bit jarring.

I am always impressed with historical fiction that flows like this one.  The author has to be really well versed in the time period they're writing about - the culture, current events of the times, how people dressed, and so on.  Most of that may not even make an appearance in the book, but they have to know it to write it properly.  I did also appreciate Willig's historical note at the end of the book that laid out what was historically accurate and what wasn't, and the few things she changed.  I wouldn't have known the difference, honestly, but it was nice to have that as well.  My library system has the next two books in the series, and then I'm on my own.  We'll see if I end up reading more...

Total books read this month: 4. Total books read this year: 13

Friday, August 28, 2015

Boy Band Nostalgia

Yesterday I watched the Backstreet Boys documentary "Show 'Em What You're Made Of" on Netflix.  They filmed it while recording their 2013 album In A World Like This, although the movie just came out this June.

For those who don't know me as well, I was a Backstreet Boys fangirl in the late 90s/early 2000s.  Loved them.  May have been slightly obsessed with them.  I faintly recall my sister and I convincing my dad to go driving around some random town in Florida looking for Nick Carter's house during our family Disney trip.  (We didn't find it).  Seeing the clips of the concert footage from the Millenium tour and the Black and Blue tour was a walk down memory lane.

I kind of stopped paying attention to them when Kevin left the group and I went to college.  Now I'm kind of bummed I missed their 20 year tour.  I would have enjoyed it.

And honestly?  It's totally different to watch your teen heartthrobs be adults, as an adult.  Definitely enjoyable, but way different than when I just had a crush on Nick Carter.  I was disappointed that the documentary didn't include glimpses of their wives and kids, but I understand that's me just being nosy and they want their privacy.

Between this, finding Nick Carter on Instagram, and reading that there's a wild west/zombie movie in the works with members of Backstreet Boys and N*SYNC, I'm feeling nostalgic for all things boy band.  But the good ones.  Not the current ones (I think every generation does this - my mom had a thing for The Monkees).

I only have their albums through Never Gone, which means I'm a couple behind.  Birthday presents for me, perhaps?  I'm going to go break out my old cds and force my kids to listen to them while I sing along, because I still know all the words.

What musical group were you embarrassingly fond of in your younger days?  Or who do you like now?  Who's on the BSB train with me?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Our "Typical" Homeschool Schedule

Now that I've shown you our curriculum choices and our homeschool room, here's what a typical weekly schedule will be.  Except for when things pop up, as they often do.  But this is the baseline, at least...

Daily, with the goal of doing most of these in the morning:
  • Bible Time (devotion, On My Heart, hymns)
  • Calendar Time
  • Math (Jonah)
  • Math (Matthew)
  • Reading (Jonah)
  • Letter of the Week (Matthew)
  • Read Aloud picture books
I'll probably read aloud from the chapter books over snack or lunch.

Afternoons will be where we vary.

Mondays will be life skills, as well as grocery shopping and appointments.  Like this coming Monday, when the three biggest kids have their first dentist appointment.  Sometimes this might happen in the morning, because it's easier to juggle grocery shopping in the AM, so those days we'll shift the rest to the afternoon.

Tuesday/Thursday will be Story of the World.  Right now I'm feeling ambitious, and I have projects noted with each chapter that I think would be fun.  Time will tell if they actually happen.  
Wednesday/Friday will be Elemental Science.  A lot of the weeks have at least one, if not two nature walks, which the kids are really looking forward to.  Each one focuses on something different, so that will be cool for them, as opposed to their current nature walks, which just involve picking up random stuff.

The reason I chose to schedule it this way is because my kids do better with focusing in the morning.  The afternoon stuff is a little more hands on, and will involve doing projects and activities, which it's easier to get them to do when they're not as focused.  Trying to work with our strengths here.  

What does your homeschool schedule look like?

Before and After: Our New Homeschool Room

Way back a few months ago, half of our toy room was dedicated to my craft supplies.  It was kind of organized, but not particularly pretty or anything, and with the busy-ness of life, I wasn't really using the space anyways.
It basically just became a place for me to store things, although I did pull out materials occasionally for the kids to use, or to make a thank you card.
But mostly, stuff just sat on the shelves.  So I moved my craft supplies up to our extra bedroom at the top of the stairs.  They're still sitting in there, mostly on the floor, because I kept the shelf downstairs for school stuff.  Craft stuff can wait, for now.

So that was before.  Here's how the room looks today:
We have an extra table from Jesse's office at church that he wasn't using (and it was kind of in the way, so moving it over here actually helped).  We still don't have chairs, but we'll figure that out this week.
We have our world map on one wall, which we bought before last year, and above that is a free poster I ordered earlier this year with the three branches of the government.  Not something we're covering this year, but still, I think it's good to have educational things that are a bit above the level you're working on, and with primaries and elections coming up over the next year, I'm sure we'll talk about it a bit.
This bookshelf was a gift from a church member, I think?  It ended up in our garage, so I pulled it in and cleaned it off for school stuff.  Here's what's on there:

  • Blue basket: Math manipulatives, lacing cards, geoboards.  Numbers stuff.
  • Red basket: Alphabet activities.  Lots of letters.
  • Green basket: Currently holding a few random things, but probably where I will put Matthew's work each day for math and reading.
  • 1st shelf: Also currently just holding random things.
  • 2nd shelf: Jonah's shelf.
  • 3rd shelf: Matthew's shelf.
I finally had the brilliant idea to give each boy his own spot to put projects, treasures, and random things he wants to keep (most of which I look at as clutter, but I'm trying to let the kids keep what they want).  So this way, they have a spot, but they're limited.  Why it took me 5 years to come up with this, I don't know.

The other wall has our U.S. map, our calendar with days of the week on the left and months on the right, and some extra alphabet signs.  Plus my white shelf.
The shelf holds my extra supplies.  Laminator, class work materials, normally all my manuals (but they were in the other room for planning), and on the bottom shelf, all the brown paper that's come in our Amazon packages lately, which will be perfect for larger projects.  No matter how hard I try, I'm a bit of a hoarder of craft project supplies.  I also have a few empty extra containers, because I'm sure we'll use them.  The brown table sticking out is the sewing machine I got from my Grandma Winter, which I haven't learned to use yet, so for now it's an extra flat surface.

So there you have it!  Craft supply storage to homeschool room!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Our 2015-2016 Homeschool Curriculum Choices

I've had most of our curriculum chosen for quite awhile, but since I'm finally done with my lesson planning, I figured I would share it.  Everything is for both Jonah (Kindergarten) and Matthew (Pre-K), unless otherwise noted.

Bible Time: Okay, I lied.  This one we still haven't fully decided what we're doing.  For now, we're keeping it to our daily devotion time (which we're using this book for), and we're 3 devotions away from starting over, so that coincides pretty perfectly with school starting.  The book runs through the entire Bible, with both common and not so common stories, so it's a good way to get the kids familiar with Bible History.

We're also using On My Heart memory cards.  We got about halfway through memorizing the Old Testament books last year before we stopped school, so we'll start over and see how far we get.

And finally, we'll be learning a new hymn or hymn verse every two weeks to coincide with the church year.

Calendar Time: We have a dry erase calendar on the wall in the homeschool room, as well as days of the week, months of the year, a weather chart, and a 100 days chart.  The weather chart, days of the week, and months of the year can be found for free here. I have laminated all of these, so we can continue to use them.

We also use specific day/date pages, which you can find here for free, or as part of the Letter of the Week curriculum (which we purchased last year).  I have these laminated as well, so I just have one of the kids fill them out each day.

Math (Jonah): Saxon Math 1.  I'm a fan of Saxon math, and I like having everything laid out very specifically with worksheets as well.  We didn't buy the meeting time part of the curriculum, but it's mostly calendar stuff, from what I can tell, so we're covering that anyways.  We also didn't buy the manipulatives, because they're expensive.  Hopefully we can find suitable things to use instead.

Math (Matthew):  I made a list of about 15 pre-school/kindergarten math concepts, and I'm working on finding projects and activities to go along with them.  Think things like shapes, matching, largest/smallest, measuring, etc.  Each week I'll pick a concept and find ways to reinforce it, mostly using Pinterest.

Reading (Jonah): The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading.

Reading (Matthew): A combination of the Letter of the Week curriculum I mentioned above, along with a lot of resources from The Measured Mom (we especially love her book lists and project round-ups) and projects I find on Pinterest.

Each week we'll have several library books for the letter.  Each day I'll have one worksheet for Matthew to do (some handwriting type sheets, some dot pictures, some coloring pages, and so on), and one project or activity.

Read Alouds: Each day we will have read aloud time for picture books.  The kids will pick one school book and one "fun" book each.  School books will be letter of the week books, along with extras we get to go along with science and history, plus I'll pull down a few of our Arch books to go along with the Bible stories we're hearing.

We'll also be reading aloud a chapter book, starting with The Indian in the Cupboard and Mr. Popper's Penguins.

Science: Elemental Science Exploring Science Curriculum (with experiments from Science at Play).

History: Story of the World Volume 1.

Life Skills: This is my chance to get things done around the house, but also teach the kids as well.  We'll cover cleaning basics, some cooking, menu planning and grocery shopping, and who knows what else.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Weekly Goals: August 23-29

This is my favorite painting that I did during my senior year of high school.  It was hanging at my parents' house for awhile, until they moved.  My mom found it, along with several other pieces of art, in storage, and asked if I wanted it.  Now it's hanging in our living room, and it makes me happy every time I see it!  

I just realized I never posted this on Sunday!  Oops...Better late than never.

Last Week's Goals:
  • Finish planning math, and figure out Matthew's math and letter of the week for school.  Mostly done!  More about what I chose later this week!
  • For real, get the homeschool room ready.  Mostly done as well!  We still need chairs though.  Again, more later this week.
  • Finish reading The Girl on the Train.  Done!
This Week's Goals:
  • Figure out how the request system at the library works.  Now that school is back in session, they've started running vans between the area libraries again, so we can request books from other ones for free, but I don't know exactly how long it takes or how to do it.
  • Prep for the first week/month of school.  I have a weekly checklist that I plan to do on Sundays to get ready for the coming week of school, and then I double check a couple of our subjects to make sure I have the necessary materials for the month, since we only make it to bigger cities twice a month.
  • Read a book.  Probably The History of the Pink Carnation.