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Friday, December 18, 2009

Ready or not Christmas is coming...

Do you ever wish you could hit the pause button? That's how I feel right now... I want to hit a button that would bring everything and everyone to a standstill for a day or two... or three but still allow me to get stuff done. I feel like I am so behind and I am not sure if I am ever going to catch up!! There isn't one Christmas decoration up yet, some gifts still to be bought, baking to be done and in the midst of all of that we are reorganizing the classroom (which I am pleased about...see why in my previous post).

I am trying my best to make it Christmas-y around here even if the obvious Christmas time things are not evident. We have been playing Christmas music, I have been reading the kids the Christmas story a little at a time for our Bible lesson each day and we spent the whole day on Wednesday making Christmas ornaments which WILL go on the tree at some point before Christmas morning! The kids had fun making these (but I think I had more fun!) Here are some pictures of our creations:

We saw these cute reindeer in a craft book we checked out at the library and I had the clothespins waiting for me to do something with. They were fun and easy to make although most of it was hot glued so the kids picked out the colour ribbon the wanted, the bell, the googly eyes and I helped them put it all together...


I saw these stars and snowflakes on Mama Jenn's blog and knew the kids would like them... I was right. I would have made mine a little less colorful but I gave them full artistic liberties!

These wreaths are my recreation of a kit I saw advertised on Oriental Trading. They too were fun for the kids to put together.

Lastly, these are snowflakes the kids decorated for a contest a local toy store was having... their entries gave us a coupon for 10% off craft supplies so I will be sure to use that in the near future!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Our Workbox Adventure begins...

If I had been blogging regularly, you would know that my latest pursuit in the homeschool sphere of my life is workboxes. I stumbled upon the concept while reading the many homeschool blogs that I peruse. What exactly are workboxes and why am I so excited about them?

The WorkBox System was developed by Sue Patrick and is "An effective teaching system to reduce your organizational time and increase your child's self-control, independence and learning." You can find out more on her website. There are tons of other blogs outlining how others have used workboxes... here is a great link to some of those.

It became clear to me a couple of months ago that I needed to develop a system to organize what I did each day with each child. Since September I have tried various methods, created many forms, made tons of lists and nothing seemed to work in the long run. Having 3 different age and ability levels to teach, I want to be sure each child is getting exactly what they need. I loved the concept of Tot trays which I have been using with Buttercup (and a little with LiLi) but I was having the problem of where and when to set up the trays as we have limited space. I am also trying to encourage KaiKai to be more independent. He spends a lot of time coming to ask me how to do something, or waiting for me to give him the next thing to do. He is a child who likes to have a plan and know when something is going to start, end and every step in between. When I began reading about work boxes I started using a 5 part intray to layout KaiKai's work each day. He loved that... he could go and get on with his worksheets/ activities and only come to me if there was something I had to work with him on. The limitation with the intray, is that I can only fit a sheet of paper on each tray... If I have a puzzle, game, manipulatives to go with an activity, or a textbook, they will not fit on the tray.

There are a lot of ideas in Sue Patricks book which I eventually ordered and read that are helpful and some that I will tweak as have many who have used the system. The original system uses a cart with 12 shoe boxes but people have used a number of different types of shelving and trays. So what would work for us and the limited space that we have. I couldn't possibly find room for 36 boxes and there was also the challenge of not having Target or Walmart to run to to find the sterlite or rubbermaid containers/ drawers that many were using. I spent tons of time on line and at our local hardware store looking for the perfect solution and then a friend suggested the Ikea Trofast system. It looked like it would work for us. There is a company here that places your Ikea order and then ships it on to the island (for a significant markup but oh well what can you do :) Because of the holiday season the said it would probably be in in mid January... okay I would have to wait, using my improvised system.

I was so excited yesterday when the company called to say the order was here and ready to be collected!!! Yay!

I can't wait until they are set up... since we are on Christmas break after tomorrow I won't plan on using them until January so I have a couple of weeks to get things organized the way I want it. Stay tuned for more on workboxes...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Metamorphosis of a Procrastinating Perfectionist

Over a month and I have not blogged :( I have created so many blog posts in my head but I never seem to find the time or motivation to actually sit here and blog... WHY??

I LOVE reading other peoples blogs, I LOVE the thought of having my own personal record of our adventures, I LOVE other people being able to keep up with our adventures through my blogging, I LOVE the comments left by others who have been inspired by ideas I have posted, and I LOVE the possibility of making friends through blogging....

SOOOOO... why haven't I been blogging??? I think I could come up with 1000 reasons focused on not having time to blog.. and I really don't have a lot of time, BUT I think the REAL reason is that I am a perfectionist which manifests itself in procrastination. I think I have fear that if it is not perfect than it is not worth doing... but I raise the bar for myself WAY TOO HIGH. I am afraid to fail so I don't do it at all. It has taken me 36 years to figure this out about myself but as I think back through my life and all the times I have started and not completed things that is the underlying reason.

So I am going to work on not having to do things perfectly, not setting the standard at impossible, and not comparing myself to others... not just as a blogger, but as a mother, wife, Christian... and all the other roles I find myself in. This is a work in progress... change takes time... change takes effort... change is possible through Christ...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Change of pace... I'm exhaling!

Since early September JDF and I have been participating in a marriage course called Dynamic Marriage by Family Dynamics Institute. It was an EXCELLENT course that I would recommend to any married couple. We gained a lot from the course, learning a lot about ourselves and each other. It was however quite a sacrifice, not only attending the weekly class, but also completing the homework each week. The class actually started the same day I started homeschooling, so the last 9 weeks have been interestingly busy! I am now looking forward to more time in the evenings to plan lessons and get myself organized as a homeschooling mama.

I haven't had lots of time to post what we have been doing over that last few weeks but over the next few days I will update some of the things we have been covering, what the kids have been learning and the fun we have been having, so stay tuned...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My first Blog Award!!!!

Blogging our home school journey is a way for me to stay focused, be encouraged (when I look back and see what we have accomplished) and connect with other moms around the world doing the same thing. I have already met some wonderful friends through blogging, one in particular is Mama Jenn! Her blog was one of the first I found when I started exploring homeschooling.. she is such an inspiration to me as she is a mom to a daughter and TWO sets of twin boys ... and the oldest is only 6!!!! When I feel myself becoming weary I think of her!!! Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I was honoured when she awarded me with this Friend Award!! Thanks Jenn!!!

So I now pass this award to my friend Vanessa who has been my friend since we were little kids... she inspires me because after studying architecture and working in that field for a while she decided to go back to school... to MEDICAL school!!! And she has done all this while raising kids! I am proud of her for all she has accomplished. She has just started blogging and I can't wait to follow her adventures here!

Friday, October 16, 2009

We have a Garden!!

I have been wanting to plant a garden with the kids... so last weekend we made it a family project...

JDF preparing the ground
He did a great job!

the kids examining the work!

at the plant store

Buttercup carrying the seeds in her basket

learning the ropes

planting carrot seeds...

green bean seeds...

the black eye pea shoots we grew in plastic cups when we were studying " God made light to help things grow"...
even Mama got her hands dirty!

and here we go... carrots, green beans, green onions, tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, parsley, thyme, basil... we'll keep you posted on the progress :)

of course there had to be time for silliness!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tot School- Sept 28 to Oct 9

Tot School

It seems that Tot School and Preschool are rolled all into one in our house... with LiLi and Buttercup so close in age, they like the same activities and each wants to do what the other is doing. I am trying to put together tot school activites that I can make a little more challenging for LiLi but still fun for Buttercup. In addition to gross and fine motor skills, we work on a letter, shape and colour to encorporate LiLi's preschool program.

Here is a look at some things we did for the past 2 weeks...

We use a perpetual calendar I put together using printables from Sparklebox and each day we go over the "Seven Days" song and the "Months of the Year" song as we change the pieces of the calendar. (note the picture is from a few weeks ago:)

For our bible lessons we were talking about God creating light and for science we covered various topics related to light. The day we talked about shadows I snapped this picture of us while we were on a walk.

We worked on the letter F-

Finger painting...
Fishing for letters. (I froze small magnetic letters in ice cube trays and then floated the ice cubes in water) they had to say the letter the "caught"...

feeding the fish...

Letter jumping... (write letters in chalk and let them jump on the letter I call out- for LiLi I will say a word and he will jump on the letter it starts with).
I made up a Fish game for them by printing out several cards with different fish on them and some blank cards. Turn them all over and spread them out and take turns "fishing" for a card. The person that ends up with the most fish wins... we all enjoyed that game.

The colour of the week was yellow

We went on a colour walk to identify things that were yellow (don't ask about the hats and boots, it was a case of monkey see monkey do!)...yellow colour hunt... I put several items in a jar and Buttercup pulled out the yellow things and put them in her basket.

for fine motor skills they put spagetti through the holes in a spice jar.. this one kept their attention for a while.I also had them thread pasta onto a ribbon.. for LiLi I added a twist...he had to count the number of dots on each piece and put them on the ribbon in order.

I used these whole fruit and half fruit printables from "Montessori for everyone" for LiLi to match the whole fruit with it's half. Then we played a memory game with the cards so Buttercup could join in.

Writing in cornmeal (although Butttercup found it more fun to throw it all over the place:)
We had great family time too! Daddy took us on a nature walk... it's always great when he can join us!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Reason No2. Raising Rock Stars

What I love about Homeschooling: Reason No.2

One of our decisions to homeschool involved being able to teach and reinforce biblical standards in our children on a constant basis. Starting when Kai Kai was a baby, we have daily read and studied God's word with the kids. Serving Jesus Christ is not just one small piece of our family, but it is the life that we aim to live. We are far from perfect but it is our intention that we raise our kids to know and love God and to know that is possible to have a meaningful relationship with the Creator of our universe!

The Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:4 to " bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" and one of my guiding verses since I became a parent has been Deuteronomy 6:5-9
"Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates."

This is what God commanded the Israelites... it was and still is the parent's responsibility primarily to pass on the faith to the next generation. Church programs are good but I feel strongly we can not depend on an hour at Sunday School and maybe an hour at Friday night youth group to meet the spiritual needs of our children. Thus my second reason for loving homeschooling is that we can infuse the love of God and Christian values into everything we teach our kids.

I want to be intentional about building biblical character in my kids and at the beginning of our homeschool journey the Lord laid Philippians 2: 14 & 15 on my heart:

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.

I started talking to the kids about being shining stars and how our behaviour and attitude reflect what is in our heart. All through the day I can do an attitude check with the kids and ask them if they are shining like stars... I do this whether they are exhibiting good or not so good behaviour so they themselves can begin to recognize the difference.

Imagine my excitement when I read this blog post by Carisa at 1+1+1=1. Like me Carisa saw the need to be intentional in teaching her children to shine like she put it "I want them to learn to stand firm on the foundation of Jesus Christ-the SOLID ROCK and shine for the world like BRIGHT STARS for HIM!!!!" She has started a weekly blog posting to highlight what she's doing each week to accomplish this goal. She has invited others to join her so I am jumping in! As I link up with other mom's around the blog world I hope that I will learn even more and find inspiration for making this Christian walk exciting for my 3 little Rock Stars!

Raising Rock Stars

Bible Lessons

The curriculum I am using for LiLi has a Bible portion which they use to tie in Science, social studies and language. Instead of doing 3 different things with each child, we start each day going through this bible portion of the curriculum. We are currently moving slowly through creation. For the last month we have studied Genesis 1:1 - 5 & John 14 and covered such topics as:
  • God is our father
  • God is ever present
  • the concept of the trinity
  • Jesus is in heaven preparing a place for us
  • God made light
  • the opposite of light is darkness
  • Light is important for all living things
  • Light causes shadows
  • when God made light he made it so it will reflect off certain objects
  • Light is beautiful and God said it is good can see the science emphasis woven tightly with the Word of God! We have had fun exploring all the aspects of light, measuring shadows, reflecting the sun onto a wall using an old CD, planting black eye peas in a clear plastic cup and watching them push out roots and stems (so many spiritual implications!) As we move through the 7 days of creation I can't wait to see all the fantastic things we will learn.

Scripture Memory

The verses they have been learning are Gen 1:1 and Gen 1:3... the kids have always loved scripture memory and even Buttercup can recite these!

This week I also downloaded Songs for Saplings (scripture set to music for each letter of the alphabet) and I am tying in LiLi and Buttercup's letter of the week. Since we are on letter F this week, we are also learning Prov 17:17 a friend loves at all times.

Kai Kai has joined the Word of Life Olympian Club at our church, so we use this time to memorize the motto and pledges he needs to learn in order to become a member in the program.


My next step is to start a family prayer journal with the kids so they can start to see how God answers our prayers. I am sure in years to come it will be awesome to look through and see how God takes care of our family.

Quiet time

They continue to have Quiet time in the morning with daddy and look forward to that time before he goes to work.. they use the Word of Life quiet time diary which I would highly recommend to anyone with young kids wanting to get them in the Word on a daily basis.


I have a blank wall in the classroom that I have been wondering what to do with, so I think I am going to decorate it with a star theme to remind us to be shining stars and to remind me when I get weary that I truly am raising ROCK STARS!!!

click here to find out how others are Raising Rock Stars.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

What I love about Homeschooling- Reason No. 1

I was talking to a friend I saw in the grocery store last week... she is exploring the idea of homeschooling and was asking me how things were going... as I was talking to her about my experience so far, I began to realize that there are a number of reasons I love homeschooling already and I am sure the list will continue to grow as we continue along this journey. I am going to do a series of sorts called "What I love about Homeschooling". It won't be a regular posting, but I will randomly post a reason every so often which may serve to encourage someone who is considering this as an option for their family.

Reason No 1.

Homeschooling is a lifestyle, not an event.

When I started out on this journey, homeschooling in my mind was an alternative method of schooling to the traditional public or private school option. I pictured a specific time of day that the kids would be sitting at their desks, or at the craft table working on projects, I imagined myself at a whiteboard explaining concepts, at my desk grading papers, I imagined shifting from mom to teacher and back to mom at specific times of the day...

But in reality, what I am learning is there is a BIG difference between school at home and homeschooling. School is an event, homschooling is a lifestyle. Accepting that means accepting that school happens wherever we are, whatever we are doing, it is accepting that everyday will be different, it is accepting that a schedule is good but it is not the end of the world if you stray from it, it is accepting that perfectly filled out worksheets are not the only indicator of what my child is learning, it is accepting that I am not a failure if I have a day were we do not open a book. I am glad I am learning this early in my journey... it has given me much peace about our decision to homeschool and it has given me clarity and confidence in my role as teacher/mommy.

If you homeschool I'd love to hear some reasons you love it!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Coracles, Mummies & Meatballs

Last week flew by and I learned how to adapt the schedule with out becoming too stressed out. I never knew that I preferred to be a scheduled person... and maybe this is only a recent development in my life, out of necessity, but I operate better with a structured plan and I am usually a little irritated when it doesn't go as I expected. I have a schedule up on the classroom wall and the first week I strayed very little from that schedule. It's a good thing because it laid the foundation of our routine and the kids learned in the first week that homeschooling is not just playing and doing our own thing, that there are still things that have to get done, challenges they have to overcome, and tasks to do that they may not particularly enjoy doing. This second week was a little different for a variety of reasons, but all in all, I learned how to make adjustments to the routine, adapting the day to what we needed it to be, and still feel like I accomplished something, even if it wasn't everything I originally wanted to accomplish.

Here's a glimpse of our week last week...

KaiKai is really enjoying Intro to World Cultures.. we spent this week learning about various aspects of the first people.. what they ate, how they dressed, modes of transportation... we made a coracle out of pipe cleaners and plastic and it really did float, we started learning about Ancient Egypt and KaiKai really enjoyed learning about the mummification process. He said to me, " Mommy there are a lot of interesting things in this book!" That was music to my ears!

LiLi and Buttercup finished up the letter A.. the grand finale was an apple pie that they all helped me to make.
We moved on to the letter B. We made juice box boats, they helped me make bread and made their own bumble bees!

I am working with LiLi on recognizing and spelling his first and last name. He has known the first and how to spell it for a while now so I am using this little activity I found to help him practice both names. The letters are written on bottle tops so he has to find and match the letters with name strips I wrote out for him.

They continued with triangles and the colours red, green and blue so i tied it all together with some triangle sponge painting... of course KaiKai didn't want to be left out of anything... I try and make him my helper, to assist me with the younger two.

On Thursday the boys had the first of their monthly homeschool group class at BAMZ. This month they learned all about reptiles and can not wait to go back next month! LiLi wanted to go the next day for another class!

We went on Friday to see "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" after reading the book with them on Thursday. It was highly entertaining! This was the first 3D movie they had been to so it took a little getting used to.. LiLi had the 3D glasses off for most of the movie!

It was great hanging out with just the boys for the afternoon...Daddy got some quality bonding time with Buttercup.

On Saturday we went to the Children's Reading festival... here are my budding Picasso's

Ma came over and spent one afternoon... I love this picture of her and KaiKai reading together.

So 2 weeks down and I am still standing! I am continuing to take this one day at a time and finding strength and peace in God. As the kids learn, I am also learning... not just facts but so much about myself as well!

thanks for visiting! come again!