Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lion's Park

Our favorite park days are at Lion's Park. Shade for the moms, space for the kids to explore but still be in sight....
What do teens do who are too old for the park? Weird stuff...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Haiti pictures from Amy

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My cousin's trip to Haiti.

My beautifu, wonderful cousin, Amy, went on a 10 day missions trip to Haiti. Although you can't see her model-like, svelt, sofisticated, georgous face and figure in this picture -- you can see her model-for-Christ, georgous spirit.

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

One of the BEST Resources for Catholic Homeschool Highschool

We have really been impressed with Homeschool Connections. Dd#1 took a Homeschool Connections Latin Class! (because I've assisted as far as I can without actually knowing Latin and now it's time to outsourse.)

  1. It's Catholic. Genuinely Catholic, not pretending so they can get an agenda across, just lovingly, happily, Catholic.

  2. The teacher, Alecia Rollings, seems to genuinely enjoy working with the kids. She made the class fun and Dd#1 really appreciated her encouraging feedback.

  3. The way the kids can interact with each other using the rolling text chat helps them tease, have fun and get to know each other. Within the first few classes, we were tossing around names of kids whom I'd never met, but with whom Dd#1 seemed to have made a connection. (a "homeschool connection")

  4. She learned a TON and I DIDN'T have to disrupt anyone else's school and I DIDN'T have to get everyone out of the house (it can be like herding cats) and I DIDN'T have to drive around town and I DIDN'T have to waste time in the car and I DIDN'T have to pay for gas....so many things about this work for me.

  5. It was really easy to use Homeschool Connection's software program and they walked us right through technical difficulties. Actually, they tried valiantly to help us with technical difficulties -- the real problem was my kids in the next room needed to quiet down. All we had to buy was a headset/mic from Walmart and we were cooking with gas!

  6. Dd#1 really liked the video feed on the teacher. Having non-verbal feedback (a smile) to her mistakes made her feel welcome and at ease.

  7. A few hours after she attended the class, she could hear the recording of the class (in case her siblings were too loud during that part) or if she had to miss a class, she didn't actually miss any information.

  8. Dd#1 submitted all the homework directly to the teacher who graded it. Homeschool Connections doesn't keep records for the kids' grades, but the teacher does assign a grade at the end of the class.

  9. It was the cheapest "live" Latin class she could attend that I could find -- but seriously not cheap on quality of education. Of all the classes in town I could drive her to and all the classes online I could sign her up for -- it was really inexpensive.

  10. She has also liked the "auditing" feature of classes. In the spring, we took advantage of their 7 days for $1 to survey any of their pre-recorded classes. Dd#1 chose a class she was interested in (Tolkein with Dr. Robert F. Gotcher) and she listened to and did the work of that pre-recorded class for a week while I reduced her school load in other classes. So, she took an 8-week course, submitted the homework to me, and I could give her credit for it. The 7days/$1 deal is a one-time-offer. We'll definately be signing up for their $30/month subscription to get access to all their pre-recorded classes. Dd#1 said it was a little frustrating when she couldn't answer a question she knew, but for the price -- I'm ok with that!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Kolbe High School Combinations

I love how Kolbe entertwines so much together. I really wasn't satisfied with American History as it fit in with World History and not it's own separate subject. This is a possible schedule I came up with.
So we'll be following a modified Kolbe plan for high school.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Quote of the Day

Today, Ds#5 who is potty training, woke up with a dry diaper.
Mama :
Good BOY!! Go potty like a big boy!
I took him to the bathroom and watched him walk in. I didn't stay with him the way I've been insisting the bigger kids do when they take him to the potty.

A few minutes later I heard a blood curdling scream and indistinguishable verbalizations coming from Dd#2.
What's wrong?
Sure enough, he was.

I sent Dd#2 up to her room to compose herself and cleaned up the mess. While I was doing that both the older boys incredulously asked why the 2 year old would do such a thing. I reassured them he wasn't trying to be as naughty as he'd been. I was sure that after walking into the bathroom it occured to him he'd rather spend his time eating just then than going potty. He opened the fridge door and as soon as the cold air hit his naked lower half, his full bladder couldn't be controlled.

I win for having today's oddest quote of the day. When I dreamed of being a wife and a mother, that wasn't one of the phrases I'd anticipated hearing from my children.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

"How do you do it all?"

I get this question alllllll the time. Really, I DON'T do it all.

I think what the questioner is really asking is how do I get school done with the normal tasks of running a home. I firmly believe that homeschooling is not more difficult than being a good parent. Homeschooling is an extension of being a good parent and the same life-skills apply.

A friend of mine told me that although I insist I'm not a routine/scheduled person by nature, that with a houseful of kids....a girl has to develop survival techniques. That's what these are--survival techniques. I don't survive gracefully or silently -- I'm barely making it through some days. I am, however, surviving with JOY!

How do I do it all? I go to sleep each night asking forgiveness for my sins and strength for my weak areas and wake up in the morning and WITH GOD'S GRACE do it all over again.

Jenn's Routines (or suvival strategies) We do it together as much as possible. I oversee to make sure things get done and they are the worker bees.

In addition to the kids doing a reasonable amount of the cleaning (since they're doing the majority of the messing up), I have some systems in place for running the house. I do meal planning and here and here especially through the school year. I have a master shopping list and keep lists everywhere (and loose them, too.)

I cut myself slack. Mom's Night Outs are essential, life-giving evenings for me. I make sure that my prayer life and emotional well-being are being attended to. This is a fine line. I've seen moms neglecting the needs of their children to attend to their own needs and this is what our culture encourages. That isn't what I'm saying. I'm also not a door mat. Balance is difficult, but essential. We have breaks through the year that work for our family.

I keep a running list of curriculum items I want to explore when I have 10 minutes or an evening. I find this helps tremendously. I organize the list by subject, but you could just as easily organize it by age. Even if the book is something that's far far in the future, I still put it down to explore later. This is one less item to worry about forgetting. I can forget it guilt-free because once a year I go back to my running list and see if anything will apply to the upcomming year and toss it in the hopper of items to consider (and mostly reject.)

I keep a list of our schedule for the year. I did mine in a spreadsheet (it's just the way I think- I started on paper) and this way I can print a schedule for each child or set of children. Our schedule is done in a Manager's of their Homes method with the heart of A Mother's Rule of Life. I found both of these (seeming opposing) methods of scheduling to reside nicely in the dichotomy that is my mind. We only do "book work" 4 days a week and the 5th day we run errands, do many of our "extra curriculuar" activities and have fun.

I combine children in subject areas as much as possible. This serves 2 purposes -- I have less to teach and the kids can bounce off each other when we have crafts/discussions/activities. I also keep us on the same topic even if they're in different books. So, Dd#1 is reading the Odyssey while the younger kids are learning about the Ancient Greeks. The same purposes apply as above. I also have the kids teach each other where appropriate. I taught preschool ONCE. My 1st grader/3rd grader/5th grader / 9th grader are all happy for a little sandbox play to teach preschool. I make sure they have time in their schedule so they're not getting overwhelmed with work, but so far, they all count it joy. No one has offered to take over teaching the kindergardener to read, so I'll do that 5 times (lucky me.)

Toddlers are a force to be reckoned with -- prepare to meet them head on or be bowled over by them. I have a list of Things To Do With Your Toddler While You Homeschool and here. The list works for 3 year olds as well as, if not better than, it did when they were 2 years old. I'm also a fan of school in the bathroom. All my kids love baths and a rowdy 2 year old is contained in the bath. I take 1 other kid and while I sit in the bathroom (trying to stay dry from all the splashing) I work with the older child.

So those are most of my survival tricks.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Menu Plan Mondays

I like the title -- I know, I know, it's Thursday...WhatEVER!

M - Mac & Cheese w/broccoli (lunch)
Salad w/ fixins & cold left-over salmon & Soup & Homemade Buscuits (dinner)

T - Chips, Salsa, refried beans, cheese & apples
Meatball Hoagies & Corn on the cob & mango slices

W - Ham & swiss sandwiches, pretzels & fruit
Ministrone soup (substituting beef broth for the chicken & adding a little thyme) w/ left-over steak chunks & Salad & Homemade rolls

Th - SOS (Creamed Dried Beef on Toast) & fruit
Chicken Gyros

F - Egg Salad Sandwiches & fruit

S - Hotdogs w/ chili sauce
Stir Fry w/left-over chicken & fried rice

S - Salad w/ left-over ham slices & chkn & rice soup (w/ left-over fried rice)
Chicken Ka-bobs