Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Little Peanut

I've been very absent here...

But it has been for a very good reason. 

A tiny, life changing reason.

We call him Peanut.

Shortly after we started our school year in August, we got a phone call that there was a little baby who needed us.  He was a preemie, only 4lbs, and had been sitting in the hospital for a week and a half all by himself. We made some hospital visits, being told he would be in there for weeks, but my husband and I visited often enough he started to thrive and was able to come home shortly thereafter!

Today Peanut is doing BEAUTIFULLY!!!  Last check he was almost 11lbs at his 3 month appointment!  The first several weeks were VERY hard. Adjusting proved hard for me, as did feeling like I just brought a soap opera into our lives, but we made it through that initial period a day at a time (ok, maybe a minute at a time) leaning hard on each other and Jesus.  

Today we are very much head over heals for this little guy.  His smiles are the sweetest... We love him, which is hard since foster care is so unpredictable, but we trust God has a plan.  For now, we know he is happy...healthy...with us...and oh such a blessing!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Our Curriculum Picks - 2013-2014

Our third year of homeschooling is upon us, and I finally feel like we are getting into a groove.  We have a better understanding of what works/doesn't work, and the kinks have been worked out.  I've tried to not be an overachiever this year, considering what we have going on, but I do happen to have a list of additional things I'd like to add if I think we have the time to do it!  I would like to add an American History along side our current history using the Time Travelers History packs since I can't quite wrap my head around learning all there is to learn about American History in one year in the future!

We are looking forward to learning a lot of fun things this year!

Mini-Me's 4th grade curriculum
Bible and Character:
  • Bible Study Guide - We were going to do this last year, but I decided to hold off a year so Little Man could join us!
  • AWANA - it has always worked for us to just include this in our Bible time.
  • Character Building for Families - we will draw our way through this to have a homemade character book at the end of the year!
Personal Devotions:
  • Jesus Calling - continuing on with this, and she will get a new one at the new year.
  • Dear Princess - She will read/journal through this book and have weekly visits with me about what it is she read.
  • Training Hearts Teaching Minds - this is our family devotional right now.  Doing a question a week, this will take us a good two years to complete.

Language Arts:
  • Total Language Plus - we will start off with Charlotte's Web and Sign of the Beaver for the school year.  We will be using the comprehension, vocabulary, spelling, and enhancement activities from this curriculum.  Mini-Me will also continue to read literature on lists from here and here, as well as her own choices, and I keep her reading log here on Pinterest.
  • Easy Grammar and Daily Grams - TLP has some grammar in it, but we will continue with what we've used the last 2 years.
  • Cursive and Typing - Three days a week Mini-Me will work on typing, and twice a week she will complete cursive copy work.
  • Math-U-See - After trying out MANY math curriculums, we finally have found a math that fits!  Mini-Me has been working on the gamma level over the summer, and we'll start the delta level once she's finished.
Foreign Language:
  • Mango - Our library has this resource for free online, so we will use this to learn Spanish this year! {in the battle of Latin (my choice) or Spanish (my husband's choice), Spanish has won....for now!}
  • Duolingo - this is another free resource we will use to learn Spanish
  • Big Book of Things to Draw - once a week we will do an art project out of this book.
  • I Can Do All Things - we still haven't finished this book from our first year, it will be in her desk for when she finishes early or simply wants to do it!

Little Man's Preschool curriculum:
Little Man won't be 4 until September, so I suppose he is still Pre-Preschool.  I'm keeping things nice and easy with him while I still can.
  • Bible Study Guide - he gets his own little set of sheets to work through the bible with his sister at his own level! 
  • Before Five in a Row - This is going to be a blast.  Little Man has already picked out the order he would like to 'row' his books and chose Caps for Sale to start!
  • Easy Peasy - last year we worked through the Getting Ready level of Easy Peasy.  He really enjoyed it, so if he still wants to do more 'school' I will have him do this again.
  • Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons - if/when I think he's ready for this, I'll start it.  No pressure, he is only 3! ; )
That wraps it up for our 2013-2014 curriculum choices!

Our school year starts here in just a few short weeks!

This post is linked to In All You Do and the Not-Back-To-School Blog Hop


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hope for us

Here at Home with us, there is a little hope for us.

 There's some big news going on at our home!  I was going to just jump in here with our curriculum plans for the fall, but then I realized I planned our curriculum around the flexibility our lives would need now.  How our homeschool year goes depends on what's going on, so our news is something that would have to be shared.  I decided to give this it's own little picture-less {forgive me} blog post!
After much prayer, my husband and I have decided to become a foster adopt home!
There are so many thoughts, prayers, and emotions wrapped up in that exclamation point.  To share them all would be very overwhelming {although if you'd be sitting next to me with a cup of coffee I'd more than likely pour my heart out onto the table}, so I will share this:  It means we are hopeful our story does not end with a 6th miscarriage.  It means we have chosen to follow where we feel God is leading our family.  Stepping out of our comfort zone to put our hearts on the line for a whole new kind of heartbreak.  It means we've looked at each other and asked ourselves if we've lost our minds {answer is still to be determined--cute side note: a lady at our Child Placement Agency told us the couple who started this agency had a motto...'We are here because we aren't all there' : )  Thought that was cute and perhaps very true!}.  It means we've sat in disbelief as we have heard truly horrific stories about how people can treat their children.  Only further confirming that this is where we need to be.  It is no longer about our family wanting another baby {although if that happens, my heart would burst with joy}, but it's about a child who NEEDS our family. 
We just got news our fingerprints have come back, and now we are looking to get the home inspection and home study done as soon as possible.
We *should* be certified by or in the month of August {we started this process in March}, which also is the same time we have scheduled to start our school year. While busy preparing for our home inspection and home study, I have also been planning for our first few weeks of school in August! 
Planning has been a bit tricky, since I don't know exactly what our future holds come fall, but I finally came up with a plan I am content with and look forward to sharing our curriculum plans soon! 

It seems a little wacky to start blogging again right in the midst of life getting flipped upside down and backwards, but I am really hoping I am able to stick with it this year {even if it is just a few pictures on hard/busy weeks}.  We will be learning lots of wonderful things this year, but I have retired my overachiever status...for now.  I'm trying out being practical, and it is much less demanding of my time!
Who knew?!


Monday, March 11, 2013

Adventures in Ireland

OK, we didn't actually GO to Ireland, but we have spent the last couple of weeks learning as much as we could about it!  Same thing, right? 

Mini-Me pulled out the Ireland Top Secret Adventures and I knew we could have some fun with this.  I said, in my best Irish accent, "Aye, lass, you know you're a wee bit Irish!  Let's have some fun with this, shall we?"  Her eyes grew big {in awe at my Irish accent or confused by it, it could have gone either way},and I knew we were ready to explore the Emerald Isle!

We started with a basket full of books!  Fun picture books, lots of poetry and Irish folklore, and some really great chapter books!  Here are the books we read, our favorites being in italics.
  • Fin M'coul: The Giant of Knockmany Hill by Tomie dePaola
  • Too Many Fairies: A Celtic Tale by Margaret Read MacDonald
  • Leprechauns and Irish Folklore {Magic Tree House Research Guide}
  • A Pot o'Gold: A Treasury of Irish Stories, Poetry, Folklore, and {of Course} Blarney by Kathleen Krull
  • Tales From Old Ireland by Malachy Doyle
  • The St. Patrick's Day Shillelagh by Janett Nolan
  • Small Beauties: The Journey of Darcy Heart O'Hara by Elvira Woodruff
  • Count Your Way Through Ireland by James Haskins
  • Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola
  • Too Many Leprechauns by Stephen Krensky
  • Tim O'Toole and the Wee Folk by Gerald McDermott
  • Fiona's Luck by Teresa Bateman
  • Kathleen: The Celtic Knot {Girls of Many Lands series} by Siobhan Parkinson
  • Leprechauns in Late Winter by Mary Pope Osborne
  • A Voyage from Ireland in 1849 (Journey to America: Fiona McGilray's Story) by Clare Pastore
The last book on the list, Fiona McGilray's Story, was our read aloud for the duration of our study.  This book was absolutely wonderful.  We LOVED it!  Every chapter would end with a gasp, tears were shed {both sad and happy tears}, and we were both very sad to turn the last page and realize the story was over!  It has been a long time since a book captured our attention like that, so I am eager to see what other books there are in that series!  Loved it!

We also watched some Irish movies, and listened to lots of Irish music thanks to a neighbor who let us borrow 6 of her Celtic and Ireland cd's! 

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Some snapshots of our 'trip' to Ireland!

Working on a map of Ireland
Her first attempt at creating something with Legos!  Her Ireland map!
We made a Celtic heart knot bracelet with this video on Youtube.  We just decided to use three strands of hemp cord to make it extra complicated! {wink}
We made some Irish soda bread that was a big hit!

Mini-Me colored a Celtic kaleidoscope page for the back of her lapbook!
We completed an Ireland lapbook, and a mini unit on the Blarney Castle.  There are lots of good links within the lapbook of videos to watch and articles to read!
Another craft we did was a Blarney Stone.  We invited some friends over on a nice day to join us, but I think they were a bit too excited to run and play outside than they were to paint a Blarney stone.  I suppose all is well, though, as I am sure none of them needed to be blessed with the gift of gab anyhow! 
And just so he isn't left out, Little Man participated in all the Ireland fun as well, just managed to escape the frame of the pictures.  His favorite Ireland activity was sampling the Irish soda bread.  Here we used some blue and yellow do-a-dot markers to learn how to make the color green!  He was pretty excited to see he could make such a neat change happen all my himself!

That wraps up our adventures in Ireland! 
Slán leat
Good-bye in Gaelic pronounced 'slawn lat'

Monday, February 11, 2013

Blogger Annonymous and an Update

Hi, my name is Mariah and I haven't blogged since September.


I do love blogging, I do.  I am hoping to get back to where I was, blogging weekly, but for now an update will have to do!

Last fall, we had some curriculum flops.  By curriculum flops I mean nearly every. single. thing we were trying this year seemed to just not work anymore.  It was ugly.  I felt horrible, how could I have made so many bad choices all in the same year?!  We got back on track, though, and we are anxiously awaiting the new curriculum we have very carefully picked out for next year.

I quit blogging in the midst of all that, and then never picked it back up again as we were completely focused on operation baby #3.  Pregnancy isn't something that comes naturally for us, so there are lots of Dr. appts, medications, and mental roller coasters that have to be tackled before we even begin to conceive.  Truthfully, I didn't even want to go down this road again.  After finally having Little Man after five miscarriages, the thought of getting pregnant and staying that way just didn't appeal to me.  If there was a way to skip the pregnancy and still end up with our baby in my arms, then I'd be all ears! We prayed about it for a long time, and finally we both felt God's peace about trying again...doing things exactly the same way we did them to get Little Man.  We were very excited to be expecting the first month we tried, but after two ultrasounds revealing a beautiful little bean with a wonderfully strong heartbeat {I was convinced it was a girl}, I lost the pregnancy.  Throughout the whole ordeal, blogging wasn't something on the forefront of my mind...  While we are incredibly sad, it has opened our eyes to the fact that our two children are not a result of some fertility clinic's list of prescriptions....they are simply our miracles from God.  There is no earthly explanation as to why they survived and the others didn't.  While being sad, we are happy.  While feeling angry, we feel His peace.  While not understanding, we try to trust His will.  While crying, we feel blessed.  It is a whole lot of emotions that are just kinda all over the place!  We don't know if or when we'll try again, we don't know if God will lead us to adopt, we don't know what the future holds.  Right now, it has been good to just cry, be still, and heal...

As far as homeschooling goes, we still LOVE it!  Even with all the curriculum changes and ugly life moments, we have been enjoying our learning.  It isn't as fancy and over the top as last year was, but it is REAL.  It has fit with the ups and downs of our last several months nicely. 

Here's an update into what it is we have been learning!
{this may be a bit long...}


In attempts to loosen up and not be so schedule oriented, we now start our school day upstairs on the sofa! I know, who would have ever thought of it!  : )

We start our day with our devotional, Jesus Calling.  We LOVE this book!  I read it out loud {hoping Little Man is picking up on some things as he's playing with cars and hanging upside down on the sofa}, and Mini-Me takes little notes in her notebook, draws a picture, whatever comes to her about the message of the day.  We have great discussions over the lesson, and it is a great start to our day!

Then we do science upstairs too!  This was a subject that we struggled to complete in the afternoon, even though we loved it!  I decided to add it to our upstairs part of our day, and it has been effortless to breeze through in the mornings!  We are on the Artiodactyia lesson in Apologia Zoology 3, soaking up all kinds of information about stomach chambers and cud!  Mini-Me's favorite part at the end of each lesson is putting the animal stickers on our map!  Many areas are getting quite full!
After listening to our Latin vocabulary, we head downstairs to finish our school day!

For Bible, Mini-Me is working her way through Draw to Learn: Life of Jesus.  If I could approach every subject as an artist would, Mini-Me would be on top of the world!  Here is some of her work:

Grammar is still the same, we really enjoy Easy Grammar and Daily Grams.  Mini-Me is almost done with the Easy Grammar book for the year, and I would really like to put together a grammar lapbook of sorts and read this grammar book if I'm ambitious enough!

We weren't going to do a specific writing curriculum until next year, but we stumbled across Nanowrimo and decided to give it a whirl.  We didn't try to get it completed in one month, like they suggest, but she has slowly worked her way through the workbook, written her story, and we are in the process of transferring her story to the computer.  It has turned out to be a lot of work on my part, so we are a bit behind, but it will get finished soon enough.  Here is a picture of her plot roller coaster!  The story is about a talking horse and a girl who go on an adventure to get to and win a horse race!  It is quite interesting, action packed, and hopefully will have a good message when it is all finished!

We picked up cursive again.  Some weeks she takes her time, other weeks it is 'need a big eraser' kind of week.  She always wants me to circle the best one for each word. {sorry, not sure why my pictures are so blurry!}

For spelling, I'm using an online list for 4th grade {3rd grade seemed a bit too easy}.  On Monday, we do a pretest, Tuesday she does some word work, Wednesday I dictate sentences to her with the spelling words in them, and Thursday is the spelling test.  She does pretty good with this.  If she spells words wrong in her notes in other subjects, I'll add them to the list for the week.  Nothing fancy, but it is getting the job done this year.

We went back to Saxon, had I shared that yet?  I can't remember.  Singapore math was ok, Mini-Me did good with it, but come review time it was big crocodile tears as she couldn't remember how to do the things she learned 2 months ago.  It wasn't a good fit for her.  So, I put my tail between my legs and went back to Saxon.  I still don't like it, but Mini-Me thrives with it.  I suppose I can take one for the team! ; )

Books, books, books, and more books!  We have really been enjoying our reading this year. After we read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, we went with the homeschool group to see the play!  Then we read The Horse and His Boy, completed the lapbook, and Mini-Me just finished reading Prince Caspian.  We have three more books to go to finish our literature study for the year.

On top of that, we have joined a girls book club!  A few other Moms and I put our heads together and started a book club for the homeschool girls ages 7-11!  It has been a blast!  Our first book was Mary Poppins, and that was a hoot! {although I'll warn you, Mary Poppins is NOTHING like the movie...she is mean in the book!  Mini-Me and I had trouble getting over the lack of a cheery disposition!}  We got together to discuss the book, had some Mary Poppins inspired treats, and made a carousel craft!

This was my contribution to the evening...Mary Poppins paper dolls cut from the cricut and a sidewalk chalk silhouette...I sometimes can't control the overachiever in me...

Our next book was Pollyanna.  We made 'glad jars' for that craft, discussed the book, snacked on yummy Pollyanna inspired food, and made some blankets!  We contacted a place who takes care of babies who are born in prison while their Mom's finish out their time there, and they were very shocked to hear a group of 15 girls would want to volunteer and/or do something for them!  They suggested we could all make blankets, as that is what they send with each baby when they are reunited with their Moms.  We had some representatives come and talk to the girls at the meeting, and they handed out prayer cards for the little babies!  We are eagerly awaiting the day we get to take the blankets to them! 

Our Pollyanna craft, the Glad Jar!

Our next book is Because of Winn Dixie!  This has been a really great activity for the girls, and us Moms don't have a bad time either!  : ) 

Mini-Me is also working on her geography, using her Top Secret Adventures she gets from her grandparents.  We had completely stopped Latin for a while, due to life, but we are slowly starting to add that back in.  To my surprise, not much has escaped Mini-Me over the last couple of months! 

Little Man

This little boy is a handful!  He was not interested in my Little Hands to Heaven, and I did spend a few weeks trying to FORCE this 3 year old to do school.  I finally just put it all away and let him play while we did school.  It wasn't long before he started asking to do school again, and I was really stressing out over what to do for him!  We stumbled across Easy Peasy - All in One Homeschool and it has been wonderful!  Not a lot each day, on the computer {his favorite thing in the world}, and he is actually learning quite a bit while having fun!  The best part is that it is free! {the site has free curriculum all the way up through high school!  I've spent some time looking over the older grades, and it is really good stuff!}  Here are some snapshots of his learning!

All his cars must do school with him...here they are watching a video of the abc song.
Each letter has a story to go with it.  This particular week it was Caleb the Cat coughing up the hair ball saying 'c,c,c'
Tracing, coloring, cutting, gluing..
This isn't part of the Easy Peasy things, but I insist he will do these.  My life as a Mom just won't be complete unless I have a cute A-Z notebook full of craft foam animals! {wink}
We really enjoy using Starfall!  This is his favorite part!  He can use the touch pad better than I can!

Here is a sample of the things he did for D week.  See the cute foam dinosaur?!  ; )  I really like how the Easy Peasy pulls from different programs around the internet.  We used the letter search from Confessions of a Homeschooler's blog and the bible verse from 1+1+1=1.  I sometimes feel overwhelmed because there are so many options online for young kids, it is hard to decide which to do!  Over the last 5 weeks I have used a little bit of it all and that makes me feel like I'm getting the best of all the different options! 

My favorite part has been starting to hide God's word in Little Man's heart!  In January, when we started this, I figured I would just read this book to him each week and that would be it.  I was very surprised to catch him repeating the verses throughout the day!  I try to break it down for him so he understands it.  For example, when he learned Proverbs 15:1, I told him wrath meant anger, being mad.  He now walks around saying, "A soft answer turns away 'wath' and 'wath' means anger, being mad. 'Proberbs' 15:1"  It is cute.  We are working on our 6th bible verse, reviewing others we have learned each day as well.  Just last year at this time I was panicked because he wasn't talking, and now look at him! 

That wraps up our big update!

We are still plugging along!  I am hoping to get back into the habit of sharing more of our homeschool without 6 month gaps between my posts!
; )

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Exploring Mexico

Welcome to our weeks learning about Mexico! 
Mexico in the kitchen
We love the flavors of Mexico!  Several times a week we ate tacos, enchiladas, stuffed sopapillas, nachos, or tostadas with beans and rice.  Mini-Me thought it was pretty special that Grandma came over to help her learn how to cook some family recipes!
We don't mess around, we start with the sopapillas!
Mini-Me went to my closet and came back with a Mexico sweater on {I have no clue, but just go with it!} and sampled the soda and cookies from Mexico.  I wasn't a fan of either, but all the kids saw was sugar before them!  They went bonkers!
A nice big platter of enchiladas!
I put together a little recipe book with some scrapbook paper I had on hand.  Mini-Me loves to cook up treats, and I wanted her to remember the recipes we enjoyed this year traveling the world!  Many of the recipes for Mexico were from Grandma, so it will be nice for her to have those.  It was difficult to write them down, however, because Grandma cooks without measurements.  I made her eyeball the ingredients in separate bowls so I could measure them our accurately for Mini-Me! HA!  I wasn't her favorite person that day!
Mexico at the desk
Mini-Me chose to do another Country Fact Sheet for Mexico.  We also explored the life of Omar, a boy from Mexico, in the book Children Just Like Me.  The top three notebooking pages came from Homeschool Creations here, the bottom two pages from ECC, and the paper doll is from here.  {I just realized I forgot the famous passport shot!  Epic fail, but yes, she did have some pesos and get her passport stamped before we started our tour of Mexico!}
Mini-Me has thoroughly enjoyed working on her Top Secret Adventures for Mexico!  My Mom starting getting her these last year, but I started saving them for this year since I realized they would perfectly fit into our studies!  As you can see, she goes all out.  My Mom gave her an old briefcase that she neatly organizes the pieces in.  The only thing missing is her 'detective jacket' that she usually packs in there too!
I also got her the Around the World sticker book.  The pages with the stickers on them tells you what each piece of clothing is called and where it goes.  She enjoyed putting together her page for Mexico!
We also started playing the North America geography game that comes with our curriculum!  Playing several times a week, Mini-Me is becoming a pro at the countries of North America!
Her vocabulary words for these weeks:
Our favorite part of the curriculum by FAR is the book basket.  Many of our books are listed in the book list in the back of the teachers manual, while the others are just extra ones I stumble upon while I am doing an online search at our library!  The books she has enjoyed can be found here, her reading log on Pinterest.
Mexico Crafts
We decided to make a clay sun as one of our crafts for Mexico.  I didn't have any clay on hand, so we made some using this recipe.
We haven't had an opportunity to paint it yet, as it is still drying.  It is a painfully slow process when you have a swamp cooler I guess!
We also made tissue flowers!  We are no stranger to these, I call them tissue paper pom-poms.  They are my go to decorations for baby showers and Mini-Me's room!  We made these and hung them on each side of her curtain rod in her room!
Science fun
with Apologia Zoology 3
We've continued our study of caniforms these last two weeks.  I look at these notebooking pages, trying to pick just a few to highlight, but I always spend too much time trying to decide which I like best! I decided to just include them all!  We have really enjoyed learning all about bears!
Mini-Me has really taken a liking to polar bears!  Did you know a polar bear can climb a tree?  Mini-Me couldn't believe a tree could hold a 1000 pound polar bear!  She was also impressed with their swimming abilities!
We spent some time learning about some other animals as well.  Her illustrations always make us laugh.  Notice the skunk in the bottom picture, next to the passed out woman! HA!
We also learned what we are supposed to do if you see a bear!  We practiced it almost everyday over the last two weeks.  A favorite of Mini-Me's for sure!  Her notebooking assignment at the end of the lesson was to draw a comic strip of what we are supposed to do if we see a bear.
  {Note: this is for any other bear but a grizzly!  You see a grizzly, you curl up in a fetal position with your hands locked behind your neck and say your prayers!}
HA!  This is so funny!
We added our animal stickers to our map.  Mini-Me was surprised to see such a cluster of animals in North America, as compared to the rest of the world!
She also added the tracks of bears and raccoons in her Track It! mini-book.
While learning about bears, we read that panda bears have a wrist bone that grows long and they use it like an opposable thumb to hold their bamboo.  We taped our thumbs to our index fingers so we could see how difficult life would be if God hadn't created us to have opposable thumbs!  {After this picture was taken, we reinforced the tape with several more layers.}
Artist Corner
Mini-Me continues to love her Draw Write Now art.  She is almost done with book 8.  I think I will have her take the narrations in the book and use them as typing practice.  Then we can print them out and glue them on the backs of the pages like a book!  Maybe spiral bounding them so I can reuse all of my page protectors!
That's a wrap for the last two weeks!
Don't forget to check out our literature study post, The Magician's Nephew!
We are heading to Canada next and will learn about feliforms along the way!
This post is linked to MFW Highlights!