Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Homeschool Mother's Journal/Weekly Wrap-Up & Giveaway

In my life this week:
It's clear: Baby Brother already loves television. And he has been to two movies so far, and he quite enjoyed looking at that screen, as well. (He slept through most of them, though.) Sorry, Academy of Pediatrics, and I promise his television viewing is rare.

Big things going on at our house this week (which have created this whole new world of exploration for the kids...for some reason, the uniform of choice in the dirt pile seems to be underwear + rainboots). Stay tuned!

This picture was actually taken a few weeks ago, but it shows some other big things going on at our house. New furniture, which equals lots of cardboard to play in. They loved it.

I adore this picture. What would I do without the sweet help of my 3 big kids?

What My Kids Are Saying:
*So...apparently my daughter is boy crazy. How did this happen? And she's so brazen about it.  Ryan is already having panic attacks. She looks him right in the eye and tells him who she thinks is cute and who she is going to marry. I would have never done that at her age! Anyway, we don't discourage (other than putting out our ideas on marriage and courtship) her because we love that she is open with us, but we don't tease her and encourage it, either. We try to remain as matter-of-fact as possible, although Ryan can't help from shake his head in bewilderment at times - and she just giggles about it.

*I was talking about two of the boys' friends the other day. I said, "They are such polite, respectful, sweet boys." She finished, "And cute & stuff." Then proceeded to giggle. And since then, she has asked if these brothers are going to be at certain events!

*Another recent one:
"I'm not getting married. I'm going to be like Aunt Tracy (who is not married, as of yet). But I don't know...cuz there's a lot of boys that's cute."

*In further daughter-airheaded news, as I was reading a book to myself, she didn't understand why I was just "looking" at the pages. "Why do you always look at books, but you don't read them?"

*My 7 year old was NOT impressed that I painted my fingernails black. "Only mean girls paint their nails know, like in fashion..."

*Something I want to remember that my oldest son does, in case he stops doing it: he uses "very" instead of "really." He'll say, "I very want to." 

*That above is one of those things that I adore so much, I don't want to properly correct. It's just like my daughter who says, "E-den," instead of "The End." She says it with flourish, too, like, "Eeeee-den!!!" I'm a bad parent sometimes because I'd rather enjoy their sweet, endearing flubs than teach them the correct pronunciation.

What I'm Reading This Week:
Frommer's 500 Places to Take Your Kids Before They Grow Up
Clearly there are not enough years in childhood to visit all of the places in the book. And although I'd like to go to every place included, somehow I don't think Venezuela or Hungary are in the cards for us. I was happy to see that I've taken the kids to a lot of the places in the book - although some of them they don't remember at this point, so we may have to redo a few. I've been jotting down my list, and here is part of it that might be realistic:

Ireland (The Giant's Causeway - because of it's "tie" to my son), England (too many places to list), Scotland (Loch Ness Monster), all of Europe basically - we hope to do this our 40th birthday year, Arches National Park (Moab Utah), Hawaii (Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Pearl Harbor), Niagara Falls, Mount Rushmore, Abe Lincoln museums in Kentucky & Ilinois, Mount Vernon, Colonial Williamsburg, all of the Laura Ingalls Wilder museums, Diamond MO, bats in Austin, Hannibal MO, The Hermitage, Monticello, Canada (too many places to list, including Prince Edward Island - Ann of Green Gables), Joshua Tree National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Mackinac Island, Traverse City, tubing on the Gaudalupe River, Plymouth, Jamestown, Boston & Concord, etc. Valley Forge, Minute Men Museum (This is because they ask frequently to go since it's mentioned in their audiobook.), Alamo, San Diego Zoo, Redwood Forest, a few places in Philadelphia we missed last time, space center to watch a shuttle launch, Kitty Hawk, D.C., Chicago, Roanoke Island, Tombstone, and not in the book - many farm sanctuaries I know of...I also really want to go on a cruise.

Audio books this week: Mercy Watson (the pig), Arthur (the aardvark)

Places We're Going and People We're Seeing:
Exciting news! Baby Brother, my 7 year old, and I are going on a trip together. We're taking the train to NYC and hoping to get out at a couple of places along the way! Wish me luck! I'm going to do something for my other two kids individually, as well. Wish my single-dad husband luck, too! I think they will have a lot of special time together.

In Our Homeschool This Week:
Still reading Little House on the Prairie and doing journal entries and online quizzes. Tornado is finishing up a Saxon Math workbook, and Dash is doing a few pages in a sight words workbook everyday. Tornado consistently has a book he's writing or an art poroject he's creating. Other than that, we've just been working on reading aloud. Dash continues to have track practice, which is so important for him in every which way. (He has energy to burn and emotions to clear out.)

I forgot to write last time about our homeschool field trip to the zoo. I took it this way so that Baby and I could also be in the pic. One thing I want to point out is my 7 year old's matching outfit. He has these red shorts, which I love...and he is so insistent that he pairs them with a red shirt. I'll try to breezily suggest a different shirt, and he's very defensive. "This matches! I think I look good." Indeed, you do, Sweet Boy!

a few of the kids who went

Link to share:
Enter my giveaway for free bread and art supplies. Only 5 entries, so far! No requirement other than your name in the comments. Ends June 1.

The Homeschool Mother's Journal
Weekly Wrap-Up

weekly wrap-up

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Spring Break

During Spring Break, we headed north to visit some of our loved ones. Baby Brother got to meet many new family members. The trip home was very memorable because after crushing our luggage carrier in my sister and brother-in-law's loft garage, I had a flat tire after dark in Pocahontas, Arkansas. (Ryan was not with me as he has been super busy traveling with work lately so we were only gone a few days.) It was quite an involved experience. I think I'm done driving long distances without Ryan because Baby was not a fan of the car trip experience, in general, not to mention the non-fun factor of being out in the middle of dark nowhere with 4 kids and a flat.

my grandpa and Winnie

Aunt Michele (and Uncle Matt, too)

4 more cousins, including Cousin P...
(I see a resemblance!)

and cousin G

Uncle Andy also got to meet my little guy for the first time.

After we stayed with my brother for a couple of days, we headed to my sister's. He's never short on love, that's for sure. (Pictured above with Cousin W and my kids.)

My kids had an ideal-for-them morning at City Museum.

They played like crazy.

I know they are super jealous of their cousins for living so close to such a fun place. And whenever I leave the City Museum, I have a strong desire to start gluing found objects and sparkly mosaics to my walls at home.

During this trip, Baby Brother started a whole new phase of smiling constantly. He would smile "sort of" before for a split second, smile in his sleep, and have really pleasant looks on his face, but this week he took it to a new level.

   2 1/2 months old                                        

I mean, it seriously never gets old. Almost two months later, I still find no greater joy than making him smile. LOVE!

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Homeschool Mother's Journal & Giveaway

Here is a little bit of what has been going on with us the past two months:

In our life:
The first theme in our lives lately is BABY. We are all about the Baby around here these days. (Yes, there is spit up all over my arm; I didn't realize that until later.) I, personally, could do nothing but STARE and GRIN at him all day long.

Do you blame me?

I love this picture Ryan took because it really shows what our lives are like right now. I was under the covers, reading a book to Sissy. And Baby is between us, content as can be, with the covers up to his chin, his little face peeking under the book at the camera. He's just always right there in the mix.

The other theme of the past two weeks has been "wrapping things up." With the end of every activity ending, I feel that much lighter. I am relieved to be jumping into the car less and less. Co-op, Awanas, art class, preschool, and soccer are all finished. One more ballet class. My 7 year old will continue to have track practice for awhile, but this is very laid-back/non-mandatory.

Awanas Awards Ceremony

last soccer game this season for Sis

last soccer game this season for Dash

Questions I have:
How does my family continue at this pace we've been living? How does everyone/anyone do it? How can you find the perfect combination of activities to stimulate, challenge, and prepare your child without giving up your family time and sanity? Are my children just going to remember their mom constantly declaring, "Let's go! Come on! We're late! Hurry! Now!!!" So what has been on our minds lately is how to achieve a pace that we are more comfortable with. It's hard to know what has to be sacrificed.

I'm Reading:
7 by Jen Hatmaker. I absolutely loved it. My favorite genre of books to read is modern autobiography, and my 2nd favorite genre is Christian advice/encouragement so this is the perfect combination. I'm encouraging my husband to start reading it because I think everyone should read it.

I am reading The Explosive Child by Ross W. Greene. Child #2 is responsible for this coming up in the reading list.

I told Ryan that now I understand how he feels about watching Illinois games with the kids. Because this week the kids and I watched an episode of Little House on the Prairie together for the first time! :) I started reading the series with them recently, and they love it! We did Little House in the Big Woods partly as an audiobook in the car and partly read at home (because it was too frustrating for them to wait until we were in the car again to find out what happens next). We are almost through Little House on the Prairie, and they ask constantly to read more. I had always looked forward to reading the series to my daughter, so I am thrilled that the boys are so into it. They talk about it all of the time - my dream come true!

In our homeschool:
My 7 year old's Thinking Skills class had been preparing for their play this semester. He was a knight.

They performed it the night of the highschool drama class play.

Tornado has taken two art classes this semester. One weekly art class was for any child with special needs in the community. This was sponsored by Community Connections, which has really been a blessing to us. They are growing and really offering a lot of possibilities for our kids. The other art class was once a week at our homeschool co-op. He really enjoyed this, too! On the last days of both classes, the kids all had a chance to display their art for everyone to admire.

 his clay Perry the Platypus

The Little House books have also triggered more of an interest in their Lincoln Logs. I realized how little they had ever played with them because I had to really give them instructions on how to make it work. This is a nice challenge for them to figure out. They also love playing "Little House on the Prairie." They have these long pretend sessions, including Baby Brother in the role of Baby Carrie. And the other day I was the neighbor Mr. Edwards, but I think I overplayed it by singing "Old Dan Tucker" one too many times for their liking.

Quotes to share:
My 5 year old, regarding my elliptical trainer: "Why did you buy this if you're never going to use it?" Ouch.

I was telling the kids a story and referred to "my brother, Matt." My 7 year old said, "Why did you say it like that? I know who Matt is." Then a few seconds later, he added, "That was weird."

I'm grateful for: (continuing on toward my goal of 1,000 gifts...#381-400
our new Ikea organizational furniture, a nice weekend in Dallas, art classes, Community Connections, my son's very fun birthday party, my kids' co-op teachers, our co-op leaders, my daughter's preschool teachers, the sweet friends she made this year, my new phone, my baby's smiles, my baby's giggles, a fun end-of-the-year homeschool party, our upcoming backyard project, my upcoming trip adventure, my dad who loaned us his trailer this week and then hauled off some junk for us, my mom for cooking for us on Mothers' Day, Mexican food, the huge mess currently in my hallway that signifies an hour of fun pretend play by my kids, greens from my dad's garden

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share:
I am hosting a giveaway for Rudi's Organic bread. This includes 2 free loaves of bread and a bunch of art supplies. The only requirement for entering is leaving a comment. Click here to enter!

weekly wrap-up

Rudi's Organic Bread Giveaway!

14 Grain
I am pleased to announce I am hosting a giveaway for Rudi's Organic Bakery. My family is already fans of Rudi's and has been for years. I'm not a fan of my family eating bread with an ingredient list that is too long and too complicated to even pronounce. Rudi's bread is organic and FREE OF high fructose corn syrup, trans-fat, preservatives, artificial ingredients, and GMO's (genetically modified organisms), etc. All of Rudi's products are soy-free, dairy-free, and egg-free (besides the Gluten-Free products, which contain egg whites).

One lucky person will win this super fun gift: 
1 art kit complete with paints, crayons, markers, ETC., 1 sketch pad for doodling, 1 black beret for creative inspiration (how fun!), a reusable Rudi's Organic bag, and 2 FREE COUPONS for any Rudi's Organic products!

There is a lot of other fun going on at Rudi's right now! Take a look at their website or their facebook fan page. Through their Let's Doodle Lunch campaign (well done, creator of that cute name!),  parents are invited to upload a copy of their child's artwork. This artwork will immediately be viewable in the gallery, and - this is so fun! - you will receive a sandwich box in the mail with your child's artwork printed on top of the lid. This is FREE. Submissions are accepted between now and June 30, 2012. (Note: if you have more than one child, use your spouse's facebook account. If you have more than 2 children, you have to send Rudi's a message through email or facebook with an attachment of your child's artwork so they can manually add it.)

From Rudi's:

The fun will continue from July 1 to July 31, 2012, when Facebook fans will be invited to vote for their favorite design and receive a $0.75 coupon good for any Rudi’s Organic Bakery product. Each vote will also trigger a $1 donation to Chef Ann Cooper’s The Lunch Box, an online toolkit offering healthy tools for school food service, administrators, parents and students to help transition K-12 school lunch rooms nationwide from processed foods to healthy made-from-scratch meals. (Throughout Let’s Doodle Lunch, fans can text “Lunch” to 50555 to sign up for The Lunch Box Newsletter and learn more about how to get involved and support The Lunch Box.)

The design that receives the most votes on Facebook by the end of the July will be named the Rudi’s Organic Official Sandwich Box. The grand prize winner will receive a year supply of Rudi’s Organic bread, a $100 Target gift card for school supplies, a $150 Whole Foods gift card, and a year subscription to KIWI magazine.

From Aug. 1 to Sept. 30, Rudi’s Organic fans can send in three proof-of-purchases and receive a free Rudi’s Organic Official Sandwich Box featuring the winning design. Rudi’s Organic will donate $1 to The Lunch Box for every Rudi’s Organic Official Sandwich Box ordered. 

My kids couldn't wait to submit their artwork, and this is what they came up with:

Sparkly Day
by Sissy

Monster Tearing Up the City
by Tornado

Monster in New York
by Dash

Rudi's has graciously offered me coupons to try out their new line of Sandwich & Bagel Flatz. I will report back with a review as soon as I try them! 
To enter the giveaway for the art kit, lunch bag, and free bread coupons, just leave a comment on this post. That's all you have to do! If you do not have a blog, simply click on the comment tab at the end of this post. Choose "Anonymous" so that you will not have to log in. But make sure you leave a way for me to get a hold of you if I don't know who you are. Then in the meantime, feel free to visit their website to print off a 75 cent off coupon. (We buy Rudi's at our local Kroger and Whole Foods. It is available at most health food stores and select mainstream stores, especially ones that carry a good selection of natural & organic products.) And sign up for your free sandwich box featuring your child's artwork!

I will pick a winner using Random Number Generator on June 1, 2012.