Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hormones! Squee!

Yesterday Primus and I started a new science unit about puberty so we read about the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, gonads, and hormones. 

This morning as I slept in, the kids started watching a video about the human body.  (Not gonna lie...this is one reason I homeschool.)  Primus came running in to my room and excitedly yelled, "Mom!  They just showed hormones!  I can't believe I just saw a picture of hormones!  <excited squeal>"

lol.  Think she'll still be this excited about hormones in a few years?

Photographing Your Kids...(10 tips from a non-photographer)

I'm not a photographer.  It's not something I have ever felt I had any talent for.  But I can't afford to hire a photographer every time I want portraits taken of my kids (and I hate portrait studios even though they can be cheaper.)  I have a bunch of talented friends who own fancy cameras, but I'm uncomfortable asking them all the time when I can't pay in more than favors.  Fortunately, though, I discovered some tips that have helped me capture some really great pictures of my kids myself.


1. Go somewhere your kids enjoy being.  For us, that place is the Temple.  I realized that they just can't help but be happy and smile for the camera when we're there.  Also, there are plenty of places to pose with pretty backgrounds.

2. Let them pick the places to pose.  If I try to take too much control over the photo-shoot, the kids rebel and then the smiles cease.
Isn't this tree the best?  All them.

3. Also, don't get too pose-y with the group shots. If I try to place each kid "perfectly," usually someone will get bored and move by the time I'm ready to take the picture.  Give them a chance to position themselves and see what works out.
This was one of the first pictures taken of the day.  I think I just said, "give hugs" and this is what they came up with.  Quartus isn't enjoying the moment very much, but the other three look incredibly sincere.

4. It's ok to gently guide them towards shade, though.  I explained to them easily that if they stand in a sunny spot, they will end up squinting and the photo won't be the best.  Often they would pick a bench to sit on for a picture that was in the sun.  But it was easy to remind them of why it's not the best idea and then suggest a bench nearby that was better.
Most of this bench was in direct sunlight.  But this little corner was perfect.

5. Sometimes sitting poses are better.  I did get some cute ones of them standing, but there were also several that just looked awkward.
Like this.  No matter how much she tried, she just could not stand there without sticking her hip out.


6. Stick an easy prop in the baby's hand.  Grabbing a leaf from a nearby bush was an easy way to get Quartus to stay in one place long enough to take a picture.  The shot sometimes ended up being of him looking down, but I thought it was still cute.

7. Ask the kids to say "monkey" instead of "cheese."  Go ahead and try it out.  "Cheese" gives you a funny face.  "Monkey" produces a more natural smile. 
Definitely a monkey face.

8. Let them have fun.  Don't be too focused on the staged poses.  Sometimes the candid shots when they're just playing around are the best. 
Here he was so happy to be walking on the edge of the planter like brother.  I just had to crop out my hand holding his to make sure he didn't fall.

9. Take a ton of pictures so at least a couple will turn out.  If you take 100 pictures but only 10 look good, don't be discouraged.  Just be glad that you scored 10 great photos!  And to go along with that, don't be afraid to delete the ones that aren't perfect.  Just delete them!  Only save the very best ones that you would be proud to post on your wall (real or Facebook.)
Primus reminds me a lot of myself.  She just looked very uncomfortable in most of the pictures that I took of her and didn't seem to be able to decide how to smile.  But the handful that did turn out cute are excellent!

10. Pay attention to the background.  Watch out for photo-bombing people and things behind the kid that just look weird and distract from the star of the shot.  Some background issues can be fixed with cropping later.  But try to keep an eye out for that kind of thing while you're taking pictures, too.
A little above that window and to the left there was a little red circle (fire alarm?)  So I had to crop that out.  This picture should actually be cropped a little more, in fact, to focus in on Secundus and her adorable personality shining through.


What are some photography tips that work for your kids?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Can I Wear Pants to Church?

I've had a couple occasions recently to discuss whether or not it is inappropriate for women to wear pants to church.  I've done just a tiny bit of research and have formed a strong opinion on the matter, so I thought I would share.  My words should not be taken as gospel-truth, as I am not the Prophet.  I am, however a woman who strives to follow Christ and love and support others as He would have me do.

(I am fascinated by and respect churches that place a large emphasis on women wearing dresses at all times- not just during worship services- as a way to highlight the importance of femininity, among other reasons.  For the purposes of this post, though, I will be talking exclusively about dress standards in LDS Sacrament Meetings.)

So, is it ok for women to wear pants to church?  Yes!  In the Church's Handbook of Instruction, I couldn't find any mention of dresses or skirts. Following are three statements that got the closest to giving any kind of dress-code.

1. In the Relief Society section (9.10.2) it says, "The Relief Society presidency teaches sisters to be well groomed and modest in their attire. Presidency members help sisters understand that at Church meetings, their appearance and clothing should show reverence and respect for the Lord. Relief Society leaders also help sisters understand that when they go to the temple, they should wear clothing that is suitable for entering the house of the Lord. On these occasions they should avoid wearing casual clothes, sports attire, and ostentatious jewelry."

2. In the section about young men passing the Sacrament (20.4.1), it says, "Those who bless and pass the sacrament should dress modestly and be well groomed and clean. Clothing or jewelry should not call attention to itself or distract members during the sacrament. Ties and white shirts are recommended because they add to the dignity of the ordinance. However, they should not be required as a mandatory prerequisite for a priesthood holder to participate. Nor should it be required that all be alike in dress and appearance. Bishops should use discretion when giving such guidance to young men, taking into account their financial circumstances and maturity in the Church."

 3. In the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet, youth are counseled, "Always be neat and clean and avoid being sloppy or inappropriately casual in dress, grooming, and manners. Ask yourself, 'Would I feel comfortable with my appearance if I were in the Lord’s presence?'...Show respect for the Lord and for yourself by dressing appropriately for Church meetings and activities, whether on Sunday or during the week. If you are not sure what is appropriate, ask your parents or leaders for help."


I feel strongly that what we wear to church has more to do with what is in our hearts and less to do with what is on our bodies.   

When Hubby was a missionary, he was teaching one particular man who was making great progress.  But this man didn't own a white shirt, tie, and nice slacks.  The elders told him to come to church anyway.  When he arrived though, a misguided member of the ward stuck up his nose at this investigator and told him he should wear something "nicer" told him he should be ashamed of himself for dressing the way he was.  Instead of putting his arm around this new potential friend who was so fledgling in his testimony, getting to know him, and showing him love like Christ would have him do, he basically pushed him out of the building and told him he wasn't good enough to be a disciple of Christ.  Soon after this event, this man moved (for an unrelated reason) to another town and broke contact with the missionaries.  As far as Hubby knows, that man didn't go back to church after that.

This was a tragedy!  And sadly, it is not a unique situation.  I've heard more than a couple other very similar stories from various friends.

Heavenly Father loves all of us infinitely!  He wants all His children to come unto him.

I firmly believe that women wearing dresses or skirts to church has more to do with how our American culture has defined "Sunday Best" than anything else.  And other cultures have their own standards.

So if I had a nice pair of slacks that were modest, showed "reverence and respect for the Lord," and were "neat and clean and [avoided] being sloppy or inappropriately casual," then I should feel comfortable wearing them while worshiping my God.

Also, what if I didn't own any skirts or even slack pants?  Then I would wear the cleanest, nicest trousers I owned, be they jeans or sweats!  The fact that I made an effort to go to Church should be more important than what I wore there.


All that being said, I personally prefer to wear dresses to church.  (Though, especially as a mother with little ones climbing on my lap and a calling in Nursery, pants would be a lot more practical!)  That's because it's just what I'm used to.

Dresses and skirts are the norm here so it would feel weird to me to wear something else (not bad, just weird.)  Also, I often wear slack pants during the week (though, they usually end up with food and kid booger mess all over them and one pair needs to be hemmed-but I never remember until after I've put them on and left the house) so I like the feeling of Sundays being "different."

So while wearing pants to church isn't for me, if a friend sat down next to me in Sacrament Meeting wearing some, she can be sure I won't be calling her a "heathen!"

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Poor Secundus...you're just too smart...

My poor Secundus is just too smart for her own good. lol.

This morning when we met with her teacher, she had to take an end-of-the-year test in language arts. It's the same one she took at the beginning of the year so we can compare her progress.

The computer program is designed to keep giving her harder questions until she makes too many mistakes (obviously reached her "limit.") Well, she is reading so well and has great comprehension skills so that the test just kept going, and going, and going.

Finally she got so bored and frustrated that she got stubborn and refused to do anymore. Basically it was like she was being punished for being smart! Hopefully she doesn't realize that's what happened or else she'll probably purposefully flunk it next year! :)  I can't wait to see her score, though!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How Would Your Children Describe You?

This year in Primary our Ward is "spotlighting" one family at a time.  In a couple weeks our whole family will be invited in to Sharing Time so all the Primary kids can get to know us better.

To prepare for this, we had to fill out a form all about our favorite things to do as a family.  We also had to write down just one character trait for each person.  Hubby got described as "creative," Primus is "responsible," Secundus is "smart," Tertius is "energetic," and Quartus is "playful."

When it was time to decide on a character trait for me, I'll admit, I was pretty worried about what the kids would come up with.  Without any hesitation, though, they yelled out things like, "loving" and "nice."

Even with the craziness in the room with everyone being rowdy, yelling over the top of each other, lots of joyful laughter, and the confusing words coming from their father (Hubby gave me a great boost by calling out suggestions like, "sexy" and "PHAT."  Oh, I love that man!), the girls kept coming back to "loving."

Despite my flaws and bad days/hours/minutes, when it comes down to it my kids remember me as being "loving."  I must be doing something right! 

This morning I read "The Words We Speak" by Rosemary M. Wixom.  She shared some wonderfully wise and inspired words.  When I got to the section, "Pray to Know a Child's Needs," I felt the Holy Spirit so strong and I almost cried.
 
"To speak to a child’s heart, we must know a child’s needs. If we pray to know those needs, the very words we say may have the power to reach into their hearts. Our efforts are magnified when we seek the direction of the Holy Ghost. The Lord said:
 "'Speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, …For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say.' (D&C 100: 5-6)"

 This really struck me.  Each morning I kneel in prayer and ask my Heavenly Father to help me to be patient, kind, and loving that day.  And just as Sis. Wixom counsels, I also frequently pray to know the needs of my children and ask to be guided to know what, when, and how to teach them.  The scriptures promise that He will guide me.

I know that these little ones aren't just mine.  They are children of their Heavenly Father and have been put in my temporary care.  I know that no one knows their needs, desires, talents, trials, and future better than God.  The charge to raise and teach them is a heavy burden and responsibility, but also a great blessing and privilege.   

I know that if I ask, Heavenly Father will give me the words to say in a loving way to "reach into their hearts" and teach them all He would have them know.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Tent Town (Homeschool Edition)

Today I put on a Reading Tent Town for the homeschool group we're a part of.  It was done at a great park with a nice big green lawn.  Despite the wind's best efforts, no tents blew away and we had fun.

We had 11 kids today and 5 story tents.  The oldest 4 kids acted as story-readers.  They did a great job and were pretty proud of themselves.  I love to see the older kids have opportunities to be responsible and help out the younger ones.  To me, homeschooling isn't just about learning things like history facts and algebra; it's about learning to be a responsible, compassionate, competent adult!

The story we started with all together was The Rain Came Down by David Shannon.  I thought it was pretty appropriate, considering that rain is on everyone's minds lately with the drought here in California.

For our craft, they were each given a plain white paper to draw a picture on with crayon.  Then they were given a piece of tracing paper to draw blue rain drops on with marker.  The two papers were then taped together at the top so you can flip it down to show the rain covering your scene, then flip it up when the rain stops.



















The other stories that were read in the story tents:
Clifford books, Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel, The Mixed-up Alphabet by Steve Metzger, The Old Red Rocking Chair by Phyllis Root, and Eric Carle's Mister Seahorse

This time I did the tent signs and cards a little different.  I didn't work very hard to get everyone's story titles beforehand.  Also, to be frank, I don't know all of the families well personally so didn't know if I could count on them to show up and read what they said they would.

So instead of making the pictures on the signs and the cards coordinate with the stories, I gathered all the self-inking stamps I owned and made the sign pictures match the stamps.  Each story reader then stamped each kids' blank card with the stamp that matched their sign.  It wasn't as cute and interesting as the way we've done it in the past, but it worked out really well! 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

But how will your homeschooler make any friends?

I think every homeschooling family has heard this question about a hundred times in various ways. 

So here's the four main places/ways that we meet friends:

1. Enrichment Classes

We're fortunate to be enrolled in a charter school.  That means the school pays for any enrichment classes that we take.  This is a big deal for me and frankly one reason that I decided to homeschool; in our current financial state, we cannot personally provide things like sports teams and music classes to our children, and we thought those are important opportunities. 

So far the girls have done theatre class with other homeschoolers and gymnastics and ballet with a mix of children.  Next year they will do theatre again as well as roller skate lessons, gymnastics again, and probably soccer or basketball for Primus. 

They haven't thus far made any lasting friendships through these activities (mostly because I have not personally connected with any of the parents), but it has been good for them to associate with and have fun with a wide variety of children of all ages.


2. Church

We are active in our religion.  That includes two hours of Primary (Sunday school for ages 18 months-11 years) every single Sunday.   These associations and friendships are very important.  There are also a few families that we have met through church that also homeschool.  So we get together with them at a park once a week. 


3. Random (Providential) Encounters

Last summer I met a friend of mine at a local park one day to play.  There happened to be another mom there with five kids in tow that were very similar ages to our own children.  My friend, being the super out-going and not shy type went right up to that mom and said, "You have a big family!  I love big families!  I have three children and plan to have more.  Big families are kind of rare these days.  Your children are beautiful!  What are their names?  We'll be here again next week, want to join us?"

As it turned out, that mom is a homeschooler and has become one of my closest friends.  Our kids all get along great, too.  We now get together once or twice every week.


4. Meetup.com

Meetup.com is a free site for individuals to sign up for, however some of the groups do ask a small fee from their members to cover what the site charges them. 

I found a couple local-ish homeschool communities on this site and picked one that really fit us well. They get together every Friday, usually at a park, to play and do an activity.  (It's usually about a 20 minute drive for us, so we only go about once a month.)  It could be arts and crafts, sports, science projects, show-and-tell, or service projects.  They also plan holiday parties and various extra activities and field trips. 

We've been a part of this group for just over a year and have formed some great friendships with a few families.


Homeschoolers have to be more proactive when it comes to finding a community and building friendships.  But it's so worth it!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

What Does It Mean To Be Beautiful? By Primus

Today a friend posted this to fb and I loved it!  So I had my girls watch it with me.  I think most of it went over their heads, but it was still probably good for them to hear.

Afterwards I had Primus do a writing assignment to answer the question, "What does it mean to be beautiful?"  To get her thinking along the lines I was looking for, I also asked her, "Are you beautiful?  Why?  What makes you beautiful?  If you had a pig-like nose or bigger ears would you still be beautiful?" 

The following is what Primus came up with.  (I especially found the line about makeup interesting because she loves to pretend to put on makeup.  Those makeup brushes just feel so good on your skin!  Plus, we talk about how it is necessary in theatre and such.) 

Secundus was very interested in our conversation as well and very passionately told Primus and me that we're beautiful because Jesus made us that way and He made everyone different, just like he wants them to be!

 I am so proud of both of them!  Apparently all the times we've talked about it are paying off, at least for now.  I hope they don''t forget all this once they become teenagers!



"I'm beautiful because I'm me.  It doesn't matter who you look like.  It doesn't [matter] what clothes you wear. You don't need makeup or anything to make your face beautiful because your you."

Monday, March 3, 2014

Acorn Cap Math

 The new novelty math manipulative in our house is this simple jar of acorn caps. 


 I collected a bunch last fall and filled up this empty Wet-Ones wipes container. Then I mod-podged some construction paper on it to cover the old label.  I also mod-podged on that red pocket.  It was a little tricky to get the right angle for the paper to create a good pocket for the index cards.  And frankly, I'm waiting for it to get ripped off!


These are the index card activities I have so far.  I was trying to think of things that Tertius could do on his own. 


The stacking activity is particularly hard because they are not uniform shape.  The card that says to sort singles and doubles is for sorting out the ones where two acorn caps were connected together.  But then I noticed that he started pulling them all apart so that card may need to be thrown away!  The cards at the bottom with the 3 and 4 on them represent cards that have numbers 1-9 on them.  He is supposed to count that many acorn caps and place them on top of the correct card.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Banana Peanut Butter Cups

 We've been on a homemade peanut butter cup kick lately at our house.  One day this week I even wrote up the directions and instructed Primus to make them all on her own while I ran an errand.  Definitely counted that as part of her school work for the day.  (For one thing, she learned that when you microwave chocolate too much, it changes consistency and gets totally ruined.  Oops!)


Banana Peanut Butter Cups:

1. Line a muffin tin with cupcake papers.

2. Coat the bottom and sides with a small amount of melted chocolate.  (I use almond bark.)  Don't use too much because you will want the chocolate to be a very thin layer.


 3. Once that is completely hardened, add some peanut butter and a slice of banana.  I really like Jif Whips for this.

4. Top with more melted chocolate.  One package of almond bark was just barely enough to make 24 peanut butter cups.

5. Wait for it to harden and enjoy! 


Not the prettiest dessert, but delicious.  And I like to believe that it's pretty healthy, too.  I mean, bananas and peanut butter are good for you, right?  Sounds like breakfast to me!  :)  Just be sure to have a big glass of milk nearby!

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels (My Tasty Secret)

The past two years, Primus and I have dipped and sold pretzels to earn money to pay for Christmas (last year it went to her ballet recital fees.) This year especially it was a resounding success and we got rave reviews from everyone who tasted them.


I might lose some customers by sharing this when they realize how cheap and easy they are to make, but here is my secret recipe:


Sourdough pretzels from Sam's Club.


Almond Bark from Walmart.  (I use both the chocolate and vanilla kind.)



Just melt the almond bark according to the package directions and dip the pretzels half way.  Then place them on wax paper to harden.  It takes about 4 (I think?  I can't remember) packages of almond bark to dip the entire jar.  Super yummy!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Friends Around the World

I'm really excited about this new series that the Friend magazine is doing this year.  Each month there is a 2 page story of a real child from a particular country, a paper doll, plus a two page "bulletin board" with activity ideas.  Yay for free geography curriculum!  I'm getting started late on this so I don't know yet if I'm going to start doing it with the kids now or wait until next school year.

I've decided to put it all together in a big book so we have everything in one place.  You can either photocopy all the resources for Friends Around the World from the monthly magazine or print them out online here.

For the cover, I photocopied this image smaller from the January issue (I couldn't find the image online.)  The envelope at the bottom holds our passports.  Every month includes a little animal "stamp" to glue into your passport.

I have 4 sheets of construction paper for each month.


So here's what January looks like.  The first page of red (not pictured) will probably get a map and/or flag of Mexico added to it.  The 2nd and 3rd page has the story of Mahonri and Helaman from the coast of Mexico.


Page 4 and 5 have the bulletin board with a craft suggestion, shrimp taco recipe, facts about Mexico, and a family history activity (it looks like some months will also have a writing assignment-just a question to answer.)


Page 6 and 7 are blank right now.  The envelope in the top corner will hold our completed paper dolls (be sure to print them on card-stock.)  I'll paste our family history activity in the rest of the space ("Mahonri and Helaman were named after people in the Book of Mormon. Do you know where your name comes from? Ask a parent to tell you stories behind any special names in your family.")


I think it will be fun to study geography and other cultures with the background of the Church.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a global church so I think it will be exciting for the kids to "meet" other kids their age in far off lands that share their same religious beliefs. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Horrible Dating Memories

I was fortunate enough to meet Hubby when I was only 18.  I say fortunate because I was not cut out for the dating scene! And when I hear of others' experiences with dating and boyfriends and such I realize how lucky I am to have skipped all the potential heartbreak and drama!

I didn't go on very many dates.  By not-very-many I mean only two or three other than the school dances that I went to (and at those dances either I asked the guy or a friend told the guy to ask me.) 

Boys just didn't like me.  It kind of sucked. Of course that's all water under the bridge now.

I found myself thinking about a few horrible dates I had, though and thought I would share.  There's nothing profound to be learned from this. (Ok, maybe there is.  But I'll worry about thinking of the lesson in all this once my kids get to dating-age.)  Just a bit of entertainment so please feel free to laugh along with (or at) me.


1. Senior Ball
I was desperate for a date.  The guy that I had gone to a few dances with had asked out some other girl (I had jealousy issues over that!) and I didn't know who to ask.  My friend, Maria* was in need of a date as well.

I had a freshman friend, Amy, who had a senior brother who went to another high school.  Amy convinced her brother and her brother's friend to go with us. I knew the brother and did not want to go with him (I was a jerk) so we figured that he could go with Maria and I would take my chances with his friend that I had never met.  I don't think I met him at all until the night of the dance (maybe once?)

Turns out the friend was a 15 year old sophmore.  He was obviously just there for the food and to do a friend a favor.  He was nice and didn't balk at my attempts at making him a prop for pictures, but he made no effort to treat this like a date.

The brother drove us (another girl and her date came too so we had 3 couples) in his parent's minivan.  The sophmore insisted on sitting in the front seat.  Then when we got to the prom, he was so tired from doing 4H stuff at the fair all day that he fell asleep at a table after a couple obligatory and awkward dances.

It was all so lame.  I wish Maria and I would have just gone stag and had fun!


2. My first almost-boyfriend
After high school graduation, I started attending a junior college and joined my brother's group of friends.  I started flirting with one guy, Justin, and he asked me out on a date.  We went to dinner and then to a movie and had a really fun time.

On the date he was putting out some very clear signals. I thought there was a lot of flirting going on and he put his arm around me a lot that night and held my hand during the movie.  The next Sunday he even came to my ward to sit with me and put his arm around me and stuff like that.

I thought I finally had a boyfriend!  This guy was totally into me!

Turns out, though, that he was a just big fat jerk and was leading me on.  I found out pretty soon after that Sunday that he was doing the same thing with another girl (or two-the details are fuzzy now.)  There was nothing between us and there never was.

I was so hurt and angry!  I remember I confronted him about it in a text. I felt like such an idiot for falling head-over-heals for the first guy who gave me an ounce of attention. 


3. Ice Skating
About 5 months after I graduated from high school, my friend Emma (who's two years older than me) and I decided we wanted to go on a double date to the ice skating rink.  She asked her boyfriend-not-boyfriend (they were totally a couple but she didn't want to be because she was preparing to be a missionary) but I couldn't find anyone.  It was the day of our date and I was desperate (do you sense a pattern here?)

So Emma made a call to a guy in our large group of friends at college that had recently come home from his mission. I had not met him before so was going to go on a blind date.  I don't think Emma even told me his name.  Not long after she told me she found me a guy, she called me back to say that he backed out.  This jerk stood me up!

I was left with only a couple hours to find someone or cancel the date.  I finally asked Josh. Josh was my friend from high school and coworker.  We got along really well but our entire friendship consisted of goofing off during Seminary (scripture study class before high school every morning) and goofing off at work (Baskin Robbins.) He was also a year younger than me, still in high school, immature, and I was not interested in dating him at all.

I don't know how I phrased the question when I asked him to come with me, but I must not have made it clear that this was technically a double date with another couple.  Because he brought his male cousin (who I think was his same age/maturity level or younger.)

That was pretty awkward to be there with 2 teenage boys with Emma and her 20-something year old boyfriend-not-boyfriend.  It was fun but still, not what I had in mind.

Best part is: the returned missionary who stood me up was Hubby!  We didn't put the pieces together until after we were engaged.  Turned out he had returned that very same day (or the day before?) that Emma called him.  She didn't realize that he hadn't been home for a few more days.  So when she called, he was in "missionary mode" which told him that one of the sisters was in need, so he should say "yes" and help.  But then he realized that he hadn't had any time to see friends and family and adjust to life at home yet.  Also he thought, "Oh, crap!  I've known nothing but missionary life for the past 10 months.  I'm not ready for girls!" 


So what's your worst dating story?

*All names have been changed.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Small Table Time Update

Today was awesome!  Again, the girls completed most of their school work at the kitchen table before 11 o'clock.  That just left math facts practice (Xtra Math), free reading, and literature (we read and discussed One Fine Day and sponge painted pictures of trees.)

After lunch we played a landforms and bodies of water matching game, made a sundial, and planted some root vegetables in a special planter so we can watch the roots grow.


At one point this afternoon I was sitting in my rocking chair, cuddling the boys and playing hangman with Secundus using her spelling list words.  It was so relaxed and fun!

School was fun today!  That's how it should be!  I haven't smiled this much on a school day in a long time.

Why didn't I try this sooner??  Oh, I know; because I'm stubborn and prideful.  I am so thankful to my Heavenly Father for guiding me to try this change.  He knew what was best for His children and has been trying to tell me that for months.  I am thankful that He is so patient with me!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I'm a "Table Time" Convert

It seems like for a lot of homeschool families, what I'm gong to call "table time" is an everyday occurrence.  Meaning for large portions of their school day, the whole family is gathered around the kitchen table doing workbooks and such all at the same time, with Mom flitting around from child to child and assisting as needed.

I've always resisted that idea, though.  And here's why:

1. I have a perfect little kid-sized table in my awesome school room.  That's where I figured most schooling would take place.

2. I loathed the idea of cleaning the table after breakfast, dragging the school books to the kitchen, and packing it all up and putting it away to have lunch.  To put a finer point on it, until recently, we would wake up to a messy table every morning that hadn't even been cleaned from dinner the night before.  So usually, we would clean it just enough so we could eat breakfast and leave the dried on spills and sticky spots to be tackled later.  Not an environment conducive to learning.

3. I thought one of the benefits to homeschooling was curling up with your math book in any comfy couch or bean bag chair you wanted anywhere around the house.


But with this being our first year of having two official students, it has become clear to me that something needed to change. Basically everyday this school year I have felt half crazy. For whatever reason, the girls hardly ever want to work at the school table, unless we're doing a group project.  So with them and their books spread all over, it is such a struggle to stay on top of the girl's assignments and make sure they are staying focused and not wasting time between assignments.  I am overwhelmed and wondering if maybe I was expecting too many things from them.  Our school days are running way longer than I thought they should and we weren't fitting in enough time for fun stuff.  Plus, Tertius hasn't been getting much preschool attention at all. 

I was finally ready to try something different. 

So this morning as soon as breakfast was done, I cleaned the table while the kids got dressed.  When they finished getting ready for the day, they arrived back in the kitchen to find their baskets of school stuff and a jar of sharp pencils.  Tertius even sat up with us and scribbled in a workbook for quite a while until he got bored and went to play in the living room.  Quartus was also nearby in his highchair eating breakfast. 

It worked wonderfully!  The girls stayed remarkably focused and transitioned from assignment to assignment quickly.  No pulling teeth!  No nagging!  No chasing down distracted children!  No frantic searching for lost spelling lists!

They were able to complete all of their assigned work for the day well before lunch time.  We even had time left before lunch to do science and an art project (which I had prepared and set up on the school table so it was waiting for us ready)! 

I realize one good day might be too soon to tell, but I'm already convinced that this is a great way to do school for our family.