Category Archives: Homeschool

And THIS is Why We Homeschool

I’m going to be honest and say that our first day of our 2012-2013 school year was rough, with a capital R. We completed the work he needed to get done that day, but 2-year old Jesse needed a lot of attention and 3-month old Julie kept waking up at the most inconvenient times. We had a tough time keeping Jeremy focused and I was constantly going back-and-forth between all three kids. Jeremy and I each had mini-meltdowns, then realized that we’d forgotten lunch. The afternoon was really hard. By the time we finished with school, Jason came home from work and took us out for dinner because I just couldn’t bring myself to cook. That evening Jeremy and I talked about it and said that we did a pretty good job, but we have some kinks to work out in our schedule. We were going to try again tomorrow.

Tuesday, day 2: Our first field trip. We met up with some other mom and kids friends from our MOPS group at 5 Rivers Delta Resource Center. We sat in a nice theater-style room for storytime, made a nice puppet craft, walked around and looked at their exhibits of local wild animals. Then we walked out to the waterfront, had a lovely picnic and let the kids run around. It was really nice to not be at a regular park full of climbing things and swings and such. The kids actually had to use their imagination and come up with games to play with each other. They had so much fun! We finished up our day at home with a couple of quick lessons, a dip in the pool, had a fast dinner, and rounded it all out with a trip to Chill (our favorite serve-yourself frozen yogurt place) to redeem our 2 free yogurt coupons.

Today, our third day of homeschooling Kindergarten/First Grade, Jeremy and I are taking a break after lunch. We’re watching Money Saving Meals while I rock Jesse to sleep for his nap, Sandra is explaining how her semi-homemade tamales are less expensive than store-bought frozen tamales and Jeremy exclaims “She’s doing math! It’s like her kitchen is her school room!” *Happy sigh* (in my head) “Yes, this is why we homeschool. Remember this.” Before I can even let out a breath, Jeremy tells me that cooking is like science and asks if we can bake cookies. I smile and respond “You betcha kiddo, cookies will be our science project this afternoon.”

Sure, we’re only half way through our first week of this school year, and we’ve already weathered some bumps, but I’m optimistic that we’ll do just fine.

July Family Update

What a cheeky smile, and look at that big belly!

Having children is so neat, and mind-boggling. You spend months growing them inside you and waiting for them to arrive, then they’re here and you instantly wonder how they were ever not a part of the family because it seems like they’ve always been there. Then the days start flowing together because you’re a very sleep-deprived parent and suddenly, BAM!, they’re already 2 months old and you ask your husband how that happened!

Julie turned 2 months old last Wednesday and had her check-up the next day. My big girl gained two pounds since her 1-month check-up, weighing in at just over 14 pounds. She also grew two inches and is now two feet long. Julie has been flashing us her precious smile for a while, but I very rarely catch it on camera. She also loves when we talk with her, Julie gets very chatty in the evening just before bed time.

After catching up with our favorite doctor (we’re so lucky to have our primary care physician also happen to be a good friend) my poor girl had to get her first round of shots. She had the one in the hospital after she was born, but since then she hasn’t had any until today. Julie cried through three shots and one oral vaccine; Jesse was very concerned about why his baby was so upset. It was sweet to see him caring for her so much. For being such a good big brother the nurse gave him a squeezy toy whale and two stickers (one even had Elmo – his favorite) which he decided were band-aids like Julie’s. He stuck them on his thighs and proceeded to cry and limp like he was the one who got the shots. My sweet little empath! (I also had to buy him a small bag of bite-size Oreos at the drug store because he was hugging and kissing his sister to keep her happy.)

We’ve also been asking ourselves lately how Jesse got so big all of a sudden. It doesn’t seem like it’s been over two years since we brought him home.

It’s been a slow and steady process to get Jesse from co-sleeping with us all night, to nursing to sleep and staying most of the night in his bed, then to rocking to sleep and sleeping all night in his room, to where we’re at now which is falling asleep in his own bed. This is a HUGE deal for him. It takes 30-45 minutes each night for Jason to work his routine with Jesse, but it is successful and the boy is getting used to falling asleep in there. I crocheted Jesse an Elmo doll (his favorite character) and having that to snuggle with seems to have helped greatly at bedtime. Hopefully he’ll be laying down and falling asleep on his own soon without needing us to stay in the room with him. Before long he and Jeremy will have the same bedtime routine and our evenings will be so much easier!

For now, since Daddy is master of the night time routine, I still get my one-on-one time rocking my boy to sleep for his mid-day nap. Well, it’s not always one-on-one because there have been a couple of times when Jesse *needed* to snuggle but Julie also *needed* to be held as well, so I rocked them both!

For the most part, Jesse and Julie nap at the same time and I don’t have trouble with them during the day. However, sometimes their schedules don’t always match up. There have been a few instances when Julie just could not wait for her feeding and I had no choice but to let Jesse stay up a little longer. He will usually wear himself out a bit more, get sleepy and let me rock him or he’ll fall asleep in any number of positions on the sofa. This is how I found him just yesterday:

Poor kiddo just rocked himself to sleep. I have a million more pictures of how I’ve found him, but I’ll save those for another time. Nap time changes every day because I never really know how it’s going to go down. It’s usually around the same time, but the method is different. I feel like I’ve focused mostly on Jesse’s sleeping, but that is currently our major battle, so that’s what’s on my mind. After bedtime and naptime are conquered, we’ll move on to potty training. Dun Dun Dun!!!

Jesse’s vocabulary is growing day by day. He picks up new words all the time and is learning to string them into longer sentences than he was just a couple of weeks ago. He is really good at telling us what he wants (and doesn’t want), describing things, expressing some general feelings, and just pretty much talking all the time. He also has started loving books and brings us big stacks to read. I love when he picks out one that we’ve read a million times and he shushes me. He doesn’t want me to read, just turn the pages for him and he tells me (in his best 2-year old way) what is happening on the page. He’s such a character! I love watching this big huge personality develop out of a small person.

Jeremy is currently at his dad’s house in California, but he has grown by leaps and bounds over the summer as well. Most of this past year we worked specifically on reading (sounding-out words and using sight words) and math (adding and subtracting). So over the late spring and early summer while he was here, we completed a workbook meant to be a summer bridge for kids going from kindergarten to first grade. He flew through it and enjoyed most everything. I’m looking forward to checking out curriculum for first grade so we can start on that in September.

By the way, can someone please tell me how my firstborn, my tiny baby, is suddenly almost 6 years old?!?! I am flabbergasted, utterly astonished, every time I think about it. This picture is from back in May, but it shows my favorite side of this kid. He is so funny (weird knock-knock jokes and all), and surprises me all the time with how smart he is. But my favorite part of him is his total goofiness. He can be extremely moody, but his goofiness always comes through eventually and totally knocks me out. 🙂

So, that’s us in a nutshell! Our happy life is going along pretty well as we take things day by day. We’re still enjoying living in Mobile. Even though we do miss our family and friends in California all the time, we’ve got great friends here as well as well as some who have moved on to other places. Thank goodness for Facebook! It’s hard to believe that we’ve been here for 3 years already and are beginning our last year of this tour. Three houses in three years, whew! Military families really are professional movers. Around this time next year we’ll be packing up and moving to some other place. Coast Guard life is exciting!

Strawberry Math

In preparation for our upcoming outing to the U-pick farm for fresh strawberries, I did some quick math to double-check that it was going to be worth the effort to pick them myself.

quart pound gallon
Oak Hill Farm $3 $2 $10 ($2 discount)
Winn Dixie grocery $4.49 $2.99 $17.96 + tax
Sam’s Club $3.74 $2.49 $14.96 + tax
* bold prices are those advertised.

According to Circle S Farms, a quart of strawberries weighs approximately 1 1/2 pounds. Using that information, I figured out that picking our own berries will definitely yield us the best price for our money. Looking at the per pound price it appears that Sam’s Club would be a decent choice because for only 49¢ more per pound I won’t have to stand out in the sun and pick them myself. That’s the premium we’d pay for convenience.

However, hand-picked berries will be much fresher and sweeter because they weren’t picked days or weeks ago and packaged up to sell at the store (much like a vine-ripened tomato tastes far better than a big fat one from a pile in the store). Aside from that, what really pushed Oak Hill Farm over the two stores was that they give a $2 discount when you pick and purchase by the gallon. Since there are 4 quarts in a gallon, that should run us $12 per gallon but they advertise that you can buy a quart for $3 or a gallon for $10. In that case, I’d be saving about $5 over the Sam’s Club price and about $8 over the Winn Dixie price. That works for me!

I really wish that I had a child old enough to do this math for me. Jeremy’s 5 and still working on addition/subtraction. Complex multiplication and division are far beyond his abilities at this point. It’s a good thing I’m blogging about this because then I can pull it out a couple of years from now to help as an example of why we do indeed need to learn how to do this type of math.

When I started, I had the following table and information:

quart pound gallon
Oak Hill Farm $3 $__ $10 ($__ discount)
Winn Dixie grocery $__ $2.99 $__
Sam’s Club $__ $2.49 $__
1 qt. = 1.5 lb. 4 qt. = 1 gal.

To find the missing information for both Winn Dixie and Sam’s Club is easy. We are given the per-pound price. Easily multiply that price by 1.5 (pounds per quart) to come up with the per-quart price. Multiply the per-quart price by 4 (quarts per gallon) to get the per-gallon price.

Winn Dixie: $2.99  x  1.5 = $4.49  x  4 = $17.96

Sam’s Club: $2.49  x  1.5 = $3.74  x  4 = $14.96

Now this is how far we’ve filled out the table:

quart pound gallon
Oak Hill Farm $3 $__ $10 ($__ discount)
Winn Dixie grocery $4.49 $2.99 $17.96
Sam’s Club $3.74 $2.49 $14.96

Since we are given completely different valuations for Oak Hill Farms pricing, a different approach is required. I had to re-teach myself Equivalent Fractions, fifth grade math.

$/quart $/pound
Oak Hill Farm $3 $__ numerators
Winn Dixie grocery $4.49 $2.99 denominators (using known pricing)

 

The fractions: 3/4.49  =  p/2.99 (I’m using “p” as the unknown numerator)
The math: 3  x  2.99  =  8.97 Multiply first numerator by second denominator.
4.49  x  p  =  4.49p Multiply first denominator by second numerator.
8.97 ÷ 4.49  =  1.9977 (round up to $2) Divide each cross multiplication total by the same number.
Always check your work! Divide to get the whole number for each fraction: 3 ÷ 4.49 = 0.668   2 ÷ 2.99 = 0.668   If the whole numbers match, you’ve correctly completed your equivalent fraction.

We’re finally finished!

quart pound gallon
Oak Hill Farm $3 $2 $10 ($2 discount)
Winn Dixie grocery $4.49 $2.99 $17.96
Sam’s Club $3.74 $2.49 $14.96

Smack in the Middle Kind of Day

Today was a tough one…

Forgive my brash phrasing, but I feel like I’ve been rode hard and put away wet. From the moment the kids woke up this morning I’ve been “on” without a break and now I’m exhausted.

5:30 am . . . . . Jesse wakes up hungry. I sit up in bed and feed the baby, browsing Facebook and Google Reader on my phone to stay awake.

6:30 . . . . . Put the baby back to bed, try to catch another couple of Zzzz.

7:00 . . . . . Jeremy comes in the room and everyone’s up now.

7 – 9 . . . . . Shower, dress both kids, feed both kids, do my hair and get dressed, re-dress Jesse because he drenched his first outfit in spit-up. Run around the house looking for baby shoes, don’t find any.

9:15 . . . . . Leave the house 15 minutes late, head for our Tuesday playgroup.

9:30 – 11:30ish . . . . . PLAY PLAY PLAY. Well, I wrastled Jesse a bit, tried to keep an eye on Jeremy, tried to carry on several conversations with my friends as they played with their well-behaved children. We had a great playgroup meeting this morning, but I left tired.

12ish . . . . . Walk in the house and immediately start making lunch. Fight with Jeremy to eat the lunch. Lose the battle. Feel quite defeated by the 4-year old because he won’t eat cheese. [What kid doesn’t eat cheese? Seriously. I thought most kids’ diets are made up of about 90% cheese or something.]

1 – 3 . . . . . MORE PLAY. Wii games, Don’t Spill the Beans (which Jeremy refuses to play correctly), books, baby toys, a couple episodes of The Spectacular Spiderman (the kids cartoon). All the while Jesse absolutely will not stop pooping carrots and wails anytime he is put down for even 3 seconds.

3 – 5 . . . . . Jason goes to work, I am left unrested with two kids who don’t think they’re tired. I finally coerce Jesse to sleep, turn on some Veggie Tales for Jeremy, and start working on my menu plan for the week. How two hours went by so quickly, I have no idea.

5:00 . . . . . Jesse wakes up angry because I tricked him into sleeping. [I know, those of you who know him are confounded that Jesse could ever be angry. Let me assure you, he has my red-headed flash temper and when he gets angry, he is angry!] I take nearly an hour to feed, console, rock, bounce, sing to, and otherwise attempt to pacify the small one. Eventually something worked, or perhaps several of the things acted in unison as the sun passed exactly into the correct succession with other celestial bodies and a shaman somewhere in the world took pity on me and said a blessing – however it happened I’m grateful. During the pacification attempts Jesse whacked me in the eyebrow with a maraca, kicked me in the throat, alternated between pushing away from me violently and pulling toward me via my shirt and every facial feature (eyelid, lip, cheek, earlobe, nose and neck), all the while yanking my hair constanttly. Oh, not to mention he bit both my nipples really hard, with teeth!

6:00 . . . . . Cook dinner while working with Jeremy on his homework book and doing my best to keep Jesse from losing his $h!t because he’s strapped into his highchair. Throw in realizing that our computer chose to wig out and I find a blue screen of death staring at me. I successfully restarted is normally, but I really didn’t need that tonight.

7:15 . . . . . Jason comes home, we eat dinner as a family and he goes back to work. This 30-minute stretch is the most calm we had all day. It’s, no kidding, the calm before the storm. The only breather I get before the children go postal.

8:00 . . . . . At this point Jeremy is very nearly vibrating with exhaustion as he is overly tired and his little 44-pound body is doing it’s best to expel every last bit of energy before he collapses. Jesse is in exactly the same boat but one-ups his brother just slightly by refusing (still) to be put down at all. I allow Jeremy to play two rounds of Wii boxing because he desperately needs to release the last of his energy which is boiling just below the surface. Jesse is furious because he is trapped in his toy corral. (Jeremy does a lot of hopping and moving around while boxing, the last thing I need at this point is for him to squish his little brother.)

8:30 . . . . . Pajamas and a book (of course he chose a long one). This is usually the best part of the night because Jeremy gets quiet and cuddly. But, let’s throw in a big ol’ except right here – Jesse is wound up like a tangled yo-yo and tries to leap from my arms to attack the book. I try to nurse him while I read; he holds on with his teeth while simultaneously pulling away from my chest (who knew nipples could stretch so far!) to get to the book that I am holding an arm’s length away (my arm’s length). I let out a cry of pain and frustration, Jesse releases a cry of anger, and Jeremy covers his ears with his hands. I close my eyes, breathe, and count to 5. I hug my boys close to me and finish the book.

9:00 . . . . . I tuck Jeremy into bed. He gives Jesse a hug and kiss and says “I love you brother.” My heart shatters.

9 – 9:30 . . . . . Jesse gets some nursing. He fell asleep about 5 minutes in but ate heavily in his sleep until his chunky 24-pound body took a deep breath, shuddered a little and gave up.

10 pm . . . . . I have not been this tired in SO long. I contemplated just falling into bed fully dressed, but I needed to get this out or my mind didn’t have a chance of shutting off.

All this time I have been also considering what I wanted to do to relax before going to bed:

  • I could knit, that always feels good.
  • I could take a soothing bath with the new lavender bath salts we made at MOPS last week; that would calm my mind.
  • I could read over and try to answer the questions from last week’s bible study.
  • I could watch a mindless chick flick; that would drown my thoughts.

Then I thought of all the things I need to do:

  • Clean the kitchen (again). I already put the plates and things in the dishwasher and ran it, but the pots and pans are still on the stove.
  • Install and set up some security for my blog. Though I have thrice now un-hacked my website, I don’t particularly like doing it as it aggravates me highly.
  • Pick up the house; there are children’s toys strewn everywhere.
  • Finish Frank’s laundry.
  • Start planning next week’s MOPS newsletter.
  • Write today’s post for the Mobile Spouses’ Club blog.
  • Review this month’s budget. Have we totally blown it?
  • Unpack the suitcases from that Christmas trip we’ve been home from for two weeks now.
  • Call my mom and grandmother to thank them for the birthday cards I received a week ago.

That list could go on for quite a while. I think all I really wanted to say here is that some days are good days, and some days are bad. Some days are smack in the middle and seem to leave you the most tired of all. A mother’s work is never ever done, but sometimes the kitchen can stay messy til morning, your blogs and newsletters can wait til the weekend, a home that houses small children will never be perfectly picked up, the laundry will continue to grow. Eventually we’ll wear all of the clothes out of our suitcases, I’ll wash it, and put it all away in our rooms. It’s too late to call folks now, so it’ll have to wait another day (again) (sorry Mom!).

Right now Mama is tired to the bone. I’m going to leave all those things for another day, take a hot shower, and go to bed. Tomorrow we’ll start all over again. I’ve got a morning bible study class which will be a wonderful two hours for me for a few reasons: 1) I’ll see several of my good friends; 2) someone else will watch my children for a while; 3) and lastly, I’ll spend some time getting some much-needed spiritual refreshment.

And now, finally, “Goodnight ya’ll!”

Jeremy’s Homework

This is our first year of homeschool for Jeremy. I was really nervous at first because I didn’t finish college and wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep to any school schedule with my preschooler while also caring for an infant.

In preparing for this school year I did a lot of research into what I wanted to work on with Jeremy. I can only remember snippets of my own year in preschool and those are only memories of reading during naptime, the play yard, my teachers, and going to my great-grandmother’s house after school with my cousins. What on earth am I supposed to teach my 4-year old? Lots of people think that a formal curriculum isn’t necessary for preschool or even kindergarten, and I’m sure it isn’t. However, having something written down helps me to know what we’re covering, is he “getting it”, what we need to work on more, and have something to show for our efforts by the end of the year.

I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on preschool curriculum and I didn’t want to sort through a bunch of things and make lesson plans. As I said, I didn’t finish college and I don’t have any training as a teacher. I was a bit unsure of myself. As we were roaming through Sam’s Club one day this past summer, we found Comprehensive Curriculum of Basic Skills for Preschool. I flipped through it and it appeared to cover what sounded “preschoolish”: recognizing shapes and colors, reading readiness, writing readiness, math readiness. It was only $7.86, so I figured “Why not, at best it’s exactly what we need, at worst it will still be the biggest coloring/activity book that Jeremy’s ever seen.”

It’s been about two months or so since we started school and he’s still loving it. He’s always asking me for his “homework book” over his regular coloring books and is always excited to see what activity the directions have in store for us. We don’t use it every day because some days we focus on other things or just take the day off. But when we do use it we do several pages each time.

As far as I can see, this book really has just about everything a preschooler needs to learn. All I need to add to his preschool experience is some free play time (yeah, that’s not hard), lots of read-alouds (which we do all the time anyway), and some socialization (he gets lots of that through Sunday School, Wednesday nights at church, our MOPS group, and every time we get together with our friends). We also set him up with paints now and then, he has free access to his coloring books and crayons, he helps me in the kitchen a lot, and I gave him a bowl of pinto beans to help him with counting and grouping.

I’m pretty stoked that there is matching curriculum all the way through sixth grade. If this works well for us this year then I’ll be pretty happy to buy the future books and plan some supplements to go along each year.

I’m still searching for good craft projects to do with him and I’m looking forward to purchasing Laura’s Learn Your Letters Learn To Serve curriculum. It sounds really interesting – it will give us a good boost in the Bible area and I love the “learning to serve” aspect. I think Jessica’s Who Am I sheets will be great for tracking my kids’ personal development over the years. I filled one out with Jeremy’s answers and had him draw a picture of our family to compare his art skills from year to year. Yep, we may take professional photos a few times throughout the years, but this one will always be my favorite:

Can you see each of us in this family portrait?

Jeremy’s going to be heading back to California soon for a couple of months with his dad, but as soon as he gets back here in January we’re going to pick back up with his preschooling.