Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Day in the Life

Thought I'd document an average day at our house. Every day of the week is different for us. Monday is often our appointment & errand day. Tuesdays and Fridays are our travel days (to and from our "2nd home" close to Greg's job) and Wednesdays and Thursdays and more relaxed (ha!) and more full-of-school days.

Here is our Tuesday for this week:

Before daylight Alan came and got in bed with me. He is my early riser. Thankfully, this morning he went back to sleep.

7:45 - I woke up. Alan was still sleeping. Unusual! Dale was already up (early for him) and reading a book. Not unusual.

8:00 - Breakfast for me (croissant w/cream cheese & orange marmalade) and Dale (cereal).

8:20 - Alan up, ate breakfast (croissant).

8:30 - Dale got dressed, made his bed, and started a load of laundry.

8:45 - Speech with Dale, memory verse box, couple of phone calls.

9:15 - Handwriting for Dale, shower for me, Alan played happily on his own. Naked, as a result of recent potty training habits.

9:30 - I got Alan dressed (he insisted on shoes, too!). Transferred laundry to dryer. Dale took a potty break from handwriting. I packed clothes for the week.

9:42 - Dale back to handwriting.

9:50 - Handwriting finally done. (This is why we usually use a timer and incentives!) I packed our food box & ice chest. Dale swept carport & front porch. I started more laundry.

10:00 - Gave Alan paper towel and windexed the front door for him to clean.

10:07 - Helped Alan choose something to do from toy closet.

10:15 - Bible lesson with Dale.

10:40 - Math

10:55 - Set Dale to sorting / folding / putting away clean laundry. With the timer!

11:10 - Gramps stopped by. Loaded the heavy stuff for me. :)

11:25 - Dale played online addition game, his prize for finishing laundry before timer went off.

11:40 - I put away laundry.

11:45 - Quick mid-day phone call from Greg.

11:50 - Lunch (leftover veggie soup)

12:00 - Alan played with playdough. Dale loaded dishwasher.

12:04 - Alan threw playdough ball he made into the empty soup pot. I cleaned it up, gave it back to him.

12:10 - Dale helped Alan play game on NickJr online. I packed.

12:30 - Put on my makeup. Dale vacuumed.

12:35 - Put more stuff into car. Washed remaining dishes. Gathered up odds and ends. Boys played.

1:30 - 3:00 - Driving.

3:00 - 4:00 - Sat outside for a little while. Too many mosquitoes! Did a few things on the computer. Should have taken 15 minutes. Took way longer for some reason.

4:00 - Snack with Alan. Dale out playing with friends.

4:15 - 4:30 - Alan and I wait outside for Daddy to come home.
5:00 - Unpacked. For as smooth and 'together' as my morning seemed, it is now I discovered I forgot our cereal (big deal at our house), towels (kind of important, ay?) and.... ALL of Dale's underwear. The only underwear here is what is on Dale body. Oh my. The pregnancy brain has officially set in.

5:15 - Started blueberry syrup to go with supper. Worked on Dale's new New Testament (highlighting key passages). Daddy and boys played outside.

5:45 - Dale ran in with skinned knees. Ran back out to play more with Daddy.

5:50 - Finished highlighting book of Mark. Started waffles.

6:15 - Guys came in, washed up, set table, and started on waffles.

6:20 - I joined with my waffles.

6:45 - Washed dishes, cleared table together. Realized we had forgotten to say blessing with our staggered supper start. Dale volunteered and said it right then.

7:00 - Did our own things together in living room: books, toys, internet.

7:30 - Shower for boys. Washed Dale's undies (with real detergent!) in shower with him. Hung them in window to dry. (They were in his drawer waiting when he went to get dressed this morning. Don't tell him... he doesn't know!)

8:15 - Boys tucked into bed. Greg and I spent an hour reading and interneting, separately and together. Went to bed.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Children's Book Tuesday - The Reluctant Dragon

I love it when you find a gem you didn't know you were looking for. That is what we got with The Reluctant Dragon!
I was browsing the library shelves looking for things for Dale to read and for possible new read-alouds for us.

A book with 'dragon' in the title caught my eye, as I try to look for things that may have boysome adventures. Dragons and knights and castles usually make good stories, anyway.

What I didn't know was that I selected a book by the same author as "The Wind in the Willows".
"The Reluctant Dragon" was originally published in 1898 and was made into a Disney movie in 1941. We are reading an abridged version.

I can't vouch for the story line, because we haven't finished the book yet, but I love the language Dale is being exposed to, and I love that language that rich is holding his attention!

A quick excerpt:
A cool breeze played over the surface of the grass and the silver shoulder of a large moon was showing above distant junipers. No wonder the dragon seemed in a peaceful and contented mood; indeed, as the Boy approached he could hear the beast purring with a happy regularity... The dragon, on hearing the approaching footsteps, made the beginning of a courteous effort to rise. But when he saw it was a Boy, he set his eyebrows severely.

And a few examples of the vocabulary:


Even with all the 'big words', the abridged version is less than 100 pages, which makes this book very do-able. Like I said, we haven't finished yet, but so far, this has made a great read-aloud!

See more children's book at The Joyful Chaos!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bedtime Reading

For a little while now I have wanted to let Dale have some reading time before bed each night.

I have always enjoyed settling into bed with a good book, and as much as Dale loves to read I was ready to give him a chance at that too.

And thus the change in our bedtime routine. It has been nice for Daddy and I to get both the boys tucked in a few minutes earlier, and for them to have the time to unwind quietly.

We leave them reading and then go back 10-20 minutes later to turn off the lamp and give a final kiss for the night.
One of the reasons I put off a bedtime reading time was because Dale and Alan share a room. But it finally occurred to me there is no reason Alan can't lay in bed and look at a book, too!

And so he does. As often as not he has fallen asleep by the time we turn the light off.

I thought that was the case tonight when I went in for lights-out and to give him his medicine.

But just as I got ready to take a picture of him curled up sleeping he turned over and gave me a grin.

I love the coziness and calmness (and the extra reading time!) our new routine has given us. Hopefully it will be here to stay for a while!

What about you? Do you like to read in bed? Do your kids read at bedtime?

Not Me Monday

I did NOT take my boys out in PUBLIC in the following mismatched, worn-out 'outfits':
The still-potty training littlest was NOT naked under those shorts (as in NO diaper, training pants OR underwear).

And that door they are standing in front of is NOT covered in fingerprints.

I did NOT sit down one afternoon and color a page from my boys' coloring book just because it felt good.

It did NOT sooth my nerves and calm my racing mind.

I did NOT catch a grasshopper one day, just to take a picture of it.
That would just be gross.

Head over to MckMama's to see what others have NOT been up to this week!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Preschool Color Matching

When Dale was preschool age we did fun school-y type things basically because... well... it was fun!

Now that Alan is coming-of-age, we still do them because they are fun, but these little activities also have a new purpose: keeping Alan involved doing his own "school" while Dale does his!

This particular activity can be found in several places online. I don't remember where I first saw it.

It is great for recognizing and matching colors, and for building small motor skills.

You will need: paint samples, clothes pins, glue.
From any store that sells paint, grab two paint sample cards for each color you want to practice matching.
Cut apart one set of cards, and glue one color to each clothes pin.
Have fun matching!
Since our cards came with several shades, I chose to start simply with just the lightest and darkest of each color. Now that Alan has pretty much mastered those, maybe it's time to put the middle shades into the mix... or branch out and add in more secondary colors.

Either way, this game is one of his favorites, and always a hit to pull out during school!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pretty in Pink

They looked forward to it for weeks.

They rode many afternoons to get in shape.

And finally...

... the big day arrived.

A bike ride fundraiser for our beloved Children's hospital.

And wouldn't you know it...

... their team t-shirts were PINK!
That didn't bother these guys, though.

They all got their numbers pinned on, then suited up and buckled in for 8 miles of big-city riding!

Of course, after a hard ride like that you need to refresh with some bottled water...
And replenish your potassium...

And a little "limbo" to cool down doesn't hurt either!

Who knew fundraising was such hard work!?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Simple Notebooking

A key element to our homeschool this year (1st grade) has been notebooking. When I first started reading about notebooking in various places, I was intimidated by how involved you can choose to get with it. I couldn't imagine our notebook getting that fancy or complicated, but there was something about notebooking that still appealed to me, so we gave it a try. I am so glad we did, because it turned out to be quite simple!
In short, our notebooking goes like this:

Dale and I read a lesson.

Dale tells me in his own words what the lesson was about.

I print a page with lines at the bottom and blank on top.

Dale colors a picture from the lesson at the top, and I write his narration at the bottom.

Or, the more detailed version:
We notebook for Bible, science, and history. For each of those subjects, a notebook page per lesson is about 90% of the sit-down paper-and-worksheet type work we do. With our schedule, this means we do 1-2 pages per day, and our time is not tied up with a lot of busy-work.

I often guide Dale through the process of him re-telling the lesson. This helps him jog his memory, and is teaching him composition skills simply by practicing it. While I may lead him in a certain direction, in the end, everything I write down is a direct quote straight from him. Sometimes we do this immediately after reading our selection, and sometimes it is later - anywhere from several minutes to the next day or two.

As far as the pages themselves, we have used a few I've gotten from around the Internet from sites like CurrClick and, but mostly we use our own simple template from my word processor. It took just a few minutes to make, and is customizable - from the title we choose each day, to the font we use, to the border around the page. For now, I like using pages without added pictures and text, to really push Dale's creativity in his drawing.

I have had to let go of some perfectionist tendencies when it comes to what Dale chooses to draw on his page. As long as it is related to the lesson, I often bite my lip and let him draw whatever strikes him. Which is often NOT what I would have chosen. I do tend to lead him to try for accuracy and fact. I usually ask him to use colored pencils instead of crayons, which helps him work in more detailed and mature drawings.

Dale loves to flip back through his notebook to look at his pictures and read his words. This not only means frequent reviews of what we have learned, but also a growing love for learning the next lesson! When he is older, I will have him copy his narration in his own writing, and eventually he will write it himself without going over it orally with me first.

After several weeks of making 6-8 pages per week, I decided I didn't want to risk burning him out on a system I was seeing so many benefits in, so I backed off a bit and started offering different types of worksheets or activities. The best of these we put in our notebook as a record of what we have learned. Dale surprised me after a lesson one day, when he announced, "We need to do a notebook page on this!" Through that experience (and some like it since then), I have learned that Dale enjoys notebooking too, which is just the way I want it!
Also after having several weeks of bare-bones notebooking under our belt, I felt brave enough to branch out a little bit. We made a few lapbooks throughout Dale's preschool and kindergarten years and both enjoyed them. When we came upon a subject area recently that would be great for making a lapbook, I felt torn: I knew how time consuming a lapbook would be for us, but was still drawn to what a fun and hands-on project it could be for Dale.

So, we simply took the lapbook elements we wanted to use, and put them right into our notebook! It turned out to be much simpler to me than arranging them all into a folder, and really spiced up our notebook. We will definitely use this again as fitting subjects come up, but I am so happy not feeling the pressure to make each notebook page as involved as those.

Simple works. I dare say (because it is not overwhelming for either of us) that in some cases, simple works

Tips for Simple Notebooking:
- Only do notebook pages for a few subjects. 1-2 pages a day is plenty.

- Use simple supplies. A page you made or downloaded and pencils or crayons will get you a long way.

- Don't require lots of details for narration. A basic understanding is what you are looking for. A more detailed page can be made in addition to the broad one, if needed.

- File each page immediately. Occasional supplementary worksheets can add to your notebook, but don't clutter it up with too many - it could easily become distracting.

- Let your child have access to his notebook. He will love looking back through his work!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Children's Book Tuesday

While it can hardly be considered great classic children's literature, this rhyme has been special to me since the first time I heard it.
We watched it as one of the 'extras' at the end of a Veggie Tales DVD, and I instantly loved it! I may or may not have even teared up and watched it again after the boys were in bed that night. It was a couple of years ago, so the memory is rusty and that's all I plan to say about that.

Anyway, after watching it, I don't know how I found out it was also in book form, but as soon as I knew, I knew we had to own it. I ordered up pretty quickly, and we gave it to the boys that year for Christmas.

Like the back of the book says, this little story is a beautiful (and fun!) reminder that "we are wonderfully and fearfully made in the image of our Creator" and it is His view of us that is what is really important.

I wouldn't have thought a little Veggie Tales rhyme would have grabbed me so, but this book makes me feel good all over every time I read it! And oh yeah, my kids like it too. :)

For more Children's Book Tuesday posts, visit
The Joyful Chaos!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Not Me Monday - The Mud

I did NOT step outside one day last week to discover Alan soaking wet and over ankle deep in a mud puddle.

I did NOT just smile and wave and continue to let the boys play in all that mud. Nope, not me!

They did NOT come in the house before I was aware of it.

That is NOT a muddy handprint on my vintage white tablecloth.

I did NOT tell my boys to undress in the middle of the kitchen and wait there while I started a bath for them.

The littlest did NOT ignore my instructions and leave muddy footprints down the carpet in the hallway.

Those two did NOT have fun spending over an hour out playing in the mud, and I certainly did NOT document all of the aftermath in photos!

For more "Not Me! Monday" posts click HERE.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

One man's (or woman's!) treasure...

A couple of weeks ago my antique-loving mom found an abandoned Hoosier cabinet destined for the dump. Although it needed some TLC, it was in overall great condition!

One Home Depot trip and approximately 20-some-odd hours of work later, Mom had transformed this:

into this:
But then came The Dilemma. There wasn't room in Mom's kitchen for this piece of furniture she had dreamed of one-day owning without displacing another already placed, filled, and loved antique.

Sure, she could sell it and make a handsome profit, but after all that work (and having always kinda wanted a Hoosier anyway), I really don't think she wanted to part with it.

Besides.... almost as soon as she spied the thing, and all the time doing all that sanding and painting, Mom kept thinking of this pooooor homeschool mama she knows.

A pooooor homeschool mama whose school supplies were haphazardly (and rather unattractively) piled on a cart in a corner. And stuffed into closets and various other nooks and crannies.

And then Mom had a glorious idea. What if that homeschool mama might be interested in storing that good-as-new-but-better-because-it's-an-antique Hoosier cabinet for her?

And that my friends, is how the Hoosier ended up at my house.
Oh what a day! Supplies started coming out of the woodworks! I found things I didn't know I had! And better than Mary Poppins' carpet bag, our school supplies started lining up in that cabinet with room to spare!

So truly, one man's trash was another man's treasure. And one woman's treasure has been generously loaned to another woman to treasure indefinitely for herself!

Click the picture below to see how we (Mom and I) filled "our" cabinet:
Do you have any antiques? Are they heirlooms, bought, or found treasures like this one?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I did the right thing

We have a mega book of crafts for kids at our house, and Dale loves to peruse through and find something to make. I try to say 'yes' as often as I can, since I WAS the one to buy that book and put it on our shelves.

Recently he picked out a project to be made from little nature tid-bits: leaves, seeds, twigs, etc.

After having a big ol' time gathering up all his outdoor goodies, it wasn't going so well for him, and his constant bouts of frustration and near-tears and requests for help was driving. me. crazy. I was working on something else and didn't really want to make an art project just at that moment.

Finally, he whined in frustration one more time. The kind of whine that could very easily brought me to the point of sweeping up the entire project and sending the artist off to do something else. But, thankfully, for whatever the reason (God's grace on my parenting that day?) I dropped what I was doing, grabbed Dale by the hand, and headed outside to find some more suitable materials than what he had gathered to work with.

And y'all? That was the best thing I have done in a week.

He was absolutely thrilled to have me out there with him picking up leaves and plucking dried twigs... working on his project. He was so excited with everything I found, and actually very thankful for my help! With our new finds, he was inspired to try again and finished his picture. He was so proud of the final product as something he had seen in the book and made his very own.

And I was inspired to say 'yes' more. To put down whatever I'm doing that feels so important at that moment and turn my full attention to my boys. To spend the extra energy when I am tired to give them what really is so little, but seems like so much to them!

I even thought about saving Dale's picture as a reminder of the sparkle in his eyes the afternoon Mama joined in. Except for the fact that it is made of sticks and leaves and dried cicada shells. Ew.

So I wrote a blog post instead. :)

Dale loves to make things! What about your kiddos? What are their favorite art projects? Can they do them independently?

Children's Books Blog Hop

Suzanne at The Joyful Chaos is hosting a Children's Book Blog Hop. Post one of your favorites and share! Simple, enough, hm?

You'd think so... but I had such a hard time choosing just one! My problem is loving so many!

But... looking through my bookshelves I found this little number. It has been a favorite of mine since before I have kids!
It is one of those that sits on the top shelf to be read with MAMA only. Only because it has been read so many times it needs to be Handled With Care.

Each picture has a familiar nursery rhyme character to find.
The text is a meandering rhyme that weaves in a whole host of your nursery rhyme favorites. It's catchy enough that I memorized it long ago, and it has stuck with me all these years!

What are your favorite children's books? Want to see what others are loving? Head over to The Joyful Chaos and join in!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Family Rules

As any parent knows, it seems parenthood is one of those jobs that is constantly changing and evolving. While many of our objectives will always remain the same, our methods for meeting those goals must be adjusted as our children grow, and as we as parents learn and grow as well.

Because of that learning and adjusting, we are trying something new at our house. Greg and I recently realized how often we found ourselves correcting Dale. But more than just correcting, we were explaining. A lot.
"Don't do that because.....". All we were trying to do was teach right behavior, but we were wearing ourselves and our kids out doing it.

Through God's leading and using a couple of books we were reading, we decided what we needed was a set of broad, memorable rules or guidelines for our family. The constant correcting and explaining was overwhelming for a 6 year old, and it became clear to us that part of the problem was that Dale didn't clearly know what was expected of him. A lot of our talking, teaching and explaining was lost on him because it was too much!

Modeling after The Duggar's family guidelines, and a few others we found on the internet, Greg and I made up a lengthy list of potential rules for our family to adopt.

After making our preliminary list and then, with Dale's input, narrowing it down considerably, this is what we are starting out with for our family:

J.O.Y. - Put Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last. Make serving your family a priority.

Obey immediately and cheerfully.

Use soft, kind, truthful, meaningful words.

Show joyful attitudes, even when no one is looking.

Always make your actions loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, gentle, and full of self-control.

Do not argue.

Be respectful.

Never squeeze hard.

"Never squeeze hard" was Dale's contribution. We left it in so he would feel some ownership of these new guidelines. Apparently there has been some squeezing going on we didn't know about??

Some of these have been tailored specifically for our boys and behaviors we want to eliminate or character traits we want to develop in them. Others we see as just good general parenting sense.

I never thought we'd be a family with a set of rules posted on the wall (or the refrigerator, as the case may be) but for us it has been freeing. While I thought it would complicate things, the effect has been the opposite, and our parenting has been greatly simplified. Almost every behavior that needs correcting fits under at least one of those rules. And if it doesn't, we question ourselves to see if it is something that actually needs correcting or is just the result of a kid being a kid.

We kept our list as short and concise as possible (difficult for us - we are both wordy people!). However, we wanted our kids to easily be able to know these expectations by memory, so they can almost correct themselves. We can ask, "what kind of words do we use?" Dale can list them, and then we ask, "was what you said (kind?) (soft?)" And the teaching then almost does itself!

We have also found we sometimes need to be more careful to hold ourselves to those standards as well, as all of these things are based on biblical truths that apply to adults as much as they do children. (Except that squeezing one. Not sure if that is included anywhere in the Bible or not!)

What about your family? Do you have a posted set of 'rules'? What do you call them? Do you have set, standard consequences for each one?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Odds and Ends

For those of you with little girls in your lives (this would not include our family, incidentally), you must take a look at this new site. All profits from the sales of these adorable hairbows goes to benefit our sweet friend Avery. To view the hairbows, click HERE. To read more about Avery, click HERE.

For those of you with kids in your lives - babies, preschoolers, little kids, big kids, homeschoolers, public schoolers, your kids, grandkids, other special kids: be sure and join in this Tuesday for Children's Book Tuesday! Choose one favorite children's book, post about it, and then link up at The Joyful Chaos! Head over and visit to see more what it is all about.

And in today's last bit of random linkage, for those of you who like baseball, THIS has become one my new favorite links! You can "watch" several games at a glance, or you can click "GameCenter" under your team's game info to follow a more detailed summary of that game. It is a great way to keep up - live! - if you are away from the tv or occupied with something else!

Of course, that's assuming you like baseball. Do you have a favorite team? We only have eyes for one.... and that's their home field pictured above. Anybody recognize it?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

First Grade - 6 Week Review

We are six weeks in and I must say, so far so good!

In the last six weeks we have:
- Covered most major stories from the book of Genesis, and made 20 notebooking pages over them.
- Started the book of Exodus
- Made a rainbow on the wall with a mirror and a tub of water
- Studied wasps, cicadas, grasshoppers, ladybugs, lightening bugs, and spiders
- Added 11 pages to our science notebook
- Finished 4 chapters from Story of the World
- Added 5 pages to our history notebook
- Made Dale's name in hieroglyphs in a scroll
- Made a pyramid out of legos
- Checked out approximately 150 books from our library
- Memorized a spider poem
- Learned a new memory verse
- Adapted to a consistent weekly schedule
- Written 24 handwriting practice pages
- Finished 23 math workbook exercises and several worksheets
- Observed a huge snapping turtle, a cicada eaten alive, a spider in a jar. The snapping turtle and the spider were released. Can't say the same for the cicada.
- All those assorted things like math games, phonics workbook pages, and learning videos, and misc. workbook pages, and real-life learning that can so easily fall through the memory cracks!

Needs improvement:
- more time reading aloud / actually finishing a read aloud in a week or two
- more memory work (poems, Bible verses, etc)
- more craft time / projects

Okay, so I can think of lots of things I'd like to improve on, but as far as school goes, I'm happy with what we are accomplishing so far! Especially the fact that I have started each week with lesson plans in place, and (even if it takes an extra day or two) we have finished everything (of significance) that was planned. Yay!