Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tyler's first kiss

The family had a little get-together.  In attendance was one high-energy, fun-loving little dog.
Most of the time, Holly and Tyler were kept apart, but it only took a moment...
...and she greeted him right on the kisser.  Holly's owners were appalled and everyone started reaching and grabbing, but what did I do?  Well... the proof is in the picture!

In other news, Tyler is 7 months going on 37....months.
He's up to two (big) bowls of 'real' food a day, and insists it have texture.  That liquidy pureed stuff is not for him.   And really, bananas please, if you got 'em.

He crawls anywhere he pleases, and has done so for a couple of weeks.

He thinks he's as big as his brothers, and I've said a time or two lately he often prefers their company to mine.  That's okay with me.  Sniff.  Really.

Yesterday I put him down in the grass for the first time, to see what he would do.

What did he do?  Nothing different than he would inside: took off crawling for whatever he could find.  As usual, attempting to put most of it in his mouth.

After all that crawling through the grass I figured he'd be itchy, so we had another first... 
He usually bathes in the sink, and has had one bath in the big tub by himself.  He said he didn't know that the big boys bathed together, and thankfully doesn't have the capacity to be angry with me for holding out on him until now.  Instead, it truly made. his. day. to have a bath with his brothers.  

Since it was such fun, we let him play a good long time and really enjoy it.  And he came out with the wrinkles to prove it!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Memory Verse Box

In the comments of yesterday's post Suzanne asked for more information about our memory box system.

The idea completely came from here on Simply Charlotte Mason.  I began this post thinking I would link up, but also give the directions here on how to do your own.  But you know what?  SCM does such a great job telling you how, I don't see the need to repeat it all. :)

Basically, it is a rotation system, where new verses are reviewed daily, then every other day, then weekly, then monthly.  Easy to do, and all you need is your Bible, index cards, and a box with dividers.  We usually go through ours while sitting at the breakfast table each morning.

The only difference we have in ours from the one linked above, is that because we don't have 30 days worth of verses yet, we have all of our monthlies on days 1-10 and go over them 3 times each month instead of one.  On the 11th and 21st of the month we start over at 1 again.  As we start accumulating more verses we will switch over to the monthly system as described on SCM.  If you haven't read the SCM instructions on making a box what I just said may not have made a lick of sense.

In case you are looking for ideas of which verses to start with, I am listing a few of ours below.  SCM has a list as well.

When learning a new verse we read it together several times in a row until it is committed enough to memory to begin reciting.  I like to write down longer verses (or ones that we are using for character issues) and post them on the wall or the refrigerator, too.

Verses in our box:
John 10:10 (The thief cometh not...)
Luke 2:8-14
Psalm 100 (Make a joyful noise...)
Psalm 33:4 
John 1:1 (In the beginning...)
James 1:19-20 (...quick to listen, slow to speak...)
Proverbs 3:5-6 (Trust in the Lord...)
Proverbs 4:20-22 (...attend to my words...)
I Corinthians 14:40
Matthew 4:19-20 (...fishers of men...)
Ephesians 4:32 (And be ye kind...)
Luke 1:37
I Corinthians 13:4
Genesis 1:1 (In the beginning...)
Psalm 119:11 (Thy word have I hid...)
Ephesians 6:1 (Children obey your parents...)
I Timothy 6:6 (But godliness...)
Galatians 5:22-23 (fruit of the spirit)
Luke 19:10
Joshua 1:9
John 3:16

We also have a card for "The Gospels" (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) and "The Books of the Law" (Genesis - Deuteronomy). 

Another benefit of Scripture memory with your kids?  You learn them, too!

How do you choose verses and passages for your kids?  What are some of your favorites?

Monday, July 26, 2010

2010-2011 Goals

Our family is only a week or two away from a definitive "New Beginning".  For the first time in 3 years (or more) life will be such that we will be able to have routine.  Predictability to our days.  We need the structure. We crave the routine.  Greg and I are both optimistic it will bring changes.  Good ones.

Driving home from one of our last trips of the summer, we recently talked about goals for our boys.  Where we want them to be a year from now.  I loved that conversation, and the focus that has come from it.  Honestly, it is the first time we have really taken such an assessment.  We've spent a lot of time just surviving and getting by in times past.  Again, we are so hopeful about our fresh start and the seasons ahead of us.

Some of the ideas we talked about have always been there, but we've refined them a little bit.  Some of them are new.  Seeing both in writing is helpful.  Greg and I agree that overall, academics are secondary, especially in the first several weeks of our new school year.  Our primary goals involve establishing our new routines, and taking more care in training the boys in their roles in our home.  As Greg put it, our focus is Bible first, routine second, and everything else to follow.  With that framework, here are some of our goals for the boys this school year.

Taking ownership of his household responsibilities.  In other words, to know what is expected of him when, and how.  Dale has become a willing worker, and usually shows up with a good attitude.  However, staying on task and recognizing what needs to be done have been a challenge.  For example, if we ask him to clean off the table, we want him to be able to recognize what needs to be done with everything on the table, and stay with it until the job is done.  We want our days to have such flow and predictability that Dale (and Alan) aren't surprised or interrupted by the chores at hand, and even expect them as what is coming next.  One of our ultimate goals in this (and I expect this to take most of childhood to accomplish) is to raise self-starters.  Adults that identify something that needs to be done, and do it.

Gardening.  This spring we intend to hand over a lot of our vegetable garden responsibility over to Dale.  Working side-by-side, of course, but giving him some ownership in it, and keeping him in the action until the job is done.  #1, he needs the 'something to do', and #2, we want to raise our kiddos to be hard workers.  And in theory, the time together will be fun.  I'm even considering putting him in charge of the 'flower beds' (that haven't grown flowers in a couple of years) out front.

Scripture Memory.  We have slacked off for the summer, but we use the memory box system and plan on stepping it up again for the school year.  Dale is more than ready to be memorizing passages instead of verses.

Bible - Memorize the books of the Bible and be able to find them quickly.  To know the author and main events and ideas of most books. 
Math - Memorize addition facts.  Begin memorizing multiplication facts.  Complete Singapore 2.
Language Arts - Be able to independently write a letter with correct capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and structure.
Piano - Main goal here is consistency.  To have lessons and practice regularly each week to make progress.

To know what is expected of him when, and how.  Just like our goal for his brother but on a smaller scale.

Scripture Memory.  Alan already has a handful of verses he knows from our daily trek through the memory verse box.  We will simply be adding in more specifically for him on a consistent basis.

Recognize and be able to recount major Bible stories and characters.
Letter sounds. He already knows most of these, I just want to solidify it and make sure we've got 'em all. 

Recognize sight words.  Those are the conservative pre-reading goals.  Hopefully by next summer Alan will be well on his way to being a reader.  We'll see. :)

Basic math. Count to 20 and recognize the written numbers to 20.  He'll pick up plenty other math skills in daily living.

For both big boys:
Exposure - This covers history, social studies, science, literature, music, art, etc.  My goal is to expose them to a wide variety of subjects and ideas.  The ones that spark their interest we can take further.  The nuggets they truly learn and love will be with them forever.  The rest will hopefully be familiar if they ever encounter it again someday.

Even though the academic goals are listed separately from the others, any homeschooler knows that learning isn't isolated like that.  Alan will be learning to count to 12 when we put away 12 toys from his room, and Dale will be developing his self-starter skills when he gets going on his math lesson while I'm busy doing something else. 

And, although randomly thrown in here at the last, it is worth mentioning our hope is to constantly be pointing our boys to the Lord in everything we do.  In our family rules, in expecting first-time obedience, in all issues that come up in daily living.  I'm glad our children are still young, because the truth is we are still training ourselves how to train them!

Last but not least, I even have goals for little Tyler.  There again, they are more for me regarding Tyler.  My intention in every day is to make sure at least once every day I sit down with him and look him in the eye.  To put everything else on hold and take the time to play pat-a-cake and sing a song and play a tickle game.  There's no doubt he'll be held and fed and changed and loved and kissed, but I want to enjoy him.

And really?  That sounds like a worthy goal for all the boys.  These days go so fast, don't they?

This post is linking to:

Friday, July 23, 2010

2010-2011 Curriculum

It's that time again!  Lately my mind is swimming with ideas and plans for the up-coming school year.  We are planning on starting August 16th.

I'm excited to post our curriculum choices and link up with Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers!
This post is also linking to:
Not Back to School Blog Hop

Dale, 2nd Grade:
23633: What the Bible Is All About: For Young ExplorersWhat the Bible Is All About: For Young Explorers
This will give us a great overview of the Bible by learning the writer and main events of each book, along with where it fits in to the Bible and how it points to or teaches of the coming Savior.  Not sure yet what kind of hands-on we'll do with this.  Possibly some sort of notebooking, but we'll see.  I'm open to suggestions. ;)

185008: Singapore Math: Primary Math Workbook 2A US EditionSingapore Math: Primary Math Workbook 2A US Edition
This will be Dale's second year in Singapore Math.  We've actually got some finishing up to do in the level one book.  Between having a new baby and slowing down to make sure Dale has the basic math facts committed to memory, and this that and the other... well... we just have some left.  No biggie though.  I love homeschooling!  At any rate, Singapore seems to be a good fit for us so far.

Handwriting has been a stressful place for Dale and I at times in the past.  What is working best for us right now is his new pen pal!  He's only sent one letter so far, but has started a second, and with it plugged in to our daily schedule, I'm hoping we can send out one a week.  That, along with what little handwriting is required to complete his other work, is plenty for my 7 year old.

Phonics / Spelling
892075: The Complete Book of Phonics, Grades K-3The Complete Book of Phonics, Grades K-3
I am mostly a believer in the Charlotte Mason method of phonics and spelling, as in it mostly isn't necessary as its own subject, especially at this age, and especially with Dale already reading so well.  However, I like having this work book for that 'just in case' insurance, so we have been chugging along a few pages at a time off and on for a year or two and will continue to do so.  It's good for busy work, which even homeschoolers sometimes need a little bit of (at least at my house!).

I also have a public school spelling workbook I bought at a garage sale (just tore out the 2-3 pages that had been written in and it was good as new).  We will complete a unit from this book each week.

For second grade we will continue to follow the suggested science course of study outlined in The Well-Trained Mind (The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, Revised and Updated Third Edition).
This means we'll be starting the year finishing our biggest lapbook to date, a study of the body.  If you are familiar with The Well-Trained Mind you know the body is studied in 1st grade, so yes, this is more leftovers from last year.  Again... no biggie.  I downloaded this lapbook during a sale from Currclick.

After that we'll be moving on to Earth Sciency Type Things like:
Weather / Weather tracking
Dinosaurs, Fossils

Most of my resources will come from our own books, our public library, and Currclick.  We'll probably do a lapbook or two and some notebooking, and hopefully a few hands-on experiments along the way.

Dale has been working his way through the lessons at Dance Mat Typing.  We will continue that, just being more consistent with it.  Probably 3-4 times a week.

The Arts
I am hoping to cover either Art or Music or Poetry each week.  Nothing major, just making the effort to set aside a little time to learn about someone new and their works.  We'll listen to composers, research their biographies, learn about instrument families, look at the works of various artists and their biographies, and read and memorize poems.  And hopefully create art, music, and poems of our own.  A lot of this will involve Alan, as well.

Dale has learned a bit of basic piano with sporadic lessons through a couple of the piano books I used as a beginner, way back when.  I think he is ready now to sit down for regular lessons and practices.  Our curriculum arrived this weekend, and I can't wait to get started!  We will be using:
396380: Music In Me: Lesson Level 1 Music In Me: Lesson Level 1

What's missing?  
339004: Ancient Times, Volume 1, RevisedAncient Times, Volume 1, Revised
We began Story of the World in 1st grade and it wasn't a good fit for us at the time.  So we planned on making it a summer study for the whole family to do together.  Yeah... uh... that didn't happen either.

I'm not giving up yet, though.  I don't have it plugged in for the beginning of our school year, but we'll see what happens once we get rolling.  The potential is there for us to really enjoy it and learn a lot, when the time is right.  Someday.  Maybe soon.  I hope.

Otherwise I'll be all messed up on that 4-year rotation thing. :)

Whew.  Okay.  Still with me?

Alan, 4 year old Preschool
This is the first year I am planning and scheduling regular activities for Alan.  I'm really excited about it!  For our core curriculum I will be using the Bible & Rhyme from Hubbard's Cupboard.  And... brace yourselves... I plan on following it as written.  
That's big news for me.  There's not much I do exactly as suggested when it comes to school and cooking.  
#1 - I used a lot of Bible & Rhyme with Dale when he was this age, and really like it.  

#2 - The idea of somebody else doing the majority of my planning is wonderful.

In addition to Bible & Rhyme we will be doing lots of alphabet activities from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  Have you seen the things Erica has available?  They are amazing!

I still believe preschoolers can and do most of their learning living and playing and being read to.  But I can't see Alan just sitting around watching while Dale is 'doing school' every day.  He'll want in on the action too.  Plus, all that making and doing is FUN!  :)

Of course, we'll be going to the library weekly and reading, reading, reading.  (Both boys)

Have you used any of the above resources?  What are some of your favorites?
*All of the links to are affiliate links.  If you make a purchase from CBD after clicking one of these links, a small percentage comes back to us here at the Buffalo Herd.  Thanks!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What do they know, anyway?

"They" say you shouldn't nurse a baby to sleep.

That you should lay them down calm but awake so they can learn to go to sleep on their own.

And we do.


But I don't think "they" have ever held a sleepy nursing baby...

watching him drift off to sleep all warm, comfy, and content...

and then laid him gently down in his soft snugly bed...

to stand over him and smile and marvel, thanking God for the blessing he is, and that he's asleep!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Who is this woman and what has she done with my usual self?

I am a germa-phobe.  I consider it a side-effect of being a transplant mom.
Therefore, we carefully avoid most any place kids gather in groups.
Especially places kids gather and play and touch lots of things and then.... eat.

So, knowing all that, I bet you'd never guess where we ate supper tonight.

I'll give you a hint:
It rhymes with "Snotty Sneezes".

And it was all my idea.

And we all had. a. blast.
Riding the monster truck.
Picture taken moments before Alan said, "I'm ready to get off now", and Dale said, "That thing made me sea-sick!"

Whack-a-critter. (Sharks in this case)  It's in his genes.


Skee ball. (It's in his genes, too.)
Look at that form!
Daddy shootin' some hoops.

Taking a ride with Clifford.  Picture taken moments before he said, "I'm done. I'm ready to get off." Notice a pattern?

Do you win tickets just for being CUTE?

Ticket muncher.  Very likely Alan's favorite thing of the whole night.

Redeeming our tickets for prizes.  Oh the fun and joy cheap trinkets bring!

I am literally praying nobody gets sick from this temporary lapse in our usual care and caution.
I have now returned to my good senses, thankyouverymuch.  
But living on the wild side sure was fun. ;)

I believe "voracious" is the word for that.

As if we don't go to the library often enough anyway, we've been making two or three trips every week for the last month as part of the summer reading program.

No problem, though: not only do we get to see Mimi, the boys adore the other ladies working there, too.

And then all that picture stamping and prize-getting was fun too.

Alan and I read 30 books together, including: Where the Wild Things Are, a few of the Little House picture books (he loves those!), Monkey and the Engineer, Before You Were Mine, and approximately 20-some-odd more.

Dale went on the track for older elementary kids and read by the page instead of by the book.  And... uh... well... in the end he came out reading more pages than anyone!  (One thousand, seven hundred, and ninety-two.)


Back in the late spring / early summer, before the reading program even started, he blew through Beverly Cleary's Henry Huggins series.  Then it was the Ramona books, which he finished after the program started.  Now he is about halfway through the Little House books.  And no, I don't mean the picture books.  I'm talking the inch thick On the Banks of Plum Creek and all those.

And here is where I need your help... he's going to be 7 next month.  Just because his reading level may be advanced for his age, his maturity level is right on target. 
I'd like to stick with as rich reading as he can handle, and not fill him up on "twaddle" just because he's hungry.  But with the mismatch between his reading level and his age level, that is becoming quite a challenge.  He has already read quite a few of The Boxcar Children.  Our library has The Sugar Creek Gang, which I plan to start him on next.  

Do you have book suggestions for a soon-to-be seven year old who is about to read us out of house and library?  

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bread & Butter

My daddy worked the ground.

I was there to help plant the seeds.

Together we harvested the crop.

Together we bought our ingredients.

I went home to slice and soak and fill and boil.

And this is what we have to enjoy and show for it all:

Stay tuned... plans for a second batch are already in the works!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Take me out to the ballgame!

Upon our arrival...

Baby Face

Getting ready to start

Something exciting happened...

Hoping for a fly ball...

Still having fun, Ty?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Mrs. Fix-It

I am a fixer.  A peace-maker.  A problem-solver.

I am also opinionated.  I like to jump in, brainstorm, help, pull from my own experiences and dispense advice as needed.

People like me have to be careful.  

For one thing, it is easy to get wrapped up, worried, and drug-down by taking on troubles of too many.

It is also easy to offend or push away those who may not necessarily need or want help and advice.

I've found myself in a lonely boat full of unwanted help a lot lately.

I have a full two years and beyond of experience as the parent of a 'sick kid'.  I know a little about a lot when it comes to hospital stays, medical equipment, ER visits, diagnoses, and medications.  But I certainly don't have the market cornered there.  Sadly, there are hundreds of thousands of parents who have similar experiences.  And every time a family receives a diagnosis, or a child makes a first-time visit to the ER, those families begin their own personal journeys, meeting their own new friends and fellow travelers.  

I am a homeschooler.  I have a little knowledge and opinions galore on materials and methods and philosophies and beyond.  But guess what?  So does every other homeschooler.  And while it is nice to sit and visit and compare notes and exchange stories, fellow homeschooling parents don't always need or want to hear how and why I do things.

I have been married for almost 10 years.  Sure, that's nothing like 20 or 30 or 50, but I have learned a little bit in our 10 years.  Things I feel are important.  Things I would love to share with other couples.  But there isn't exactly a line of women outside my door waiting for my marriage advice.

My point is, I have been learning over and over again that people generally ought to want your help before you start handing it out.  Otherwise, you may find those around you offended, and yourself feeling rebuffed and frustrated that you don't seem to be changing anything.  Ask me how I know.  

But I have also learned this: There is one place where my help is always needed.  There is one place where I am truly the one and only expert.  You know where I am going with this, don't you?  

It is in my own home, as wife to my husband, and mother to my children.  As long as I am living, no one else can minister to them like I can.  And the more I spread myself thin trying to solve the problems of the world around me, the more I neglect those closest.  Those that need me the most.  Those that want my attention like none other.

I don't want to become so inflated and so busy trying to 'save the world,' that I neglect those that mean the world to me.

All those needs I see around me?  Until I am asked for more, the best I can and should and will do for them is to pray.  Beyond that, my time, my attention, and my efforts are best served by the beautiful people I see, and hear, and touch every day.  And that is my greatest goal.