Back to School

Another school year has started in our home. I did not have a big “first day of school” announcement. I did not take a single picture the day we started. I did not even tell the kids until the morning that we were starting school that day.

That was SO.MUCH.EASIER…..for me. Not knowing we were starting until an hour before we did, the kids did not have time to whine and complain about work. They didn’t have a chance to think of deals to try to make with me (“If I read this chapter, can I play a Wii game??”). I had a LOT less arguing to do with my older ones about just how much work they would have to do.

:)

Yes, I took the easy way out, planned the day secretly and silently, and I just sprung it on them that morning. They knew it was coming because I was organizing and purging our messy school book corner like a mad woman, but they just did not know which day we were starting. My plan was to wait until after Labor Day, but now that all of our Summer classes and activities and parties were over, everyone was annoying each other. Every game or play time became an argument. Honestly, I was tired of being a referee for Polly Pocket playing (sheesh, girls!!).

So, we started school without any fanfare. And I LOVED IT. So much less pressure to make the day something spectacular. Just focused on the books and it went great!

This year, we are covering these subjects with these books/curricula:

Bible – Lots of memory work here. Right now, they have the first half of Psalm 23 memorized (yes, all five kiddos learned it! Very cute to listen to.). After Psalm 23, we have a lot of individual verses to learn, and I plan to work in some more short chapters again later this year.

Besides memory work, I am also having the older girls read a Proverb a day (which ties into copy work as well). And we will start Bible stories soon, too.

Geography/History – These are combined for the most part. We will be learning about the Greeks. I am not great with keeping up on a timeline, but I am hoping to tie it in to what we learned about Romans last year, then work it into a timeline with the Bible. We shall see how this goes. (FYI – History is NOT my strong suit, and my girls aren’t overly interested in it. I did not purchase a curriculum for it; we are working off what we already have, in addition to a TON of library books from both the children’s and adult sections.)

We are also covering our home state (Illinois). I am not doing too much of the history of it right now. I am focusing mostly on maps – finding it on the globe, on our USA map, and then being able to identify things within a map of the state. We are completing a MY Illinois book with lots of coloring and fact pages. Iris and Lily are the only ones doing this.

Science – This is definitely more child-led than a lot of the other subjects. The kids had mentioned wanting to study the human body, so I am breaking that down in to the body systems. Right now, we are finishing up the Skeletal system. We memorized major bones of the body, facts about the number of bones in different sections of our body, the function and purpose of bones, and other things like that. I am finding it interesting, and the kids are having fun using the bone names in everyday conversation (“I just hurt my coccyx!”). I am trying to keep it light and fun. The older girls had pages to fill out, identifying the bones on a skeleton picture.

I did not purchase a science curriculum either. I am finding library books, along with free curriculum printables online to print out and use.

We are also working on a nature study but have not started it yet. It will probably start later this Fall and go through Winter. We don’t usually do outdoor Winter things for school, but I  would like to do hikes and whatnot during the cold months so we can appreciate the plants and animals we don’t get to see in the Spring/Summer months.

Spelling – We will be using words from other subjects to create our spelling lists. Most recently, we used names of 12 different bones to make up our list. Addy had 3 words (rib, bone and skull) to learn to spell and write.

Writing – We are doing copy work to practice handwriting. Iris and Lily are writing out a few verses from the daily Proverb. Addy works on writing her spelling words. Iris and Lily are also required to NEATLY write their spelling words as handwriting practice.

Reading – There is both group reading and individual reading. For group reading right now, we are finishing up Island of the Blue Dolphin (I forgot how much I really like that book!). The boys don’t seem very interested in it, so they don’t usually stick around for it. I end up reading them little books at a different time. I am also reading a Magic School Bus book that corresponds with our skeletal system study (Case of the Missing Bones).

Math – Iris and Lily are on the next levels of Singapore Math. They are still below their grade level, I believe, in the curriculum’s levels. But, we are moving quickly through them, and Iris is actually much more interested in math this year and doing quite well with it. My (personal) goal is to help them through their current level of books in the next two months, so that they can complete two levels by January. I think they can do it, as long as we stay on track. They are much more open to learning new math ideas this year already, so I am sure they can coast right through their current books and “catch up” to their grade level by Spring. Lily is very good at math, but she doesn’t enjoy doing the work (imagine that!). And last year I was not very pushy with it. I am not worried about them being behind. They can add and subtract like they need to in everyday life; Iris is actually getting much better with adding large numbers and multiplication. I know they will get even faster when they see the NEED for math in more areas of life.

Art – We are working through 1-2-3 Draw Wild Animals for art. This is a library book, and I like that it is very basic with drawing but works up to pretty detailed characters. That allows all of us, even the little ones, to attempt the drawings. I also like how it shows the relationship between simple shapes (circle, oval) and a finished animal picture. I haven’t decided which book to work through next. We do not have art every day. It will most likely be once a week. They do a lot of “crafting” on their own, so I will let them continue that – card making, fairy house building (no, I don’t believe in fairies, but they get rather creative with using boxes from our recycling bag to dress up and make little homes. It is pretty cute…and messy.)

In a different kind of art category, we will be memorizing poetry again. I am amazed that they remember the two poems I rushed to teach them in the Spring. Every now and then, I hear one of them reciting it (perfectly) out loud around the house. :)

Music – Iris and Lily will be participating in the Children’s Choir at church in a few weeks. I will also start up piano lessons again with them. We did not get very far last year with piano; I plan to be much more intentional with setting aside time to teach them. We have borrowed beginner piano books from my mom to use.

Life Skills – I have several things planned for this category. First thing we are working on is cleaning! I have created a chore chard for each of the girls (and for the boys because they wanted one, but theirs mostly just say “behave, listen to mom, and get dressed”). Each girl is responsible for some are of the home – Iris and Lily have a bathroom each to clean, and Addy is responsible for keeping the school/loft floor clean. We also have a marker board on the fridge explaining what must be done before breakfast. I am hoping this cuts down on the amount of demands in the morning, but so far we have had quite a bit of whining when the kids remember the board. They still have to go do the work before they can eat, but my hope is that eventually it will just be automatic to do those things before expecting breakfast.

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I included some school work on a couple of the days so far. This incites more whining. Haha! But, they get it done. :) This week, I have been lazy and just required they do the basics – dress, bed, hair, read Bible, tidy room.

Another life skill I would like for them to learn is table setting. I have a book from the library on different ways to set the table for different occasions (formal dinner, brunch, casual dinner, parties, etc). I think it would be nice for them to know the proper way to set a table, all the different silverware pieces, and whatnot. This will also include proper table manners…..we have several that like to chew with their mouths open!

Lastly, I would like at least Iris and Lily to do more with cooking and baking. Iris loves to create snacks; she will ask me to pick 5 ingredients and leave her to create something. Lily has done this on occasion as well. They like being creative in the kitchen, which is great, but I would like for them to learn basic cooking skills, baking skills, and a few other things. I have had Iris write out a recipe I created for dinner the other night. It is good handwriting practice, good math work (fractions and measurements), and spelling practice. Plus, I really like that they have an interest in the kitchen, like their momma. :)

I think that covers everything we have planned for at least this first half of the year. The only curriculum I actually purchased was their math books. Everything else was printed from online or borrowed (from library or another person). My goal was to see how inexpensive we could go this year but still get a full, quality education for them. I think we did a pretty good job meeting my requirements!

 

 

Menu Plan: September 1-8

School is in session here. :) We are back at it, full-time, and so far it is going well. A few hiccups of unexpected interruptions, but we are on track and alive. So, I am happy.

Being at home more often to get our schoolwork completed gives me more time in the kitchen to make more foods from scratch. Our menu plan for this week reflects more homemade items, and we only purchased chips and applesauce (unsweetened) as far as processed foods for this week. The chips are very few ingredients and nothing unpronounceable, so I feel happy with that! And the applesauce is because it was cheaper to buy the unsweetened jar than to buy a bunch of bags of apples and make it myself. Soon, though, we will be making some homemade applesauce.

Breakfast

Breakfast Tacos (with homemade refried beans)

Whole-Wheat Banana Pancakes

Fruit and Yogurt Salad with Orange Zest

Oatmeal

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothies (or blueberry for my one guy that prefers blueberry)

Whole-Wheat Biscuits Topped with an Egg

Whole-Wheat Coffee Cake

Lunch

Apple Sandwiches, plain yogurt sweetened with honey, carrots and homemade ranch

Cream cheese and jelly on homemade whole-wheat bread, air-popped popcorn, bananas

Quesadillas (on homemade tortillas), applesauce

Snacky lunch (yogurt with honey, banana bread, grapes, veggies and ranch, etc)

Hardboiled eggs, homemade whole-wheat crackers, apple slices

PB&J sandwiches, carrots, strawberries/blueberries

Hummus and cheese mini pitas, veggies and ranch, grapes

Dinner

Tacos with homemade refried beans and brown rice (and whatever toppings…tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream, cheese, onion, avocado)

Weeknight Chili, Homemade Cornbread, Salad

Chicken Marsala, Whole-Wheat Pasta, Green beans, applesauce

Whole-Wheat Mac and Cheese, Carrots

Greek Fajitas on Whole-Wheat Pitas, Quinoa, veggies and ranch

Homemade Chicken Nuggets, Salad, Corn

Pork carnitas on homemade tortillas, avocado, Brown Rice, Applesauce

Snacks (All homemade)

Pumpkin Bread Muffins

Bananas with Peanut Butter

Air-popped popcorn

Pita bites (if any leftover mini pitas)

Cinnamon Apple Chips

Cinnamon Glazed Popcorn Mix

Frozen yogurt pops

Desserts

Peanut Butter Cookies

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites

Peanut Butter Fingers

(do you see the theme here with desserts?! mmmm, peanut butter…)

Anyone else changing up their menu now that school is back in session??

Menu Plan: August 15-31

Summer is almost over!! It has been a crazy, busy, fun, stressful, wonderful Summer. We had so much happen over the past 2 1/2 months; it feels like forever since we did any schoolwork!

I planned out our meals for the next two weeks, and I pre-made a bunch of the breakfast options – 25 breakfast burritos, 29 crepes (filled with Nutella…mmmm), 30 Pumpking Chocolate Chip Granola Bars (new recipe – deelish!), and 34 Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Balls. LOVE having some homemade, healthy items for the kids to choose from and not having to cook up a whole meal each morning!

Breakfast

Pancakes x 2

Waffles x 4

Eggs x 2

Cereal x 2

Breakfast Burritos OR Granola Bars and yogurt x 3

Crepes OR Oatmeal Bars and fruit x 3

Oatmeal x 2

Lunch

Chicken Salad

Leftovers x 6

PB&J x 4

Snacky lunch x 4

Church Jamboree!!

Taquitos

PB Crackers, fruit, chips

Dinner

Creamy Veggie Casserole

Sirloin Roast, Carrots and Potatoes, Salad (gluten-free)

Mexican Cheesy Rice (meatless)

Round Roast, Carrots, Green Beans (gluten-free)

Corn Chowder (meatless and gluten-free)

Chicken Noodle Casserole

Pizza x 2

Mac and Cheese (meatless) x 2

Chipotle Chicken Tacos

Teriyaki chicken (gluten-free)

Fettuccine Alfredo (meatless)

Crockpot BBQ Chicken (gluten-free)

Chicken Paleo Piccata (gluten-free)

Bacon Tortellini Bake x 2

Chicken Taco Bake

Homemade to Make

Crepes

Breakfast Burritos

PB Chocolate Chip Cookie Bites (gluten and dairy free)

Crackers (such a yummy recipe; I will share it soon!)

Granola Bars (regular and the pumpkin chocolate chip ones)

Oatmeal Balls (peanut butter, chocolate chips, agave nectar, chia seeds, wheat germ, vanilla)

 

Being Teachable

Last week, I was on the hunt for a book on cd that I could listen to while I make dinner. The kids are always off playing or watching a cartoon while I make food (when they aren’t all trying to “help” me make dinner, that is), and I figured I could find a good book to listen to and help me with my goal of reading more. I found the audio book, Family Revival: God’s Wisdom at My House by James McDonald. I knew he was a good preacher/speaker, and I had not read anything of his. So, I thought I would give it a try.

WOW! I was blown away by the truth this man speaks. The amount of Bible verses he uses to back up what he is teaching is amazing. I LOVE when pastors use a lot of Bible verses during their sermons. Our pastor does this all the time, and it really helps me with being able to reference all the instances that the Bible talks about a certain topic. Mr. McDonald does a great job of listing multiple references (both Old and New Testament) to support his statements.

The audio book is 7 cd’s. I just finished up number 4 this evening. It was about training our children. The cd before that was about marriage.

Let me tell you about conviction, people! It is real. And I felt it…..more times than I would like to admit!

Lately I have really felt led to try to TEACH my children more, with regard to how to act and behave and obey. Of course, as soon as I determine to work on something, Satan gets in there to mess it up. I have had an ache in my neck, like a muscle ache, for a few days. (I think my really old pillow is not supporting my head well. And maybe looking down at my iPhone too much isn’t helping. And my poor posture. And probably a hundred other things.) Of course, the ache aggravates me and my little amount of patience is lessened even more. I find myself yelling more than I desire. I snap at the littlest things. And I express to my kids over and over that I am trying to teach them how to behave…although, the yelling and screaming probably does the exact opposite of teaching!

And then today, I am listening to the cd on training our children. I am secretly hoping the kids are listening to the part when he is talking about kids needing to be trained and taught and needing to be punished, so they understand consequences for defiance of authority. And then he goes ahead and talks about how parents need to behave: calmly, without anger in their spanking, helping the child understand what they SHOULD do and not just what they shouldn’t, having patience with the repeat offenders, and so on.

I start thinking about how teachable my kids need to be, because lately they are just so naughty and defiant….

And then I stop and consider how I have been. I have been skipping my Bible time. My prayer time is rushed and not a priority. My focus is on others’ bad behavior and not my own. I am constantly complaining to the kids about their behavior but have not once shown them a correct way to respond to a problem. Rather than express my need to take my problems to the Lord in prayer, I just sit and whine. All I have done is shown them how to yell and scream and complain. And then they do exactly that with each other, and I wonder why they are doing it!

What conviction this afternoon! Clearly the Lord knew I needed to hear that exact part of the audio book…today. And He knew that at that moment this evening I would be ready to hear it. My husband is working late tonight, so he wasn’t home talking with me during that time. My kids were busy playing elsewhere, so it was quiet in the kitchen except for the audio book.

I think sometimes as moms we get caught up in making sure our children are acting right, that we forget that how we respond and act is how they will. If I expect my kids to be teachable and trainable, then I HAVE TO BE TEACHABLE AND TRAINABLE. And how can I be trained and taught, if I am not spending time reading God’s Word? How can I hear the Lord, if I am not spending time talking to Him in prayer? How can I expect my kids to be loving and forgiving and compassionate and patience and merciful…..if I am doing none of those things???!!

Proverbs 1:8 tells children to “not forsake your mother’s teaching.” But, I am not giving them any teaching worth holding on to!

Titus 2:5 says women should “be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands,…” What an awful job of that I have done lately!

Thankfully, my God is more powerful than my sinfulness. Daniel 4:37 tells me “…those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” And boy did He humble me this afternoon!! I am so thankful for His patience with my slow learning and for his mercy and forgiveness.

I just wanted to share what is probably so obvious to you all, but I just realized today. :) In order for my kids to know how to be teachable and trainable…I must be teachable and trainable.

Let me just tell you, God is doing some big things over here in our home. And I can’t wait for the day when I can share it all with you. For now, all I can say is that God is good…all the time. Regardless of what Satan is trying to do around us, as long as we keep our focus on God and trust Him to carry us, He will. And nothing is strong enough to knock us out of His hands.

Makes me think of that song:

My God is so big, so strong and so mighty. There’s nothing my God cannot do.

:)

 

Summer Time!

 

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Here a few fun facts about our Summer:

1. The girls are in a tumbling class (last class is today – praise the Lord! I mean, I love their involvement in the class, but two classes on Wednesdays was getting a little crazy). Buddy is in a t-ball class. The kids have all learned so much from their classes, and I am happy we were able to get all the girls in the same class.

2. After not being able to go on a trip we had planned for last week, we were all pretty bummed. BUT, the week off from work gave Arthur some time to build something he has been wanting to build for quite some time – a FIRE PIT! We have had it for 8 days now, and we have spent 5 nights out there. :) We love it! He did an amazing job on a small budget, even utilizing the rocks we collected a few years ago from the empty lots across the street. Free decoration! We feel like we are camping when we are out at the fire pit. It is great!

3. My brother is getting married in a few days!!! My brother, Jake, is marrying a very lovely girl on Saturday. We are all so excited and happy for him and Aunt Holly. Addy is mostly just excited to ride in a limo; she asked if it would have a pool and tv and all the things the Barbie limo had in it, from an episode she saw on Netflix. HAHA! I told her “maybe”. I know, that was mean. :)

4. My husband is off again all of next week…to help with VBS at church. :) Last year, I wasn’t able to help with VBS, and he promised me he would take off the whole week for this year’s VBS so we can both help. And we are! I am excited to help the leader in the craft station, and he will help the church maintenance guy (who also happens to be one of his good friends, so that will be fun) with all the cleaning/garbage/traffic-directing or whatever else needs to be helped with. I am super excited we will all be at church together all week to serve!

5. I have eased up on our very strict eating “rules.” We are not eating as much organic (eek!) right now. The funds are just not there, and we have to be very cautious about money for a bit. So, I have been buying a lot of fresh foods, still, but they have not been organic unless the prices were really great. This has allowed us to buy MORE things (and we have a lot of big eaters here, so that has been wonderful for the very-hungry-because-we-played-outside-all-day kiddos as well as the marathon running hubs), and I have not stressed as much about grocery lists. I still spend serious time planning out meals, and I try to make even more from scratch since we aren’t able to get all the organics we would like. I have also not been able to buy raw milk. Kinda stinks, but it is what it is for now. Not gonna make us go broke just to get a gallon of milk. Ya know?

6. (not a FUN fact, but still a summer one) Lily’s eczema flared up in an unusual spot – the outer thigh on both legs. I think the pool water has had a lot to do with it…and probably some of our diet changes as well. Then the other day she had a crazy reaction on her neck to something, and I am not sure what it was. She said the natural bug repellent burned when we sprayed it on, so I think the allergic rash was already there and the repellent made it worse. I don’t know if it is the milk we’re drinking or an ingredient in something or what. But, we’ve got medicated cream for the raw patches on her legs, and we putting hydrocortizone on her neck. Poor girl’s skin even reacted to a bandage I had put on her thighs last week. She is so sensitive to topical things. :( But she is a trooper, and I am praying the skin heals quickly!

7. God has been so good to us. We have not had a need for anything financially. A lot has happened in the last couple of months, and we are in a place we had hoped we would not have to visit, financially, but we are so grateful for God bringing us into it. He has really shown us needs versus wants, and He has continued to provide all we need. I am so grateful for this trying time because my husband has been so vocal about trusting God and he has really been an awesome spiritual leader, even more than he normally is. He is constantly reminding the kids and me about God’s goodness and faithfulness. I am thankful for what God is teaching him and for how receptive he has been. I have learned a lot just from watching my husband….and I’ve been pretty convicted about my own reactions to situations. Arthur reminds me over and over, daily, that God is good….regardless of how we feel about a situation or how others have reacted about things. God is good. :) And Arthur texts that phrase to me often.

Cannot wait for the second half of Summer! It has been awesome so far!

 

Summer Slump

Summer just started about 4 days ago, and I have already fallen off track with my cleaning routine. I just shared on My Own Ripple Effect about keeping your home guest ready and I am not even following my own advice about it!

I just overwhelmed myself with a few activities – not bad activities, just not activities I needed to give attention to right now – and now I am scrambling to find my routine again! Thankfully we are not doing any formal schooling right now, or I would really be losing it. I am just going to start over, adding back into our day the things I should be doing and focusing on, and say “Not right now” to the things that maybe I would love to be doing but just know that this isn’t the season for them. We have been learning (and talking about at each meeting) this very thing in our Titus 2 group at church. We talk about the seasons we go through as wives and mothers and how our needs and abilities change with each one. And it is so interesting to see how I mismanage this season ALL. THE. TIME. :) I keep saying “I just need to step aside and lay down my desires and let God lead.” Aaaaand then I pick it all back up and get in front of God again. Grrrr! When will I learn?!

Today went rather well, though. After several days of screaming and crying (and the kids were pretty bad off as well), I decided to FINALLY do what I keep saying I need to do, and I let God lead….for the most part. Still tried to hold on to a few things today, and almost immediately watched our happiness wash away. Also, I decided last night there is entirely too much TV watching happening here. I was using it as a rainy day option, but then it became an everyday option. And we were/are all addicted, so when I would try to turn it off, the kids were crying for more. So, I would give in to have some quiet. Bad idea.

Last night, I decided I would give them a few things they had to get done before the TV could go on. The few things for today were:

Read Proverbs 25 (since it’s the 25th)

Make your bed

Get Dressed

Brush hair.

I figured just a few to start this transition was a good idea. Boy am I glad I did not give more than those four! I am certain they would have tried to attack me!! Poor Lily was awake last and was NOT a happy camper when she could not eat until she finished those four items. The other kids were done with them and had eaten and were off playing. But she just wanted to come right down to eat. I stayed firm and sent her back up with the instructions, and I ended up reading Proverbs 25 while she followed along…so she didn’t feel so left out.

Next week, my husband has a few days off, and I would like to use some of that time to really nail down a new routine/schedule to be able to start some schoolwork up again in a few weeks. Whether or not that will happen is unknown. I know we plan to go to the zoo one of his days off and do some running around on another day. Praying that I can get some alone time worked in there to sit down and organize my ideas and plans and schedule!

And before I forget, I was featured again this week on My Own Ripple Effect!! I am really enjoying contributing! HERE is the article that was posted over there this week! It is about cooking from scratch. Mmmmm, makes me hungry thinking about it. :)

Do any of you struggle with Summer slumps? Or do you have any tips for staying on track with schedules through the Summer??

 

Hey, Check This Out!

TOTALLY forgot to post this yesterday. I was a contributor at M.O.R.E. (My Own Ripple Effect) yesterday!! Here is the link to my article. :) It was a lot of fun to be able to contribute, and I really love what M.O.R.E. is about!

You should check out the site and sign up to receive the posts. The gal that heads it up is pretty cool, and she really puts a lot of heart into what she puts on the blog!

So, ya, now I am totally famous. :)