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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Household Tips and Tricks

This is a collection of my posts on how my household works!  From chore charts to laundry to making beds... ITS ALL HERE FOLKS!

Chores


Tooth Brushes to the tenth power

My CAFE dining room 

 What I do about.... (stuff like... Stuff, socks, towels, etc)  The stuff post

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Now, lets be thankful....

I am thankful for...


  1. The child whose 20 min science application that turned into a 3 day parasite research project.  Complete with a "My parasite book", which includes what they are, what they do to you and how to identify and treat them.  Gross.
  2. The library book that needed to go back to the library and didn't make it to the van (though it made it to the living room, the front door and the front porch but not in the van) for 5 days!  This made me have to go to the library again and thus I got my book I was waiting for.
  3. Tri-fold brochures.  Thank you history lesson for having them so their application in said brochure.  That was weeks ago.  I have tri-fold brochures all over my house about random things... like mold.... and I am sure soon, parasites.
  4. For the child who decided it was a good idea to jump through ones room inside his pillow case during reading time.  And for the children who decided they should follow.  They all went to bed early.  Quite night.
  5. Bulk buys on magic erasers.  They get out everything! Paint, perm marker, crayon, my "24 hour lip stain" that was used to paint the dash board of my van pink.
  6. Pigtails and rag curlers. You sweet girls growing up too quickly never look a day over 5 like that!
  7. Lisps and stutters. Afterall "if you are go-ingth to learn about parathites and grosth thsings like that" then you might as well do it with a lisp. A-a-a-a-a-a-and if you-you-you-you are going to re-re-re-respond then do it with a stutter.   This makes it even better for mama to understand what you people are talking about =)
  8. Blankets that don't kill you while you sleep.  Because somehow, some of these children seem to get so wrapped in their blankets that they become their blankets and you can't even tell there is a child on the bed.  The blanket is not breathing, the child must not be either but alas, they are alive!
  9. Trees.  Trees give me paper.  Paper keeps the kids busy.  Not quiet, but busy.
  10. CoreyTown.  You are a plague of my own making, you are also one of the funniest things.  I just wanted the kids to have fun with make believe.  I never thought they all would take it so far!  Its like a real society!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

COME AND SEE! a review of one of the Queens Science Currics.



This is my review of the science book "Come and See" by Queen Homeschool.  Here is the synopsis:


"Come and See!  by Casey Queen, story by Mary E. Woodis
180 days worth of science and nature lessons for your pre-readers and early readers contained in one adorable, fun volume!  Join Auntie Mary as she teaches about nature and science through weekly stories and daily corresponding lessons in coloring, drawing, fun facts to read, and hands-on activities for each science topic introduced in the stories!  Spiral bound, consumable."

Sounds pretty fun right?  RIGHT!  So we are in week 14, which is almost half way through the book.  This is the science I do with my boys, ages 4 prek, almost 6 K, 7 1/2 2nd and 9 4th.


One of the things I love about Queens is that there are "suggested" age/grade ranges that the curric works best for instead of the "by grade only" approach that is most common.  One of the reasons I love the broader spectrum that one book can cover, is that it makes it easier for me to teach multiple grades at one time.  Sometimes I have to "beef up" an application or "dumb down" an application depending on what I am using but I have found that THIS BOOK is working very well across the 4 kids/grades I am using it for.


 The story is pretty fun.  Not as "meaty" as say, "Marys Meadow", which I did last year with grades 1st-8th.  Its a light and breezy story of a group of kid/cousins and their Aunt.  As the kids get together to play, they discover things around them.  I love that the kids in the story are learning the same way our kids are learning, through discovery!  As they play, as the seasons change, as they notice things, they are asking questions and learning and we are learning right along with them.


 If I had to pinpoint the "rhythm" of the story to a grade range, I would say it was k-3rd.  My 4th grader though really loves the story and since he is not a big reader (yet), I think he appreciates that the stories are a little simpler than "Marys Meadow" (which he did enjoy).  If he was a strong reader already or say 5th or 6th grade, you could still do this curric but you would prolly want to beef it up and make the applications heavier.  I am not doing that for A9b because this is just right for him this year =)

It is also working well with the other grades I have too.  It really was the best pick for this age range for me this year.   Another thing; my 6th grader loves science and often she teaches the boys their lesson.  Even though she is in the 6th grade she too enjoys the story and the things they are learning.  I often find her doing further research on the topics she did with the boys earlier that day.


There are 36 general, nature science lessons.  Each lesson covers 1 week.  Each week has 5 things to do.  Day 1 is your story and day 2-5 are your applications.  They vary from a coloring page, to a hands on activity.   We block schedule and this layout is very easy for us to accommodate that.  Science days are m/t.  I read the story to them and then they do one or two applications.  Then the next day they do 2 more applications.

The story usually mentions several different "sciencey type things".  For instance: In lesson 13 titled "baby birds", the applications are; Orpington chickens coloring page, Ameraucana chicken eggs/how you like to eat eggs, American Robin coloring page and how to tell if chickens are girl/boy by their combs coloring page.  So those are all the "applications" BUT!!! within the story you also learn about/hear about other things (this is the "sciencey stuff I was talking about) like service berries, mocking birds, worms, other chicken breeds, etc.  Lots of stuff to learn about.

We gather in the living room.  My boys sit on the floor with their school book and crayons and colored pencils and wait (usually with their hands folded because if not they are coloring in their books which they should not be doing...yet).  I hook my computer up to our tv and have google ready.  As we read the story I will stop and look things up, a picture of a service berry bush, a youtube video of a mocking bird, birds eating worms, etc.  It breaks the story up a little but its fun "discovering" with the kids in the story.  It also helps teach research skills early on.

After the story they do their application.  All the coloring pages in this book was a pretty big shift for us from last years "Marys Meadow".  But "Marys Meadow" is a mid/upper elementary/junior high book.  I had to "dumb down" a lot of applications for the younger kids.  I am not having to do that this year and that has been great!
  There are not to many "write this down" applications either.  Which I actually like since most of these boys have limited writing, although they can copy things just fine.  A word or two here or there is much better and doable vs the sentences and paragraphs asked for is some of the higher books.   There are some hand on things that come up like nature walks, or a craft/science type projects. All are things you can do right outside your door or with things you would normally have around your house.  You can use your own imagination as well.
 One week when we were studying bees I googled a craft project to do with them that they all really liked.  I point this out because you CAN HAVE flexibility! It was raining outside and I knew they would blow through the coloring pretty quick so we did painted hand bees and hives.  There was nothing wrong with what was in the book, but there was also nothing wrong with doing something different.

So far we have covered things such as: the life cycle of a frog, bees vs wasps, how to make maple syrup,  flowers, cows, armadillos, opossums, vegetables, different berries, different birds, cats, chickens, grubs, dirt, etc.  Its fun!  It's thorough!  And because you are learning about many different things within one story, you are also learning about how everything is connected together!

The only things I do not really like (and this is for all the science books I have done of Queens so far) is that the books do not correlate to the seasons that follow along the school year.  And lets face it, most homeschoolers still school September-end of May (give or take ;)  Because this is natural science, so many of the applications and projects have to do with what is going on seasonally.  It's kind of weird being told to do a spring planting project in October- kwim?  When I hot stuff like that I usually just youtube it.  This is a small thing though and not anything that "makes or breaks" the program.

My boys are really enjoying this science and look forward to it every week. It is really facilitating a love for learning science and its pretty neat to see just how much they really are retaining.  I think the topics being covered are varied enough that things stay exciting but are not far fetched or over their heads at all.  The story is cute and keeps their interest and thats also a plus!  We are enjoying it, thats for sure!










Links to my posts on homeschooling

I will continue to add to this list as time goes on =)


SERIES:





Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I hate teaching children to read, so I pretty much don't.

    There, I have said it.  I hate teaching kids to read.  My first experience with my oldest child did not set the tone for a good "road to reading".  She didn't like learning to read and I couldn't handle not having this child succeed beyond everyones expectations.

      I did not factor in that said oldest child was a "young" kindy girl as she had just turned 5 in August and school started in September.  My attitude going into homeschooling was also very prideful, "My kid will do better than the public school kids!"  So how is it that 3 weeks into my first year of homeschooling MY CHILD refused to read, hated school and we both gave up?!

     The truth is, if I had to pick any point of time to send my homeschooled children to public school, I would pick K-3rd.  Someone else may teach them to read and write and do basic math and then send them back to me.  The "public school damage" is most minimized in the k-3rd grades, so again, if I had to choose, it would be then.  (But, I didn't and wouldn't, I'm just say'n).

     Teaching a child to read is like groundhogs day.  If you happen to have a lot of children and teach Kindergarten like every year, then groundhogs day pretty much never ends.  I DO NOT want to read another BOB BOOK, LEAP FROG gives me nightmares, the little AMISH KIDS can go find their cat Blackie without me, and no you CAN NOT TEACH YOUR CHILD TO READ IN 100 EASY LESSONS because ITS NOT EASY!!!!! (this is me ranting because I actually do like all of the above items, and have them all in my house.  I just look upon them all with contempt these days.)

     Back to my oldest.  She did not want to read.  I wanted her to read.  It was not fun.  Her 3 year old sister on the other hand did want to read.  She learned to read by sitting on my lap and playing quietly while I taught her older sister to hate reading.  Funny how that work.  So now the 3 year old was like "nailed it" and the 5 year old was like "suck it".  Such was life.  We muddled through and said oldest child is a very good reader and loves to read, there was just a lot of gnashing of teeth involved.


 So what do I do now?  Well there is this beautifulprogram called

    Reading eggs is this happy, online program, where the child travels down this happy learning path of reading.  They learn letters, sounds, spelling.  They play games and read books and earn golden eggs. When you first set up your childs account, they take a quiz to see what they know.  The program them puts them on the learning path based on that quiz.  Its so fun and very interactive.     
 In the Lower levels they are learning the letters and the sounds they make.  By the time you get to the end they are reading full sentences, working on spelling and basic grammar and parts of speech.
My kids have loved using reading eggs!  We still read bob books and the pathways readers too but those are in addition to learning on reading eggs and I don't push those until I see them on their own trying to read books.  It is at that point that I know they are ready to jump into books without frustration.
     Reading Eggs is a "pay for" program.

     I'd also like you to know that Reading Eggs has been very instrumental in helping to teach my VERY RELUCTANT reader, my son A.  Since starting Reading Eggs, I have found out other things about how my super creative boys brain works.  To read more about A's story, click here!


Another program I like (but not as much) is TEACH YOUR MONSTER TO READ.   This program is FREE.  My 4 year old uses this one.  I like that its fun and pretty easy to use.
 The story line is that your monster has crashed on an island.
 The Island King will help your monster fix his space ship if your monster helps him collected letters/words.
     My 4 year old thinks this is the best game ever!  He loves the rhythm of the program, the graphics are fun but not too busy.  He loves earning the prizes for his monster
  The only thing I don't like with it is that I think the program moves too fast through what they are teaching.  I wish they spent more time making sure that the child using it really had a good grasp of the letters.  It seemed like E4b had just started learning letters and then all of a sudden he had to spell the word "duck".  He made it through that part but not because he really read it, he just lucked out in the order to which he lined up the game pieces.
 I also think some of the games move a little to quick or are not very clear in what they want.  I do think though that some of that has to do with my first problem of moving the child along too quickly.  For a FREE PROGRAM though, it is a great program, my kid loves it.  Its better than ABC MOUSE which we all found frustrating, but not as systematic as READING EGGS.

     I am thankful for these programs that do the "teaching" portion and then I get to do all the follow up.  I like that they are fun, yet full of learning!  I know my oldest would have really like it and it would have been less stressful.
     Out of all of my children, there have been a few that would have loved and thrived on the whole "discover reading with wooden blocks and writing letters in the sand" thing.  The rest of them really could care less and WE ARE A READING FAMILY!!!  I no longer worry about measuring up to the rest of the world and don't feel guilty when I delegate certain subjects to "other teachers".  We all have our "bent" in life and teaching reading is not mine.  So THANK YOU online programs, you made my life easier.

     Along with Reading Eggs, we have since also fall'n in LOVE with Homeschool Journals/Dyslexia Games.  I HIGHLY recommend that every homeschool child has a journal and using Dyslexia Games, even with NON-DYSLEXIC's!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My 2014/15 school year =)

This is my curriculum line up for the 7 homeschooling children for the 2014/15 school year. You need to know that I am identifying each child by the first letter of their name and age and a g or b for gender.  =)



F15g/10th grade

Language Arts:  
Science:
H13.5g/8th grade:

Language Arts:
M12g/6th:


Language Arts:
History:
Science:

Language Arts:
History:
My PreK boy does a lot of Kindy workbook stuff from amazon and the $tree and he loves Teach Your Monster to Read a free online reading program and Looney Tunes Phincs on the Tablet.

Also, it may look like my Younger students have wayyyy more work than my older ones.  This is not true at all.  The older kids have way more writing and longer applications.







Tuesday, November 11, 2014

CHORES and how we do it around here.

     With so many children and a busy schedule, it is important for us to have a "normative estate".  This is what should happen every day.  Our chore chart reminds us all what that is and the expectations of each child.
     My chore chart has evolved over the years and where I have landed is with simplicity.  I needed something that would practically run itself and needed little involvement from me.  Life gets busy and I can't not have my household floundering because I forgot to do something on the Chart.  This was happening with other systems and then things would fall apart. So truly, simplicity is the key.

    This chart has looked and functioned slightly different throughout the years but more or less this has been it! Different things in the past were run by me (namely the kitchen) and there was once a time that "babies" was a heading on there, but we are "baby-less" at the moment.  Thats the great thing about this kind of chart though, its completely free form to work with YOUR NEEDS and YOUR HOUSE!  If you do have questions beyond this post, feel free to ask questions either here or on my FACEBOOK page.


MINDA'S MASTER CHORE CHART

The blue thing is a reusable calendar
The paper stuff is all hacked up3x5 cards
re-enforced with packing tape.









Top Line:
Extra name tabs.
Each child has a color paper and their first name letter on it.  I covered them in clear packing tape to make them more durable.

Second Line:
Jurisdictions: These are the areas of the house that that person(s) are in charge of to make sure it is picked up and clean.
These change once a month on the 1st.

  • Living Room
  • bathrooms
  • front porch
  • playroom
  • laundry room

Bottom Left Section:
These are our our "Monthly/aftermeal" chores.  These change once a month on the 1st.

  • Jurisdiction
  • dining room
  • kitchen
Column on Right:
Our "before breakfast" chores.
These change weekly on Mondays

  • Report to Mom
  • Feed dog 
  • Feed chickens, 
  • Kitchen helper (older make bfast with me or by themselves.  Younger kids are my helper only)
  •  Laundry


     Pretty simple looking right?  RIGHT!!!  It can be simple for you too!

 Now let me explain:


  • Some things are a given.  Such as, in the morning they wake up and read in their beds until I or Hubby "wakes up" the house.  Exception would be school days.  The oldest get up at 7 and do math until 8:15.  Then they start their day like normal.  When the house has been "woken up".  Kids make their beds, get dressed and make sure their room is tidy.  In theory, it should already be clean since the rooms should be tidy before going to bed.  So staying in bed and reading, getting dressed and doing your room/bed is a given and does not need to be on the chart.  I will not feed you if these things are not done.
  • Kids look at the Column on Right which are the "weekly" chores and do the job they have been assigned.
  • We EAT and then do our "after breakfast/monthly" chores.  
  • do whatever we do in between b-fast and lunch
  • We EAT and then do our "after lunch/monthly" chores. 
  • do whatever we do in between lunch and dinner.
  • We EAT and then do our "after dinner/monthly" chores. 
     This System ensures that after every meal the kitchen and dinning room get done.  It also makes it so that every part of the house gets cleaned at least once every day.  It does not matter who made the mess, didn't pick up after their shower, left lego's on the ground, got dust on the book shelf, left crayons on the table.  If its your jurisdiction you do it!  (more on those later)

     I found that most of our messes were created around meals so I created the chart to work around that.  It's also great when the house is messy and I can say to everyone "jurisdictions" and the whole house will get an extra once over.  Another given is that when you are done with your "job" you always report to Mom.  This way if there is something extra that comes up I have workers coming who can do them on the spot.
     No matter what happens in our day, we all have to eat.  Our chore chart often acts as a "reset" button for us.  No matter what else is going on,   It brings us back to "the normative estate".

     And what is REPORT TO MOM???  Well, that is when the child reports to me and I tell them what to do.  I am usually in the kitchen making the meal or assisting in its making.  I have the "report to Mom" kids do things like set the table (only if the "kitchen helper people are busy with other things like making food), or I have them make my bed, or help with laundry or another chore that seems like the people on that team would be blessed by some help.  I might have them help me with extra stuff for our homeschool enrichment group, HYPE, or help the little boys get dressed, bring stuff to the mail box, whatevs.

HOW DO YOU ACTUALLY USE IT?

     Okay!  So on the Column on the Right section you will see the "weekly chores."  I change these every Monday morning. "Chickens/kitchen/laundry" are my three main before breakfast chores.  I always assign an older child who can get the job done.  I can not give the 5 year old "chickens", know what I mean?  "Feed dog/report to Mom" are the other two spots currently and even the youngest kids can do those.
     So I assign them out and then on Monday Mornings I change it up.  the three  main chores I assign to older kids and they cycle through so that each week they do a different one..  So if F15g is on "chickens" this week, then next week I move her down to "kitchen" then the following week she would move to "laundry and then the week after that back to "chickens".  The "feed dog/report to Mom" I buddy up younger ones to do together.

   On the  bottom left  sections I have "Jurisdictions and Monthly/After meal chores" I change this on the 1st of every month. I  try and make sure that its pretty even and that no person is doing any chore, say the kitchen twice, in one day.   So if  M12g does "kitchen" in the morning, then in the afternoon she would do" jurisdiction" and in the evening she would do "dining room".
      I like making sure I have an older worker in the kitchen at night time so I always make sure I have an older kid to be "Sweet Boss"d in the "after dinner kitchen".  There may be little ones on there, but it is well know in the house that the "littles" are helpers only.  Also note that the "evening" line is missing 2 kids.  That would be the 2 youngest.  Also notice that on "evening jurisdictions" it also says, "LB JAMS".  This group takes the two "LB's" (little boy;s), to get cleaned up, jammied, teeth brushed and ready for bed.  Then they check their jurisdiction.  It just works better for us this way.

     It's pretty easy to keep things "even Stephen".  When a new month comes I move the "monthly assignment" groups to a blank area on my chart so that the chart is "clear" but I can still see who was buddied up together.  Then I just move everyone around so that they have a new buddy arrangement and are doing the chores in a different order than the previous month.

    On the Second Line  I have my "jurisdictions".  These are the main areas of the house that need to be kept up.  I do not have kitchen/dining room on there since it get cleaned 3 times a day.
   You can't tell on here but, I have a mix of older kids with younger kids.  Also not all kids are working on that jurisdiction at the same time.  For instance on "living room" D6, F15 and CH10 are all on that one.  D6 does it in the morning and F15 and H10 do it in the afternoon.

   There isn't a "right way or wrong way" to set up your chart.  Input your children into it based upon the needs of your household and the ages/stages of your children.  Everyones family is going to run a little different.  I have 3 kids that are only here 1/2 of every week.  So I needed to set up my chart to function with them here or gone without me needing to redo the chart every few days.
     For a while only my oldest 1 or 2 kids could do the kitchen at all so during that time the chart looked different than it does now.  Up until a year ago we had "babies" on there and in the morning the "jurisdiction" kids always did "living room/babies".  Babies in the morning was circle time.  They sang songs, read a book, did finger plays and games.  About 20ish minutes (about the same time it takes for dining room and kitchen crew to get done), When circle time was done they would clean up from that and the living room at the same time.  The most SOUGHT after job in our house was always "babies" and "circle time".  You knew you had "arrived" in our house if we trusted you to run this job- the most important one!  My point is this, work it the way you need to for your family!


   
BUT MINDA!!  YOU HAVE BIG KIDS, MY 
OLDEST IS 4!!

     Good point.  This is where we get in to "Sweet Bosses and Faithful followers".  YOU are the sweet boss and YOU have to do all the work because there are no big people.  So your 4 year old  is a "faithful follower" and you could have her "before bfast chore" be stuff she could do without you like "feed to cat", "clean door-handles with a baby wipe" or "sing songs to the baby".  Then their meal chore could be "dining room".  They can help you clear the table, wipe the table and chairs off.  Then she can be a "kitchen helper" and wipe off cupboards or  straighten up a cabinet or put away plastics.  A lot of these things even a 2 year old can do.  The point is not that they can do it like you but that they "do it to the best of their ability".  YOU ARE TRAINING THEM.  When this child is 6 they will be able to not only do dining room alone but then THEY WILL TRAIN the new 4 year old or 2 year old.  One day you will wake up and realize you never trained your 6 year old to do laundry but that your 10 year old did because they are chore buddies.  You may also have to tell the 10 year old that even though the 6 year old can  do the laundry alone that that defeats the purpose of chore buddies and that they MUST still be present.  Just say'in.

DO YOU PAY YOUR KIDS??

The bible says  in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 "... If any would not work, neither should he eat"
So there is your answer.  No we do not pay our children to be a member of our family.  We are a team people and we function like one.  And furthermore, my children get hungry everyday, 3 times a day at least, and they are goooooooooood workers!  ;)

WHAT'S A "SWEET BOSS" and a "FAITHFUL FOLLOWER"?

     So the "team leader" is the "sweet boss" (SB).  You keep your other workers in line and motivated and if the job is not done right it falls on you and you do the "biggest part" of the job.  So if you are the SB of the kitchen- you wash the dishes and give direction to your FF's on what else needs to be done.  If you get done with dishes then you help your FF's finish up.  Make sense?  
     The other workers are "faithful followers" (FF).  They are to work WITH the Sweet Boss, but ultimately they are your boss/manager and you need to follow under their leadership.  Everyone takes turns.  Young and old, boy or girl.  Everyone gets a chance to be the Sweet Boss.  Full "Sweet Boss" authority is given at about 7 in our house, although kitchen is a bog job to tackle and so as they are learning that one its usually lunch only.  Girls are SB's on even days and Boys on odd days.  If you are being a "mean boss" and not leading with grace and efficiency then Mom/Dad can demote you to a FF for the time/day... even if that means you are 14 and reporting to your 5 year old brother who was just promoted.  If either SB or FF are really wretched then Mom/Dad may send everyone but you out of the job and make you do it by yourself, and possibly even for an extended period of time.  Remember!!!  You need to be someone that others can work with both as a SB and a FF!!!


UMMMmmmmmmm...... Where's Mom in all this?

     Right?!  I am where ever I need to be.  I really am at the point in my family where I not only have a lot of children but I have a lot of older, well trained, capable children.  So now things are more on the management level for me lol.  I do the things I need to get done.  If I had a baby I would prolly be sitting and nursing.  In the morning I get ready for the school day, pay bills, answer questions on my blog ;).  In the afternoon its usually the same;  what are we doing for the afternoon portion of our day?, doing something that's needed for HYPE, etc.  In the evening I help out where its need, do odds and ends, check my email, flip laundry, whatever.  It kind of just depends on what I need to get done and what the needs of the house hold are at that moment.

     We are in a VERY BUSY stage of life right now.  The great things about the system I have is that they don't need me to make it work.  I was gone for a week in CO last year and during that time.  Food was made, the house was cleaned, school was done.  Day in and day out everyone just did what they were supposed to do.  They don't need me here to make it work.  I was not in a panic the whole time either because I knew that they knew exactly what to do at home.  It may look like I am not doing much when you look at what my kids are doing but I am running the household and running the household around lol.

A FEW MORE THINGS TO NOTE:

  1. If you don't have enough kids to buddy up on chores then you will need to decided if they work separately on one chore or together on many.  I have done it both ways.
  2. CROSS TRAIN THEM!!!  Do not just leave them on the same chores.  Thats why we rotate at least once a month on the main stuff.  Its just as important to be able to clean the bathroom as it is to do the dinner dishes.
  3. Don't overload the young ones.  This kind of goes with #2 a little.  My 7 year old can do lunch kitchen on his own or as a SB easily on most days but if I put him in their as anything other than a FF at dinner kitchen he would get frustrated and the job would take forever.  So, keep that in mind.
  4. My laundry person in the morning is just to get laundry going and to sort if there are any clean clothes waiting.  I remember laundry throughout the day and call on whoever is available to help flip/sort/put away.  We do about 3 loads a day. 
  5. What about when your 16 year old is the FF to the 7yr old SB?  Isn't that weird and just not right?  NOPE!  In life your children will have to report to all sorts of people, young and old, different ethnicity, male/female.  Having older children report to younger children keeps them humble ;) It gives the younger kids a chance to practice leadership skills and gives the older kids a chance to help encourage those skills.  When the 16 year old is reporting to the 7 year old in the dinning room and the 7 yr old is not sure what to do the 16 year could say "Would you like me to wipe off the chairs while you do the table?".  This helps the younger child with the organization of the chore and gives the older child an opportunity to respect the younger one as a person.













Monday, November 10, 2014

Surviving Fridays

     Fridays are just really busy.  Do you have one day out of the week that is "just REALLY busy"?  In my life, friday is our enrichment group day; H.Y.P.E..  We do no formal schooling on this day, thus we only school a four day school week. I co-founded and run HYPE with my friend Tammy. Currently my home stores all the supplies for our 100 member group here on the Olympic Peninsula.
      Besides enrichment, we also go to the pool on friday afternoons.  My Brownies (my bonus kids who are my only children with brown hair.  There is no "your kids/my kids", they are all ours but since these 3 are in and our of our home we needed to come up with a name),... anyway, they need to be dropped off and  picked up from 2 different public schools as well.  Its a busy day.
     Fridays actually start on Thursday:

  • get class supply list from all teachers
  • pack each teachers supply bag
  • grab all clean up supplies
  • pack above totes in car
  • pack swim gear and shower gear for 10 children
  • pack in van (behind the HYPE stuff though)
  • pack lunches for 7 kids and one adult (don't put in van until morning because some stuff might be refrigerated items)
  •  pack snacks for 10 starving children who will have been swimming for several hours, put in food bag by front door
  • put all school back packs and HYPE back packs and bag full of toys for little boys who get done swimming early all in the van.
  • Have kids set out the outfits they intend on wearing the next day.  This is more for the girls than the boys.  The girls can take FOR-EVVVVV-ER some days.
     That concludes Thursday packing.  It's like a 2 hour event.  Next semester will be easier because we will have a supply closet at the building we are using.  For now though, we are getting'er done!

     Come friday morning, I get up at 6:45 and get dressed.  I then get up the 10 children and they get dresses, do their rooms and before breakfast chores (feed chickens/dog/start laundry/make bf).  We Eat (usually over night crockpot oatmeal or pre made muffins and fruit) do a speedy version of after breakfast chores.  Load little people into van and big people do a very quick once over on the house.  We are out in the Van and on our way by 7:40-45.
     Yes.  You read that correctly.  It only takes me 40 minutes to get all 11 of us out of the house; providing we do all the things on Thursday night.

     We then drive 20 minutes into town to drop one Brownie off at one school, then 2 more Brownies off at another school.  Then there is a 90 min wait until I can go open the building we used for HYPE.  Last week I went to Tammys house and she gave me tea.  Lavender tea makes everything better =)  I think I should do this every Friday Tammy =)
     At 9:30 we open the HYPE building and go about unloading half the van, opening up and dropping supplies off in each room, and lamenting over everything that was forgotten at home (it happens) lol.  Classes start at 10.

     From 10 until about 12:30 I am in a constant state of whirlwind.  Being a director of this program and in our 1st year as a full fledged enrichment group, there are hick ups that happen and nothing is ever perfectly smooth.  All the moms in our program are fantastic and they make this program WORK!!!!  I am honored to be apart of it and so glad to be able to handle the "stuff that comes up" so that each class can continue on.  I also teach three classes myself and am very thankful to my oldest daughter, F15g, who often covers for me in Art Class so that I can run around like a chicken with her head cut off doing other things.  Next semester will be different =)

     By 12:30 I am usually wolfing down food, thanking H13g for picking up the little boys for me from their classes and trying to get in some "mom" conversation.  This happens all too quickly!  Around 1, clean up begins.  So many pitch in and it makes clean up pretty smooth.  We are normally done by 1:30 and heading to the pool.  And Sherry.... well bless Sherry because she is heading to the coffee shop (The black bird Cafe, where, by the way, you can buy F15's crocheted items at), to get some kind of coffee happiness for me and some other moms.  Bless you Sherry!!!!
     We make it to the pool by 1:45.  My van has seen better days.  Like Wednesday.  Thats a pretty good day for "Hot Mama 10" (yes that is what we call the Van).  We fall out of the van with pool baskets and snacks and the water bottle basket providing we didn't leave it at home like last week thus causing 10 children to be VERY thirsty and wanting my water bottle that I grabbed with my own two hands because I do not like to be thirsty.  And Yes I am the mom that will make them all go use the water faucet.  Except the youngest ones.  I will share with them because if I don't I need to go lift them up to the water faucet and I can't have a big kid do it because they are all still in the water.
     We check in, the grab their gear, I try and make the sitting area not look like a thrift store threw up on it and then I sit.  I sit with my mom friends and drink coffee and pretend like its not 4,000 degrees in the pool area and that its not as loud as a football game at the "Clink".  We Moms then sigh, and sit and talk and pass out food as exhausted children come crawling out of the pool.
     My Brownies get out of school and take the bus to the pool.  Usually they also get some swim time in.  Swimming ends and we are leaving the pool between 4 and 5 depending on if my oldest Brownie, Jo12b, gets to swim because he get there just before 4 and most of the kids are pretty trashed by then.

     We get home, usually 5:30ish and have to unload and put away alllllll the HYPE stuff, allllllll the wet pool stuff, alllllll the back packs, allllllll the food bags and alllll the toys.  Packing is way nices looking than unpacking.  We have a system and it works but the site of all that stuff being shoved back into my house makes me want to find a dark closet and hid in it!  We get it all done though anf crash by 6.

     Oh wait.  These people are hungry again.  I have to feed people.  My day is not done.  Its usually something easy; popcorn dinner, bean and cheesers, muffins, pizza bread. Something I can do in 20 min or less.  I usually let them do dinner and a short movie like AFV or Man Vs Wild or something.  Anything that will be done no later than 7-7:30 so they can all go to bed (they can read until 8 and then lights out).  After dinner chores get done, thus the house is tidy and, by 7:30, its usually quiet.
     My husband and I eat something easy to conjure up and I melt into the couch.  I am pretty sure more lavender tea is needed =)

     OH Fridays!  Busy, wonderful,  exhausting Fridays.  You are a lot of work and I pretty much need all weekend to recover from you.  But I like you.  My kids LOVE you.  I shall keep you.
     
  
      

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

check out "10 things you should know about homeschool moms!" from WUS


So I have the privilege of actually knowing Kris from Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers  she posted her "10 things you should know..." today and I LOVED it!    Click here to READ IN FULL

Here is my favorite out of the 10...

7. Sometimes we lie awake at night worrying that we’re ruining our kids.
"Sometimes fear and doubt strike. It’s usually late at night, when the house is quiet and we’re lying awake unable to sleep. Maybe those things you said to us on our blogs or in the checkout line at Wal-mart start buzzing in our heads.
Maybe it’s our own sense of inadequacy or the magnitude of the fact that our kids’ education rests squarely on our shoulders. Maybe it’s the thought that our kids might decide to blame everything that ever goes wrong in their lives on the fact that they were homeschooled.
Maybe it’s just indigestion. Whatever it is, there are those nights when we toss and turn, worrying that maybe all our doubts and fears will come true.
Most times, though, we wake up in the morning and realize that there will be inadequacies no matter how our kids are educated and that we really are doing okay.  And sometimes, we realize that there may be areas of weakness that we need to shore up in our kids or areas in which we, the parents, need to be more intentional, and we take steps to make that happen.
And we remember the things for which we blame our parents and realize that some of that is just human nature and has little to do with educational choices."


     I especially like the line she has Highlighted.  With three kids in the public school system I have see EXACTLY how in adequate that education is and (after I got over being appalled) I realized that I needed to lighten up on myself.  There really are inadequacies no matter what and I needed to stop beating myself up at night thinking I was failing my children based upon my own comparison to public education.

My top 10 reasons why I love Queen Homeschool Curriculum (queens shout out #2)

     It's no secret, I am not shy about it at all.  I absolutely love Queen Homeschool Curriculum (Queens for the rest of this blog).  Its a Charlotte Mason style Curric. but in  a user friendly "textbook" form.  I could gush about Queens all day but here are the top 10 reasons why I LOVE it!!!

1)     It's so easy to use.  all of their stuff has about the same format.  Either 180 lessons; one for each day of a school year, or by week; 35 weeks for a full school year and there is one lesson within those weeks per school day.  So its the same but laid out slightly different.  This make is extremely easy to use!!  You just pick it up and open it to the day you are on and do the day!

2)     It's gentle but thorough.  "Gentle" really is the best word I can describe for Queens.  It is not in the lease bit overwhelming.  The information and skills are given in small chunks allowing the student to learn in a non confrontational way.  I have NEVER had any of my child become frustrated with a lesson from Queens but I have had them get very frustrated using other things.  When I switched from Classical Ed to Queens I actually panicked because I didn't think something this easy, this gentle, this (dare I say it) fun would actually teach anything.  IT DOES!!!

3)     It's independent for the students.  Once they can read they are off!

4)     It keeps you connected to your students.   In my house I was noticing a trend... A learn through your environment  approach was too loose in sit down work and needed me to be too involved!!!  (hello! I could only take so many nature walks- just sayin'),  I couldn't do that with so many babies and being pregnant, so school did not get done very well.  But strict textbook style learning was so... disconnected.  I didn't feel involved and I missed what the older ones were doing.  Queens is perfect for while it teaches independence, within their lessons there are tons of "go read this to your parent", or "study this picture with your parent, or "have your parent dictate this to you and you copy it", etc.  AWESOME!  now I have independent learners who are told by the book to connect back with me- YES!

5)     The stories are fun!  In the science and math books (I have not used the math books but I know about them), the content is wrapped into a story.  The stories are lovely tales about kids and what they are doing and learning and you are learning right along with them.  Think of your favorite book, picture yourself in that book doing everything the characters are.  (I am really hoping at this point that you like to read nice books.  If you don't... exit stage left please).  Anyway, That is how Queens is.  Putting you in the story!  The stories by the way are not long and boring.  They are short and sweet and even the youngest of kids can sit in the living room and listen in!

6)     It's easy to catch up on.  It's inevitable that we will fall behind but with such gentle lessons its so easy to catch back up.... or work ahead!

7)     It works with all learning styles.  I have kids across the spectrum on learning styles here and we have easily made it work with all of them!

8)     Its easy to make their layout work for alternative schedules.  We actually do a 4 day school week and we have enrichment classes on fridays.  It has never been hard making Queens work with this schedule.

9)     The history/science/geography/bible can all be done "one room school house" style.  This is where you teach everyone the same thing at the same time but the application is different.
    Ex: We can all read the same history lesson but the application that is done for the 3rd grader will be way different than that of the 5th grader.
    Ex 2;  Last year I did Mary's Meadow with 1st-7th grade.  My younger students needed more help in their book as their reading wasn't up to the level of that book (upper middle school/jr high) and there were some things I just skipped with them and had them draw me a picture but it was still doable and they learned a ton!  My 5th and 7th graders were able to do all the applications and way more on the research end and my 5th grader even started her own gardening business and made over $600 this past summer.  So there ya go!

10)     My kids love it!  The one year we changed to something else they did it willingly but they were not thrilled.  They had good attitudes and they gave this other CM type curriculum a great go of it BUT they were not in love with it and by the midway point they were asking if we could "please go back to Queens?" next year.  We did and There we have stayed!




***note: to be fair, I also use Mystery of History for history along with some of Queens history and Teaching Textbooks and Khan for math.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

My homeschooling Journey intro =) and my first "QUEENS" shout out =)

     I have been homeschooling now for 11 years (good grief!  That makes me feel VERY old) and have been around the block in my homeschool approach, style and curriculum choices.  It took many years to figure out what my "bent" was and what curriculum really fit that bent.  There is sooooo very much I want to share about homeschooling but this particular post will just be a glimpse, a platform if you will, to build off of.

     A little (very little) about where I started and where I landed.  Short story: I started off very Classical Education. You know, "The Well Trained Mind", Latin, Saxon Math, etc.. Then this thing happened where it wasn't working.... at all... But I soldiered on.  Then there were the "muddled years" where everything just kinda blended into moving and babies and an obstinate first child... and more moving and more babies.  And for some reason the whole  Classical approach was still not working.  So I jumped (desperately tried to survive) into "box curriculum" (you know the kind that is easy to use and comes in a box.... boring) and it limped us along through the "muddled years" as I switched on and off between  using the box stuff  and the Classical Approach to procure superior minded children (HA!).
    Then this amazing thing... (okay- so have I ever told a "short story"?  moving on...)... yes this AH-MAZE-ING thing happened at a homeschool conference.  I saw this!!!



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     This one language arts book change my life.  I mean,  CHAH-ANGED, people.  It introduced me to Queens Homeschool. This in turn introduced me to Charlotte Mason Style teaching.  Oh mylanta (Thanks Tammy for getting that phrase in my head), and all of a sudden we were schooling, AND!!!!! we were liking it, AND!!!!! it was easy to use, AND!!!!! it was working, AND!!!!!! it continues to work to this day!
     One day I will write more specifically on how our first day went because it was a pretty comical day and it showed me just how stressed out my older kids were on our "Classical Muddled" education.

    Since finding Queens, I have only strayed for one year when I decided to try something else, it was fine but we came back to using mostly all Queens.  I don't want to name that "strayed year curric" yet because its actually a fantastic curric and I plan on talking about it one day.  I do not want anyone ruined from accepting its own awesomeness just because I only did it for one year.

  Also when I first started out with Queens they did not have math or history so I found other things that worked for us that still kept with the style of teaching I had landed on.  As Queens has grown I have tried their history but not their math...maybe one day.  Math is entirely a different post altogether as well.  We shall barely speak of it here.
     My "short story" has turned quite lengthy (was anyone really shocked?) and I still have an incredible amount of stuff I want to say about Queens and my homeschooling journey in general but for now this "little" intro should wet your pallet and hopefully you want to hear more.



Sunday, November 2, 2014

"It's a good full"

     That's my answer when I hear, "You've got your hands full".  It's not that people are being rude (though some are, its not the norm), it's just that the idea of having 10 children is a bit overwhelming for most people.  I get it though, having 3 children is overwhelming!  Add 7 more to the equation and your brain might explode!  Hahaha!  None-the-less, I do have 10.  Now, let me tell you a little about me and why, "It's a good full".

     My oldest is 15 and my current youngest is 4.  We have 6 boys and 4 girls.  We are a blended family in which, I came with 7 and my husband with 3.  He adopted my 7 and his 3 we share 50/50 custody with his X.
      Being blended doesn't make us any different from other families.  He is "Dad", I am "Mom" the kids are all sibling and we are living our life to the Glory of God and not our gain.  The only difference is that 3 of the children spend half of each week at their "Mum's" house.  (We have long weeks and short weeks).
     Due to the "blendiness" (is that a word?) of our family, we are in the unique position to both homeschool and public school.   I also co run an  enrichment group here in the Pacific North West and am working to get another fantastical group up and running in our area soon ( can you say "Cotillion", more on that later).
     We live on almost 12 acres of land.  I have a garden, chickens, pigs. a dog and lots of "wild".  I am not a homesteader, nor do I have a farm.  When you have as many children as I do though, its better if you can raise some of your own food ;)  We bake all our own bread and yes I have sour dough starter, kefir and kombucha... and yes the children consume all (although the husband only embraces the sour dough ;).
     I am a "jack of all trades; master of none" and can "fake it 'till I make it" on almost everything. I enjoy a plethora of things but mostly the company of the people I love!

     With so many older children now, the days of true "frazzlement" (again with a made up word) of being the only "big person" amongst all the "little people" is gone.  For the most part, we are a smooth operating machine.  Even on our "off days", we all know what the normative estate is and we fall back to that quickly.
     Having a large family (or any size family) definitely makes your hands full. I am thankful for the large family that God gave me.  I would, for sure, not be the Mom I am today if it was not for having so many children.  God has used, and continues to use, the size of my family to refine me and make me more like Jesus.  10 children is a lot and my hands are very full but,  "It's a good full".

~Minda