January 31, 2014

January 2014 Update

Helloooooooo 2014!

Here we are in another year. I think this one might be my best yet. I have a thing for numbers and 14 is my ultimate favorite. I always picked it in high school for my jersey number. Only time will tell how this one truly turns out.

In typical New Year's fashion, we ate at Cracker Barrel and I made some resolutions. The next day a doula baby was born and a few days after that we picked up Skylar from Bham. She had a great trip! Probably her best so far. The older she gets, the more fun "grandparent week" is becoming for everyone involved.

We ultimately did decide to officially move forward with homeschooling! We celebrated in typical Bishop style. With ice cream, of course.
It's been going surprisingly well. I'll admit, I was super nervous. I truly had no idea how we were going to manage the day-in-day-out logistics. She's doing great! We have found our temporary new grove and we are both clicking right along. She's getting her school work done in just a few hours (pretty independently, I might add) and I'm still getting all of my job assignments done during the day time. We've just finished our 4th week, which seems crazy! It has truly flown by. You can follow our homeschool adventures here.
For the last 2 weeks Mike has been working with his buddy helping him with a big job servicing 18-wheelers. The job site is 2-hours from home so he's spent several nights away each week and this will probably continue for a little while. While our budget said it was time for him to go back to work, we've really missed him. We had gotten used to having him around. The whole venture into homeschool has been a big adjustment to our schedule and so has him traveling. 2014 has started us off in a bit of flux but I think we've all handled it amazingly well. Even with me having tLG around 24/7 it's honestly not been bad at all. I kind of laugh sometimes at the person I've become. Things that would typically have my Type A personality in a tizzy don't seem to phase me anymore. Y'all, that's totally the Lord. His peace really is beyond all understanding. In fact, over the years He's changed my heart so much that I'm not sure what letter I am anymore. And I'm good with that. LOL!

Another big change is that I'm doing a hard core cleanse/diet for the first time in, I don't know, EVER! I don't do diets. I love food too much. I go to hot yoga so I can eat what I want. I'm not opposed to cleanses. I actually think they are good for the body, but they kinda scare me. However, I read enough things that convinced me that my sugar tooth wasn't hereditary and that it was possible to make the constant cravings stop and give me more energy. I'm always up for more energy. An added perk was dropping a few pounds. So this "candida" diet forbids eating sugar or anything that your body would break down into sugar. That basically means that it's dairy free, carb free, gluten free, and sugar free all in one. I'm pretty much on meat, veggies, select nuts and seeds. You are also supposed to take supplements morning and evening and I have done so faithfully. As of Day 12, the only thing this diet has been good for is to make me cranky and irritable. I haven't gotten the huge energy boost I was hoping for and the scale hasn't moved. To my knowledge. (Note: We don't keep scales in our house. I weighed at my mom's and it was the same as my last doctor visit). The original goal was to make it to 14 days then 30 days. I'm going to try my best to make it these last 2 days and then I'm throwing in the towel. Maybe not completely but it does seem that my body could care less either way. I'm done with grumpy, that's for sure. If my weight and energy level stays the same whether I eat ice cream or not, I'll totally take the ice cream. That makes me happy!

Last but not least, our girl turned SEVEN this month. Grandma took her to lunch and shopping on her birthday and we celebrated that weekend with a science-themed party full of wacky experiments. I thought it really turned out fun and interactive for the kids.
I was thankful that our homeschool set up allowed me to be with tLG most of the day on her birthday including the actual time of her birth when we shared this special moment.
That same night I was with a doula client delivering her 1st baby and it was kind of surreal. I'm sad to say that she may be my last client for a while. I've decided to take some time off to help us really get adjusted to homeschool life. My sister is also getting married in March and I want to be available for her special days leading up to the wedding. I'm still open to taking repeat clients, working for friends and doing some backup work but I'm not planning to pack my doula schedule as tight as before. Being on call constantly is hard sometimes.

We are spending the weekend in Birmingham for my sister's bridal shower. We also have some flower girl dress shopping to do. I know you will definitely want to stay tuned to hear how that goes. Dresses aren't quite Skylar's thing, if ya know what I mean.

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January 2014 in Pictures

Don't forget to read our January 2014 Update.
Hanging with Yah Yah and Briella in Bham. 
 Celebrating our withdrawal from public school!
 The moment she turned SEVEN!
She saved up to get an iPad Mini.
 SLIME!
 "I love my teacher. Top Secret."
Homeschool
Some of her Fiddlesticks creations 

January 28, 2014

Handwriting Improvements

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One of the first things I had hoped to tackle in homeschool is tLG's handwriting. It was atrocious, as in sloppy and smushed. She had also gotten into a bad habit of writing in all capital letters that wasn't corrected along the way.

In Montessori there are several things that work themselves out over time and you just don't worry about them. For example, children are encouraged to spell using "sounds" or phonetically. The word may not always be correct English but you can sound it out and it makes sense. This is to encourage their confidence. "Look, you did it! You can spell." Once children start reading, they see the words in a book and the brain makes the connection and they automatically start to use the correct spelling in their writing. At least that's the way it was explained to me.

I assumed handwriting was the same way. Once she started reading the words in a book, her brain would make the connection and she would start using mixed case. The only problem is, she didn't.

So...

We are working our way through a handwriting workbook and I've also been encouraging lots of tracing and copy work. I even promised her that we would learn cursive (she's been begging for a year) if she got her print under control. I sometimes doubted that she would ever get better. It was BAD, y'all!

Fast Forward>>>

We celebrated her birthday with a science-themed party and I decided Thank You Notes would be a good handwriting activity along with a lesson in grace & courtesy. We worked on 2 cards per day. Below is a picture of the first card she wrote (top) and the last one (bottom).
It's practically a night and day difference, don't cha think? I was so amazed. I know it's still not great but there are actually spaces between words and division of lines. There are also more lower case letters. Small victory, people!

I also had to keep my promise to start teaching cursive. I started with these pre-cursive tracing worksheets and then we used some left over colored sand in a tray for finger drawing.

I dare say she might turn out with decent penmanship after all. Maybe her cursive will turn out even prettier than her print. Only time will tell. 

January 27, 2014

Grumpy Growth Spurt

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My girl got off to a dilly dally start this morning. I was kinda with her. Hubby left early for work so I've been up early too.

Very quickly I realized that this day was not off to a good start. She was weepy and easily frustrated. She was also tired and starving and having pains in her legs. Hellloooooo growth spurt!


So we took a break and had some snacks and she spent quite a bit of time snuggled in my lap. We eventually powered through all of her lessons and had lunch. It was fine. Really. The day is looking up.


But it made me wonder....


How many times has she gone through a growth spurt and I didn't even notice because she was at school? 


How many times was she starving but I didn't know because I generally packed the same amount of food in her lunch box every day? 


How many times did she have to power through school being exhausted because of these pesky little growth spurts? 


Sometimes a kiddo just needs to curl up into a nest of stuffed animals to feel better. ;)

Today I'm thankful for the snuggles I got to give and receive. I'm also thankful that our new schooling set up allows me to be much more in tune with my daughter's needs so that I can recognize, respond and comfort in a much quicker fashion.

I'll go ahead and add that little perk to my ever growing "benefits of homeschool" list.

January 23, 2014

Science-Themed Birthday Party


Our girl turned SEVEN last week and we celebrated with a Super Science Party complete with 7 fun and wacky experiments!

Invites were curtesy of Pinterest ideas and my graphically talented bestie.

Warm Up Activity: Marshmallows & Toothpicks

This allowed the kids to stay busy while we waited for everyone to arrive. There were some pretty cool structures.

Note: Any remaining toothpicks and marshmallows were put into a Ziplock and labeled with their name and placed on a side table with their creation on top. This served as a holding area for all of the finished experiments. After a project was over, I would simply ask the kids to take their item and place it with their bag.
Experiment #1: Growing Bugs

I found these little capsules at the Dollar Tree. You put them in warm water and watch them expand. There were several different colors and bugs in the pack.
Experiment #2: Fizzy Balloons 

We prefilled these test tubes with vinegar and allowed the kids to use a funnel to pour them into an empty water bottle. Each child was then given a balloon that had been prefilled with 3 T of baking soda. You attach the balloon to the opening of the bottle and tip in the baking soda. The reaction causes gas to inflate the balloon.
Experiment #3: Milk Fireworks

Fill a cookie sheet pan with milk. I allowed volunteers to come up and put drops of food coloring in and the birthday girl got to squeeze in drops of dish soap, which caused the colors to "explode" and swirl into a tie-dye type pattern.
Experiment #4: Mentos & Diet Coke

It was a cold day so the kids watched from the window as hubby performed this experiment outside. They used a paper towel holder to drop in 3 Mentos for round #1 and 6 Mentos for round #2. This experiment was a crowd favorite!

Note: You must have Diet Coke (brand name) and Mint Mentos. In case you were wondering, my hubby is 6' tall and this went way over his head.
Experiment #5: Elephant Toothpaste

For this you start with an empty 2L bottle. Add in 1/2 cup of 6% hydrogen peroxide, food coloring, and 1 T. of dish soap. Next, in a separate cup, mix together 3 T. of warm water with 1 packet of dry yeast for 30 seconds. Pour that mixture into the bottle and watch it foam out the top.

Note: We were only able to find 3% hydrogen peroxide. It still worked but I think it would have been thicker and less foamy if we would have stopped by a beauty supply store for the 6%.
Experiment #6: Snow

A tube of this can also occasionally be found at the Dollar Tree or you can order Grow Snow online. It's super easy. You dump the contents of the tube into a clear bowl and add water. The kids loved feeling the snow!
Experiment #7: Slime

There are a variety of different recipes for this. We decided on corn starch and water. Put 1 cup corn starch in a bowl, add 1/2 cup water, food coloring and mix together. This "slime" has an interesting texture. When sitting in the bowl, it seems solid but when you turn the bowl, it pours easily. If you squeeze it with your hand, it turns into a solid. If you relax your hand, it oozes.
Note: This experiment should be done last because it's super messy. We used an inexpensive black table cloth that we rolled up and trashed after this experiment. Kids will also need to wash their hands, which now makes them and the table both clean, just in time for cake and ice cream.

Goody Boxes

I also wanted our take home gifts to be science related so I ordered these science journals, life cycle puzzles, and dino claw excavation kits. The kids loved the claws. They were already wanting to dig them out before they left.
Just For Fun 

We also had a pitcher full of water beads. I found mine in the floral section of Hobby Lobby. This was a hit with kids of all ages, including the adults. No one could resist the desire to reach in and feel them. Because I knew they would be a hit, I packed up some in little round tins and included them in the goody bags.
Overall, it was a very fun party. It took a lot of prep work to put the experiments together in advance so that the party would flow smoothly for the kids. I also had several adult helpers, which made it easier too!

Still can't believe that this girl is SEVEN!

January 22, 2014

I Love My Teacher

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Today, this little gem showed up on my desk. It melted my heart. I know she loves me, but now she loves me in a new way, as her teacher.
As you can see, it was marked "Top Secret." From Day 1 she has told me how much she loves homeschool, which is great! The only problem is, she's afraid to tell anyone else. She thinks that she's going to get in trouble if someone from her school finds out. Almost all of her praise comes with a disclaimer (don't tell any teachers, top secret, ect). If someone asks us about homeschool while we are out in public, she usually responds with a shy or timid, "it's good." If you know tLG, being bashful is not her norm.

I think this fear will work itself out over time. For now, I'm just going to cling to this special little piece of paper. I may even frame it!

January 20, 2014

Our Best Day Yet

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Today was our best so far. I've got a new system that I've been trying out for the past couple of days that seems to be working perfectly.

Instead of expecting her to follow along with the computer instructions for Easy Peasy Homeschool, I go ahead and open up all the websites she needs to look at for that day. When she clicks on a new tab, I give her verbal instructions for what she is supposed to accomplish. Once she has completed a task, she can "X" out the tab and move on to the next one.

Another thing I've been doing is sticking to bigger chunks of 2-3 subjects a day versus small bits of 5-6 per day. We still get the same amount done over a week's time but it's more concentrated on a daily basis. I've tried this for the past 3-4 days and it's been working gloriously. She's finishing up her school work in about 2-2.5 hours versus the 3.5-4 it was taking us before. This leaves more time for us to work on life skills and gives an opportunity for her to delve deeper into researching whatever her little heart's desire is for that day.

Today, she spent a huge chunk of time playing with her Fiddlesticks. She built so many different contraptions, including these two little chairs for her classmates. I love the creativity!
With our new system, I am actually able to get some of my work done while she is doing her school work. Today, I even managed to get in SIX hours of work. Granted, it was a MLK holiday for Metro so our neighbors were out of school and she spent the afternoon playing outside with them. Still, I think I would have been able to get a solid 4 hours in today no problem. All that with zero TV or electronics. Go, us!

I dare say we might be finding our groove (knocks on wood).

Affiliate link included. I do love me some Amazon!

January 16, 2014

Homeschool Birthday

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We didn't do homeschool today. Why? Because tLG turned SEVEN today. And because we can. ;) This is quite possibly my favorite perk of homeschool.

I have a habit of not making birthdays very special and I'm trying to change that. My birthday is in December right next to the hustle and bustle of Christmas. It gets lost in the mix and that's totally okay, really. However, because I'm so used to my birthday being under celebrated I just have never really gotten into the habit of making other people's birthdays important either. In fact, I'm not even really a fan of birthday parties. I honestly don't get the point. I'm constantly late on sending cards or forgetting to call or text at all on your special day. Birthdays are just another day to me. It's lame, I know. The moral of the story is, if Staci forgets your birthday, don't take it personally. :/

I realize I've been doing the same thing to my girl. Birthdays are a lackluster affair around here. Last year I even managed to talk her out of wanting a birthday party altogether. I offered her a party at the place of her choice or an iPod touch, and I sold the later option pretty hard. Yes, bribery. I should be saving for her future counseling sessions now.

As you know, I have a thing for numbers and SEVEN is a pretty important one, so I wanted to make this birthday special in general. I agreed to the party and we are looking forward to a science-themed celebration complete with 7 funky experiments. We will have cake, ice cream, friends, balloons, goody bags... the whole nine yards. Go, me!

Today is her actual birthDAY and I wanted to make that special too, so I declared it a school-free day! Another perk of homeschool is that I actually got to be with my girl on her birthday. We even shared this special moment at the exact time of her birth! How cool is that?!
Typically, I have to drag her out of bed and send her to school. Sure, we take goodies to her class and do her "Walk Around the Sun" Montessori celebration but the whole deal only takes about 30 minutes. And making treats and goody bags for 20 kids is not my favorite activity. 

Her 7th birthday went a little different. She woke up on her own and I was able to snuggle her in bed for a few moments to wish her a happy birthday. A few days ago she mentioned bagels and cream cheese being her favorite so we shared a leisurely breakfast over her requested items. Mike was home this morning so she was able to hang out with him while I did some work. Then, Grandma treated us to lunch at Rainforest Cafe. 
After lunch, we also did a little birthday shopping around the mall. Y'all, the mall is super quiet during the day. It was awesome! Only one person, our fave Build-A-Bear employee, asked why she wasn't in school today. I figured she would have responded with "it's my birthday." Nope. She gave a big ole grin and didn't hesitate to state "I'm homeschooled." Jen smiled back and said, "that explains it!" It was a good day. A special day. A birthday to be celebrated. 

Happy Birthday tLG! I was so happy to spend today with you and I can.not.wait to see what this year will hold for you. SEVEN is super special!

January 14, 2014

UnEnrolling From Public School

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So, I did it! I withdrew my child from public school today. I withdrew her from a Montessori speciality school that we can't get back into. It was a risky move. I can't send her back if this doesn't work out. I explained the process to tLG and asked her if she was CERTAIN she wanted to homeschool. Her answers ranged from 1000% sure to 50,000% sure with no hesitation in between. I even took a video and recorded her answer just in case she decides to change her mind tomorrow. It's called CYA, people! Kids can be indecisive little boogers.

I had sent the school office and her teacher a heads-up email and requested that they get everything ready so it was a pretty seamless process to withdraw her. They had a complete copy of her records and her school supplies all packaged up and ready to go. I had to fill out a form and, after a few hugs, I was good to go. tLG had requested not to go into the school today so she hung out at a friend's house while I did the deed. She did give me instructions to say goodbye to her teacher and the principal via photo.
As I walked out of the school with my little package of paperwork and supplies I couldn't quite decide if I wanted to have a mini dance party and squeal out of the parking lot or if I wanted to puke and hope that no one saw me. I'm on quite the emotional roller coaster these days.

There's only one solution when you don't know what else to do. Ice cream.

So, I picked up my girl and her friend and we headed for ice cream. For lunch. On a school day. Because that's how we roll. We celebrated our official transfer to homeschool at the local Baskin Robbins. There is quite a bit of appropriateness to that. For us. It was kinda perfect!
While there are still a ton of you who are encouraging us (THANK YOU!!), there are still a few comments here and there that make me question this whole thing. I suppose everything we do as parents gets questioned at one point or another. I've always claimed that I'm simply trying to make it the best I know how. Please know that this was not an easy decision. The easiest thing for me to do would be to leave my kid in free childcare for 7 hours a day and keep all of my Stanford mom friends. That would be the easy and fun thing to do! I'm choosing what's in the best interest of my child. It's not easy and sometimes not fun either. I've said it a million times before, especially to new moms, that you are your child's only advocate in this world. It's a job I take very seriously. This adventure is just another way in which I'm advocating for my kiddo.

Y'all, she's noticeably happier and that's a big thumbs up that we are headed in the right direction.

January 13, 2014

I Quit the PTO

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Homeschool took forever today. Part of it was because I had several conference calls and we would basically have to stop in order for those to happen. But we still managed to get both of our work done and nobody cried. That's a successful day of homeschool, in my book.

Today, Skylar tLG started her Engineering for Kids class. She was super pumped to go and really enjoyed the class. She has had an interest in building things for quite some time, which is what prompted me to search for an engineering class to start with. She was the only girl in the class, not surprising, but all but one of the teachers were female so that was reassuring. Girls can be engineers too! This first session is mechanical engineering and the next session is aerospace engineering. I'm so excited for her to have this opportunity.

Tonight was bittersweet. I attended my last PTO meeting and turned over all of my files. I've been involved with the PTO ever since we started attending Stanford and I've served on the Board as Secretary for the last 18 months. Sitting at the conference room table tonight was kinda like being in the Twilight Zone. Part of me is still vested in the events and programs and future ventures of the PTO. The other part of me is totally vested in homeschooling and I'm looking forward to what that's going to transform into for our family. I was really trying not to be interested in the planning going on at the table, but the truth is, I kinda want to know how things turn out over there. It's like my brain was being pulled in two different directions. I'm gonna miss those ladies. They were amazing to work with!
Tomorrow I'm fulling planning to withdraw her. It's the 14th and, as you may remember, I have a thing for numbers. ;)



January 10, 2014

Doubts, Joy, Faith & Trust

I still haven't pulled the trigger on un-enrolling Skylar from Stanford. I've really started to question why. So, my thought process went a little something like this. Be warned, it gets a little heated in my head. It's also pretty comical up there. 

********************************

Why haven't you dis-enrolled her yet?

Obviously, I'm scared. 

But why? 

There is no plan B. Once I pull her out, I can't put her back.

Why would you want to put her back?

For starters, it's the only Montessori school we can afford and I do love Montessori. And, what if I just can't handle schooling her and doing my job at the same time?

But it's been going fine so far, right?

Yes, but I'm waiting for it to suck. I'm waiting for her to declare that she hates homeschool and she misses her friends and I'm a bad teacher and this was just a horrible idea because it's impossible to do school + work and then I'm stuck with her at home for the next 10 YEARS and I will have to quit my job and we will be broke. 

Is it a horrible idea?

No, it's a good idea. There are a million benefits to homeschooling and very few benefits to public school. 

Then why are you still considering putting her back at Stanford?

BECAUSE IT'S FREE CHILDCARE AND I CAN DO MY WORK IN PEACE AND QUIET!

Ah, I see. At least we are being honest now. Is having peace & quiet for your job worth sacrificing your child's education and well being?

Not really, but it's easier for me. 

That part may be easier but what about all of the other things that public school makes more difficult?

You make a good point. But, what if this isn't what the Lord wants for her? What if I'm doing all of this out of convenience for me?

Why would you think God doesn't want you to homeschool?

Because he hasn't given me a clear sign. I don't have peace about it like I thought I would. I'm still scared. 

What would you consider a clear sign?

Um, a large, flashing, Vegas-style sign that says either "Homeschool" or "Stanford". That would be super!

Yeah, I doubt that's gonna happen. Why do you need a sign?

Because I'm scared that if I don't follow His will that I will pay for it down the road. 

Why would you think that? Has it happened before?

Yes, there have been times that, even when I thought I was following the lead of the Holy Spirit, somewhere along the way something difficult would happen that made me question if I was even listening to His directions in the first place. Maybe, instead, I had decided a plan and asked for God's stamp of approval rather than letting him direct me, and now I'm paying for it. 

****Folks, this is where the A-Ha moment happened.**** 

Do you think that maybe Satan was trying to steal your joy.... and you let him? Did you get discontent when things got uncomfortable instead of trusting that God had you exactly where you needed to be?

Again, you make a valid point. Let me think on that for a bit. 

*******************************

And I did think on that for a bit. I went back over several of my life scenarios and I decided that in many, if not all, of them Satan was stealing my joy. I would let one hiccup ruin the entire experience and, therefore, I would question whether I was even on the right path. 

I've said from the beginning that this is going to be a leap of faith. It's possibly the biggest one of my life so far. Like, HUGE! Major!

I have a feeling that I'm not going to have any peace until I do the deed and withdraw her from Metro. The lingering possibility that I could send her back just causes me to dwell on the "what ifs" and that's causing doubt. 

This is definitely a trust issue so I think I'll do just that. Besides, I'm counting on the following two verses to hold true now and forevermore. 

Proverbs 16:9 - A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps. 

Psalm 37:23-24 – The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.

AND THAT WHOLE "NEW MERCIES" THING? Yeah, I gotta have that. Fo Sho!





January 9, 2014

Homeschool Day 2

Today it actually took FOUR hours to complete Easy Peasy Homeschool. That's longer than yesterday. Oh boy!

There are a couple of things at play here that I think will shake out over time. 

1. tLG is still fascinated by all of the new things in our homeschool room. She's easily distracted by stuff to look at. I'm glad she's eager to explore all of our new stuff. 

2. Homeschool is giving her ideas. She does one assignment and that gives her an idea of something else we should do. Which is great! That's kinda the point. 

3. She has classmates that seem to always need to be snuggled or take a nap or need a new book to read. Yes, this could be considered an unwelcome distraction but, as I said yesterday, she's using her imagination. This makes me happy!

4. This is not Montessori. All the instructions are given via the computer screen and that's a big adjustment for her. It seems to be difficult for her to remember to come back to the main page for her next assignment. A lot of our lag time is after she completes a task but before I redirect her back to get her next assignment. I knew this was going to be an issue going in so we are just working our way through it. No big deal. 

5. She's looking for reassurance.  She's so happy to be homeschooled and she wants to make sure I'm happy to. I can see that she's trying to please me with her work and she wants to be right next to me so I can affirm that she's doing something correctly. She also requests random hugs and kisses and returns them equally as often. Bless it!

A few interesting tidbits from today. Metro started back today so I asked her...

Me: Did you miss seeing your friends today?
tLG: Noooooo. I don't have any friends. 
Me: Oh, well did you miss your teacher or Ms. Dillehay (principal)?
tLG: Well, I may have missed Ms. Dillehay a little bit. 

All of the above makes me sad. 1) She thinks she has no friends at school and 2) that she would miss her principal more than anybody. Ms. D has really been fantastic! 

It was kind of weird to not drive to school this morning or pack a lunch. And when I got the automated call that my child was absent from school, I kinda felt like I was in trouble. We haven't officially withdrawn yet. I'm waiting to bite that bullet until the last possible second. Eek!

During the last semester we picked up two other little girls in the afternoons a few days a week. Today was my last day to get them so Skylar went with me and we sat in the car line together. 

tLG: Did you have to do this EVERY day?
Me: Yep!
tLG: Well now I know how goldfish feels.

Lol! Yes, they are kinda similar and that's certainly a daily task that I won't miss. 

Our favorite assignment for today was this science lesson where she had to reach in a bag and identify objects by how they feel and then we had to determine if they were biotic or abiotic. It's possible that I learned some new vocabulary today too. ;)
Tonight at dinner, tLG tried something new. It had spinach in it. I thought for sure that she would put up a fight. She ate everything I gave her. This was HUGE! Usually by dinner time she is too grumpy and exhausted to try anything and she just whines and cries and makes everyone's dinner miserable. Not tonight. Y'all, my girl is coming back to me, already. THIS is why we homeschool. 

January 8, 2014

Homeschool - Day 1

So, here we are on day 1 and we survived. Go, us!

I've had quarterly meetings for the past 2 days which means I was stuck in an office in Brentwood from sun up til sun down. Hubby has held down the fort for the past couple of days but it was mainly just an attempt to get her into the routine of doing something along the lines of homeschool. They did some reading and worksheets and puzzles.

Today we started Easy Peasy All-In-One Homeschool. This was the best solution I could find until I have time to sort out all of the other comprehensive curriculum choices. In fact, this alone is a pretty decent program and it's free. Score! It addresses Language/Reading, Math, Bible, History, Science, and Arts on a daily basis. We started on Day 1 of First Year (Math & Language/Reading) and Day 1 of Year 1 (Bible, Science, History, Art).

It took us about 3 hours to get through the material today. That was a little more time than I think it should have taken but we are in a major adjustment period. All of the instructions are given online and it takes you to various links on the web to complete your assignments. For a Montessori kid, that's not the norm. However, one of her favorite activities from today was this online sound mixer for nature sounds.

As I suspected, she loves the big rug in our homeschool room and was very eager to complete any print outs sitting on the floor with her clip board. Tomorrow I may try putting the laptop in the floor too.

The other reason that homeschool took a little longer was because we had several "friends" join us today. They all needed books and occasionally had to have nap time and snacks. While it was a bit of an inconvenience I really didn't mind because she was using her imagination.
I'm hoping that in time she will continue to get more efficient and independent at doing her school work. For now, I'm making the investment to teach her and train her and it's a good feeling indeed. I anticipate that sit down work should take about 2 hours. I plan to make up the other 2 hours through real-life experience (playing, cooking, cleaning, traveling, extra-curricular activities, ect). When it was all said and done, we gave a big high 5 because we did it!
But then the real work began of me trying to get my job done while keeping the little girl entertained. It wasn't super easy but it wasn't difficult either. I managed to work for 4 hours today and she only watched TV for 1.5 hours of that. It may not sound like it to others, but I'm considering that a win for the home team and a successful day of homeschool.

And then I got this sweet little note that read, "Mom - Sorry I was so annoying today. I'm new to homeschool." Bless her precious little soul. She makes me melt. Tonight she told me, "Don't tell anyone else but I think I like homeschool more than regular school." THIS right here is the reason we are homeschooling. Because I adore her sweet little spirit and don't often get to see it or experience it because public school makes her so grumpy. I definitely think we are on the right track. ;)

January 6, 2014

Part 10 - Our Homeschool Room Makeover


If you have stuck around until now, bless you. If you are just getting started, you might want to start here.
Part 8
Part 9

Well, folks, it looks like we are going for it! I'm literally still scared to death. Plans with no back-up plan make my heart palpitate and not in a good way. This will be a huge leap of faith. But, we just spent 3 days rearranging our entire upstairs to make the space more functional for us as a homeschooling family. The guest room/office is now an office/homeschool room. Want a quick tour?

Previously when you walked into the room you saw my workspace, which was an L-shaped desk. There was a large bookcase to your immediate left and a queen-sized bed was in the left corner.

Now, when you enter the room you see Skylar's desk, which got a makeover a while back. This space will mainly be for reading, writing, art or playing educational games on the desktop computer.
There is also a bookshelf which used to reside in Skylar's room that now is housing only educational materials.
The above bookshelf used to hold lots of photo albums but they have now been safely housed away under the large bookcase that also got a makeover. 
The left side of the room has now become the home for my workspace but we've reconfigured the desk (not according to manufacturer's instructions, I should add) so that there are 2 workspaces side-by-side. This will allow me to help Skylar on the computer with her schoolwork should she need it. This will be where she primarily works with me on learning new material. To the right of the long desk there is another bookshelf which holds office supplies and my teaching materials. (Goodwill find, $10) 
The window sill is now home to lots of art supplies (Goodwill find, $1 each) which brings us back around to the green desk which, as I mentioned before, is most likely our art station since those drawers are housing all of the craft supplies and their is a convenient bulletin board to display said art work.
There is also a large carpet in the middle of the room. I anticipate she may prefer to work on the floor for a while as this was the common practice in her Montessori classroom. A friend loaned me several manipulative that will come in very handy as we make the transition from a Montessori environment to our homeschool environment.

Of course, this is how it will all work out... in theory. We will have to actually try it out first and find our groove. We may need to move things around and that's okay too but I really do love the new space we have created and hope that it will be helpful for our homeschool journey.

Up next.... Homeschool Day 1. Wish us luck!