Friday, August 31, 2007

food for thought...

Study on Preschool and early child education shows no benefit...

So all you homeschooling moms who are worried about not getting started soon enough or missing out on teaching something important in those early years... you can relax now :-)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Home sweet home

I love coming home.

The sight of the familiar, the warmth of our worn floors and furniture, the feeling of being taken care of and loved. Even when my house is messy, I still love coming home to it, because it's... well.. home. Especially for a mom with five kids under seven who needs to be constantly aware of where they are and what they are doing- home is where I can relax, let my guard down and let the kids play.

Because we are a homeschooling family, we spend a lot of time at home, the kids spend a lot of time in the yard, and we spend a lot of time wandering around the neighborhood. In short, if any family needs a good home, it's us.

That is why we feel so enormously blessed to have found our new home. This is so much more than a house for us. The minute we saw this house, we fell in love with it, and the longer I am here, the happier I am with it. I am not even detered by it's age (32 years old.. older than me!!), nor the fact that there are many more bugs here than our newly built first home. (motherhood has made me very brave. I can camly squish all sorts of bugs in kleenex, pull big huge fuzzy caterpillars off my curtains, stomp on ants, and vacuum up centipedes. I can even stand still while bees buzz around my head).

We moved at the beginning of august, and while it's been a whirlwind, and I'm still not unpacked yet, I love being here. So I'll stop talking so much and give you a tour!! Today you can see the first half and when I get the rest of the house cleaned up you can see the second half LOL... I'm not sure if the whole house will ever be clean at the same time, so this will have to do.

Living room:

We've never had a living room before, this is a treat for me to have a room that is(supposed to be) unlittered with toys. It's a quiet space to enjoy company, pray as a family at night, and practice the piano. A place to read quietly on the couch, drink tea with my husband while the children clean up the kitchen after dinner, and watch the birds in the big spruce tree outside.

Kitchen/eating area:

The kitchen is a different layout from our old house, but it is still very workable. The hanging cupboards open from both sides, so the kids can easily set the table for me from one side, and unload the dishwasher from the other side. There is a desk in the kitchen with a bullentin board that I a like to sit at with the laptop while relaxing in the aternoons, planning my school days, and doing general household administration (thinking about, and making plans for school, meals, laundry.. but not actually DOING anything LOL).

I love the window over the kitchen sink. It looks into the backyard, so I can watch the birds and squirrels, and of course the kids.

Homeschooling Room:

This used to be a dining room, but it makes the ideal learning room for us. It has a lovely picture window that looks onto the side yard. There is a big cherry tree outside which the birds frequent. We are going to install a bird bath and a bird feeder out there so we can spend time watching birds and learning more about nautre up close. There's a family of 5 robins that live in our yard or very near, and we have enjoyed watching their antics the last week or so.

I'll have a bigger post on our learning room in the next month or so as I get it organized the way I want it. It's such a treat to have so much room here.

Living Room:

This is a sunken room with a warm fireplace, wooden mantle and built in shelving, and a patio door to the deck. We are going to replace the flooring soon, to a warm hardwood with some nice braided area rugs. Right now, this room holds the baby toys, a few kid toys, and some of our grownup fiction books. We want to get a nice leather couch, two leather recliners, and a coffee table and use the space as a true family room. A warm space for gathering with the kids after dinners and on the weekends to play games, read books, sit by the warmth of the fire, drink hot cocoa. The possibilites are endless!!

Kids bedroom :

E, Z and H all sleep here together. They didn't want their own rooms -- they love being together. Eventually we'll likely have a girls room and a boys room, but for now they are all in here and love it. It used to be two rooms, but they knocked out a wall and now it's one big fun room!

Oh babies

Cute cute cute... I love this age.

The babies are getting into lots of mischief:

-Crawling at super speed

-Sitting up really good now

-Eating everything ( and all the leftovers on the floor too) P is especially fond of Popsicles LOL

-Crawling up the stairs

-Pulling the sliding screen door open and crawling outside

-Pulling all the books off my shelves

-Crawling off the beds backwards (most of the time)

- Crawling down the stairs backwards

-Walking along furniture

-walking across the floor pushing things like chairs, toys, each other

-babbling: na na na, da da da, ma ma ma, SCREEECH!! (JP), Phllleeeeeeshhhsssspp! (P)

-sitting up in the bathtub. (strange, but I put them inside a laundry basket inside the tub. It keeps them from falling over and gives them something to hold onto).

-waving hello and bye bye (P)

We're planing a big party for them next month when they turn ONE. Stay tuned for details!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Encyclopedia Of Me

This is a fun project that will keep me busy for a time here... I'm joining in on a meme called the Encyclopedia of Me, which was started by Cassi over at Belladia. We'll see how far I get into the alphabet, but watch for these posts every couple of days.

I am trying to use this blog as a virtual scrapbook of our family life and our homeschooling adventures, so most of what I put on here is for my own memories for later when I want to remember what it was like when... This project calls for you to type a blog entry for each letter of the alphabet listing things about your life, creating an encyclopedia of sorts about yourself. Sounds like fun!! Come join me with your own encyclopedia if you'd like!! Not all of us have the time or patience to make beautiful scrapbooks, but we all have a few seconds to type something down, or write in a journal.

Ok, off to bed I go. Watch for the letter A coming soon.

the dilemma

I really want to blog about our new house and show you some wonderful pictures so you can enjoy my new home with me. I have a lovely post all written up ready to go, just waiting for the pictures.

However, because I'm breaking my own rule about not going on the computer until after lunch time so I can clean and do all that house-wifey stuff... the house is MESSY and I have no pictures. (can't show you a messy house and break the illusion of what a perfect housewife/mother/homeschooler you have of me).

So... I guess you'll have to wait. Until I clean up.

Might take awhile. (shhh.. I'm not even dressed yet, and it's almost 11!!)

I guess that's why I made that rule in the first place.

oh, and then there's the small matter of having to clean up the mess of having had my wallet stolen over the weekend. grrrr.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Will I really need THAT much help?

I hope this isn't a sign of things to come... although he has been right before with some other very strange tidings...

me: " Will you guys take care of me when i'm old and grey? Will you help feed me when I need help eating and push me around in a wheel chair?"

z: "yeah... like when you need help with your fork because it's too big and your hand can't reach it... (motioning with his hands to show a fork the size of the milk carton)... we'll screw it down for you so you can use it... no, we'll take it back to the store and get you a smaller one".

He just cracks me up. Having a conversation with him is always an adventure.

Preschooling at Home

Children at the age of 3 and 4 are at some of the sweetest ages they will ever be. To be able to spend full days with them, discovering the world and lighting the fires of their curiosity and discovery is truly a gift and a privilege. Preschool at home is a blessing for the whole family as it sets the stage for a family life full of wonder, learning, and togetherness. For mom, it is fun, and even relaxing if she can let go of her perfectionism and allow herself to just enjoy the time and 'play', learning new things right alongside her children.

When your preschoolers stay home with you, instead of going off to school each day, you gain on so many levels:

-their younger siblings have a playmate, and someone to help them when mommy is busy
-mommy doesn't have to drag everyone around in the car or stroller each day, twice a day.
-mommy (not a teacher you don't know, or young children who aren't formed yet) is the primary influence in their growing spiritual, emotional and intellectual lives
-mommy has something to distract her from the daily chores of laundry, dishes, meals and diapers. It opens up a whole new world for her to immerse herself in and learn about.
-the child has so much more time with family, and more opportunities for real life learning, through doing chores at home, going to the store, visiting Jesus at daily mass, going to the library etc...
-you can still have a daily quiet time, or daily nap without being rushed out of the house each day... and the younger siblings don't have to be rushed through their naps either.
-you can use the money you saved on preschool fees and gas to buy really good books, art supplies, and other fun preschool-at-home supplies that you will be able to use with each of your children.
-It's so much fun!!

There are many many resources for the new homeschooling parent who wants to begin in preschool. It's becoming a very popular choice, so you won't be alone if you choose to go this way.

Many mothers who have been homeschooling for awhile already, will likely tell the new homeschooling mother to relax, not worry about a formal program until grade one, and enjoy this time by reading lots of good books, letting them color and draw, and spend lots of time outdoors in nature.

For the new homeschooling mother, this can sometimes be scary advice, because she is trying to set up a routine for doing 'school' at home for the first time, and needs a bit more structure than just snuggling on the couch with good books. I am of the mindset that with your first child, homeschooling for preschool and kindergarten is more of a training ground for MOMMY than it is for the child. It gives her time to get her feet wet, figure out the different philosophies and resources for homeschooling and dabble in them to see what fits her, and her family the best. It gives a slow easy transition from playing all day to more of a routine, and all without the pressure of the local school board wondering what you are up to.

When a mom is already homeschooling an older child, it is much easier to ease the new preschooler into the pre-established routines and order.. and they are learning right alongside their siblings already, so you don't often have to formally teach things like the alphabet and colors and numbers.

So, for anyone who is wanting a bit of structure or a look into how other people have started the home school journey with preschool/kindergarten, I will lay out a list of Good Books to read, online resources, stores, curriculum and fun stuff for you. If it seems like too much information all at once, then ask me any questions you have. I can tell you what we did, and what I would do if I had to do it over again with my first child.

For me, I really like to have LOTS of information, because that is my personality LOL.. so here is just a piece of all of the resources out there. Please know, however, that all of this is truly optional. Your preschooler will learn all of this stuff eventually whether you start now and take 2 years, or start in grade one and take 2 months.

1. Good Books to Read:

Many of these can be found at the library, and the other ones can be bought online or can be borrowed:

Real Learning -- One of my very favorite homeschool books. The author has a blog, and a very good message board where you can learn from other catholic homeschoolers.

Catholic Homeschool Companion

Charlotte Mason Companion - full of gentle learning ideas from nature study to crafts to chores, etc.. a really good book.

Guiding Your Catholic Preschooler

The Well Trained Mind -- classical education. a great book, but you need to take it with a grain of salt and not worry about trying to do everything in the book. It's very inspiring though.

Design your Own Classical Curriculum -- a Catholic classical education book. very good!!

2. Online Resources

A Magical Childhood -- A wonderful website dedicated to just plain childish fun. "this site was born out of my desire to share ideas and celebrate the neat parents out there. In an age when kids are getting scoliosis from toting home such heavy backpacks and people are trying to teach their infants French, I thought it was high time there was a place that focused on plain old happy, goofy, silly, leisurely life for our children"

Mater Amabilis -- Free online Catholic lesson plans. This is based on a Charlotte Mason style education. Looks really good. I will follow a lot of this with zach in kindergarten.

Letter of The Week - free online preschool curriculum -- free online learn-to-read program. It's really good!!

Preschool Express -- lots of good ideas and printouts

Preschoolers and Peace -- This is a protestant website about homeschool preschoolers. They have some good organizing help on there.

Real Learning Blog -- a wonderful collection of essays on homeschooling the preschooler. This mom has 8 kids, I think, and still enjoys the preschool years. -- popular children author's website.

3. Actual Curriculum to buy (you don't NEED to buy anything, but if you want here are some good resources):

CHC -- they sell daily lesson plans with preschool and kindergarten in one pack. They are very gentle, catholic and sweet. This is a very popular program with lots of help for the new homeschooler.

Sonlight -- a protestant, literature based curriculum that is very very popular and looks like lots of fun. You get an instructor guide to follow each day, and a whole bunch of books to read with your child. It is a very comprehensive program and lots of fun. Right now they have a special on where you can try it for 30 days for Free with free shipping and if you don't like it, just return it.

Five in a Row -- a 'light' cuddle on the couch and read stories sort of curriculum. It weaves in math, reading, art, social studies, science etc.. using picture books. This is very popular among homeschoolers. Not as 'academic' as most curriculum, but lots of fun to do.

Little Saints -- a full catholic preschool lesson guide that gives you themes for each week, schooling for 3 days a week. Includes Craft templates, coloring pages, game ideas, circle time, finger play, book lists for the library for each week, etc.. We used this for a while and really liked it. It does involve a bit of planing for mom. You have to photocopy things and prepare the crafts ahead of time, but it's fun for the kids and gives you structure.
You can buy it here and often there are copies on ebay.

Seton -- a Catholic academic program that is done with lots of workbooks etc... they have a kindergarten program that is supposed to be good, but not as 'fun' or 'light' as some of the other programs. You can register your child as a student with them and they will grade their work and send you report cards etc ... or you can just use their lesson plans and books without registering.

Rod and Staff -- a set of 5 workbooks that are great for preschool.. they teach pasting, cutting, coloring, letters, numbers, and bible stories. They are pretty inexpensive and are a fun way to do more 'schooly' stuff. We used these with my oldest.
Mother of Divine Grace

My Father's World -- kindergarten curriculum that is quite popular among protestants.

Monday, August 20, 2007


My husband told me I should really post something on here. Poor guy has nothing better to do at work than check my little blog. Just kidding.

We are actually still alive, and we are in our new house. We LOVE it. I will update soon. Life is a bit crazy right now.

If you are they praying type, please ask God to ask my children to sleep for longer stretches (at the same time).

What a boring post. but i'll certainly be back to my normal chatty super-cool-bloggin type soon.

Can you believe the babies are going to be ONE next month?????