Monday, September 29, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

 Monday September 29th 2008

Outside My Window... Kids playing happily in the autumn sun. I'm so happy we live across from a park.

This week... Recovering from the birthday party on the weekend, and trying to catch up on laundry and school work.  The twins have their 2 year checkup at the dr's.

I am thinking... about making a fun dessert for the Feast of the Archangels tonight.

I am thankful for... afternoon naptimes. I'm convinced god created the afternoon nap just for moms who need a break.

From the kitchen... Banana splits with homemade fudge sauce, banana lemon muffins, and tuscan chicken with mozzarella and cherry tomatoes.

From the Learning room... Cyrus the great, sparta and Athens, doubles plus 1, diagramming sentences with two adjectives, DaVinci, North West East and South...

I am wearing... Sweatpants again! LOL.. I suppose that mondays seem to follow the same pattern of 'I"m way to tired to look pretty'.

I am creating... Lots of yummy gluten free meals these days

I am reading... History of the Ancient World by Susan Wise Bauer.  

I am hoping... The weather stays cheery.

Around the house... An inventory of our fall clothes, shoes and jackets, and a reorganization of their storage area.  

One of my favorite things... sleepy toddlers with their head snuggling into your neck.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week... Feast of St. Therese, Guardian angels and St. Francis.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

 Go seePeggy's blog for all of this weeks entries.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dinner Table Math

Dinner table Math at our house:

E (7 year old): "What if we had 3 more kids? I've been praying and praying for triplets!!"

Z (5 years old): "No! What if we had 5 more kids, and then 3 more kids after??"

E: "wow! That would be.... ummm... 13 kids!!" She stops to think again, "I would be 11 years old when the last baby was born."

WHO IS TEACHING THESE KIDS MATH?? I think I need to have a chat with their teacher LOL.

Maybe we should stick to something a little less scary, like ancient history discussions. (we're currently reading a children's version of the Illiad where this prince goes and steals the wife of a Greek King and then a huge battle erupts).

Friday, September 26, 2008

Happy Happy Birthday Birthday!!

Can it truly be that two entire years have slipped through my fingers so quickly?  The adorable P and JP who stole our hearts from the beginning with their amazing entrance into the world are turning TWO today!

They add so much to our family, that it's very hard to imagine what life was like before they joined us.  

To their siblings, they have added an endless source of pleasure.  They literally fight over who gets to run to the crying baby's room after their nap and carry them downstairs.  The big kids love to read them stories, laugh hysterically at their antics, play chase, draw, and snuggle with them.  The twins have also given each of the bigger kids the chance to learn selflessness, waiting their turn for mommy, and compassion.  

For their mommy and daddy, we have been given the biggest treasure of all: the gift of love.  Love outpouring from their little hearts: their sticky fingers twirling my hair, their chubby fists entwined around my neck, their sloppy kisses planted on each cheek, their bright smiles early each morning.  And, by the grace of God, we have been given the gift of learning to love in return, even when we are stretched beyond what we thought possible.  Loving others as our single goal in life.  Learning to live love in every breath, day and night.  

What a beautiful journey it has been so far. I still shake my head in wonder at this precious gift we have been given.  It's the stuff of life that you normally read about in those chicken soup books, or a reader's digest.  It's amazing, but it's my life.  And, I love it.

Happy Birthday little Ones.

P, you are a delight to my heart. I pray that in every year you grow older, you never lose that joyful, mischievous twinkle in your eye.  You are curious, full of love, and the best hugger in the family.  Your mommy loves you more than you will ever know. You and your brother have taught me more lessons than many people have learned in their entire lives. Happy Birthday my little man. 

JP, your sweet smile and joyful laugh fill my heart with gladness.  Every morning when you wake me up so early, I love seeing your little arms reaching out to me from your crib.  Snuggling with your warm body in my arms gives me such a feeling of peace.  I can see your mind slowly taking everything in, evaluating what you see, and learning in front of my eyes.  You are a wonder! Thank you for all the fun you bring to our family... for playing so nicely with your brother and your other siblings.  We love you little one.  Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

He might be color blind....

... but he's still color savy. 

As heard by daddy while they were driving home from the Conquest father-son boys club.  

"Dad, is that a taxi?" pointing to the black cab in front of them.


"Dad, did you know taxis are the same color as ear wax?" Z says matter-of-factly. 

"black? uh...."

"NO Dad," Z replies, with a patronizing tone, "Yellow!".

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Science was enjoyed by all today as we learned about molecules and atoms. The kids made models of water and carbon dioxide, and then were amazed by the ever-popular science experiment of making CO2 from vinegar and baking soda.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

A blogging meme that's been going around for awhile now..  go see Peggy's blog for all of this weeks entries.

FOR TODAY, Monday September 22nd, 2008

Outside My Window... It's a lovely crisp fall afternoon.  Eleven degrees Celsius.  The trees are turning colors, but haven't fallen yet, and their cheery yellows and oranges cause me to catch my breath when I go by them.  I love this time of year.

This week... The first week of fall, and life is settling into a nice routine.  We are in week 4 of schooling, the babies are turning 2 on friday, Zs first day of the new boys club with his dad is this week as well.  

I am thinking... about Thanksgiving this year, and what sort of yummy Gluten Free feast we will make.  I need some beautiful decorations around here too!

I am thankful for... My new menu planning program online.  It plans out 5 gluten free meals a week including a grocery list.  

From the kitchen... Grilled Cheese from freshly baked bread and crisp macintosh apples.  For supper, buttermilk chicken with a green salad.

From the Learning room... Ancient Greek, map keys, verbs, the letter K, the Sanctus in Latin, The Land of Nod by Robert Louis Stevenson, atoms and elements, color names in french, water color washes, counting and writing numbers to 20, reading cat, rat, ran, dad.

I am wearing... sweatpants! horrors... I'm usually dressed up in a nice skirt.  I was woken up far too early this morning by some adventurous twins who were in a bit of a hurry to start the day.

I am creating... nothing!! In my mind, I am knitting beautiful baby blankets and dolls, 5 little pairs of mittens, and a pretty sweater for myself.  

I am reading... Mother Theresa's Come Be My Light.  It's beyond inspiring.  Her simplicity and humility speak quietly to my soul.

I am hoping... My friends and family are as joyful as I am.  

I am hearing... the blessed sound of quiet in my house.  E is reading a book, Z is cutting out a paper airplane, H and the twins are napping.  I love the early afternoon hours around here.  

Around the house... the greenhouse is pretty much finished in the back yard.. we just need to build some benches and beds for planting in the spring.

One of my favorite things...  the smell of the air in the autumn and the chill of the evening that causes you to search out your warm comfy blankets at night time.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week... making a nice supper every night for my sweet husband, conquering the laundry foe, and making some sort of yummy dessert.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...
On our vacation... the kids outside in the rain with their newly discovered 'cousin-in-laws-once-removed.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Weekly review

Week 3 is almost done and gone already!! Just 33 more weeks of work to go!

This year has been going very smoothly, and we are all enjoying school.    This week we got many things done, and thanks to our new loop schedule, we aren't even stressed about the things we didn't get done. 

Every day we usually work from about 8:30-12:00 and get through most of:

  • Latin (really enjoying prima latina... very gentle introduction)
  • Math (saxon 3... it's starting off slow and gentle and E think math is easy this year, Math-U-See Primer... Z is doing great learning about addition and writing his numbers properly).
  • Spelling: We switched to Spelling workout C, and it's going great! I'm still tempted to switch back to SWR but it;s just too teacher intensive for me right now.
  • phonics: Z is doing so good! It's so much easier the second time around teaching reading. The stress on me is just so much less.  We skip around between Ordinary Parent's Guide, Bob's books and the Little Angel Readers (I especially love this one)
  • Grammar: LOVE LOVE First Language Lessons 3.  
  • Writing: Writing with Ease Level 2... this is so gentle and a wonderful easy program to introduce writing to E through copywork, narration and dictation. I really appreciate the framework this book has laid in my head.
  • Preschool: Lots of playdough, circle time with action songs, poems and stories
  • Religion (every other day): The Treasure of My Catholic Faith... workbooky but very faithful to the church and fun illustrations for E.
  • Geography (every other day): some cutesy intro to maps book that I got... it uses fairy tales and nursery rhymes to teach about maps... it's very easy for E but fun for my littles.
  • History (every other day): We are zooming through the 2nd half of Story of the World 1.  Before Looping (my new schedule that allows us to actually GET to history), we only got through half of the book in 2 years...  hopefully this will change this year.  We are learning about the Greeks right now, and doing mapwork and narrations as we go.
  • Science (every other day): Noeo Chemistry. This is a fun literature based program, and it's so relaxed and fun.  
  • French (every other day): This is a favorite in the house. It's powerglide beginner french for grades k-3 and it's an adventure story on a cd that teaches simple vocabulary. (big plus... I got this at an outlet store for $46.. it's on amazon for $140)
Thanks to the invention of playdough and highchairs with seat belts, we are able to get through almost all of that list every day. It's been a joy to work with two students and watch them both grow in independence and love for learning. 

I love homeschooling!!

Blessings to you on this lovely fall day :-)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Art lessons

Due to an increased grocery budget (with Gluten Free foods being the norm now), we were not able to afford art classes this year. We chose to cut out art instead of choir this year, because choir provides a great place for interaction with other children, preformance opportunities and group listening/discipline skills that art does not. Also, we can do art at home. Choir is a lot harder, although I suppose I could start up my own family choir.. but trust me, I'm no Maria.

Anyways, we've been working through Artistic Pursuits again this year and we have a new budding artist in the family... E's brother Z. He's 5 this year and has discovered a new love for drawing and painting. This picture is of Jesus and his sheep... in the fog.
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Wordless Wednesday

Three Years ago...

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

What's Smaller than a pygmy shrew?

A paramecium! And some bacteria.

We've started our science studies this year. We are looking forward to learning all about the tiny things around us through Chemistry.
I've chosen Noeo Science Chemistry 1 to use, since we enjoyed the Biology 1 last year so much. I like this curriculum because it doesn't use a textbook, it uses a literature guide for many varying books aobut science that are at a reading level that E can read. I like to read them outloud first, and she enjoys reading them at bed time. Even Z enjoys science. This is his drawing of what we learned: it's a drop of water with bacteria and protozoa in it.

His drawing skills have increase dramatically since last year. It's just such a joy to watch these tiny little humans grow and develop each day.

Speaking of Z, we have signed up with a homeschooling board here in my city that has a unique kindergarten program for homeschoolers. We will be going once a week for a K program where he can get a bit of socializing and fun in, and we will also have access to a bit of funding to buy some good kindergarten books with. I'm looking forward to seeing him grow more and more this year.
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Friday, September 05, 2008

First week of school

Phew! That wasn't so bad afterall... I was worried it would be CRAZY, now that I"m schooling two kids, and they are outnumbered by the pre-schoolers. Turns out, it was crazy afterall, but apparently I'm so used to crazy that it didn't bother me in the least.

The loop schedule idea is working SO WELL! It's allowed me to focus less on getting everything done, and more on just enjoying our learning. I haven't been stressed about leaving out science and art and religion and history. For example, yesterday we didn't get to science and french and geography, so this morning, when we started school, we started with french (we're using powerglide this year and it's SO MUCH FUN!).

We spiced up spelling by playing banannagrams with her spelling words. (you can do this with scrabble tiles too). I just pulled out all the letters she would need for her 15 words, and then she started trying to make words and attach them to each other crossword style. Z helped, and learned his letters and sounds too, by handing each letter to her as she needed them, and saying it's sound.

The babies played with playdough, felt figures, trains, plastic bugs, and pretty much everything they could get their hands into. Heather coordinated their attempts to terrorize the house.
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Thursday, September 04, 2008

If you live in calgary...

Here are some fun activities that I have come across for homeschoolers.  This is only a partial list that scratches the surface.  I know there are many more activities out there: hockey, music lessons, choirs, girl guides, etc..

THe Flip Factory:  Gymnastics, art, drama, gymtime.... offering homeschooling programs for ages 5-12

 Phoenix Foundation:  Offers many many sessions for homeschool kids that tie into the alberta curriculum. You don't have to be signed up with their board to take the workshops.

Homeschoolers Guide: A quarterly magazine for southern alberta that details many workshops and classes for homeschoolers in the area.

Calgary Homeschooler Resources: A webpage by a calgary hs dad... lots of good info here.

Yahoo groups:  calgary-hs (chat with other calgary homeschoolers online), hs-activities (find out about what good activities there are for calgary homeschoolers), hs-forsale (sell or shop for used curriculum online).

Needleworks - Sewing classes for homeschool kids and others.

North Mount Pleasant Arts Centre & Wildflower Arts Centre -- Calgary parks&rec: they offer many great classes in art, dance, drama.... They also have a specific homeschool art class that covers the alberta ed curriculum.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

First Day of School

Yesterday was our first day back at school after a long break through the summer.  The kids were very excited about it.  E can't believe she's old enough for 3rd grade, Z is now in Kindergarten and working with us each morning, and H is now officially a preschooler. 

Since I have so many littles who are old enough to pay attention to me for more than 1 minute, we've started doing a preschool program with them called Little Saints.   We'll see how long this lasts, but for now it is fun! We sang songs, read stories and poems and even did some finger painting.

We have also tried out a new system for scheduling and planning our days called Loop Homeschooling.  This is originally an idea from a lady on the Well Trained Mind web forums.  The idea is you school for a set ammount of time each day (for us, 4 hours).  When time is up you stop and clean up.  The next day, you start where you left off. So if you stopped just before you got to history and science (story of my life.. we never got to the fun subjects last year).... then you start with those first thing the next morning and proceed in a loop or cicrle through your subjects eah day.

Here's what we did:

math, phonics lesson, the letter F in handwriting, latin video lesson 1, history: the Phonecians, veggie tales coloring page, played with a microscope

Little saints day one:  poem, fingerplay, if you're happy and you know it, video interviews with the kids, finger painting.

math (trying out saxon this year... I found a copy for very cheap.  We'll see how it compares to our other standby Math-U-See), spelling, handwriting, latin, grammar in FLL 3 (i really like this book), Writing with Ease (I also really like this book... we did the mastery test for level 2.. i think we'll start in the last 4 weeks of level 2 and then move onto level 3), Religion, History.

My wonderful 3rd grader made breakfast (fried eggs), and the kids also cleaned their room, had a long play time at the park, read on the couch for 45 min of quiet time, and read the 4th chapter of the Incredible Journey with dad at bedtime.

A fun day. A busy day.... But what else can you expect?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Water babies

Do to the exceptional attention needed to take care of five kids while on vacation, I didn't take very many pictures of what we did... and sean didn't take any (so don't look for pics of me).

We did see the ocean, walk in the sand and laugh as the waves tickled our toes. We looked for seashells and beach glass, climbed on logs washed smooth by the water, and ran down the long beach.

We also played in every hotel swimming pool we visited. The babies getting more brave each time. They progressed from just looking at the water, to evntually letting daddy swim them along the pool chasing a ball.

These pictures are of the kids at a little lake in Deception Pass. It's right beside the ocean, but the water is shallow and there are no waves to worry about. I watched H and the twins play in the water, while Sean took the two older ones on a canoe ride.

Even though I was freezing cold sitting on the beach (the wind was chilly off the ocean), I had a great time watching the twins destroy sandcastles and splash in the water. Heather was so brave that she went in right up to her waist. (this is a girl who has never been swimming before!)

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visit to the aquarium

On the way home from Washington, we made a brief detour into Vancouver for some fun 'family time'. We wanted to spend an extra day with just the kids and us, having fun together and enjoying each other's company.... ha! Unfortunately, we got stuck in traffic and rain, and ran out of gluten free food right around supper time, which left us most disagreeable.

No worries.. it all turned around when E started to pray to God that daddy would feed us, and mommy and daddy would stop fighting. Almost immediately (according to her later), the Golden Arches came into view and Sean swerved into the parking lot to make a french fry run for everyone. Thank God McDs has Gluten free fries!!

The aquarium itself was lots of fun. The kids had never really seen any kind of aquatic life, so it was enjoyable for all of us. We saw a baby baluga whale (sp?), seals, dolphins, lots of fish and frogs, jelly fish, and even a sea turtle.

The twins enjoyed themselves more than anyone. They refused to stay in the stroller and were running from exhibit to exhibit squaking in their strange language about everything they saw. It was so sweet to watch them. They loved everything they saw, but their favorite exhibit, by far?

The bubbles.

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A great opportunity to get dressed up...

My cousin and her fiance had a lovely wedding this summer in Washington state. We packed up all five kids into the van, along with many many other things (like 2 playpens, 2 highchairs, a double stroller, 5 carseats, 4 suitcases, 2 packs of diapers and wipes, 1 big bin of books, 3 backpacks full of stuffed animals and toys, 2 bins and 1 cooler full of gluten free food...). It was a wild trip across the mountains. We stayed in Kamloops overnight and then arrived in Washington very tired of driving.

The wedding was so beautiful, however. And it was such a nice chance to visit with family that we rarely see. Cousins and second cousins, and great great aunties and various relatives in between. We were, as usual, the spectacle of the week, toting our five kids behind us (or maybe I should say, trying to catch up to our dispersing 5 kids in front of us).
Luckily we had the cute 'twin factor'. And oh, they were cute.

Thanks to a very very kind and generous relative, we had enough money to get formal outfits for each child.
The two girls were flower girls, and Z was also in the procession (carrying flags... a little unorthodox, but very fitting for Jen's wedding).
The twins were these adorable miniature grownups in their 5 piece suits. SO CUTE!
The kids ate and danced and ran around charming everyone. They even had time for a quick movie down in the basement with a hired babysitter.
E was thrilled to make a new friend, and they played with each other for hours and hours. It was a lot of fun, and I"m so glad we made the effort to drive down there.

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