1st field trip!

We are already starting out with a bang here at Mommy on the Mic Academy (I have no idea what to name our school so for now it will be unceremoniously called blog title academy)  The lovely thing about starting school during the summer is that we can go to popular field trip destinations without having the hassle of competing with other school groups.  Plus, nature is looking its best during the summer months, so we decided to take advantage and hit up a local national park that just happens to be just minutes from our house.  Score!

Since we can count outings like this as school, we made sure to bring a few necessary items like kid binoculars, pencils, colored pencils, drawing paper, bird book, magnifying glasses, and our science catchers (egg cartons that Miss Ariel and Mini Man decorated in order to bring home a few found treasures).  Now since daddy was carrying a heavy baby, mommy wound up carrying all of these said items, and its worth noting that I will not be bringing all of these items next time!  It got heavy for this 6 month pregnant momma!  I would however put the binoculars, pencils and drawing paper in a backpack that one of the kids could wear.  Much better plan….

daddy holding Brian's hand at N Park

We are off down the hiking trail…

Nerstrand park leaf teaching

Here is daddy discussing what type of leaves we are discovering on our walk.  He is a wealth of knowledge!

3 kids at the waterfall

We made it to our destination, a waterfall!

Blake at N Park

Obviously this is a perfect opportunity to try your hand at skipping stones.

Ben and daddy at N Park

Oh how he wished to get into the water!

Bradyn and bird book at N Park

We brought along daddy’s childhood bird book.  It was quite helpful in determining what types of birds were around us.  Miss Ariel was more engaged in this activity then I was expecting.

Bradyn's bird drawing

Here is one of her drawings of one of the birds she discovered on our outing.  She was able to draw 3 birds while we were enjoying the scenery!  I was excited to put these in her fresh science/nature journal.

family at Nerstrand Park

All of us!  Can I just say how difficult it is to get us all looking at the camera with smiles on our faces?!  Yah… so this was our best one.  Good enough!

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Planning Ahead

In light of our school year beginning, I thought I’d write a few words on how this year is already different (in a good way!).  The first thing that I changed from last year is PLANNING.  Last year it was my first year teaching, and as I already said I bought a full boxed curriculum, My Father’s World.  I had blindly assumed that I could honestly ‘open and go’ as many boxed curriculum tout.  So I had it sent to our California residence and jumped right in without even looking at it beforehand.

What a mistake!

I always felt behind and that I wasn’t doing enough because I hadn’t planned ahead.  I promised myself I wouldn’t do that this year and I kept my promise.

This year I had my Sonlight curriculum sent to my Minnesota residence, along with a new set of Math U See blocks.  The rest of the things I needed to start out our year I packed in a rolling suitcase and traveled with it (and boy was it heavy!), like our Express Readers workbooks, and other paraphernalia.

Then I mapped out an entire weekend where I sent my husband and the kids to my in laws house.  Yes I forced them out of my house simply so I could plan our school year in peace!  I also invited my sweet mother in law, her sister, and my sister in law to join in the ‘no kids’ fun party.  They each brought their own fun project they were working on (i.e.: quilting and scrapbooking mostly) and we simply enjoyed each others company while having nice warm meals where we were not interrupted by crying children who needed help eating.  Basically it was the closest thing to luxury as this momma can get!

Here is a bit of what I was able to accomplish….

Sonlight binder

See this bad boy teacher’s manual?  Holy smokes its fairly large and intimidating, but once I got my hands really in it, I discovered it is not to be feared.  Its do-able.

Core A readers

Here is a week by week of books I will be reading to Miss Ariel.  We are already a week ahead on our chapter book and poems because she and Mini Man are so into it!

Core A LA readers

Here are the books she will be reading to me.  

Core A science and history

Here is my science/history/bible grouping.  Those boxes are some supplies that Sonlight provides you for your experiments.   So you provide some supplies (usually things you would already have handy around your house), and they provide less likely found items.

This was the system that they recommend and so far I’m loving it.  Mostly I’m loving feeling in control and not behind the 8 ball with school.  Every night I check off the boxes of what we have done and pull out items/books will be using for the next day.

If you get a chance I would highly recommend taking a breather from your family to get yourself situated for the school year. Remember, this is now a job.  Take it seriously!  But also, have fun.  Hey you have no kids for the weekend.  Enjoy your nice warm dinner!!!

Summer (home)school

Due to several factors, I have decided that we would start Miss Ariel’s 1st grade year in the summer.  Considering that I am having a baby in October, and Music Man’s work will be in chaos during the fall, it only made sense to get ahead start on things.

So last week was our first week back!  Since there wasn’t much fan fare for kindergarten, I wanted to make a greater effort in starting fun start up traditions.  I lovingly displayed new school materials for the fresh student.

1st day of 1st grade school supplies

She was really excited to open up her new things.  I also got everybody donuts to help celebrate our new year.  I mean what’s not to love about art supplies and donuts?!

Last year, at the advice from veteran and newbie homeschooling mommas alike, we did My Father’s World kindergarten curriculum.  Now there is nothing wrong with this sweet curriculum, but after trudging along I realized that neither my kindergartener nor I were thrilled with it.  It was just too basic and the readers left us both going “that’s it?”.  I do think its a good choice for a PRE-K, just not kindergarten level.  I also didn’t do my due dilligence and hardly went to the library to grab the suggested readers to accompany the weeks lesson.  I had every intention, I really did!  I made a list with our local library of all the extra readers I would need so that when the time came I would simply press ‘select’ and it would be ready for pick up in a few days.  Or so I thought.  I don’t know if you understand what its like taking 4 small children anywhere, but let me tell you, you are not missing out.  I wound up hating anytime I would have to take all 4 of them to the library, so of course that meant that I finally stopped doing it.  Yup, not exactly parent of the year, let alone homeschooling parent, but I just couldn’t do it.  Now you might ask, ‘well why didn’t you just go pick it up yourself?’ and my response would be, I did.  However, our local library took forever getting in the books that I needed that I wound up being weeks behind when I would finally receive the books I requested.  Eventually I gave up and my enthusiasm weaned.  I guess I wasn’t cut out to be a library toting homeschooling momma.

I did however learn an important lesson.

Stick with my gut.

I wanted to try Sonlight curriculum in the first place, but listened to too many people who thought of many reasons why I shouldn’t try it.  Even the Sonlight staff has reasons that this is not a great choice for many.  So I listened to them instead of my own gut and perhaps even the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  After we competed the year with My Father’s World (sort of), I decided that it was high time to try what I really wanted.  So this year we are doing Sonlight Core A, along with Math U See PrimerGetty-Dubay Italic Handwriting and adding Express Readers for added fun and phonics.

Sonlight 2015 catelog

After carefully figuring out what kind of student I have and what kind of teacher I am (which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND), I was even more convinced to try Sonlight.  My daughter was rarely enthusiastic to ‘do school’, but she always loved snuggling on the couch and have me read to her.  These were also my favorite times with her and the boys, who would often want to sit along side us for a listen.  I’m also an actor by trade, so reading was highly enjoyable to me, in fact I would often view it as rehearsing my lines!  So this literature based curriculum seemed right up our alley.

Now this is only our first week, and it is much more intense than what we were doing last year, but so far, I’m already appreciating the work, and more importantly so is my daughter!  We are already ahead on our readers and poems simply because she wants to.  What a difference!

So far we are liking what we are doing and that is a relief to me!

A is for Apple (part 2)

We decided to extend our normal one week per lesson into three.  Apples are a fun topic especially this time of year.  We began by picking apples while visiting an apple orchard.

Next, with daddy’s help, we made applesauce.  Naturally.

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They made some delicious applesauce that I like to think will last us for 6 months or more, but if Music Man has anything to do with it, it will be gone in half that time.  That man likes his applesauce.  😉

After some poking around on Pintrest, I discovered these two ladies, Megan at coffeecupsandcrayons and Katie at giftofcuriosity, who had the same idea.

Rotting Apples!

I am really excited to do hands on science with my preschooler and kindergartener so I was thrilled to discover this.  We did our own version.

First we got clear plastic cups to put our apples in.  Then I cut up 1 1/2 apples and the kids put in 2 slices into each cup.  They each had a turn in putting in each ingredient for each container.

Here is the list of items we rotted the apples in.

  • Air
  • Vinegar
  • Oil
  • Lemon Juice
  • Water
  • Baking soda
  • Milk
  • Dr. Pepper (any dark soda will do)
  • 7 up (any white soda will do)

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Here it is on the first night (I didn’t take the picture right away like I should have.  You can tell that the Vinegar is already starting to take action…)

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This guy liked checking out our experiment every night.

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And here it is on night 4.  I had only intended it to go on for 3 nights.  Oh well.  Its hard to see but the apples definitely looked quite different from the last night to the first night.

Because I had the privilege of checking out the other ladies experiments, I knew what to expect with some of them, like the air causing the apple to shrivel up.  But I wasn’t sure about everything….

Grossest color change?  Triple tie between Vinegar, Baking soda, and Dr. Pepper.

One I wouldn’t eat on a bet?  Milk.  It didn’t do anything to the apples (not really), but it congealed and that alone made me gag.

The one I would eat from night 4?  7 UP.  HANDS DOWN.  It still looked delicious even!  I couldn’t believe it.

The one I would do differently?  Lemon juice.  I only sprinkled it on instead of submerged it and it wound up looking nearly identical to Air.  I should have put a different citrus juice, like orange juice, and drowned the apple like the others.

The kids loved watching the different reactions.  It would have been fun to do this if my kids were older too so they could really examine and write down their thoughts on rotting.

Which ones would you change?

Sometimes my grass is greener

Ever since we have begun even the thought of homeschooling, my first reaction was “Oh no.  They will miss out on         ” (fill in with many many different things).  I realize that comparing myself or my family to others is at its worst downright sinful and at its best a joy thief.

But sometimes….. sometimes you get a glimpse into the other side and realize that perhaps you have it good.  As in “my grass is greener” kind of good.

This past weekend Mini Man and Ariel tried a free class of gymnastics for the first time here in California.  They have been to this facility several times, so the comfort level is high, but neither kid actually took classes here before.  They were thrilled and I was excited for them.

I was a proud momma watching them high five their new coaches and tumble and roll on big fat play equipment.  I was among the huge bubbling over Saturday morning crowd of fellow happy mommas.  Well, some of them were happy.  In the middle of this joyous parental feeling I wound up in the middle of a conversation between two other moms whose children go to the same school.  The conversation was mostly positive, but often directed its ugly head to the negative Nancy side of school politics.

This wasn’t the first time I had heard this exact type of conversation.  It was just the most recent.

A few nights before I left Minnesota, I was lucky enough to hang out with a few girls that I got to know over the summer.  Several of those moms have kids in the same school.  The conversation veered towards gossip about the principle and his extra marital affair.  Everybody had a different reaction to this scenario and the fact that we were even discussing it.

I however whispered that I was glad I was homeschooling.

And I am.

Instead of comparing what me or my kids are missing out on, I began basking in the joy of what I do have.  Or rather what I don’t have.

I don’t have to worry about competition (momma or kid wise).  I don’t have to worry that my daughter will love her teacher more than me.  I don’t have to sign up to be apart of the political minefield that is the PTA.  I don’t have to go to parent/teacher nights and be sad that I missed it when she made that project.  I don’t have to worry about carpools.  I don’t have to get up super early or wake up my napping infants to drop off/pick up my kids from school.

I get to stay out of the drama.

Really there is a lot to be thankful for as a homeschooling momma.  Things might change and that will be ok.  I’ll adapt.  But for right now I’m going to be thankful.

You can’t steal my joy.

Friday fun day

Last week I started a Friday fun day.  I introduced the paint for the easel that Little Rascal got for Christmas.  Yah, they had never actually used it for its intended purpose.  Why?  Well, like most moms I’m not a fan of messy play.  Lately I thought, there will be no other chance for the kids to do messy play, because they are home with me ALL.THE.TIME.

So messy play on Fridays, like painting or play-doh or whatever, was born.  Its been a big hit.

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Even Bat-man is interested in what’s going on

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She was ‘eating’ a play-doh pie

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This has been great for them and for me.  It allows room to breath in the week.  It gives us all a chance to relax.  I can be in my pajamas and drink coffee and catch up on whatever I want (laundry, emails, blogging, reading, etc.).  This time has been SO needed.  I’ve been putting my whole self into this new found ‘project’ of homeschooling that I’m finding it takes up all the space in my brain and body.  I’m constantly thinking about it, constantly doing something for it.  Its exhausting.  And I’m sure there are plenty of people who say “oh just relax and let them have fun.  They will eventually catch on”.  Um, NO.  Well, yes and no.  Yes, its important to play, which I’m happily allowing ample time for them to do that, but its not true that they will just ‘catch on eventually’.  I have seen several middle schoolers and high schoolers who homeschool and struggle with their reading and writing.  Education is important to me, if it wasn’t I wouldn’t be putting my whole heart and soul into trying to educate my children.  But life can’t always be about drills and workbooks (don’t worry, we don’t do that that much anyway).

It’s important to live life too.  And not get burnt out.

 

A is for Apple

We decided to mix things in honor of “fall” starting.  Instead of studying S for Sun, we will be starting with A for Apple  I say “fall” because we are just pretending here.  The temperature is nearing the center of a volcano.  Triple digits while the rest of the country is cozying up with their adorable scarves and pumpkin lattes.  Why yes, yes I’m jealous, why do you ask?

To get out of our heat-stroke funk, we headed down south for some apple picking.  We started off with our annual mini apple donut tradition.  Amazing as always.

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Even the baby got a taste (while mommy wasn’t looking)

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We found ourselves on a day where another school came for a field trip so we jumped on board on the learning train

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The lovely lady who showed us how to make apple cider the old fashioned way.  Yummy!

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We wound up befriending someone who we think was the owner (we know for sure she and her daughter work there and she lives on the property).  We felt like we got the special treatment.  It pays to married to someone who honestly loves old ladies (and old men too), because “they know stuff!”  Good for me, since one day I too will be an old lady.

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Mr. Sunshine had a great time too.

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Here’s the gang ‘surfing’ to go find our 2 bushels of apples to soon make our applesauce.  Guess that California blood runs deep.

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I love that we got a full family day and could count it as legitimate school.  A great and yummy day indeed.

Morning Manipulatives

Ever since I’ve come home from Minnesota, its been an absolute whirlwind with my mind and body going a mile a minute for all things homeschooling.  As I mentioned before, I should have done the prep work earlier this summer, but never got the chance.  I’ll be doing things differently next year.

It is what it is, and we will be going on with a happy heart.  I hope.

And speaking of happy, in the last couple of weeks I have found a new happy place.

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If you don’t already know, this is a teachers store where you can get SO MANY supplies.  Its overwhelming and exhilarating all at the same time.

For my first time, I was also dealing with this…

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So my brain was a little fried before I walked into the air conditioned teachers paradise.

I LOVED IT.

In fact, I loved it so much that I pretty much blew my budget out of the water pirate and canon ball style.  My receipt was spectacular.  I wasn’t so sure my hubby would be that pleased, but thank goodness he didn’t flinch.  It comes in handy that this homeschooling idea was his in the first place.  😉

Along with the items I had come for, a white board and book holders (one thing they didn’t have!), I managed to find a plethora of items that I just had to have.

After noticing my shy guy, Mini Man, gravitate towards the manipulatives at our co-op (which we are still on the fence about— more on that later), I decided that buying many different types of manipulatives would be a great way to incorporate the Montessori style of preschool that I had envisioned.

It worked like a charm!  Mini Man was especially thrilled at this new hands on learning adventure!

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Hard to tell, but for him, this is happy.  *please excuse the crazy mess behind him*

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They are loving their patterned stringing necklaces.

I won’t bombard you with endless pictures of their morning manipulative magic (I’ll spread the love through out the week).  But I will say that not only is this great for fine motor development, but its also great for independent play.  I put one type of manipulative game out for the little munchkins to learn play with, while I continue to get ready/prepare the lesson/drink my coffee.  This has become a win/win for sure.

Routines

Now that we have begun our homeschooling journey, we should set some ground rules.  Like no pushing, interrupting, staying quiet during blanket time, and listening and following directions.

Great got that.  Now on to me.  What are my ground rules?  I know I should probably set a routine, but so far that hasn’t happened one day, and the next couple of weeks I have scheduled a couple of play dates with friends that we would like to reconnect with.  That will mean my instinct to school the kids in the morning will have to be regulated to the I’m-too-tired-to-work afternoon.  Not ideal, but doable.  Guess that is the beauty of homeschooling.

Now let’s factor in the dinners I haven’t really been cooking or the house I haven’t really been cleaning.  Yikes.

One of the reasons I haven’t been as task oriented is because here in California I have been finding it hard to sleep.  And according to my 2 year old baby abuser/playmate (Little Rascal and Mr. Sunshine are sharing a room for the first time, much to my dismay), I suspect that the entire family is having a difficult time getting and staying asleep.  Here we have the bright morning sun shining in and the sounds of traffic blissfully telling us that sleepy time is over.  Oh did I say blissfully?  I mean, unhappily waking our sorry tushes up.

So this morning I decided to make use of my way-too-early-for-kindness morning and actually get up out of bed instead of close my eyes tightly and pray for sweet sleep to find me again. [fyi it hardly ever works]  I sorted the mega pile of laundry and actually put a load in.  I completed a task!  I could be starting a new routine!  One where I actually accomplish something before the leeches arrive children punch the clock to their the day.

This was all before my little ones came out of their rooms.  Notice I didn’t say ‘wake-up’?  Yah, that’s because even in the wee hours of the morning Little Rascal is “entertaining” his baby brother by throwing things into his crib.  Folded clean clothes?  Yup, in the crib it belongs.  Stuffed animals?  You betcha.  Wooden blocks?  Oh yah those get chucked in there too.

Have I mentioned that we aren’t sleeping very well?

Water play

Day 2 went off without a hitch.  We began our MFW Creation day 2 with blanket time (calendar, songs, bible), then got to our craft.  On the 2nd day the Lord separated the water and the sky.

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She apparently wanted the clouds to bring down the rain.  I thought this was brilliant, especially since we are in such a severe drought.  Yes Lord, please bring the rain!

I thought what better way to understand the sky and the water was…. to play with the water under the bright sunny sky.

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Yes yes, I realize that I just mentioned our severe drought.  I justified this perfect hands on activity by saying that it was nearly 100 degrees (and hotter the next day and its expected to get even hotter than that tomorrow.  I’m sweating just thinking about it).  Plus, I figured with water play I didn’t have to give them a bath.  Justified.

I’m thrilled that everybody is excited about school so far.  Luckily the first week is an easy cake walk for both teachers and students to ease into school.  This makes it effortless to get all the kids enthusiastic to learn.  Granted they are doing water play in the baking sun and who wouldn’t be happy doing that?