Thursday, February 5, 2015

Homeschool Music

Since we began homeschooling in August, my husband has taken over the music education aspect. He has had them on the piano, drums, ukulele, playing bells and xylophone. I love the dedicated time he spends with them teaching them music. M is on the young side, but I do see some natural musical tendencies there. C is really just now at the age to get him started. He really enjoys playing the ukulele.

My husband, loves playing and writing music. He recently wrote a song and had the kids help.

Here is a link to listen to a song he wrote and put together on Garage Band. The kids sang with him and I think it is adorable!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Three things I learned during our first 100 days of homeschooling

I can not even begin to explain how excited I am to have our first 100 days of homeschool behind us! When we first started in August it seemed like it would take forever, lol. We've had many ups and downs, but honestly I would say it has been an amazing experience. I've definitely learned so much over the first 100 days of homeschooling. 


There will be bad days and that is ok... When we first began homeschooling this year I expected the first few weeks to be rough, but they weren't. I mean I struggled with getting my day organized, buth the kids were model students. They were fantastic and eager. I was beyond thrilled. I thought I had really prepped them well and was doing a banner job. Then everything changed. The truth was homeschool began to feel Sure we play more games and have a less crazy day, but there are worksheets to do and new lessons to learn. I was met with attitudes and meltdowns. I wasn't prepared for the change of events. I walked out of the room crying not sure what to do. Then I had to remember it is ok. What we don't get done today we will get done tomorrow. It's ok to pack up the books and head to the park, or send them outside to run around. We are not bound to the classroom. We took unscheduled trips to the library, walks around the neighborhood, and started craft projects. When the moods shifted, I gently reminded them we need to finish up classwork. You know what? It got done...eventually. We still have off days or off moments in our day and I need to remind myself to be flexible. It is ok.

Make time for Momma... I would not consider myself overly social. Last year when my son was in 1st grade and my daughter at preschool, I spent a great deal of time at home. I did the drop offs and pick ups, I did a weekly Bible study, and ran one day a week with two girlfriends otherwise I was at home. When we started homeschooling I was all in. I made no time for myself to get away. I went to the hobby store--the little ones were with me. The grocery store, we went together. My break was on Sundays when I dropped them off and ran to my adult study. Then our church announced the mid-week study and this year they'd be able to care for homeschoolers. My husband pushed me to sign-up. The thought stressed me. We were already doing karate on Monday mornings and I found this really put me behind. The last thing I wanted to do was add a Wednesday morning away from home. He felt like it would be good for me and the kids. I gave in. Oh what a blessing my Wednesday morning group was. I sat and talked to grown-ups. I hadn't realized how much I missed them! The experience for C had been fantastic, too. The church had it set-up that homeschoolers would work on their own for an hour. This helped him with learning to be independent, plus if he finished with the worksheets I brought he would read. He fell in love with reading. After church, after being social, I found I was recharged. I was more energetic and felt more like myself. This allowed me to be better for them.

I can't do it all... there it is. The one thing I really hate to admit. I can't do it all. Homeschooling takes a good part of my day. When we are done with homeschooling I try to get things done around the house or sometimes I just want to do nothing. I haven't figured out how to get all the shopping, cleaning, laundry, schooling, playing, phone calls, bills paid...all of it done. I get a lot of it done. Not done as well as I would like it or in the time I would like it. My husband has been doing more, I've had to do more in the evenings (I used to get it all done during the day), I've had to learn to deal with some things just not getting done. Maybe someday I will post how I've learned to get it done. I know I could plan better. Plan all my meals, plan a cleaning and laundry schedule...but for now I'm still figuring out how to get all the schooling done because school is my number one focus. That is ok. I am learning to be ok with that. I mean it's not like my house is going to be on the next episode of Hoarders (and I do recommend watching it--you will feel much better about the condition of your own home). :) This is simply the season my family is in and honestly I'm loving it.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Saving Grace by Jane Green

Grace and Ted Chapman are widely regarded as the perfect literary power couple. Ted is a successful novelist and Grace, his wife of twenty years, is beautiful, stylish, carefree, and a wonderful homemaker. But what no one sees, what is churning under the surface, is Ted’s rages. His mood swings. And the precarious house of cards that their lifestyle is built upon. When Ted’s longtime assistant and mainstay leaves, the house of cards begins to crumble and Grace, with dark secrets in her past, is most vulnerable. She finds herself in need of help but with no one to turn to…until the perfect new assistant shows up out of the blue.  To the rescue comes Beth, a competent young woman who can handle Ted and has the calm efficiency to weather the storms that threaten to engulf the Chapman household. Soon, though, it’s clear to Grace that Beth might be too good to be true. This new interloper might be the biggest threat of all, one that could cost Grace her marriage, her reputation, and even her sanity.  With everything at stake and no one to confide in, Grace must find a way to save herself before it is too late.

Powerful and riveting, Saving Grace will have you on the edge of your seat as you follow Grace on her harrowing journey to rock bottom and back.

My thoughts...there is a reason Jane Green has published so many books, she is fantastic. Saving Grace is an I can't put this book down kinda novel! I really liked Grace. At first, I wasn't sure what to make of her relationship to Ted...I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see where it would lead. Then we meet the new assistant and I never trusted her, but Grace really wasn't a fool--but then the story just explodes in a way I really wasn't expecting. Wow. I mean wow. I was really proud of the leaps Grace went through and how wonderfully Green pulled everything together. Nothing felt rushed, Grace always seemed true to who she was. I would love to mention another character who I totally loved, but that would be a spoiler! I will also mention Green brings about a discussion of medication in this novel that should be a discussion we should be having in our society.

I believe the books description really gives you a good idea of what the novel is about, so I am really just letting you know this was a great read. I highly recommend Saving Grace.

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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Another Night, Another Day by Sarah Rayner

Three people, each crying out for help.There’s Karen, about to lose her father; Abby, whose son has autism and needs constant care, and Michael, a family man on the verge of bankruptcy. As each sinks under the strain, they’re brought together at Moreland’s Clinic.Here, behind closed doors, they reveal their deepest secrets, confront and console one another, and share plenty of laughs. But how will they cope when a new crisis strikes? From the international bestselling author, Sarah Rayner, Another Night, Another Day is the emotional story of a group of strangers who come together to heal, creating lifelong friendships along the way.

My thoughts...In some ways, this is a difficult book to review. The storyline is dealing with depression, not a story to get all excited about. Another Night, Another Day is a very well written character driven story following the lives of three individuals fighting very real demons in their lives. They find themselves in a clinic facing the truth of the lives they've been fighting. I found myself particularly drawn to Karen. I could relate to her grief process and some of her feelings and questions about her grief. Having lost my own dad two years ago, I found myself feeling as if I had no right to really grieve him since I had grieved so hard for my mom and because I knew it was coming. Another Night, Another Day brought out some of my own emotional baggage. Rayner really touched on a subject rarely talked about, but one we should...The story really opened my own eyes to the emotional toll others are going through around me that I have really never thought  about. I found the novel very eye opening. I walked away with a better understanding--I mean, wouldn't it be nice if you could have someone to talk to and to help us process our emotions before they get to be too much? Instead, we have a stigma attached to going off and talking to someone or taking a medication to help us when we have emotional overload. We view needing help as weak and yet walking though your emotional pain is extremely brave and far better for us then putting it off.

While reading Another Night, Another Day I really was rooting for all the characters. Wanting them to find their footing again. I cheered for them and I cried with them.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Save Me by Kristyn Kusek Lewis

Daphne Mitchell has always believed in cause and effect, right and wrong, good and bad. The good: her dream job as a doctor; Owen, her childhood sweetheart and now husband; the beautiful farmhouse they're restoring together. In fact, most of her life has been good--until the day Owen comes home early from work to tell her he's fallen head over heels for someone else.

Unable to hate him, but also equally incapable of moving forward, Daphne's life hangs in limbo until the day Owen's new girlfriend sustains near-fatal injuries in a car accident. As Daphne becomes a pillar of support for the devastated Owen, and realizes that reconciliation may lie within her grasp, she has to find out whether forgiveness is possible and decide which path is the right one for her.

My thoughts...I loved the authenticity of Daphne. Her husband, whom she loves, is ready to start a family with, her everything suddenly tells her I need a break I'm not sure I'm all in anymore and oh by the way I had an affair (all in the first few pages not a spoiler). What would you do with that! Just as she is beginning to process everything the woman who he had a fling with is in an accident, Owen needs Daphne. Her best friend, Annie KNOWS what is best for her and pushes her to do just that. The problem is Daphne is all over the place.

I understood Daphne. You can't just turn those feelings would want to believe the best even during the worst. I felt so bad for her. It didn't seem like anyone was willing to just listen to her and allow her to process what was going on around her. She knew everything they were telling her, but she needed to decide what she was going to do. In the end, it is her life. (and I'm totally an Annie ;)

I really enjoyed how I wasn't sure how this was going to end. I won't say anymore about the story. This was a really fast read, I just flew through the story. I wanted to know how everything would play out. I could definitely see this as a great book to read with friends and chit chat especially about the end! I'm recommending SAVE ME!

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Kids Christmas Books

Last week I took the kids over to the library and checked out a number of kids Christmas books. I love how our library marks the binding with a little candy cane making them easy to find. I'm trying to read a few each day, but so far I've read only three...multiple times. My kids like repetition! I hope to pull a few more from our library bin today, but I thought I'd take a few moments and review the three I read so far.

Dora's Christmas Carol 
by Golden Books (Author), Brenda Goddard (Illustrator), Dan Haskett (Illustrator)

Dora the Explorer takes a magical holiday journey back to the past and into the future to teach Swiper about the importance of giving. Based on the DVD Dora's Christmas Carol Adventure, this full-color hardcover storybook is sure to delight girls ages 3-7.

My thoughts: My kids really are not huge Dora fans. They will sit and watch the television show now and again, but won't seek it out. I wasn't really sure how the book would go over. Well they loved it. Swiper has gotten in trouble by Santa for his swiping and now will not receive a gift unless he learns about the true spirit of Christmas. Dora and Swiper take off on an adventure of Christmas' past and future. My kids really enjoyed the book.

The Perfect Christmas Pageant 
by Joyce Meyer  

The popular Everyday Zoo series for young children by beloved and New York Times bestselling author Joyce Meyer continues with The Christmas Pageant, a heartfelt and humorous story about the true meaning of Christmas. When Hayley Hippo is asked to direct the annual Christmas pageant, she decides this will be her Christmas gift to Jesus and she sets out to make everything perfect. However, after a series of disappointing mishaps, Hayley and her friends learn that they don’t need to be perfect. They realize that Christmas is not about the glittering lights, the perfect setting, or an impressive show, but about Christ.

My Thoughts: I have not read any of the Everyday Zoo books before. I was very interested in this book because I knew it would have a religious sentiment. This is very important to me especially at Christmas. The kids and I really enjoyed the story and I'll be honest and admit to my inner Hayley Hippo trying to make everything perfect. It was a sweet story. I am going to be looking at getting more books in the Everyday Zoo series.

The Crippled Lamb
by Max Lucado 

The inspiring story that has encouraged thousands of children who have felt left out or who have special needs.

In this timeless bestseller, readers experience the tender love God has for those who feel alone and different. Joshua was a lamb with a crippled leg who felt left out because he couldn’t run and play like the other lambs. But God had a very special plan for Joshua’s life, as He does for all who feel alone. Readers can expect a gentle tug on their hearts as the little lamb’s prayers are answered in an amazing way. Original oil-painting illustrations by Liz Bonham brilliantly capture the beauty and warmth of this endearing story.

My Thoughts: I have read one of Max Lucado's children's books and really enjoyed it, so I had a high expectation for The Crippled Lamb. I sat down with the kids and began reading. Within the first pages we were all sad. The poor little lamb. I couldn't imagine what God's plan for him would be. Then it is revealed. I sat there trying not to cry while reading. I did end up in tears. I mean this is an absolutely beautiful story. This is a book I want to read to them again and again because it reminds me how He has a plan for us. Absolutely loved this. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Busy, busy, busy

Things have been busy here. Working of finishing up our last few weeks of school before we take off for Christmas break. It is hard to believe we have just about completed 18 weeks of school!  I seriously can't believe it! I would have to say I have loved the experience more than I ever expected. I love having my kids around and knowing exactly what they are learning. I love how when C is struggling with a new concept I stop what I'm doing and we keep working on it until he really gets it. I see his areas of weakness and I have the time to really work on those things with him.

Last week, we had the opportunity Brooks Museum where they had a homeschool day. They have a temporary exhibit called Soulful Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt. We had a blast! To prepare we went to the library and checked out a number of books about Ancient Egypt and then did a few arts and crafts projects.

We made necklaces and arm bands. They love all the art projects we get to do at home. We also had a chart in one of our books using hieroglyphics. I attempted writing their names on the white board. I thought they may like to add them to their art projects. M used the hieroglyphics and wrote out mom (the orange on the necklace). She also made a symbol to represent me...yes it's a cup of coffee. Coffee sounds like a good idea right now!