Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Lamb Homeschool 2.0 Our Day

We just started our second year of homeschooling. We started homeschooling for multiple reasons, and our first year was rough. Thankfully we were able to find some amazing resources over the past year, and this year has started fairly smoothly.

I love to hear what other homeschoolers do with their day, so I decided to share our day.  We have three children, girls ages 9 and 6, and a boy age 3.  With a few modifications for the 6 year old, the girls are both in third grade. The boy is starting preschool outside our house twice a week this Fall.

Our goals for homeschooling our children include providing them with an advanced curriculum in a Catholic environment to help them grow into intelligent and virtuous adults.

Below is a little sample of our day. We actually follow the times fairly closely as we like a lot of structure in our day, and it keeps mom from pushing the kids too far.

7:30 AM Daily Mass

8:15 AM Breakfast, Patriotism, and Exercise (GoNoodle and Brain Gym) We use exercise to transition between each subject and to wake up our brains.  Our six year old has a sensory processing disorder and frequent movement greatly increases her focus and comfort. We also take this time to say the Pledge of Allegiance and learn a song. Last year they learned My Country Tis of Thee, the Star Spangled Banner, and America the Beautiful, among others.

8:45 AM Latin (Song School Latin) or discuss our Virtue of the month (Character First Education and Virtues in Practice). On Fridays we study religion (Seton and Faith and Life). The kids also attend Catechesis of the Good Shepherd once a week at our church.

9:15 AM Reading (Both girls are advanced readers, so we choose quality literature to read, discuss, and learn vocabulary from. This year our selection will include Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and the 1st Harry Potter book. We started our year off with some simple picture books that discuss anti-perfectionism, being yourself, and taking ownership of your work by Peter H. Reynolds. After reading, I encourage the kids to take five minutes and sketch a picture with a topic related to our reading.  Afterwards, they stand in front of us and tell us all about their picture.

9:45 AM Chemistry (REAL Science Odyssey and Apologia Chemistry)

10:15 AM Snack time!  The kids eat, and I take a little break from them to play the piano and relax.

10:30 AM Language Arts Three days a week we work on grammar skills (Voyages in English by Loyola, level 3), one day a week we work on vocabulary (Vocabulary in Action, Level D) and on Fridays we work on our writing(Daily writing prompts).

11:00 AM Math The girls are in two different levels for math.  Right now the 6 year old is working on becoming fluent in her math facts using an awesome online program (Reflex). Once she is fluent, she will start Math U See Beta. The 9 year old is working on multiplication (Math U See Gamma).

11:30 AM Tidy Up We all take time to clean up a little, finish our morning chores we may not have finished before Mass, and I prepare lunch.

12:00 PM Lunch and play outside

1:00 PM One child works on spelling (All About Spelling) with mom while the other child completes handwriting (Zaner-Bloser) and/or fine motor activities.

1:30 PM The child working on handwriting gets a piano lesson from mom while the other child completes her handwriting. (The kids like our spelling program, but Mom finds it a little dull and cannot facilitate an hour of spelling a day, so we trade off doing spelling and music each day.)

2:00 PM Chores Each child has a specific chore to do on each day of the week: vacuuming, dusting, washing a bathroom or kitchen floor, etc.)

2:30 PM Reward time!  If everything including their chores is finished, the kids get to play on the computer for about 45 minutes.  They are allowed to use Khan Academy and study any subject they would like (usually computer coding or ancient art), continue using ReflexMath, or play Stack the States/Countries.

4:00PM Usually one of the kids is off to Irish dance lessons for the evening.  The rest of us usually go along and hang out, talk to friends, and play.  The Celtic Junction has become our home away from home. As the kids get older, they will also take music lessons there as well.

This past year we also added gymnastics to our extra-curriculars and have continued playing soccer.

One morning a week we attend a homeschool academy for children who work 2-3 years above their grade level.  This semester the girls will take classes in Physics, Time Travel and the Universe, and Construction of Simple Instruments. We usually stay for lunch and outside play time as well.

7:30 PM Social Studies (Harcourt) Dad is in charge of reading social studies three nights a week at bed time.  He does a really good job making sure the girls know their stuff!

Throughout our day, the three year old joins us or plays on his own.  He is a pretty content kid. One morning a week he takes care of his grandparents ;-) Soon he will also be attending preschool two mornings a week outside the home.

Socialization: The kids probably talk and interact with over 200 different people each week, so we try not to get too worried about this.  The only person who tends to feel under socialized is Mom, which is remedied by a happy hour or two a month.

That is our day!  After all that, we usually sleep well!

Friday, September 12, 2014

How many vials of Increlex do we need?

I got tired of always trying to figure out if the pharmacy was sending us enough vials of Increlex each month, so I made a handy spreadsheet.  Of course, I have discovered that with each dose increase, we have to fight the pharmacy to send us enough vials for the month.  Hopefully this helps others, too.  Let me know if you need a larger number of units.  Thirty units is enough for a 75kg child.  That's a big kid!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Why the Elf is not on our shelf.

A few years ago a new Christmas tradition took the country by storm.  That cute little Elf on the Shelf made its way into many American homes:  breeding mischief, encouraging creativity, and causing sales of Q-tips and marshmallows to skyrocket.  In addition to his daily shenanigans, the Elf keeps an eye on your little ones and reports back to the North Pole who has been naughty or nice, adding to the "magic" of Christmas.

For quite some time, I thought the Elf on the Shelf was a cute, fun idea.  However, something (in addition to the high price tag) kept me from purchasing an Elf for our own shelf.  The month of December is always a whirlwind.  We never have enough time to squish all that we want to accomplish into 31 days.  In recognizing that December is crammed full of lofty expectations and over-commitment, I started thinking about what I wanted most in December.

1. More than anything I want to celebrate Advent not the calendar month of December.  I want to have peace not only on Earth, but also in my heart.
2. I want my children to grow closer to Christ.  My cute little girls have excellent memories and can recite prayers most adults do not know, but I think it is more important that they feel God's presence and are able to have their own intimate conversation with Him.

We have many traditions at our house to help us prepare for Christmas.  I (try to) read daily from the Advent devotional In Conversation with God.  We follow the Holy Heroes Advent Adventure each night with the kids and pray a decade of the rosary before bedtime.  Each day in conjunction with the Advent Adventure, we place an ornament on our Jesse Tree to follow the stories of the Old Testament that lead up to the birth of Jesus.  We light our advent wreath before dinner and say a prayer.  The Advent season also has several saints' days that we celebrate including St. Nicholas and St. Lucy.

We have also found ways to avoid some of the Christmas season craziness.  1) We do not send out Christmas cards.  We prefer St. Patrick's Day cards.  We have more time in March, and we like to think that our friends and family enjoy a little update in the dead of winter.  2) We finish all of our Christmas shopping before Advent begins and avoid the crazy consumerism of ads and shopping malls.  Also, we do not purchase gifts for our children.  This last item has garnered quite a bit of opinion from others.  Our children do not even realize that we do not buy them anything because they are showered with gifts from all other corners of the Earth.

Before everyone reads this and thinks we are total extremists at our house...we do enjoy Santa.  However, Santa is not the focus of our Advent season.  We take advantage of the celebration of Gaudete Sunday and take the kids to see Santa right after Mass while they are still all dressed up in their Sunday best. (This timing also helps beat the long lines!)  The kids ask Santa for one small item so that he has room in his sack to bring all the other boys and girls of the world a small gift, too.

So...as you can see...we simply do not have room for an Elf on our shelf!  What Advent traditions do you celebrate at your house?

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light!  Isaiah 9:2

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Bottles and such...

Do not get excited.  I am still on hiatus from blogging until I finish writing all those thank you notes (which is a blog all its own).  If you are not interested in bottles and breastfeeding, stop reading right now.  If you are interested, carry on...

A little background
Daughter #1 was a voracious nurser.  I pumped while at work and she willingly took any bottle given to her at daycare.  Daughter #2 was a weak nurser at birth (likely due to her then-unknown growth disorder) but improved.  However, after 12 weeks at home with mom, she developed some serious nipple confusion when she took a bottle at daycare.  She didn't take to the bottle and she screamed every night at feeding time.  I would take her to a dark room and try to feed her for hours.  Usually both of us would end up crying.  Son #1 is pretty much irrelevant to this discussion because he has the pleasure of mom staying home with him 24/7.

After a lot of research I made some important discoveries.  The Gerber nuk orthodontic bottles and pacifiers teach babies to use a shallow suck that is not good for breastfeeding.

A good breastfeeding bottle mimics the natural shape of a mother.  We discovered The First Years Breastflow bottles and Pacifiers.

After we switched Daughter #2 to the Breastflow bottles, life was easier but not perfect.  I think if we had started with these bottles, she would have done much better.  I ended up working my full time job in 2 1/2 days a week and staying home the rest of the week with the kids.  At 9 months we moved to Minnesota and I entirely work from home.

If you have a new baby, just buy one or two of the bottles you think you would like to use and try them out.  If that bottle does not work, then go back to the store and try a different one.  Every baby is different, even within your own family.

If you have low milk supply and are trying to pump, I found these Milkies Milk Savers to be very useful.  You place them on the side you're not nursing on while you're nursing and they collect the milk that drips.  I was able to freeze a lot of milk before I went back to work by using these every time I nursed.

Feel free to ask questions!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Funny kids!

The kids have said some funny stuff lately.
Mom and the Volcano
When Ken arrived home from work the other day, Camille proudly showed him her latest piece of art, which was of a volcano. Ken then asked her what she drew inside the volcano and she replied, "oh, that's Mommy!" Ken just nodded and said, "Wow! Tough day as a stay-at-home-mom, huh?"
The joys of TV
After sleeping in for a bit, I went downstairs and found that the girls had the TV on.  This is unusual as we only let them watch TV on the weekends and we supervise what they watch very closely.  I asked them what they were watching and Camille said, “oh, this is for your skin!”  Sure enough, they were watching a Cyndi Crawford infomercial for skin care!  Some days they’re way too funny!
Meghan teaches Mom about strangers
As we were leaving school after dropping off Camille, a mailman pulled up in front of our van.  I engaged in some small talk with him.  When I was putting Meg into her carseat she asks, “Mom, why were you talking to that mailman?”
I said, “well, he seemed like a nice man.”
Meg replied, “you know Mom, you can’t be too careful these days!”
Ah!  Important lesson from the mouth of an almost 3 year old!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Community helper vests-part 5 Police officer

Today's post is the last one on community helper vests.  Can you tell I had a lot of fun making these?  I have always been creative but never crafty.  I like sewing costumes because I can screw things up and it doesn't really matter.  Note:  I have no desire to sew real clothing.  Why go to all that trouble when I can buy it off the rack?  I do find sewing rather relaxing.  I live in a house full of talkers, but my sewing machine is loud enough that no one can talk to me when I'm sewing.  Ahhh...the bliss of silence!

The girls and I had fun taking pictures with the police vests.

Officer Camille says, "Don't talk on the phone and drive!"
Camille arrests Meghan, who clearly isn't taking the situation seriously.
Meghan learns she's going to jail, which Camille clearly likes!
 The police officer vests were made out of royal blue fleece, which is actually difficult to find.  I bought all the fleece at one store and couldn't find any more in any other fabric store.  The yellow stripes are made with yellow felt.  The patches were purchased off of eBay.  I hemmed the edges 1/2".
I used the following source as inspiration:

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Community helper vests-part 4 Construction worker

I love the bold colors on these vests.  I actually made 10 of them because I miscalculated the amount of material I needed and was indecisive on whether to make the vests orange or yellow.
You might have noticed that these vests look a little big on Camille and huge on Meghan even though they were made for children their age.  We held Camille back from kindergarten this year (turning out to be an excellent choice, in our opinion...but that's another blog post...), but she is still the smallest kid in her class.  I made the vests with the largest preschooler in mind.  Also, we live in Minnesota so most kids go to school wearing bulky sweatshirts and sweaters.  Meghan will use these vests in the fall when she starts preschool, but she does not actually plot on a growth chart for her age yet, which means that 99.9999% of all children her age are larger than her.  I figure, as long as she is not tripping over the bottom hem on the vest, they're not too big.  Finding an "average" sized model in our house is not easy!

Both the yellow and orange vests were made with felt, as stated before, purchased at JoAnn Fabrics and 100% washable and dryable.  The stripes on the vests were also made with felt.

Orange store-bought binding was used for the trim on these yellow vests.

I just used a 1/2" hem on the orange vests.  Standard pre-made yellow trim available at our fabric store is not as bright as the yellow I used for the stripes, and I couldn't find a good match.
I used the following as inspiration for these vests:
Source:  Suble Tee Blog