Monday, July 30, 2007

Project Lists.

The lists I made are working (thanks for the idea to itsmejanet @ the WTM Boards!). I have divided up all the tasks I want to accomplish and they are actually getting done! It's great to be able to finish something without jumping from project to project. So far this is what I have done:

* Redecorated the master bedroom (New comforter, curtains, blinds, pillows, pictures, etc.)
* Organized the kitchen (Created a new mail center and organized the office cabinet)
* Decorated the top of kitchen counters
* Cleaned out filing cabinets by computer
* Donate all unused toys, clothing, etc. to Goodwill (this one took A LOT of time and several trips to the Goodwill donation truck)

It doesn't seem like much, but I feel like I'm decluttering and accomplishing something! Next on my list of things:

* Organize upstairs school room (bookshelves, school supplies, drawers)
- Furnish school room with new bulletin board & supplies cart
- Rearrange school room to better hold our flip chart, book basket, MFW files, etc.
* Organize downstairs school room/play room
- Get rid of couch
- Organize bookshelves and desk
- Arrange toys in baskets/bins
- Create easier to use arts & crafts center
- Create reading corner to replace the couch area (new floor pillows, book basket)
- Reorganize bathroom storage
- Clean up outdoor toy bin (get rid of unused toys, balls, etc.)
- Finish with decluttering and donating of items
* Reorganize master bedroom closet

TA DA!!! Not much, huh? Well, even if I don't finish all the list, it will definitely keep my mind busy! The good thing is that I have most of the supplies I need to organize, it's just getting to actually doing it. Just reading my list gets me all excited about having it all done!

I won't get into the projects that I can't actually do myself (all remodeling stuff). But they will get done soon enough, I'm sure.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Nesting.

Today has been quite an emotional day for me. I am heavy into this "nesting" syndrome caused by pregnancy. I have 3 weeks until my due date and I am getting very overwhelmed by all the things I want to do before the baby is born. Unfortunately, due to my current size (not to mention having to tow 3 young kids around) I am unable to do many of the things I want to do.

Having vented over my stressful day today, I got a wonderful recommendation from the ladies at the WTMboards. Make a list, separate them into 3 categories: must do before baby, try to do before baby, and can wait until after baby. So here I am, spending my day making a 3 column list of all the things I want to get done. So far, it seems like I want EVERYTHING done before the baby. Hmm. Guess I will have to reevaluate.

I usually do get into this nesting thing before all my babes have been born. It seems like this time, however, the urge to organize, redecorate, and declutter has taken over me. It's been hard to concentrate on schooling the kids while I'm thinking about what color I should paint the room. I'm sure it can all wait. It just feels like the whole world is waiting for me to do something to it before our little guy arrives.

Friday, July 20, 2007

New Schedule Posted!

I have finally finished my new schedule before my deadline!! I prayerfully considered all the choices and decided to go ahead with My Father's World K for Isabella and Marco. Isabella will be moving at a slower pace, finishing off within 2 years. Marco will be moving at a faster pace, since he has already started his kindergarten year. I am in no rush, however, so I will just enjoy the ride!

So far MFW looks wonderful and it will be so easy to incorporate our Catholic faith into it. We are going to continue with our Catholic readers, storybooks, and in September we will be going to our kindergarten and preschool co-op with the local Catholic homeschooling group. We are really excited about it!

I wonder if it's normal to keep revamping your schedule in the middle of the year. I suppose since I'm just an amateur homeschooler, I am allowed. It's so hard to find the right fit for your family in the beginning. Sometimes things work, and sometimes they don't. So far I think that our new schedule is going to fit nicely into our current routine. We will be keeping a lot of the stuff that we are doing now such as math, phonics, handwriting, and music. Once Marco is finished with the year, we'll be adding a more formal art program and continuing with spelling and grammar. But first grade is still a bit away, so I'll worry about that later!

If you are interested, take a look at our updated schedule. It's a fill in the blank kind of thing that has worked really well for me. I plan 2 weeks at a time and I have the whole thing set up in a binder that I had made at Kinko's. I use it over a 2 page spread which gives me plenty of writing space.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

As we approach the beginning of a new year for Isabella, I keep wondering what I will do to keep Marco entertained while I do one-on-one work with her. Not that he can't find something to do on his own, but I really want him to have some productive time. I decided to create a file or a pocket holder that I will put a variety of file folder games and mini-offices in. That way he can choose what topic he wants to do without me having to help him through it.


I started today and so far I have created an addition file folder game as well as a math mini-office. I have already printed out what I need to make a few more file folder games to add to the collection. I found some great websites that have all the information you need and I recommend that you check them out!

http://www.busyteacherscafe.com/mini_offices.htm
http://www.teachingheart.net/minioffice.html
http://www.childcareland.com/free.html
http://www.amug.org/~jbpratt/education/theme/filefolders.html
http://www.kn.att.com/wired/fil/pages/listkindersu.html

Hope you find them useful. Once I get a good amount going, I'll post some samples.

Dinosaur Unit Completed!

It's been a few days, but we finally completed our dinosaur unit! After taking a few days off from dinosaur activities, we had to extend our 2 week unit to end today. It was great fun and the kids woke up every day asking what dinosaur craft we were going to do. I don't think they even knew that they were learning in the process!

We began our unit with a study of "long ago." We made a poster-sized mural depicting the landscape and studied several pictures from books in order to get the background just right. Every day we added a different dinosaur to our landscape and learned a little bit about that dinosaur as well. Another concept we studied was that of extinction and the different theories behind what actually happened to the dinosaurs. It was fun to chart all the plausible and not-so-plausible explanations as to why the dinosaurs disappeared. My favorite? "Aliens came and put a giant bag over the earth and all the dinosaurs suffocated." I guess we'll never know!

I loved that all the books we read together got the kids asking questions and wanting to learn more. We were able to head outside and compare the size of a 50 ft. diplodocus to the size of each one of us using paper chains that we made. We asked questions and made hypotheses; then we tested them. How many of us would it take to reach the top of the dinosaur? About 14.5 of Marco. If the dinosaur was lying down, how many steps would it take for us to walk from it's feet to it's head? 43 steps. Exactly what does 50 feet look like? Really big! It was lots of fun! And the best part is that all the kids got involved, not just Marco; Isabella was learning right there with him and even Anthony got a good lesson in listening during reading time and following directions!

Our other favorite activities? Dressing up as paleontologists and then looking for fossils through the sand. They learned how to carefully use brushes to dust fossils off (chicken bones) and how to transport them to a museum. We also had a dinosaur hunt through the house where we followed the dinosaur tracks to a big pile of bones (made of paper). After finding them, they had to figure out how to glue them together to make a dinosaur. The list goes on and on. All the paper crafts went into the dinosaur folder and all the other big stuff got put up around the room. It will be a little sad for them to have to take it down this weekend.


As we reviewed all that we learned today, I realized how much kids can retain when you use playtime as learning time. I'm already looking forward to setting up another unit study for them. So far the contenders are horses and cowboys. But for now I'm not sure since we'll be busy preparing for the beginning of our new curriculum with MFW.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

What Happened to My Deadline?

So I had promised myself that I would have our Konos supplemented into our schedule in a week. That week has come and gone and I'm thinking that my thoughts were a little ambitious for what I actually have time for! Therefore, I am now extending my deadline and reevaluating what actually fits into my family. I keep forgetting that we will have a new baby soon!

I am taking a second look at all the curriculum I used for Marco's preschool and am leaning towards something a little simpler. I think I will be needing something that is planned out for me. I don't think I'll have a lot of time to schedule things the first couple of months after the baby is born. I still love the look of Konos, but now I am swaying towards My Father's World, which also uses a hands-on approach. The difference is that with MFW it is all scheduled and written out for you. With Konos, you have to do all the leg work! Both curriculum, however, would be tweaked to pull towards a more Catholic teaching.

So I feel like I have come to a cross road. Isabella needs to start her own thing soon and Marco is advancing. There will be a 2 year old to look after, as well as a newborn. Hmmm. I will keep researching and looking around. The good thing is that I now that realize I can't do all my planning in a week. With God's help and more prayers to help me on my path, I'm hoping to have everything ready by the end of July. We'll see.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Kitten to a Good Home.

We are currently in the middle of a change. Besides expecting a new baby in about 6 weeks, we are new parents to a kitten! I'm not really a cat person, and we have been holding off on getting a dog until sometime after the baby is born; but this little kitten found us and apparently likes us as a family.

As we all were playing outside a couple of days ago, DH spotted something near the forest. I thought it was a squirrel sitting there looking at us, but I was wrong and along came this little thing of a cat. He quickly ran to us and would stop once within a couple of feet. He didn't look so sure, but was obviously unafraid of the children as he leaped through the grass to them. There is a stray neighborhood cat and we have concluded that this kitten must belong to her. We know that none of our neighbors have cats, so being the good-hearted people that we are (*smile*), we took the kitten in a fed her some milk.

We looked and looked and never found the mother or a litter, so we came to decision that this cat must go to the animal shelter. The kids began to cry after hearing news that we were not going to keep the small cat. So after talking about it (for about 2 minutes), we decided to adopt the kitten. I ran off to the store and got some kitty litter, food, and a flea collar. Now we are just waiting for an appointment to take her in for shots and a general exam.

How did we come to have a cat?!! This kitten is so enamoured with us and rarely wants to leave our sides. He plays with the kids and lets them pick him up. Marco had him wrapped up like a baby and that cat couldn't look any happier. So I guess we are a family with a pet now. Not exactly the pet I would have chosen, but he's cute none-the-less. Next stop? A puppy! Although when that will be, I'm not sure.