Friday, May 30, 2008

Chicago.

Well, if you have missed me this past week and wondered why I hadn't posted...you probably guessed right. We were on a little trip! We decided (somewhat last minute) that we would go ahead and take a trip to Chicago to visit DH's parents. It had been about 4 years since we last went. Mostly, we'd grown accustomed to the grandparents coming down to see us and letting us bypass the drama of traveling with little ones.

The week went really well and I even got the opportunity to attend the Illinois Catholic Homeschool Conference in Joliet. It was a big plus for me and I had a great time. I was able to hear Father Pablo Straub (the Crucifix Priest) who did an awesome job of saying Mass. The only downside was that the conference was too short. I was ready to come back again for another full day of inspiring workshops!

The trip wasn't all about me, of course, and we got to do some fun stuff with the kids. Besides meeting with family (my kids ADORE their cousins!!!), we were able to take the kids to the Jelly Belly factory, introduce them to an official Chicago-style hot dog, visit Navy Pier, and experience all the fun that comes with living in a big city (trains, trolleys, taxi cabs).

Jelly Belly...mmmm!



Posing with the Jelly Belly Beetle.



Anthony at the Navy Pier Carousel.



Lunch at Navy Pier.



Marco at the Navy Pier Carousel.


We obviously couldn't leave Chicago without visiting the American Girl Store. It was a fantastic day as Isabella and I took off to Chicago via train for a special mother/daughter day. We then grabbed a cab and spent the afternoon shopping at American Girl. We had lunch there and dined with Samantha (an American Girl doll). Although Isabella is set on getting Kit (another doll), I set my limits on shopping only for her Bitty Baby doll. Clothing one doll is pricey enough (doll socks alone were $14!); I knew that if we got another doll, there would be outfits and accessories to buy...none of which would fit in our luggage. Needless to say, Bitty Baby is one spoiled doll.


Dining with Samantha.



Mother/Daughter Lunch at American Girl Place


The boys weren't too left out. While us girls were in the Windy City shopping, the boys got to spend some quality time with their dad. They spent the afternoon fishing and playing outdoors. Marco caught his first fish...followed by another. It was nice that we were all able to have our special time.

Now that our trip is over, it feels SO GOOD to be back home! We were blessed that the airplane trip went smoothly both ways, but travelling with little ones is still not easy. Looking on the bright side, as always, I'm glad that we are able to make such wonderful memories with our children and hope that we continue to travel regardless of the comforts that we may leave at home.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Homeschool Planner Is Done!!


I'm proud to announce that I have finally finished organizing my planner for the new year! I'm very excited because I have all my Angelicum lesson plans in it along with my weekly planner and schedules. I organized it with a 15 tab, table of contents since I have so many different subjects. At first glance, it looks a bit overwhelming. But once I get things in perspective...it's all good!

I'm listing all that is contained within my new, wonderful book!

Table Of Contents
1Weekly Planner
2Toddler/Preschool Activities
3Saxon Math4-5 Times a Week
4History
(Lesson Plans, Book Lists)
3 Times a Week
5Literature
(Good Books, Enrichment Reading)
4-6 Times a Week
6Language Arts
(Sing, Spell, Read, Write)
4-5 Times a Week
7Language Arts
(Shurley Grammar)
4 Times a Week
8Language Arts
(English from the Roots Up)
1 Time a Week
9Science
(Schedule, Lesson Plans)
2-4 Times a Week
10Religion
(Our Heavenly Father, Seton)
4 Times a Week
11Cartography1 Time a Week
12Music1 Time a Week
13Foreign Language
(Spanish, Latin)
Varies, Daily Spanish Practice
14PhilosophyVaries
15ArtVaries


Apart from these tabs, I also have some blank paper for notes and a field trip log sheet. I'm keeping this full of field trip ideas that might correlate with our studies or just fun things to do! In my pockets I also keep our library receipt for books checked out and a calendar.

The Breakdown
Music is weekly piano lessons. We are still using Music for Little Mozarts and will progress from there as Marco's piano teacher sees fit. Isabella will also be starting piano using book 1 of the same program. We will also be visiting with Usborne's First Book of the Recorder for fun.

Art will be rotated and done every couple of weeks using Draw, Write, Now and Drawing with Children. This is mostly in here for fun.

For philosophy we are using Elfie as suggested by Angelicum Academy. It's a small book that is to be completed over the course of 2 years.

Foreign Language is a big one. I'm trying to get the kids to speak Spanish again, so this is my top priority. Besides speaking practice daily, we'll be using Espanol para Chiquitos. Latin will be Prima Latina at a very leisurely pace.

National Geographic Map Essentials will be used for cartography. These are short weekly lessons.

For religion, we are using the Faith and Life Series of Our Heavenly Father as our spine. We will be reading from the Seton Religion for Young Catholics 1 on a daily basis, probably after our daily devotions and prayers.

Science, as you have previously read, is Living Learning Books accompanied by Harcourt Science. This is my DH's baby, so he wants to do science all the time...year round...forever.

For history we'll be using SOTW accompanied by RC History for a little Catholic spin. Won't be too in depth since Marco is young and he'll be revisiting history later in his years.

Since Isabella's kindergarten materials correlate with what Marco is doing (math, phonics, religion, philosophy, etc.) I'm just going to be scheduling them both in my weekly planner.

So far I can say that I love the materials used by Angelicum Academy for first grade!! We are all excited to start a new year soon!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Pirate Production.

It seems that the creative energy is flowing in our household. The whole family spent the late afternoon in our playroom. While DH completed some work on the computer, I spent some time organizing, and the kids played dress-up.

After about an hour, they came up with a musical number all on their own! It was the "Pirates and the Robot." The opening act included Marco and Isabella singing about being pirates. They then introduced the robot (played by Anthony), and the three of them sang and sang while aboard their "pirate ship."

I love this about having kids!!! Where else can you get first rate entertainment without having to go to Broadway?


Marco and Isabella open the scene with a song aboard their pirate ship.


Robot Anthony joins them for the second act.



The final act stars all three kids singing the "Pirate, Robot Song."

My Little Dancer!

Isabella has finally completed her first year of dance class! She took ballet/jazz this year and it was always a highlight in her week. We were completely enthralled with her at her dance recital! It was quite a show! She was so wonderful that they put her in the first row!!! (Ok...that's just me bragging!). The show was titled "Carolina In My Mind" and featured all the wonderful things that come from the state. Isabella's class was portraying Pepsi.


Getting ready for the performance.



Doing a little tap.



Ending the dance with a wave.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Happy Anniversary!!

Today my hubby and I celebrated our 9 year anniversary!! It wasn't the big date night we were hoping for, since we had no babysitter and the day was spent taking the kids to and fro. But we were able to cuddle and reminisce on all the great times we've had.

I met my honey back in middle school (7th grade) and we started dating our junior year of high school. We've been stuck on each other ever since! It's always fun to look back at how much we've changed over the years. One thing I am thankful for...finally saying "yes" to him after he had asked me out for several months. It's the kind of thing that you think about and say, "I never would have thought!"

But God has blessed us so much! I could never have prayed for a more perfect life partner and being married to him is the most wonderful thing! And if that wasn't enough, we have 4 kids to which he is the BEST dad in the world to! We are the perfect match and I can honestly say that I always find my self falling in love with him over and over again!

Love ya, Honey!!!

Nature Thursday.

Today was such a busy day! We headed off to the Piedmont Environmental Center in High Point with some other friends for a guided hike. Even though we were late, we were still able to make it on the hike without missing much. We really enjoy anything nature related, so this was a very much enjoyed field trip. I was definitely surprised that we had a nice size class, considering there were only 3 of us moms there...we totaled 13 kids (including babies)!!!

The guide taught the kids (and moms) about edible flowers, identifying poison ivy, and distinguishing between a green frog and a bull frog. Among other things, the kids each received a color swatch which they used to find something in nature that matched. Isabella was given green (she matched with a leaf) and Marco was given beige (which he matched to a rock). The guide was entertaining and kept the kids involved and interested. Overall, he did a really good job!

Isabella showing her color swatch and matching nature find.



Marco showing his color swatch and nature find.



Poison Ivy.

After our nature excursion, we headed over to a nice park for lunch and some playground fun. Unfortunately for us, there was a school field trip and the playground was overrun with kids. Not a good thing when you have little ones to look after...they can easily get lost in a crowd. But we were able to divert the crowd by eating lunch first and then hitting the playground after the school-bunch left. It's always nice to get the kids out playing while you get to chit-chat with friends.

Of course, this wasn't the end of our day. After getting home and taking a little nap, I had to wake the kids up in order to get ready for their swimming lessons. We took off at 3:30pm and were back home at 6pm. We ordered pizza, ate, and called it a day. Needless to say, the kids (and I) were exhausted!!! But it was a fun day, none-the-less.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Last Day of Co-Op.

Today was our last day of co-op for the year. Needless to say, the kids were very sad all the way home. Our Catholic co-op is awesome and we had such a great year being in it. We closed the day with a May Crowning, celebrating Mary in this month of May. All the kids participated and it was such a lovely day. The kindergartener's even recited "Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue." They are so cute!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Organizing My Home.

So I'm finally catching up with the cleaning, organizing, and (YES!) laundry. But as I'm working around the house I keep asking myself, "There has to be a better way to organize our family!" This is especially true when I look at the kids' closets.

How do you put all that stuff into a closet without it turning into a mess? How do I separate all the clothes? How do I get the kids to keep their things in order? Ok. So there are many more questions than these 3. But I think the closets and laundry are a good place to start.

First of all, I will introduce a new laundry method we just started using thanks to a friend of mine and expert (can I say expert? She has 6 kids). Use a separate laundry basket for each child. This way there is no sorting or mixing up of clothing. You take it straight from the dryer to that designated child's closet space. So far I've used this method for a couple of weeks and it is working well. I've noticed that it's easier for me to get the kids helping out with laundry too. So I'm giving this a big thumbs up!

I won't go into closet organizing yet, as I really haven't figured it out. I'm working on a system, though. We'll see how it turns out about a month from now.

Going on to homeschooling. This takes up so much of our day that I can't escape writing about it. After using the dining room table to homeschool, I decided that it wasn't working. Papers and materials were everywhere! So I got rid of the dining table and turned to the room into our school room. Here are pictures if you are interested. The week that I spent organizing our school room was well worth it. Everything has a place, which makes it a snap to clean up. There is a bin for everything. Pens, pencils, completed assignments, books, manipulatives, educational toys, library books, markers....you name it! Granted not ALL our supplies are kept in the school room. We also have a playroom in our basement that was originally intended to become our school room. I keep art & crafts supplies down there along with larger schooling items. I'll have to take a picture sometime to show it off!

How about toys? Well, if you have read my blog in the past, you probably know that I went to battle with all the toys in our house. I decluttered the house and moved every toy into the basement playroom. Of course, there wasn't enough room to store it all downstairs, so I did make a large toy donation to Goodwill. My next step was to separate and organize each toy. Barbies in one bin, trains in another...you get the picture. I haven't posted those pictures yet because organizing the playroom is a work in progress. But it will get done!

So maybe this post isn't a big help...yet. But it's a good way for me to think out loud. It also helps me think of all the organizing I have to do around the house. I'll have to get a move on with the closets. The more I think about them, the more I just want to get them done!

Monday, May 12, 2008

My New Planner.

I've been diligently working on my new planner for the year. I'm keeping the same weekly planner format, since it has worked so well for me. I will be adding schedules for all our subjects. These are basically going to outline the approximate amount of time to be spent on things, the order in which material will be scheduled into our studies, and the goals for when we need to finish something.

Also in my planner I have my trusted toddler/preschool list of things to do, our SOTW book list, a yearly calendar, Angelicum lesson plans for each subject, reading logs, field trip suggestions to correspond with studies, field trip log sheet, and blank paper for notes.

It is definitely going to be a continuing work in progress. One change I did make different from my current planner, is that I'm now going to use a 3 ring binder. I found a nice leather binder that I think will withstand my daily life. It will also make it easier to add or take things away without messing up the binding. If you remember from a previous post, my current binder was bound at Kinkos.

Just looking at my binder gets me all excited about the new year we are about to start!!!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

More Books!

Today I decided to take a break and head to Barnes & Noble. Well, I'm not exactly sure you can call it a break since all 4 kiddos joined me, but it was fun! More exciting for me was that for the first time ever, all kids sat down to look at books instead of heading towards the Thomas train table they have!

Anthony was was even enthralled by the book, "In a Dark, Dark House" (an All Aboard Reading book), that he kept begging for me to read again and again. He had many people giggling as they saw him trying to walk while "reading" his book. My favorite part? Seeing his eyes get big as saucers as I read the book and then hold his hands to an open mouth as we got to the part in the book where the monster comes out. If I only had a picture!!

Isabella and Marco spent the hour on their own treasure hunt. They must have picked out a dozen books before they decided what they wanted. They always go for the activity books, so I really have to guide their choices.

As for me, I went with "The Way: The Essential Classic of Opus Dei's Founder." I bought some additional children's books that we have checked out from the library time and time again. Amelia Bedelia, Miss Nelson is Missing, Stories from Shakespeare, and Frog and Toad are Friends. I also picked up some readers for Marco.

One of these days I'll have to go sans kids so I can really browse and enjoy a nice cup of coffee (white chocolate mocha...mmmmm).

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Ave Maria!

Getting It Done.

Lately, I've been drowning with things to do. Laundry, floors, cleaning, organizing, planning; and on top of it all....homeschooling! It's a wonder that I'm still sane. But as I am far from any family help, I am finally beginning to embrace the thought that I can do it on my own. I mean, I have been away from family for 9 years!!

I guess it has been wishful thinking for me. Having my mom come over and help me with the organizing. Or having one of my sisters' watch the kids while I run an errand. It's not gonna happen!

But I am glad that I have finally made that realization. I guess it's empowering in a way. Knowing that I've been able to handle it for such a long time. I never really thought about it. So now I'm on my way to getting it done. All of it. All on my own.

The laundry, the floors, the cleaning, the organizing, the planning...and yes, the homeschooling. All done by Liz with no real help from anyone except my two life partners, God and DH. So yes!! I CAN get it done!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Back Again!

I've been on hiatus this past week. Between dance rehearsals with Isabella, doctor appointments, and packing for a weekend at the beach...it was getting hectic! But now we are back again! We were at Pawley's Island, SC this weekend and it was a fantastic little trip!

Traveling with the kids is becoming a little easier now that they are getting older. Granted, we are moving from trying to console infants to trying to console preschoolers and bigger kids...but they at least can reason a lot better than a baby! I also think that traveling with friends makes a big difference.

Now it's back to organizing and planning for the new year. I have yet to start scheduling our history, but that was expected. In the mean time, enjoy some pictures of our mini-getaway! (And yes...that is Marco dancing with the flower girl!)