Sunday, December 28, 2008

Back from Christmas Break!

Merry Christmas!!!

I decided to take some time off from blogging since it was really important for me to spend time with my family during this season. It was a wonderful time! Now I feel ready to get back to our routines and I'll be posting little by little.

For now, I just want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Gaudete Sunday.

The kids were so excited to see the pink candle being lit today. They didn't really understand at first why one candle was different, but when we talked about the joyous coming of our Lord they got so happy!! "It's almost Christmas!"

As our Advent traditions continue, on Saturday we all went to pick out our fresh tree. The kids were practically jumping out of their seats as we pulled into the parking lot. Unlike other years when we have actually cut down our own tree, this year we visited a local place and purchased a pre-cut tree. Mostly because our regular tree farm didn't have trees ready to cut this year and because DH was on-call so we couldn't travel far. We still went back and forth between what tree to get and we finally made a family decision on the perfect tree!!

Christian was happy running among the trees.

The kids playing Hide and Seek together.


Christian was mesmerized by the lights making up this Mickey Mouse.



The family posing by Frosty.

After we got home, we put our tree up in the living room and the kids were a little bummed that we didn't get to decorate it right away. We had so many plans for Sunday, that the kids thought that we would never get to put the lights on the Christmas tree. Of course, the next day the kids were excited to go to Mass. Marco wanted to see what vestments our priest was going to be wearing (he has become increasingly interested in this lately), and Anthony and Isabella just wanted to go to their class. We also had plans to decorate cookies at a friend's house after Mass, so there was plenty to do.

We finally got home and the most exciting part was unwrapping all the ornaments from their boxes. It was fun to tell stories that went along with the ornaments. "That ornament was given to me at the hospital when your sister was born." "That ornament is from when Mommy and Daddy first got married." "You made this ornament when you were only 2 years old." It was like a little history of our family!! We actually were so wrapped up in telling stories that we forgot to take pictures of us decorating the tree! But here is the final product!!

Our tree!!!

Sometime this week we will be putting up our second tree upstairs. This is one that belongs to the kids and they get to make the decorations and put it how they like! It's great fun and the artificial tree has been with us for almost 10 years!



Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Great Day!

Yay for today! Well, maybe I shouldn't be so excited as we still haven't done all that I want to accomplish. But I am feeling so good about getting stuff done! I even did an extra load of laundry! The weather has been dreary and rainy...so much that the whole house woke up today at around 9am!! This meant a late start to our schedule; but it all worked out well and we were able to enjoy doing our morning lessons in our pajamas.

Of course, my day also went well because DH had the morning off again today. It was fun to have the whole family together for breakfast. It was also a great opportunity to catch a little Christmas family tradition on camera. As you all may remember from a previous post, we usually do something special for each Sunday of Advent. Last Sunday, we all worked on a gingerbread house. Since then, my DH has been encouraging the kids to take a piece of candy from the house every morning. This is hilarious to them because they think that their dad is letting them do something naughty and they try and hide it from me! What they don't know is that I take a little piece of candy every now and then too!!

Well, today started the gingerbread house demolition. So now every morning until Christmas, they get to take a bite from the actual gingerbread house. My DH thinks this is the neatest way to start the day, and I can't help but to love him even more for being such a fun guy. So if you think that these little gingerbread creations have to go into the trash after being on display, you can always let your kids munch away. Of course, I can't promise that the actual taste of it will be good...but from these pictures, it's obvious that kids might eat just about anything!!!


Isabella taking a big bite.



Anthony munching on the roof.


Marco getting in on the action.


Our gingerbread house looking a bit bitten!!!


As for our school lessons today, they went well!!! We started the day with BFIAR. I can't say enough how much Anthony is loving this program. The books are all becoming fast favorites with him. We continued working on some lapbook activities from Homeschool Share and I found some other cute add-ins as well. Since Ask Mr. Bear's characters are all found in a farm, it has been easy to tie it in with farm related crafts.

The kids loved the "Walk Like the Animals" activity from the lapbook. They were all galloping, trotting, skipping, and hopping all over the place! But the real favorite was making paper bag puppets. I found some cute print-outs from ABCTeach.com and I printed one out for each animal in the book. The kids colored, cut, and glued them together. Tomorrow they will be putting on a puppet theatre production of the book. It was really fun to see them going through the book together and getting the lines straight for each animal!

The kids showing off some of their puppets.


Anthony with his goat puppet.

Among some of the other preschool activities we did were singing "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" using our puppets, as well as completing a couple of farm animal worksheets also from ABCTeach.com. Most of the materials that I get from ABCTeach.com are for members only, but they still have so much available for free. It's worth a look!

As for Marco and Isabella, they had lots of fun working with Anthony during his own school time. They are a great help and they always encourage him to color in the lines, to cut straight, etc. Many times if Anthony gets frustrated with something, they are the first to offer help. They both are really a blessing to me!!! I can't even complain about their own school work today, as they both got their work done without any complaints. It really was a great day!

Friday's are usually a slow school day, since I have our babysitter come out in the morning to watch the kids while I do errands. But I still have a full afternoon planned out for the kids. I'm hoping is goes as well as today.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

On Track for Today!

Today was the most productive day I have had in the last couple of weeks in terms of school. Marco is finally feeling better and his throat isn't sore or scratchy anymore, which means that he was in such a better mood. I also decided to ditch much of the housework today and concentrate on doing more one on one, since DH had the morning off and was able to help with the kids.

Marco is finally back to reading out loud. Phonics and reading has been the hardest subject for me teach to him because he doesn't enjoy it. He is constantly telling me that he doesn't like reading. I know this is a problem because he expects results quickly, and learning to read just doesn't work that way. But I am seeing improvements and I have to pray daily about finding ways to motivate him. As for math, it seems to be clicking for him nicely. It really seems like Marco falls into whole "boys good at math and science" thing.

Isabella is loving tagging along with Anthony's Before Five in a Row curriculum. She is still preschool, so it appeals to her little girl side. In math and reading, she is doing well and never complains about work. I think having her do some kindergarten work appeals to her big girl side. It's fun to be able to do different levels with her.

Anthony has become such a fan of BFIAR!!! We are reading Ask Mr. Bear and it has quickly become a favorite with him. He is constantly asking me to read the book and he likes carrying it around and "reading" it himself. Yesterday we worked on a really cute farm animal book and some worksheets focusing on identifying animals. Today, we started on the lapbook and he is loving all the little activities that go along with it. It is so fun, cute, and inspiring to hear him say "Mami, I'm ready to do school work!!"


Isabella and Anthony show off their work from yesterday.



Marco getting in on the picture.

I'm glad to finally feel somewhat back on schedule. Today will be a late night, however, as I don't want to worry about having to laundry during the day. Our work is never done!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Weekly Planning.

I have been working on lesson plans for the week. My first order of business was getting activities for Anthony's preschool. We are working on Ask Mr. Bear this week and we'll be doing animal classification along with a neat little lapbook from Homeschool Share. Below you can see the Animal Classification board I made for Anthony. I got this idea from someone on the FIAR Forums.

Anthony's Animal Classification Board.

On top of the above activities, I printed out some great worksheets with an animal theme from Evan Moor. They include identifying mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, and amphibians. I thought this was a great add-in as it goes along with our animal classification. Homeschool Share also has a great link to an Animal Farm Book from KizClub.

With all those activities for the week, you'd think I'd be set! But I have to be ready for the days when Anthony finishes early and starts asking to do more school work. So I included activities from his preschool box into my planning. Here is what I have scheduled for additional activities for the week:

*Make a cereal necklace
*Animal Lacing Cards
*Plastic farm animals
*Writing on a cookie sheet with whipped cream
*Playing with wood shapes (from Handwriting Without Tears)

Of course, it is usually a given that Isabella will join in on the manual activities...maybe even Marco! If you want more ideas, I have a whole list of them here. I usually keep this list handy.

As for Marco, he is still suffering with a bad sore throat. This means that reading out loud is going to be kept to a minimum. We will continue with our Saxon Math lessons and will be working on the handwriting portion of SSRW. I'm trying to get more science in, so I'm excited about moving it up from our evening schedule. As for everything else, I'll just be jumping back in where we left off.

Isabella is also moving along with Saxon 1. She is currently working on her doubles and it's fun to see her and Marco quiz each other with math facts. I am taking math very slowly since she is still preschool age. Finishing by May is not as big of a concern for me in this subject. As for SSRW; Isabella will be moving into the 1st grade section of the workbooks soon. I'm thinking of taking a break in between the kindergarten and 1st grade, however, and just have her focus on fluency and sight word recognition.

And that's that for the week! I'll post our progress....hopefully!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Working Through It!

I'm still in catch-up mode for not only school, but housework as well. I am very proud to say, however, that the bedroom level of our home is completely picked up and organized thanks to a very helpful husband (and by helpful I mean that he kept the kids out of my way!)! My friend recently told me that she feels like she has 40 hours worth of work and only 10 hours to do it all. I feel exactly the same way! But I think that prayer and patience is getting me through this time. Prayer because I need His help and the patience to know that eventually things will be 100% normal soon.

But I still haven't slacked off completely. The kids and I are celebrating Advent daily with our Jesse Tree and the lighting of our Advent wreath. I'm also trying to do one Christmas craft daily, whether it be making an ornament or coloring a Christmas scene. It keeps the kids busy and they have fun all at the same time.


Marco and Anthony working hard.



The kids working on their stained glass creations.



Celebrating the second week of Advent by making a gingerbread house.

Another factor throwing me off a bit, is that Marco has some serious laryngitis (although you can't tell from the pictures!). His voice is out and he has been having a really hard time swallowing and talking. Poor little guy! Christian also gave me a sleepless night last night with a fever. Fortunately, he woke up feeling better and has been acting normal all day. I'm praying that the rest of the kids stay healthy!

Tonight I have to work on my lesson plans for the rest of the week. I didn't get around to it this weekend and by the productivity level of today, it is obvious that I can't start a day all willy-nilly and without a plan! I'm actually going to do 2 weeks worth of lesson plans for Anthony, whose preschool work is easier, but seems to take longer for me to prepare and plan for.

So there. Homeschoolers have bad days and even bad weeks. The important thing is not to be paralyzed by our situations...we must keep on moving! The only thing that makes me feel like I'm keeping my head above water is the fact that we are completing our basics: reading, writing, and arithmetic. I hope I have a better entry next time I write! I really hate it when my plans fall through and become obvious inefficiencies.

Friday, December 5, 2008

I'm a Slacker!

If it seems that I'm slacking...it might only be partly true. I've been so busy catching up this week that my blogging has taken the back burner. It was tough getting lessons done while we had relatives visiting. It's always so hard to keep on schedule with what you want to accomplish when you have people over.

But now that our schedules are back to normal, we have had to try to jump right back into things. This first week back to normal is proving difficult mostly because of all the housework I have to accomplish on top of finishing lessons. It's amazing how much work piles up if you even miss a day! Luckily, I'll have help in keeping the kids busy today while I run errands and try to minimize the laundry load. I'll also have some help with the housework next week, so I'm starting to feel a little less stressed about the whole housekeeping thing.

In the mean time, here is a recap of what we accomplished this week. I really went for the independent activities this week to help give me extra time with laundry.

Marco
*Phonics readers
*Spelling list using Unifix Letter Cubes
*Math centers to practice math facts
*Handwriting
*SOTW CD

Isabella
*Phonics readers
*Handwriting
*Literacy centers
*Math centers
*SOTW CD

Anthony
*LeapFrog videos
*Reading with Marco
*Art with Do-A-Dot-Art
*Helping me clean
*Lauri puzzles
*Lacing beads

Of course, we really need to get our house in order by Monday so that we can get back to normal lessons. This means that grocery shopping has to be done, school room needs to be clean, laundry needs to be put away, and errands need to be taken care of. This way I'll have minimal distractions and I can focus once again on lessons.