Great Bookshop and Possible Solution!

I couldn’t turn my mind off last night.  I kept thinking about all this school planning for the old testament and other random needs of our family and just couldn’t get back to sleep at 3 am.  So I got up and turned on the computer while I ate a snack – I might as well do something while my mind is racing.  I looked at the the books again, the free online book, the books that I gathered at the library yesterday, and the other books recommended.  After a couple of hours, I felt drowsy again, said a quick prayer and fell asleep on the couch.

The kids were all up before 8, which meant I was up too regardless of how little sleep I got.  I took care of everyones’ needs and the it occurred to me that I should ask for help.  It’s hard for me to ask for help and takes me a long time to come to the realization that I might even need it, I’m trying to learn though.  I e-mailed the “contact us” link at Bob & Nancy’s Bookshop about the books in question, asking all those various questions that I posted about the other day.

Not more than 2 hours later, I received a response from Nancy answering all my questions!  Each Jacob Streit book about the Old Testament contains 15 or more stories, is around 125 pages and meant for the teacher to read and then re-tell it to the student.  Perfect!  That means at least 45 stories to spread out over the same time frame, allowing for a three-day main lesson plan with more wiggle room for baby, festivals, holidays, and other topics of interests that I’m hoping to cover.  I immediately felt a sense of peace.  I decided to take a leap of faith and order all three books in that moment.  I rationalized that if they didn’t work out for us, then I could sell them fairly easily on one of my yahoo groups and lose only $10 or so on the whole deal.  My sanity is worth that!

Not more than 2 hours after I placed the order, I got shipping confirmation!  They mailed out my books already!  I can’t recommend Bob & Nancy’s Bookshop enough for their great customer service and quick shipping!  Wow!  So if you find yourself needing any books on Waldorf education, resources for homeschooling, books by Steiner, please check them out!

Oh, and a couple of good introductory Waldorf books, available at Bob & Nancy’s, are:

Seven Times the Sun by Shea Darian

You Are Your Child’s First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin Dancy

Beyond the Rainbow Bridge: Nurturing Our Children from Birth to Seven by Barbara J. Patterson

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Having Doubts

I’ve spent weeks planning.  I’ve taken frequent breaks in order to pray and meditate.  I’ve made list after list.  I’ve ordered some bare minimum supplies (still waiting on those to arrive) and have a wishlist for books that would make the year run smoother.  I have a library list of other books to use and several internet links to free resources.

And yet, I sit here doubting myself.  The backbone of our Old Testament block is Story of the Bible by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut, available for free on mainlesson.com.  I honestly don’t know much about the OT and I’m really looking forward to learning along side Alex for this block, but I think I’ve over done it.  In my current plans, I split the OT part of the book into 4 stories per week, one for each day I plan to actively present lessons.  This means that our OT block will be taking up all of fall and most of winter to get through all 109 stories presented in the book.

Now that we’ve jumped into full fledge circle time and activities with the little ones and we’ll be adding in a full day of homeschooling co-op, I realize that 4 stories per week is too much.  Three would work out much better with our schedule, Monday, Wednesday, Friday.  But then that stretches the OT over the entire year if we read all of the stories and doesn’t leave time for our other block studies.  That doesn’t work.

I also feel like I scheduled too many weeks and didn’t leave us enough time to prepare and celebrate festivals and holidays, not to mention wiggle room for when baby is born.

So do I cut out certain stories?  Which ones?  Like I said, I’m not all that familiar with the OT, so I don’t know this story from that. Do I switch to a different book?

I’m thinking of turning to one of the two resources that ALGF recommends for the third-grade curriculum. The first is a series of three books (And There Was Light, Journey To the Promised Land, and We Will Build a Temple) from Jacob Streit, $47 before shipping.  I have no idea what these books contain though.  How many stories are covered?  Are they told in a way that Alex can relate to?  I already ruled out the other resource based on the description of only having 12 stories.  I don’t think that will be deep enough for Alex, but I could be wrong here too.

And then I keep getting directed in one way or another to other people’s plans and the Live Ed website and positively drooling over the examples of the lessons and contents of each and every book in the third grade curriculum.  It goes into detail about doing the wet-on-wet painting for the creation part of the story, adding a bit more to it for each of the six days of creation.  How cool does that sound!?  I want to be able to present it like this, but I’m clueless on how to do it without very explicit directions.

Why does Live Ed have to cost so freakin much!?  Why can’t I have $1300 (the poorest district budget according to a priest that spoke at our church last week, $3000 something was the average public school budget) to spend per child per year on schooling?

I still need to buy more books and supplies, but I’m trying to prioritize and figure out what I can put off to better accommodate our budget.  It’s not a fun process!

And all this is over one part of the entire year.  I haven’t planned our math blocks in great detail, just “penciled in.”  I don’t have any of our projects or paintings planned in detail.  I haven’t even touched religious studies that pertain to our faith.  Sigh.

So I guess what it comes down to is that I need to spend more time in prayer and rework my current plans.  That is why I worked the plans in a spreadsheet format so I could easily adjust it, so I guess that’s been the plan all along.

It seems like many of us homeschooling moms go through this period of doubt and maybe that’s part of the process too?  I’m betting that even if I had a bigger budget to buy all the supplies and books that I wanted for the school year and/or bought the Live Ed curriculum, there would still be doubts and things that I felt were missing or not quite the right fit for our family.  So maybe the doubt is a good thing and keeps us striving to do better?

Circle Time

I thought I would share what circle time looks like for us:

The kids and I gather together on the living room floor.  Nova, the dog, usually cuddles up next to Alex.  Jackson is usually a wiggle-worm and is up and down many times.

We start off with the Good Morning song that Alex learned back in North Carolina:

Good morning, good morning

How are you today?

Good morning, good morning!

It’s a happy day.

It’s time to sing: la, la, la!

It’s time to clap:  clap, clap, clap!

It’s time to dance: cha-cha-cha!

Time to make music: la, la, la, la, la!

Good morning, good morning!

How are you today?

Good morning, good morning!

It’s a happy day!

We discuss the day and the date, sometimes with a song, sometimes with a poem or two.

We talk about the weather and the season, again sometimes with a song or poem.

We review the chalkboard drawing for the weekly theme.  It’s almost always festival or nature related.

We do various fingerplays.  The itsy-bitsy spider, 5-little monkeys jumping on the bed, and where is thumbkin are favorites.

We jump up and sing the ABC song while jumping, skipping, hopping, or just being goofy.  We do jumping jacks while counting.  This will also turn into bean-bag tossing time for Alex to practice math.

We cuddle back up together on the floor for a story.  The little ones have been loving the nursery rhyme book and beg for it, so we haven’t branched out much yet.  It will evolve into a weekly story that I’ll read or tell aimed at the little ones.  Sometimes the kids will act out the story as I tell it or get out various silks and animals out for them to act it out.  Other times, they sit still enthralled with the story.

We say a prayer before closing circle time with ring-around-the-rosie.

Afterwards, we either go into our daily activity (baking, painting, playdough, drawing, or crafts) or the kids go outside and play for bit.

And in all honesty, circle time doesn’t usually happen until 10 am or so.  Time beforehand is spent with everyone waking up in their own time, eating breakfast, getting dressed and taking care of daily duties.  Circle time usually lasts 20-50 minutes, depending on the length of the story and how much the kids want to include.

Nesting

It seems to happen in bursts for me.  I go into a frenzy of cleaning, de-cluttering, and organizing and well, I’m having another burst!  My recent and current projects:

Boys’ Room – I painted it RED!  James helped move the furniture and disassemble the bunk-beds and together we came up with a new layout for their room.  Alex and Jackson each have their own space and it seems to be helping them in keeping their room cleaner.  I found a couple of rocket paintings at Goodwill half off and need to hang those on the wall, as well as apply corkboard to the back of Alex’s bookshelf.  Anyone know a good adhesive to use for that so the corkboard won’t fall off?

Our Bedroom – All linens have been washed and clothes put away.  I finally put the down comforter up and away in the closet after an unseasonably cooler summer.  It’s August for crying out loud and I shouldn’t need that big ol’ thing at night to keep warm!

I squeezed the rocking chair into the layout and cleared out space in the closet – I’m thinking for baby clothes/diapers/blanket storage space.  I finally hung up Izzy’s dresses in the closet, down low where she can reach them. 😉

I also went through Izzy’s armoire and cleared out all the diapers.  She’s been potty-trained for over a month now and certainly doesn’t need them anymore.   More than half of the diapers are headed for the trash since they were in that poor of shape!  Mama is going to HAVE to go diaper shopping after Christmas.  The basket that held  all the diaper covers is also in poor shape and needs to be replaced, on the to-do list.

Kitchen – Swept and mopped.  I feel like I’ve gotten a handle on the food storage and freezer space after a few months of overload.  An inventory list has been made of the spices and herbs and one will soon be made for the freezers.

James has been helping me with meal planning, which makes all the difference in the world!   I have no problem shopping, prepping, and cooking meals when I know what’s coming.  We planned 16 meals in a single round.  I’m eating better and feeling better for it too!

Living and Play Room – Mainly maintaing some sense of order, or at least pretending.  I need to attack the top of the entertainment center and work on a few toys solutions, but that will come in time.

Outside – My parents gave us a wonderful used riding lawn mower for our anniversary last month!  This has been a huge help and inspired James to do a bit of extra yard work.  He trimmed all the bushes, weeded the various beds, and even mulched the front bed!  I followed his lead and have been working on the kids’ storage shed in the back.  It had lots of left-over toys, broken, toys, and leaves galore, so I’ve been working a little each week to clear out and get rid of a bit more.  I’ve cut the stuff at least in half and got rid of the leaves today!  Jackson thinks he has a new clubhouse and all the kids can play in there comfortably with bikes and all in there with them!

Homeschool – I’ve been a planning maniac!  I’m so excited for Alex’s third grade year and all that we have planned: farming, Old Testament, building structures, fiber arts, Native American and Jewish studies!  The planning is about done, a book wishlist made, and a few supplies ordered.

We’re trying to slide back into our rhythm this month and start full lessons come September.  Circle time has been sorely missed, as have the activities that follow.  I’m loving this re-connecting time with all the kids.

Holiday Planning – I have a few gifts done and ready to go.  I’m working on a few more and got another idea this week for another project.  I still have high hopes of finishing most of my sewn and knitted gifts before October.

Baby Prep – Um, we’re having a baby soon?  One would think that nesting behavior would include some baby preparation, but not really so in my case.  I finally thought to get out the newborn diapers and start to rip out nasty worn-out elastic, but that’s the only baby task happening.  There is nothing in our house or car for that matter that indicates that we’re expecting a baby in as little as 8 weeks.  Honestly though, what does a baby need!?

Well, we do need to start looking at minivans since a fourth carseat will not under any circumstances fit into our current family vehicle.

Little Acorn Learning

Chalk drawing

Umm… we’re in love with this wonderful program!  I had mentioned that I wanted to bring a rhythm and a sense of purpose to our days that was respectful to all and I think we’ve found it!  I felt pulled to try out Little Acorn Learning for this month and I’m so pleased that I did.  I’ve heard it mentioned many times over in various yahoo groups and forums, but after hearing Kara from Rockin’ Granola value it so much, I had to see for myself.

In addition to the monthly program, she also includes a daily checklist to help with balancing all that needs to be done.  This is exactly what I needed.

This week’s theme is sheep’s wool and warmth.  I drew a chalkboard picture and unveiled it for circle time on Monday and got many oooh’s and ahhh’s.  They loved the unveiling.  We did a circle time with all of the put together verses, songs, and stories and added in a few math drills and bean bag tossing for Alex.  The activity for Monday was baking, so the kids and I baked a Three Kings’ cake.  The recipe was included in the program, but I used my own sour cream coffee cake recipe, only adding in 4 beans rather than one so no munchkins would feel left out.  It doubled for a tea time snack on Monday afternoon and breakfast on a very busy Tuesday.

Tea Time

Afterwards, I bundled up the kids in winter gear, leashed the dog, and took a walk around the block.  It was good for all.  The kids helped with chores for the day and with meal preparation.  We used the afternoon for rest and play and came back together for tea time, when we ate a sweet treat, shared a cup of tea, and did a little activity.

Instead of fighting with our own personal goals for the day, our tasks became interweaved.  I got lots of quality time with the kids, individually and together and the kids still had plenty of free play time.  As a result of this, there was no horribly messy house to clean at the end of the day or kids arguing nonstop.  Everyones’ needs got met!


A Little Spring Update

Just wanted to post a little update on us.

James is preparing for his hiking trip to Hoosier National Forest with his best friend. He’s been planning it since November and is really looking forward to it.

We’ve been swamped with unexpected happenings. James car had some sort of valve blow and it needed repairing. Less than two weeks later, his brakes went out. So he got new brakes for his car and I got two new tires for my car (I think our mechanic would have let me load up the kids and drive away knowing the condition of the old ones.) Then the laptop stopped working. After running diagnostics, James discovered the hard drive was fried, so we went shopping. Fun stuff!

I’ve been taking the kids out at every opportunity. As it turns out, there are 3-4 other families in our building with toddlers and preschoolers. We’ve been meeting by chance every afternoon while the kids ride bikes and play.

We’ve been spending the weekends outdoors as well. We’ve enjoyed local playgrounds, hiking at state parks, outdoor festivals and Conner Prairie over the past couple of weeks.

Alex is finishing up Peter Pan and is thoroughly enjoying the story. We’ll likely start Dr. Dolittle in another week or two. He’s definitely going through the seven-year-change.

Jackson has been a joy lately. I love listening to him talk and tell me about his favorite parts of his day. He loves to cuddle up with us for a story. He begs to go outside from the moment he gets out of bed. Oh, how the boys have taken to riding their bikes and racing each other! He plays hard, eats well, and has been sleeping fairly well too.

Izzy has conquered the skills of walking and climbing and is working on dancing and running. You should see her dancing with her papa! She adores ring-around-the-rosie, which we do everyday as part of circle time with the boys. She’s working on getting her top canine teeth in to make a total of 12 teeth (8 on top and 4 on bottom)! She repeats “mneeechkkkk” several times a day and we have no idea what it means.

I’ve been up to the usual organizing and de-cluttering around here. I’ve learned it’s a never-ending process. I’m also working hard to finish knitting a pair of boot socks for James in time for his trip. I have many more knitting projects in the works and just need to find the time to work on them.

Izzy has finally succumbed to sleep and the boys are read for some mama reading time.