Winding Up for Lessons

We went out of town with Daddy on business trip on Monday and Tuesday of this week.  It was lots of fun (mama got to go to IKEA) and the kids really enjoyed the hotel experience, but it delayed our start up date of starting in with lessons to next week.  I decided I needed the extra few days to do a bit more planning, catch up on harvesting and preserving, and get caught up on laundry and housework.

Since I had built up the idea of starting lessons, I decided to go ahead and wade into it by doing a few things and starting up with the main lessons next week.

For the Little Ones:

Circle Time Theme: Harvest and Preserving (and in all honesty, I made this all up from the top of my head 5 minutes prior to gathering everyone.)

  • We read the poem “Autumn” from A Journey through Time in Verse and Rhyme, page 171.
  • I told “The Giant Turnip” from Wynstones Press Autumn, page 67.
  • We’re having fun with circles this week.

Grapes, tomatoes, basil, beef jerky, oats, and wheat berries, oh my!  All of it getting harvested and/or preserved in some way and everyone is helping!

Picking Grapes

For Third Grade:

  • Form Drawing:  Circles Circles
  • Handwork: Knitting a coaster
  • Nature Study: Grapes
  • Grammar: Nouns
  • Math: Review (done in the car to and from our destination and in practical form around the kitchen)

And since Summer isn’t officially over yet and it warmed up a little bit today to remind us, we filled up the pool and went swimming!

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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.

Week in Review

Meals for the week

  • Chicken burritos
  • Braised chicken with carrots and rice
  • Salisbury steak with mushroom gravy, potatoes au gratin, corn on the cob
  • Apple pancakes, sausage, bacon, scrambled cheese eggs, fresh fruit
  • Turkey breast, mashed potatoes, stuffing, broccoli
  • Chicken sausage and mushroom calzones
  • Thanksgiving sandwiches, fresh fruit

Eye Towards Rhythm

Circle time was re-established!  We sang the “Good Morning” song, “Where is Thumb-kin,” and the “ABC” song.  We marched counting by ones and talked about the day, season, and weather. We then read from my favorite childhood  book, The Grosset Treasury of Nursery Rhymes, which includes poetry from Robert Louis Stevenson, The Three Little Kittens, The House That Jack Built, and Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush, along with popular nursery rhymes.  It’s the same book that my mom read to me, minus the back cover.  This book has seen better days and is well used and adored!

We had a couple of activities this week.  I was able to spend time in the kitchen baking one-on-one with each child, which was wonderful!  Jackson helped me to make the dough for monkey bread.  Alex did the dipping of dough balls and helped to make some chocolate chip cookies.  Izzy helped with dinner each night by taking her seat on the counter in the corner next to the sink.  She loves to smell the various cooking herbs and spices while I chop, stir, cook, and wash.

We also painted twice this week.  While awaiting our watercolor order for school, I bought each child a cheapo set of watercolor cake paints that they’ve been enjoying.

The kids also helped with various chores around the house.  Izzy helped with the sweeping of the kitchen by being on dustpan patrol.  Jackson helped clean out the leaves in the toy shed.  And Alex mopped the entryway for me in addition to his regular jobs.

Handwork

I’ve been working on a hat for Christmas and Alex asked to knit something alongside me.  I wasn’t planning on incorporating handwork back into our days for another week or two, but since opportunity presented itself…

I casted on 20 stitches of white cotton yarn and passed it to Alex, who decided to knit up a coaster for daddy’s new bedside table (a Goodwill find for only $9!)  He’s worked on it in the evenings after dinner a few days this past week and is making excellent progress.

Around the House

I’ve been trying to complete a few bigger projects, de-clutter, and get organized.  I’m still trying to stick to my daily room cleaning schedule, but some days go better than others:

Monday – Kitchen – swept, mopped, sink and counters got a thorough scrub.

Tuesday – Bathrooms – James re-caulked the toilet, mopped, and normal weekly clean.

Wednesday – Bedrooms – I cleaned out our closet and Izzy’s armoire!  Boys’ closet still needs done.

Thursday – Open (This will be our homeschooling co-op day, which takes up most of the day.) – I worked outside on the toy shed.

Friday – Living room and playroom – Hoping to work on de-cluttering a bit.

For the Weekend

It’s finally going to start feeling like summertime around here and heat up into the 90s!  We’ll probably spend some time splashing in the kiddie pool.  Maybe a trip to the splash park will be order too?

We can’t put off looking for a minivan much longer with the baby due to arrive in as early as 8 weeks, so I’m hoping we start our search.  Even if we only look at one vehicle, it’s a start. 😉

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.

Schedule!?

To say that it’s been a little chaotic around here would be an understatement.  Between moving, celebrating a birthday, visiting sick loved-ones, two funerals, and balancing the needs of a family of five, it’s no wonder.

James and I were talking about how to get a sense of order and rhythm around the house and he suggested a schedule.  I initially cringed at that word, but after giving it a bit of reflection into my own past experiences, I realized that I was happiest about the rhythm in my days when I was, in fact, on a schedule.  As a camp counselor, I was on a very strict schedule with every single aspect of the day, from waking up to eating, to cleaning, playing, and time off.  It was nice knowing exactly what to expect with each new day.  And James was on a strict schedule in the military and flourished with it.  So, why not try it with ourselves and the kids to see what happens?

James took it upon himself to do the morning routine and wake up the boys at 7 am.  That seemed awfully early for Jackson, who is a very grumpy person when he’s tired, but I went with it for the sake of the experiment.  James woke the boys up with the date, the weather, and an interesting fun fact as they climbed out of bed, Jack with some help.  The boys got dressed with full supervision, made their beds, picked up their room with dad’s help and then prayed and did stretches with James before being sent into the kitchen to me for breakfast.  I fed them and then we did some school work, reading, and crafts all before 10 am!  I was shocked at all the extra time we seemed to have.   Not only did it give us more time for homeschooling, errands, and playtime, but it gave us all a sense of peace because there was less yelling and fighting.  I wasn’t upset because someone wasn’t doing what they should be doing and they weren’t confused or sidetracked because they knew what to do and had appropriate supervision to succeed at their task.

Lunch and dinner have always been around the same time, but the activities in between vary from day to day.  We still have some work to do to build up to an afternoon and evening routine, but after seeing what happened with the mornings with the new schedule in place, I think it will be worth the effort.

Oh, and since Jackson is waking up at 7 am everyday, sleep easily finds him and bedtime seems to just happen.

Preparations

With 3 days until Thanksgiving and 31 days until Christmas, I’ve kicked us into high gear so we can prepare for the holidays.

A couple of weeks ago, I made an apple pie.  Instead of making just one crust for the single apple pie, I made four crusts and stuck the extra three in the freezer for Thanksgiving pies.  I also roasted a half dozen pumpkins and pureed them over the last month.  Yum, how I love pumpkin!

I knew that we would owe a big check to our food co-op for the local turkey in addition to our monthly chicken order, bi-weekly egg order, and our weekly produce share, so I spread out all of the other extra groceries and expenses due to Thanksgiving during the first couple weeks of Thanksgiving.  I have a hidden bag of potato chips, several quarts of frozen homemade chicken stock, frozen cranberries, frozen pumpkin puree, a few boxes of boxed stuffing (it isn’t Thanksgiving for my husband without it), blocks of cream cheese, 8 pounds of butter, a 10-pound bag of sugar, a few bags of white chocolate chips, and extra baking goods.  This is both for the feast and holiday baking in the coming weeks.  In addition, I planned a few extra meals into the weekly meal plan last week to last us through to Thanksgiving so I have no reason at all to go to the grocery store this week.

I’ll be making the cranberry sauce and the pies on Wednesday, as well as doing most of the vegetable prep so the kitchen will be my husband’s on turkey day.  He makes a wonderful turkey (his secret is the brine that starts 48 hours before the roasting) and his gravy is so good that I freeze the left-overs so I can savor it over the following weeks.  He also makes some mean mashed potatoes.  I’m getting hungry just thinking of all this food!

As for Christmas prep, I’ve been collecting and making gifts all year.  I’m still doing a sprint with gifts, more so than I would like, but my load has been lessened and I won’t be going crazy at the mall or anything.

I took the boys to the local fabric superstore and we stocked up on felt today.  It was on sale plus I had a coupon, so we’ll be a happy crafting bunch for all of December and beyond.  We’re building houses for our gnomes out of the felt and old oatmeal canisters.  Tomorrow, we’ll be  adding a couple of gnomes to our family to celebrate fall and Thanksgiving (we should have done this last month, but time got away from me and this is my last chance to get it done before focusing on Christmas/winter gnomes.)  Then, next week, we’ll be working on a tree skirt to fit our odd-shaped Christmas tree holder and an Advent calendar.  We’ll work on crafting a pocket each day so that next year, we’ll have a place for a little surprise to hide.   More to come on those projects in the future.

Ahhh!  It feels good to have a plan!

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.