Saturday, September 24, 2011

Around the Clock

 The last couple of weeks have flown by! I can't believe that we have been back to school for 3 weeks now! We have been so busy that our time passes so quickly!

First, Abi started ice skating lessons, her sport of choice for this year. So far, she is really excited each Saturday morning. Though, I won't count my chickens before they hatch because last year when she started gymnastics she was pumped about it for the first couple of months. It was  downhill after that. So, we will see!
 On her way to her first lesson

 Crystara, an awesome skater and friend, helped Abi find her way around.

My cutie pie

On the ice

Last Friday, September 16, the kids and I started Friday school. Friday school is what we call our co-op through First Class Ministries. We're off to a great start! 
First day of school pics

Austin's 1st day of Destruction! class- taking apart a dishwasher

Sorry this pic is blurry, but the kid's were moving while leading worship

Austin had his first official baseball game with his new team this week. His colors this season are navy blue, silver, and white. That's a big change from red, black, and silver! Kid pitch is also a LOT different from coach pitch...the games move a LOT slower! 

We lost. It was a polar opposite type of game than we are used to...we'll chalk it up to the new team trying to mesh. 
What a daddy's girl

My little ball player

Brazos, here with Austin, played on the Vipers with Austin and is now on his new team

Number 23 like his name sake (Austin Jordan after Michael Jordan)

 We got to hang out with a cutie-patootie, Miss Pacey, a couple of times this week. While we were with her, we took a trip to visit her big brother, Luke. Luke is also Abi's best buddy, so it was really a treat for her!
Luke and Abi

 Abi had a birthday party to attend today for Becca, one of her sweet friends. She was on top of the world!!! The party was at 'Sweet and Sassy'.
After her haid and makeup

Singing on stage

Austin sent a very special, thoughtful gift for Becca.

He gave her a rock 

When you lifted the rock up, he had a special little treat

The card read: "You never know what you'll find when you look under a rock!" SO SWEET!

Becca recently got an American Girl doll. It only seemed fitting to give her a bed for her new pal. Mark and I made her this farmhouse bed (plans from and I made the bedding from my fabric stash. I was quite excited when it all came together...I like pretty things!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Keepsake and Why Marbles Matter

This week I have a keepsake that I want to record. Hopefully, one day, the kids will look back over this blog and laugh at the incredibly silly stuff they did and said!!

On Wednesday, both Austin and Abi finished their work in record speed! But the rule we have in place is that the TV does not come on until 2:30pm. Even then they are only allowed an hour of TV. It's okay though, because Austin and Abi are pros at breaking out the imagination! On this day, they were using Bakugans to rule over their own lands. As I cleaned, I noticed that they had gone to the garage and borrowed the painters tape to mark off each of their own territories on the living room floor (which I didn't think to snap a picture of!) They each had some of the Bakugan and were making them interact. Austin, being 100% boy, wanted tot battle Abi's Bakugan and insisted that they go to war. Austin repetitively threatened to invade her territory and take it over. Abi, being Abi, refused Austin at each offer. Eventually, in frustration she blurted out, "Austin, why do we have to battle? Why can't we just live in peace? If you plan to come over her to my territory, you're gonna have to sign a  peace treaty first!" I laughed out loud that she knew and used the term 'peace treaty' in the correct context!!! That was a keepsake moment!

If you're reading this than you probably know my Abi is a firecracker! Last year's homeschooling brought many challenges, as our personalities constantly collided! This year has been refreshing (so far)! I can tell that as she gets older she is easier to work with. Or maybe it's that she has learned that throwing a fit gets her nothing but further behind in her work. Or maybe it's that we've found curriculum that keeps her interest at a peak. Whatever it is...I am thankful! This week in science, Abi learned about mammals and the 5 characteristics that qualify an being as a mammal. Her lesson included:
A fact finding scavenger hunt!

 Abi had a list of questions that paired with the 18 cards that I hid around the house.

and a picture poster (I though I had more magazines for her to find pictures, but I guess I recycled them!! oops!)

I'm still waiting for Austin's supplement for his science book to come in the mail. Luckily, his book has a few activities to do in the meantime! This week he learned about conservation of momentum in moving masses. His activity gave him the opportunity to observe momentum in different ways. Here, he lined marbles up in the crease of a hardcover book. He then rolled one of the marbles into the other and was able to see that the energy of the marble just transferred through the line of marbles and knocked the ending one away. He was very excited to see how it worked. It didn't hurt that the explanation in his book of how momentum works was about hitting a baseball!!

 He also used dominoes to observe

After Austin's project, the kids kept the marbles out and played old fashioned marbles just like on Charlie Brown!!! Well, almost old fashioned...this is the indoor-because-it's-way-to-hot-outside version!

Friday, September 9, 2011

We Survived Week One!!!

It was a short week, but long at the same time! Short because we only had school for four days being that Monday was Labor Day. Long because each morning getting Abi to be motivated to compete her work took motivation on my part. Motivation that I didn't think I had,but somehow seemed to dig it up! Nevertheless, here we are! Abi's and Austin's favorite subject has to be science. Abi actually had a couple of projects to do this week. (I'm waiting on the supplements that go with Austin's science book in the mail.)
The first of Abi's projects was to determine which criteria belong to plants, animals or both.

Her favorite of the two projects: Make a cell using Jello

The baggie: the cell membrane; the green grape: the nucleus; the raisins: vacuoles; the peanuts: mitochondria

So proud of her work!!

In between subjects, the AJBs like to go in the backyard and practice their art. Austin made all of these drawings with their endless supply of sidewalk chalk that Grammy got them this summer.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

2nd and 5th

Today was Austin's and Abi's first day of school. Austin is beginning the 5th grade (give or take) and Abi is picking up somewhere in the middle of 2nd grade. I know, 'give or take' and 'in the middle' makes it sound complicated! It is! Nevertheless, last night before bed, Mark and I had two VERY excited kid-o's. We attended a swimming party most of the day yesterday; so, not only were they excited, they were also sleepy! A good combination, if you ask me! Before they drifted off to sleep, they chose clothes for the first day of school. Austin chose "something nice" and Abi chose "a dress"!
 Austin, night before 5th grade

Abi, night before 2nd grade

Before Mark goes to bed, he checks on the AJBs every night. This is how he found Abi!!
 When Mark tried to put her back on her pillow, her eyes popped open and she started grunting at him! It was too funny not to add to this update!

This morning I woke this kids up a few minutes earlier than our schedule call for because I wanted to surprise them with breakfast at IHOP. When I woke them, they popped right out of bed and got dressed as quickly as possible. They even let me snap of 'First day of school' pictures!
Abi, still has sleepy eyes! 

Austin, sporting a pull-over on this tid-bit-chilly morning

Both Austin and Abi ordered hot chocolate to drink. They LOVE the fall like their mother. They repetitively say they can't wait for 'pumpkins, hot chocolate, and the Christmas season'!
Who need cafeteria food when there is IHOP?

Abi was so excited about hers that she ended up burning her mouth!

My original plan had me going to the Y to workout after breakfast, and that might happen someday, but today when we walked in they had no childcare for the AJBs age group until 9AM. I was a little disappointed because I had mentally prepared myself for a week! Instead of working out, we went home and got straight to work. Abi got off to a rough start. I honestly think she just got up too early and was still a little bit tired. After an 'attitude adjustment' she bounced back and the rest of the day was a piece of cake!
 We rotate around the house doing different work. Mostly we are at the kitchen table, though. My little stinkers hard at work!

Our curriculum this year is similar to that of last year.
Abi is using:
Reading and Phonics, 2nd grade, book 1
Harcort Spelling Skills, 2nd grade
Bob Jones Math 2nd grade
Easy Grammar 2nd grade
Answers In Genesis, God's Design for Life- The Animal Kingdom
A Devotional for Girls
I will be adding in Social Studies later in the year. For the time being, she is taking 'Galloping the Globe' in Friday school, along with 'Discovering Art' and a class of Dinosaurs.
She will be taking ice skating lessons in place of P.E.

Austin is using:
Bob Jones English, 5th grade
Harcort Spelling Skills, 5th grade
Bob Jones Math 5th grade
Answers in Genesis, God's Design for the Physical World- Machines and Motion
A Devotional for Boys
He is currently finishing his 4th grade Heritage Studies book. He will be taking 'Colonial America', 'Distruction!' and 'Computer Basics' in Friday school.
Austin will be playing baseball again this fall with the Texas Terrors.
 A few of our school books

 The Excel spreadsheet that I mentioned in my last post

Lunch time! Fish sticks, mac n cheese and sugar snap peas!

Lucky for us, the neighbors across the street are homeschooled too. Which means that Austin and Abi will have someone to play with during 'recess'!

Well, Day 1 was quite successful. Now, if I could just have everyday be like today!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Little More Structure

I have never been the type of person who "just wings it". I've always made lists and plans. So, these past couple of years have been nerve wrecking!! When I quit working in July 2007 I made a decision to start "going with the flow" and to stop making so many plans. Well, that decision leaves me with too much anxiety! I HATE being unorganized and never knowing what I should be doing! It's too messy! So, this year for homeschooling we are making a new approach! In preparation of our school year starting September 6th, I have been working diligently to make it as organized as I possibly can. First, I received a magnet in the mail a few months ago and the more I stood there reading it  on the fridge while waiting for my glass to fill with water, the more I began to imagine sitting down and having a conversation about them with the kids! The magnet came from the Children at Heart Ministries and is titled 'Home Rules'. It has 12 Biblical based "rules" listed with scripture references. The kids and I sat down and discussed each one in detail as we made these posters to hang in the kitchen:

 Aren't they decorated so nicely! We used supplies that I already had at home: markers, poster board, and stickers. To hang it I used two command hooks, a hole punch, and some paper clips linked together.

I've also been thinking about how long it sometimes took Abi to complete her assignments during the day, and how sometimes both Austin and Abi would need my help at the same time. I'm hoping that I came up with a decent solution:

 3 out of our 5 days have the same schedule. On the appropriate day I will hang the correct schedule for the AJBs to follow. Each subject is allotted a certain time and are staggered according to the kid so that I may be available to help one at a time. I'm hoping that with giving each subject a certain amount of time it will (a) help Abi with her time telling abilities and (b) help her stay on track while doing her school work ridding her of the overwhelming feelings of what to do!! I used colorful scrapbooking paper backed with cardstock to make it more durable. I used command hooks to hang it on the foam board so that schedules can be changed.

 This idea came from another blog that I frequent: Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers It is a chore card system that gives the AJBs their chores for each day without me having to remind them everyday what needs to be done. I used clip art in a Word document to make each card, they are laminated in Scotch self-sealing laminating pouches. I used scrapbooking paper to make the card holding pouches. Then I added some scrapbooking stickers just for the fun of it!

This might be my favorite idea that I've borrowed. I found it at...wait for it...another homeschooling blog, Confessions of a Homeschooler! While her chart is directed to smaller kids, I took the idea and curtailed it to our needs. When the AJBs need help and they notice that I am busy (helping the other AJB, on the phone, etc) they take the clothespin with their name on it and clip it to my shirt. The pin will remind me that they need help. And while they wait for my help this chart gives them things to do: Put together a puzzle, practice their spelling words, or read a book. This idea is exciting in theory and I have HIGH hopes that it will work!!!!

The last organizational tool that I will be using this school year we uses last year. It is probably what kept me sane!! At the beginning of the school year I collect all of the kids' school books and sort through them. I  divide the book into assignments based on how many days we will be in school. At the beginning of each week I make an Excel spreadsheet for each child. The spreadsheet is labeled Monday through Friday across the top and then has each subject listed in the far left column. I list each assignment per day. I punch holes and place it in the front of their school binders. The binders have dividers per subject. I place each assignment into the appropriate divider. So, hypothetically speaking, on Monday morning Austin can open his binder to his assignment sheet and see that he needs to complete pages 62-64 in his math book. Then he will flip to his math divider and find all of his work for math that week, complete the assignment on his list and then check it off when he is done. This worked VERY well for us last year!! It also gave the kids a good look at the work that needed to be completed for the week.

I am getting more and more excited about our school year starting! I can't wait to see the exciting things we will accomplish and learn...together!!!!