Thursday, October 13, 2011

Recording Today

The day flows by life a rushing river sometimes, filled with giggles and tears, failures and success. That cute phrase that she utters over and over, the one you promise you will burn into your memory, fades and with it, it's existence. How many things have gone by unnoticed or forgotten? How many precious moments have been all but erased?

 The days and years are just flying by without a second to hold on, savor. I've been reminded lately that I am the keeper of memories! As the kids get older, they will want to know and see what we did all those early years. Sometimes I struggle to think on what Jonah was like as a baby, I know what he looked like, but so many memories have ceased to exist.

 When was your earliest memory?? Preschool maybe? A few might have earlier memories, but not nearly as many as are created! So I decided I needed to make a change. And it starts with a Journal.

The entries are not eloquent or written in perfectly spaced lettering and script. They are the real life scribbles of what happens here on a daily basis. A living daily legacy of all that we did, laughed over and cried about. They aren't the inner workings of my mind and heart, but a slow recording of what my life is surrounded by. Because all too often I find myself completely lost in tomorrow, the calendar and plans laid out, instead of living here, right now, today. And when tomorrow comes, today is long forgotten.


They all deserve a place in memory, the teach us where we came from and help us in where we are going.....

Do you have a homeschooling or daily life journal? Maybe we could share some snippets of real life from that journal!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Week 5~Starting to Jive

So it's taken 5 weeks this year.......5 weeks! to finally feel like things are coming together for us. The beginning of each school year always seems so difficult! It always seems like we are adjusting to a new baby, moving, or this year moving people out! The beginning of a school year is difficult enough. But add in any major change and it seems to throw me completely for a loop.

This year my sister and her family moved out.....

We added Gracia in to our day of learning

TJ remained as a part of our day

We added picking Bella up from the school up the road @2

A few of us got the flu

We added soccer boy scouts and a few other things to our schedule

I almost had a nervous breakdown and gave up entirely (true story)

The charter school the kids attend made some changes, making it a little more challenging for the parents (not entirely bad, just a new adjustment)

I guess in the long run, even though we had a great summer, (and Jonah's permanent tooth survived) but I still wasn't quite ready to head back into school. But I felt pressure from the Charter school, knowing I had only a certain amount of time before the materials would need to be returned. Knowing they were starting face to face classes that we were required to be there for. Knowing that if we didn't start, that would mean we didn't finish .

I had our first 6 weeks planned.....but I was still teetering on changing History, questioning if I should be adding Geography and Art, or that other science. I was plain struggling. I hated my planner and was just over all dissatisfied with many of this year's choices. I have tried to keep reminding myself how young the kids are, how little they truly need at this age. But sometimes the responsibility of homeschooling and doing it well is overwhelming!

I'm thankful that this is the last week of our Quarter. Thankful I'll be able to refocus and make some adjustments to our routine, and possibly tweak both History and Science to make it work for us. After telling Dave about what I was looking for in a Science curriculum, and just not finding it, he actually offered to help write one! I know that sounds insane (it does to me as well considering how little time we actually have to do that!), but we are heavily praying and considering it. And I am still piecing together an Art curriculum for my kids and possibly for sharing one day.

I think that is what makes homeschooling so difficult at times. Because we get to pick and choose what our kids learn, being dissatisfied with something means I have to change it, add to it, supplement,'s both good and bad! But that is where we are. I am trying to carve out a little more time for myself these days as well. To study God's word, blog, craft.....something other than schooling, diaper changing, cleaning and cooking!

Hope this quarter is finding you well, have you had to make changes so far? 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Learning Lab {Our school space}

I know it's semantics but a while ago I thought about changing the "name" of our school room into the "Learning Lab". It just sounded so much more inviting and less sterile. More free and exploratory! So here is our Learning Lab. I love that it is always a work in progress, dynamic in more ways than one! And it's also the space the kids go to everyday we don't have official "school" It's their creative space, a fun place! At first when we moved in I was hesitant to make the room a space for homeschooling. I thought about tucking our things into a spare room. But we cramming 3 desks and all the works into a little 10x10 room isn't ideal, and a bit claustrophobic. I struggled with the idea mainly because this room is the room you walk into as soon as you step into the house! It was designed as a sitting room of sorts. It was actually Dave that talked me into using the space and I'm so happy he did. After all, it's what our life is for in this season!

Our original "Learning Space" was just a corner in our dining room! 

The space at a glance.

Workpockets and work baskets.

We love the workbox system for organizing all the different activities and subjects for each child, but this work pocket idea that came to me while looking through a Lakeshore Learning catalog works fabulously! (although I ordered it off Amazon for cheaper!) Bigger activities or hands on manipulatives can be added to the work baskets.

All sorts of things fit in the pockets!

 This area also hides a computer lab for the kiddos to watch videos, play online educational games, connect to Brain Pop, etc. (This is an older photo of the area, it's changed since I've added the workpockets)

We have a circle time area. We start the day here with our Circle Time, Bible, History and's needs some color on the walls...but that is for another time!

We were incredibly blessed by a friend who scored these desks as they were being thrown away.....God is amazing isn't He? She also gave us the Art easels in the Art Escape!

So that is about it. The only challenge to this room is that you can't close the doors on the mess! I suppose it's motivation to keep the room neat, although it's a wreck more times than it's neat!

Today we are linking up to:


Not Back to School Blog Hop

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Keeping Sane while Homeschooling

Alright I said it. Indirectly, yes homeschooling, if you are not careful....can drive you insane. Being a homemaker in itself has the potential for some serious craziness, but throw in the responsibilities of being a teacher~no wait make that 6 teachers~ the principal, the vice principal, curriculum support, custodian, Librarian, Health room Nurse and the PTA Committee Chairperson! I mean just the parent-teacher conferences are enough to send you packing.

Now combine those responsibilities with Household management and either you've got an engineering genius or a madhouse. And though sometimes the footprints on the wall all lead to complete chaos, for the most part these last few years have been an experiment on how to stay sane and homeschool and to do it all well. (mind you I did not say perfectly!)

The truth is you can do it all well. I am going to share with you the changes and things I've done over the years to make our homeschooling and life run relatively smoothly. This isn't a series on how to pick the best curriculum, or your state homeschooling laws, this is the nitty gritty on how to actually accomplish your school goals and manage your home, and do it well. After all no one likes being behind, but there are ways to "keep up" with it all even when you have 4 kids 6 years an under like I do! Here are some of the topics that will be covered in this series:
  • Scheduling your Days
  • House keeping
  • Laundry
  • Meal planning and prep
  • Homeschooling with toddlers and babies
  • Homeschool planning
  • Chores for littles
  • Organizing for homeschooling
  • Organizing for Life
As we go through this series, please feel free to ask questions or add your own personal tips and tricks to the mix! These are things I've found that have worked well for our family. Not that I have everything figured out, or that my house is a museum. But when you implement certain routines and tips, you can keep up with your home at a level that you can be proud of. Of course it takes diligence and hard work, but it is not an impossibility, nor does it have to be stressful! I hope you find this series helpful!

Friday, August 19, 2011

FREE Art Activities

I found this awesome website yesterday by the National Gallery of Art! It's a super fun place for the kids to experiment, create and even print out their creations! Check it out!

There is way too much on this site to really do it justice in this little space. But playing around on the site will quickly get you addicted! You can create collages, still life's, digital photo art and much more! The site uses images, people, backgrounds and objects taken from famous works of art to create your own new works of art!

Its is a great way of introducing kids to artists, styles of art, famous images and the elements of art. I have a feeling the kids will be fighting over this site......

There is fun for everyone! An idea I had was to save all of your child's creations and print them out in a book as well! How cool would that be to have your very own prints! 

Happy creating!

Homeschool Mother's Journal #......uh.......

Well it's been a few months, so let's just jump right in!

In My Life This Week.....
There are lots and lots of biiiiiiiggggg changes going on. My sister, her husband and two children are moving down the road from us! They bought a house, got the keys and are ready to start life here in the Islands as a family! We are pretty excited they are only going to be a few blocks from us (so I'll be visiting when she makes meatloaf). I'll still be watching TJ, and picking Bella up from school (literally at the end of our street). But once again in this fast paced year we will be re-arranging rooms and life. Maybe just maybe we'll actually be able to move in completely! And by move in I mean go through the oodles of boxes in the attic and set up my long lost sewing space......

In My Homeschool This Week.......
We have taken this week to slowly start the transition back into a school routine. A few weeks ago I set our schedule/routine including Liora and TJ and adding Gracia as a part of our "Tot School". But this week we've taken a laid back approach to getting into the groove of things again. From past experience I know jumping in head first causes much stress! Taking it one day at a time was about all I could handle at this point!

Monday we started off by taking a look at all our new books and supplies, Tuesday we started a little of our Circle time routine, Wednesday we did a little Math and today we did a little reading. Each day we tried to follow our schedule for the most part, taking breaks, keeping up with chores. I think I may actually be ready to start out the school year next week!

I am inspired by.......
I should say, I've been inspired to give my children their own Art Escape. I've highlighted the idea behind it as well as photos in my previous posts. I'll be sure to update everyone on the space and how it's being used!! As a former art teacher, I have to say I really miss the everyday mess of Art and creation....and I would really like to make sure my kids have a solid foundation in the Arts!

I've been inspired by my husband finding my college collection of Art Lesson's a gold mine of ideas (pre internet days!) I am kicking around the idea of writing a Scripture inspired Art Curriculum to share! One that is easy for parents to use (needing no previous "art" experience) but is also full of great ideas using simple supplies, highlighting Artists, Art History as well as Art Theory.

Questions or Thoughts I have......
Is there even a market for an Art Curriculum like I've described above??

What's working for us.......
 After 7 long years of being behind on laundry. (seriously I've never been caught up) I have finally found the secret to keeping the laundry monster at bay. This is the 4th week of my laundry baskets being empty and it's been easy.....easier than being behind on laundry all the time! And NO my family has not joined a nudist colony, although.....that might be an easier way to keep up with laundry!

I've got some plans in the works to keep up with the rest of the house as well......I may just have to share my findings if I can conquer this house management thing!

I'm reading.....
A Thousand Gifts By Ann Voscamp....still reading it. I've been trying to chew on this one word by's such an amazing book, if you haven't read it yet you must.

I wondering if I am the only one who reads 5 books at a time. Really, it's a little ADD, I know, but I can't seem to stay completely interested in just one book. So I read many at one time. Makes me wonder if I am getting the full potential of each book? So what else am I reading then you ask?

.Last Child in the Woods, The Ministry of Motherhood, The Birthing House and Keeping a Quiet Heart
There, my secret is out.....

A photo to share..... 
 Our new Art Escape! The kids love it, and actually it's right outside the Master bedroom, so it's nice to be near the kids as they create and enjoy art!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


This past weekend we went to the North Shore and watched our friends play in Summer Music Festival. It was put on by a family (of 11 kids), so musically talented, it blows you away to watch them. Most of the kids in the family play a wide variety of instruments, and when I say "play" I mean at a Master's level. Most songs are improvised and it's not uncommon for the kids to switch instruments with each other throughout the performances. If you want to be blown away....or transported to another world, spend some time on their website . Not only are they musically talented, but in the visual arts as well.

They are a homeschooling family, so talented and free, and they love God so much they are amazing to be around. While we were sitting there I asked a friend, "How in the world do you raise kids like this?" her answer inspired me. She said simply, "Our children are us. They will be what we are." I could go on and on about both the intellectual as well as the spiritual implications of her insight. How they have impacted me this week. But there was one way that I was really inspired.

See, I am actually an education art education major. It's been so long thought since I've felt this creative, artistic urge. And recently I've wanted to show that side of me to my own kids, awaken those abilities in them and give them some freedom to find their own creativity and gifts. So this week I started by setting up an Art Studio for them. A place where they can go whenever they want, paint, sculpt (play with play dough), create! Now I realize with some freedom with art supplies there also comes mess. But I'm learning and training them to care for the space themselves, give them the tools to not only have the supplies at their disposal but clean up as well. Over all I think it's gone fairly well this week. I know they have enjoyed the area, they've spent about 4 hours each day in the space. It has been amazing to watch them outside painting and creating.

Here is a peek at their Art Escape......
A simple little space with everything you need to create!
I am blessed with an outside covered lanai (patio), and yes we do live in a warm climate year round, so it makes it easy to mess up and clean up. (I'll share more later on indoor art areas). I was given 2 easels for art and simply added clips to hold the kids art work. A TV tray table sits in the middle to hold water, brushes and art media (paint, oil pastels, etc). All of the kids Art supplies are located in the plastic drawers on the right. We use a small camping picnic table for the kids that cleans up perfectly with a little help from a magic eraser! And I hung a rope from one post to the house, added some clothes line clips for wet paint.

Painting smocks and shirts, brushes and magic erasers!

Of course we don't have rules for what you can create, but we do for using the work space! I tried to keep the rules short and sweet (although Jonah kept saying "Rule # 49596").
1. Put on a painting shirt or smock.
2. Gather your supplies.
3. Create!
4. Clean up!
As long as they clean up their area, I love the idea of the kids creating for hours on end!

Make sure the drying rope is low enough for the kids to hang themselves!
Three drawers were enough to house paper, paints and clay!

And we are ready to create! 

So far the kids have really loved the space. I've been playing some classical music for them while they create. I hope to showcase what they have done in the future! 
If you have an art space or are inspired, leave a comment and a link to your blog, I would love to check out your Art Escape! 
I'll also be posting some ideas for indoor, less-mess art areas in the future, now go create something!