Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Notebooking with Boys-CC Cycle 2

         Guess what? We've finished our homeschool year, which means I'm starting to look forward to next year. The teacher in me totally loves planning what we'll be doing. The teacher in me also loves summer break! I personally need this time to recharge and just be mom to my kiddos. After reading some great books*, I am trying to streamline some of our learning so that I have more time to read great books with my kids and let them explore different things they're interested in and less time spent on busywork. After all, I don't need to keep them busy just for the sake of keeping them busy, I'd rather invest that time a little more wisely.

         We just finished up our sixth year of Classical Conversations. Although I am far from being an expert, I know that I am constantly looking to those mamas who are a few steps ahead of me to figure out what might work better than what we've been doing, so I thought I would share for those who might benefit from what is working well for us. In the past we have used pages from CC Connected to give each of my older kids (they just finished 3rd and 5th) what we call a "CC Notebook" with one page of copywork from each subject we cover with Classical Conversations. This has been great reinforcement for my boys as they have both gone on to become Memory Masters for the past couple years. My youngest son, Will, is 5, and not really up for all the copywork the other two boys do, but I think he can do some. I am trying to make him an age appropriate notebook for the fall. I have listed below the usernames that I am planning to use for my older two and made a note if I think I will use them for Will, too. For now, I'm planning to give him a history page with a coloring portion and some simple printing and a simple science copywork sheet. I'm considering a timeline matching page and possibly a geography page as well. We'll see. For now I thought it might be helpful for others to see what our notebooks look like and which users we'll be using for Cycle 2. Please feel free to comment here with any questions, or send me a message on Facebook. :) Also, check back later because I plan to post about what we're going to be doing besides our CC notebooks this fall!

Things we are using from CC Connected: 
History color and copy pages by Melissa Corkum (cursive for my older two and print for Will)
Science copywork pages by me (heatherg) (I made a younger version for Will and shared them on CC Connected, too)
Geography blackline maps by Tara504 (and possibly her lapbooks if I get crazy! ;))
English Grammar pages by me** (heatherg)
Latin by abbycarp and anniepat
Math by me** (heatherg) for Sam and Will and
         chart to be laminated by JosephsAprilAnn for Jon who is over 10 and can't do skip counting
Timeline: I might use the pages by user whitmanmc for Sam and Jon, or I may create my own.
         I may also use Sheri Ellis' timeline sheets for Will

*I cannot recommend Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie enough! Read it and be encouraged homeschool mamas!!
Also, any of Leigh Bortins books are an excellent help us mamas to understand her vision and plan for using Classical Conversations to help our kiddos blossom under this program! :)
**I have been told that the files I uploaded to CC Connected are not working right. If you find this to be true, please let me know. I can open them from my computer, but that may not mean anything!
You might be interested in reading about why we homeschool, getting started with CC or about how we use Audible.

Friday, May 27, 2016

How Our Family Uses-and LOVES-Audible!

I love reading, but if I'm honest since college I haven't read nearly as much as I'd like. Life is busy. Whether it's work, kids, extracurricular activities or laundry, by the end of the day turning on Netflix seems easier and let's face it easier is appealing at the end of the day. I kept hearing about people using Audible either for themselves as they commuted to work, or for their kids, but thought, "I don't have a commute, I'm a homeschooling mom." Or "I can read to my kids" and I do, but I cannot tell you how much I love Audible. 

In December I saw a deal on Living Social or Groupon that was similar to this one and decided to give Audible a try. We had three months to see if it would really be useful to our clan. We're now 6 months in and it has decidedly changed how I spend my time. But I'm getting ahead of myself! 

Honestly what pushed me over the edge was the busyness of life. I wanted to be reading aloud to my kids more than I was and they wanted me to be reading to them more, and I saw this as a way to meet that need without having to rearrange my schedule. Since I homeschool them and we're all together nearly 24/7, we have quiet time daily from 2-3:30 pm. During this time, everyone goes to their own space-a bedroom or the basement-and plays quietly by themselves. They have often used this time to listen to Adventures in Odyssey or Jonathan Park or books on CD from the library, but now they are bringing a Kindle or iPad and listening to Audible instead. They have gotten so wrapped up in an audiobook that they will stay past 3:30 and are often found listening other times of the day. 

The first several months I used our credits on children's book collections (the Ramona collection, Henry Huggins collection, etc) but would pick up other books with our Audible membership discount like A Cricket in Times Square, The Jungle Book, Blackstart of Kingston, My Side of the Mountain and many others. I love knowing that they are listening to books that I have chosen and then hearing one child recommend one to another child. Sometimes more than one of them is listening to the same book at the same time on different devices. It's really been wonderful to see them diving more deeply into books they might not have picked up on their own. 

Personally I wasn't sure it was going to be very useful, but I was content to use Audible to be filling my children's heads with good literature. However in April I was trying to read a Jane Austen book for book club and was not finding as much time to sit with my nose in a book as I had hoped and saw that I could get the audio version for less than $2. I spent the next few days listening to Emma as I prepared dinner, washed up pots and pans, folded laundry, drove to the store, and more. I followed that with a few other Austen works and just recently finished three of the Anne of Green Gables books that way. I have always wanted to read them, but have never actually done so until now. I just started David Copperfield and plan to check off many other Bucket List books this way. My favorite thing to do at night now is to crawl into bed, click off of Facebook or email and onto Audible, stick my earbuds in (my hubby falls asleep within minutes of his head hitting the pillow), and play 10 10 while I listen to someone read to me. It's really quite delightful. 

If you've ever considered Audible and have any questions, please let me know. I am no expert, but I am thoroughly enjoying it and highly recommend it! 

For more helpful information, this blog post is very helpful:

Birthday Boy 5

Will turned five back in November. Yes, you read that right, November. As in 6 months ago...that's the kind of mama/blogger I am. Life is busy and full and I have not been here often. I'm actually okay with that. You see in November Will got very sick. Like I was afraid for his life sick. I will blog about that another day. Today I just want to talk about this fun boy who had a less than exciting birthday, but LOVED it anyway-because that's who he is! 

We started the day with breakfast and presents and he was thrilled to get lots of Lego sets and 2 pairs of boxing gloves! (We decided one pair wouldn't be wise because he wouldn't be able to box with anyone, thus two pairs-one for Will and one for a friend!)
He spent the day building Lego sets, boxing, and playing Wii with his brothers. All that sounds super fun, however despite the fun, he was still not feeling right. He wasn't hungry enough to eat much at breakfast or lunch, and he fell asleep multiple times during the day. It was really pretty sad. I was so glad we hadn't planned a big party. In fact our plan had been a trip to the Aquarium because he was super into aquatic life at the time. Shortly after his birthday he switched gears and doesn't care so much about marine life anymore, so we decided he'll just get to have a fun birthday party next year. 

Will's current favorite color is red, so when I saw this shirt online, I knew I had to get it for him. He adores it. In fact he wore it today. He calls it his "Birthday Boy 5" shirt. I love it!

My parents came over to celebrate with us that night and he perked up enough for pizza and cookie cake. :)

Here's the birthday survey:
~What is your name? Will, William James Gross
~And how old are you? 5
~How does being 5 make you feel? Funny
~What do you want to learn this year? How to swim good
~What was the best thing about being 4? Play Wii
~How did you celebrate your birthday?
~What was your favorite gift that you received? 
~What is your favorite color? Red
~What is your favorite food? Pizza
~Who is your favorite person? Mom <3
~What grade are you in? Pre-K
~What is your favorite thing to do during school? Veritas (history)
~What is your favorite game to play? Super Mario 3D World
~What do you like to do with Daddy? Play Battleship
~What do you like to do with Mommy? Hug you!
~What do you like to do with Jon? Play Legos with him
~What do you like to do with Sam? Wrestle with him
~What do you like to do with Maggie? Play guns (ha!)
~What’s your favorite thing to do with the whole family? Movie night
~What’s your favorite store? Target
~What’s your favorite place to eat? Chick-fil-A
~What’s your favorite book? Elephant & Piggie I Really Like Slop
~What’s your favorite song? Everything is Awesome!
~What’s your favorite thing in the Bible right now? David and Goliath
~What do you want to be when you grow up? A Ninja 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

We Have a Threenager!

Maggie turned three 6 months ago! I can barely remember what we did that day, so I decided I had better blog about it before I can't remember at all! 

There were two things that she asked for: a "jump-o-line" (Trampoline) and roller skates. We got her the trampoline and her grandparents got her the roller skates, plus her brothers got her some stickers and some girly Legos, her other grandparents got her Doc McStuffins dress up outfits, and her uncle got her some Doc McStuffins stuffed toys. All in all she was thrilled with her gifts.

She wanted to go to Target and to help me make purple cupcakes. What the birthday girl wants, the birthday girl gets! :)

She LOVED being sung to and blowing out her candles. I'm not sure why the picture below turned out the way it did, but it cracks me up.

Maggie is growing up so quickly and is becoming quite the fun girl. She makes up songs all day long and loves, loves, loves to be with people. I am so thankful for my Maggie-girl and can't wait to see what she'll be up to next! <3

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Counting My Blessings

Reflecting on the many, many good things that God has given me is a practice that I have neglected lately and I deeply desire to get back into the habit of counting my blessings. So tonight I am briefly starting again to list out just some of the many good gifts that He has poured out into my life. This list is not all inclusive, but simply what God has particularly brought to mind right now. I am hoping to make this just one part of an ongoing list.
>Quality time with one of my oldest friends last weekend and reflecting on how friendships change, how our needs in friendships change, and how as we've grown older our friendship has just gotten stronger. No pressure, just love.
>Amazing neighbors

>My kids. They are far from perfect, but most of the time I really like them. 😄
>Thyroid medicine. My thyroid recently got all wacky again and I was feeling bad. I'm so thankful to be feeling better!
>Dinner out with one of my favorite friends tonight. You know the one that makes you laugh and you can joke one minute and in the next share your fears and concerns for your kids? She always encourages me and often challenges me, too. Tonight's take away was that I need to be more intentional in praying for others. Time with her is always time well-spent. 
>Our electric blanket with dual controls. Pete can crank his up to 7, since he has little to no body fat, and I will put mine on low and enjoy crawling into warm sheets. 

I could go on, but I think I will stop there. I keep meaning to blog about Maggie's 3rd birthday and Will's 5th, oh and about Christmas. Maybe someday soon...
I hope you take a little time to count all the good gifts in your life. 💕

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Jon's Broken Arm

Thanks to a recent post by one of my favorite friends in the real world and the blogosphere, I have been inspired to do some catch up blogging. I just looked and it has been over three months since I have blogged. I'm hoping to post a few in the next week or so, but let's just take this one step and at a time. We'll start with my oldest boy and that time when he broke his arm...

        Like most horror stories, it all began on Friday the 13th. Will had been sick all week with a fever and just laying around, very unlike him. Meanwhile, Jon and Sam had been doing some chores and took a break. Sam was sitting in the old glider that used to be in the nursery when the kids were smaller, and Jon was standing on the glider's ottoman. Jon was "surfing" and Sam was gently rocking the ottoman with his feet when they agreed that the rocking should get a little less gentle. I was sitting on the couch with Will and texting Pete about whether or not I should take him to the doctor when I hurt a wail and a thud--or maybe it was a thud and then a wail?--regardless, chaos followed. Sam ran in saying, "Mom! Jon hurt his arm really, really bad!" And then I saw it...his arm hanging in an unnatural way, leaving no question about what we would be doing next.

        After trying to call Pete and getting no answer, I sent a text saying simply, "911-Jon broke his arm." Then I called my neighbor to see if she could stay with my kids while I take Jon to the hospital. Although she was out of the state, she sent her son over immediately. In the meantime, Pete called me and headed straight home, and I took the injured and headed to campus of Children's that is closest to our house. If you ever wondered how to avoid having to wait in the waiting room at a children's hospital, just bring a child with a badly broken limb. They quickly got him a wheelchair and escorted us straight back. One of the nurses even made mention to another of "the deformed child" as we went by. In my frazzled state, that somehow struck me as humorous.

        It was quickly decided that he needed morphine and x-rays. Jon was a champ when they put in the IV. They had a whole team of "life specialist" or some such craziness ready to read him a book and walk him through why they needed to put a needle in his arm. Little did they know that my logical first born, who was in much pain, did not need much convincing. In fact, just the quick run down of the way IV's work while the nurse assembled her team of life specialist was good enough for him. They stood down and he got his drugs and the x-rays, which revealed just what was expected. Both his radius and his ulna in his right arm were broken. The next question was to operate or not. The doctor who had been helping us decided that regardless of the answer to that question, we would need to see an orthopedic specialist at the main campus.


          And so we took our show on the road. The orthopedic specialist at the main campus of Cincinnati Children's decided that contrary to the prior doctor's opinion, Jon would not need to be sedated at all to have his arm set. They simply gave him another dose of morphine, then the doctor gave a quick twist with a horrific crunching sound and a quick x-ray in the room to confirm that his bones were aligned properly, and then they splinted his arm and rewrapped it. At this point the doctor said we would need to keep his arm wrapped in the splint and in a sling 24/7 for a week and then return to get yet more x-rays and then he could get an actual cast. In case you missed it that means his arm, which was close to needing surgery, would be protected by a foam pad and an ace bandage. I kindly requested an actual cast since we have three kids younger than Jon who are quite active, but the doctor said this was for the best. They sent us on our way around 7pm, over 7 hours from when the break took place.

       For Jon's sake, I am going to include a few things that he likes to be sure people find out about his experience. Jon would want it noted that the only food he ate that day was his Cheerios and a mint since the break took place right before lunch. We stopped at Wendy's on the way home, however he couldn't stomach it after all the morphine on an empty stomach. At the hospital they wouldn't let him have food or water in case they ended up needing surgery. The poor kid was super hungry and thirsty for most of the day. Also, the ortho doctor did not tell him when he was going to set his arm. He was feeling around on Jon's arm asking him if certain areas hurt and then just gave his specialized twist and bam! Jon wailed and cried. It was pretty awful.

       Congratulations for making it this far! If you're still reading, I'm going to wrap up with a brief summary of his progress since the day of the incident. His follow up appointments since then have been fairly standard and thankfully all very successful. One of his bones, I believe his radius has healed completely, but the ulna has a fracture that is still healing. He wore casts that went most of the way up his arm for 7+ weeks, and is currently wearing a brace for 6 weeks. Apparently the area of his arm that he injured is an area with low blood circulation, making it heal slowly and prone to being injured again easily in the following year. As of Wednesday he will get to take the brace off unless he is doing anything active through May 13th. They said this includes running and playing outside, riding bikes, wrestling, etc. In case you forgot, he's a ten year old boy with 3 younger siblings...I might be making him wear that brace more than he realizes. The doctor said if the arm gets broken again in the next year, there is a very high chance that he would have to have surgery. But for now he is counting down the days until Wednesday and I am letting him enjoy the idea of wearing it less.


Friday, October 23, 2015

Sam is EIGHT

My sweet and sincere Sam is eight. His birthday was at the beginning of the school year, so his blog post also got lost in the shuffle. My Sam is such a people person. He loves being with people all. the. time. In fact, when his older brother wants a little alone time to read, Sam gets frustrated because he can't understand it. While Sam does finally enjoy reading, he would much rather be doing something active with someone else. This boy is highly competitive and although he is doing better, he can be a bit of a sore loser. (Something his not very competitive mama struggles to understand!) He aims to please people and hates to disappoint anyone. (Please note how many ties there are in his interview) However, he is entering the age of thinking he knows better than everyone else, so we are beginning to butt heads more than we used to. Thankfully, he is very empathetic, and when I explain to him how his tone makes others feel, he quickly looks shocked and is genuinely sorry. Sam loves spending time with his siblings, and this school year he has become a great playmate to Will and Maggie when Jon and I need to work on school. Needless to say, the younger ones love when their big brother plays with them! Sam says he doesn't know what he wants to be when he grows up, and honestly, I think that is great. I think it's safe to say he has a little time to figure that out! :)

~What is your name? Sam, or the Goose
~And how old are you? 8
~How does being 8 make you feel? Good
~What do you want to learn this year? How to keep my backpack clean (said with a laugh, but then he clarified that he is serious)
~What was the best thing about being 7? being on the swim team
~How did you celebrate your birthday? Had friends over, had pool birthday party, ate Chick-fil-A, and went to the Newport Aquarium with Dad
~What was your favorite gift that you received? Nerf gun from Noah
~What is your favorite color? green
~What is your favorite food? "ham, pizza or brownies--it's a tie! Wait, cancel that, it's Grandma's chocolate cake!"
~Who is your favorite person? "God! I have a lot of friends, so it's hard to choose, but God created me after all!"
~What grade are you in? 3rd
~What is your favorite thing to do at school? math
~What is your favorite game to play? Minecraft or Super Smash Bros
~What do you like to do with Daddy? Pillow mazes
~What do you like to do with Mommy? make cookies and brownies
~What do you like to do with Jon? play legos
~What do you like to do with Will? fight him with our plastic weapons
~What do you like to do with Maggie? "EVERYTHING she wants to do! It's true! She's so cute!"
~What’s your favorite thing to do with the whole family? go to the zoo or watch a movie
~What’s your favorite store? Target
~What’s your favorite place to eat? Chick-fil-A ties with Bob Evans
~What’s your favorite book? Life of Fred-Dogs, it's really funny!
~What’s your favorite song? Indescribable by Chris Tomlin
~What’s your favorite thing in the Bible right now? 1 Kings. I think it's interesting to learn about all the kings. One of my favorite stories is Noah and the ark.
~What do you want to be when you grow up? I have no idea...