Garden Journals, pt. 3

Our third day of garden journaling, we drew pictures of beneficial bugs: predators, pollinators, and plants that attract them.  Can I just say I LOVE Sharpies?

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I also love seeing the drawing of a 6 year old next to the drawing of a 9 year old — a good reminder of how fast time simply flies!  (Today I also paid them a nickel for every weed they pulled of our lawn by the root.  Worth every penny!  And, the chickens loved eating the weeds.)

Garden Journals, pt. 1

I’ve had this idea in my head for a spring time activity for a while, but have never actually attempted it. Lately, our school work has seemed just like that; work.  It was time for a fun activity that we could all do together.  I am truly hoping by keeping these garden journals, we will be inspired to get going on our garden!

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First, we decorated our {brown bag} covers with stickers and markers.

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gj 4Our first entry was picking a seed packet, copying it with black marker, and then water coloring it.  Seed packets are so cool!

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 Somehow, I think that I have to have everything organized and ready to go before jumping into a project.  But, when I give in and start a project before actually knowing all that it will entail, God inevitably fills in the gaps and gives me the creativity I need right when I need it.  I am now filled with ideas, and can’t wait for more journal pages!  Praise God for his faithfulness.  Why can’t I remember to lean on Him more often?
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Didn’t they turn out lovely?  This really is what our school day needed… a little fun project the kids could look forward to, do together, and inspire us toward our garden!

Valentine “School” 2016

It’s been a long week… a long, exhausting month, really.  I can’t say it’s been bad.  I am just a bit worn out.  When that happens, I usually try to push-through and stick with the plan, but the kids know when I am worn out.  My temper is shorter.  Our “fun” includes lots of Mom yelling, “Why did you spill this?” And, “Hey, I need some help over here.”

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I really don’t like it when I am short-tempered with my kids.  It hurts my heart when I reflect on my day.  Thankfully, kids are quick to forgive when I apologize.  I am so grateful for a God who allows us grace!

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Yesterday I knew I was done with school for the week.  My long list of to-do’s didn’t get a single item crossed off due to me feeling awful, as well as my poor kiddos still struggling.  This girl, in particular, has had it extremely rough.  She has been sick for a week, and for the last 3 days she has woken up with a different new symptom.  Today, she had an eye infection.  But, she was a trooper and still joined in some of the fun anyway when she wasn’t stuck on the couch!  And so, today was out with “school” and in with Valentine fun!

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We started with Sierra’s plastic nails she got for her birthday.  They didn’t last long, but they were sure fun to try!

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We also made salt dough pendants to turn into Valentine necklaces for friends.

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Finally, our Valentine’s were little match sticks.  I tried to teach the kids how to make little origami boxes to put them in, but it was a bit difficult for them.  So, I will probably be making quite a few tomorrow.  I found the idea on Pinterest and thought it was too cute to pass up!  My 6 year old didn’t even know what a match stick was!

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We ended with making bookmarks and using our new Valentine stickers.  I think that was Natalie’s favorite part.

With all I have still on my to-do list, I really should’t be blogging.  But, somehow this is therapy for me.  I like seeing all the pictures without hearing the kids arguing, or stepping on messes left behind in the kitchen.  Our activities took most of the day, and the kids seemed to enjoy them… but one kid had to ask, “Is this all we’re doing?”  (You hear the voice she used, right?)  That’s all it took on a day where I gave it my all despite running on fumes to make my heart sink.  Normally, I would laugh it off or shrug it off — kids.  Today it sinks deeper, but blogging about it somehow makes it seem ok; this is just life.  The good, the tough — they are all a part of parenting, and all a reward.  Blogging allows me to step-back, re-focus, and be grateful for the good.  (And there really was much good to our day!)

Hope you find time for some Valentine fun this weekend!  I am sure we have more hearts in our near future…

Cozy

Somehow, after Christmas I always seem to re-evaluate everything.  It is not even a conscious writing of goals or resolutions, though I sometimes wish I were so disciplined.  Mostly, I like to de-clutter, (which I am guessing is a common post-Christmas activity for moms), and in so doing reorganize, which makes me re-evaluate everything!

All that to say, we are back in the full swing of homeschooling, yet I am re-thinking it all and planning next year in my head while this year is barely half over!  Why do I always do this to myself?

One thing I am thinking about is simply more freedom for the kids.  It is ironic, because if you were to ask me my biggest struggle with homeschooling, I would probably tell you I am not structured enough.  And yet, I am still leaning toward more freedom.  I want the kids to continue to love learning.

January seems to be an excellent time to experiment with all of this.  We have many beautiful days outside, where the kids have been on scooters, making bug houses, and enjoying the chilly sunshine.  I could listen to them for hours as they make up games based on their books or imaginations.

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Then we have the cozier days where we are inside sipping tea, (and espresso for me using my new Christmas present), playing with animals, painting, or reading.

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I laugh every year when I get new ideas and think, “This is it!”  Really, every year is so different and every year we find new and fun ways to homeschool, (as well as new ways to fail!)  There is no magic “it.”  If you would have told me that when I began homeschooling, I probably would have freaked out and been determined to find the right way.  It is only over time, and trusting God, that I have become comfortable with the constant change and realizing no other mom has it all together and could do it better.  God has trusted me with these kids, and it is up to me to trust Him every day for what I need to teach them.  He is faithful!

Gross or Cool

We know about the bobcat.  He’s gotten 2 cats and several chickens.  But, it began to get cold and we began to get lazy about making sure they were locked up, and… Yes, we had another bobcat attack.  (Two in the last 2 weeks, actually).  We lost 3 chickens total.  I am no longer lazy because I do not want to wake up to the awful squawking, nor do I want to have to chase a bobcat with a broom again.  (Terrifying!)

Thankfully, the kids are ok with it all.  They understand the risk of having chickens in our backyard when we live in bobcat and coyote territory.  And, they even get a little excited about the possibility of new baby chicks in the spring.  What I didn’t expect was them being ok with my husband’s idea.  was not ok with my husbands idea.  I told him he totally grossed me out and I was appalled… yet, deep down inside of me there was a tiny something that thought he was the coolest dad ever.

You see, he decided to turn our tragedy into “school,” and dissect poor Rhonda to see if she had any eggs inside her.  (Yes, he really did!)  He even made me take some pictures, though I was totally appalled.  I held the camera far from my face, snapped a picture, and ran back inside.

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I even tried printing a diagram of the chicken’s egg cycle to give him so he wouldn’t need to dissect.  But alas, he had to dissect.  I saw a bit.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  I tried to tell myself it was cool.  The kids were in the same boat as me.  In the end, we concluded that it really was a cool experiment — even if we didn’t find an egg.  Daniel showed them lots of other “cool” stuff.  But, I learned my lesson… NO more leaving the coop gate open at night!

Musings…

This week my husband was on a very different schedule than normal.  Rather then 48-hour fire shifts, he was in a class where he finished each evening.  In anticipation, I told myself he would be gone every night.  I figured he would finish class late and not want to fight traffic.  To my surprise, he was home 4 out of 5 nights — a fun treat for us all!

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Another fun treat — waking up to snow-covered mountains after the rain.  This was the view from my office window.  Brilliant blue.  Brilliant white.  Chilly hair.  Happy me!

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The last remnant of our Christmas is the beautiful paper whites my mom brought for us.  They are in full bloom, and stinking up the kitchen nicely!  I just love the enamel bowl she brought for them, as well… they transfer perfectly into our Valentine decor!

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After a shopping spree at Target with Malachi one rainy day this week, we decided it was time to pull out the Valentine decor.  There were SO many cute items in the dollar section that I went a little bit crazy.  Pulling down the bins is always so much fun for the kids, and a perfect motivator to have them clean ahead of time!

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Kissing the cat… random.

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School went surprisingly well this week, despite the rain and cold.  (It just made our Thankful Thursday tea party even cozier).  There were some trials with attitudes that made me sad, but in the end worked out for the better.  Somehow I always forget that the trials are what grows us and keeps us humble!  Thank you for the trials, Lord… even though they aren’t fun!

Today we watched “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” that I found at the grocery store for $5.99.  It was even more exciting as I was at the store with just Natalie, and the two of us happen to be just finishing that book.  The fireplace roared and the 6 of us cuddled up on the couch with our gummies.  I feel refreshed…  Happy weekend to you!

Apple Store

Homeschooling is such a misnomer.  It feels like there is something going on every day, and days at home are such a luxury!  I do love the flexibility it affords us, and the opportunity for cool field trips like the one we just took to the Apple Store!  Wow, do they do an amazing job there.  They are super organized, and had one worker for every 3 or 4 of our kids.  They told us moms to sit in the back and chat… um, ok!!!  (It didn’t take long for someone to make a Starbuck’s run for us!)

The kids were introduced to making videos and adding music/ editing.  They got to go with their little teams around the mall making a movie, (while we moms chatted and drank coffee.)  Then we got to watch the movies and each kid got a thumb drive bracelet to take home with them.  Incredible.  Thank you, Apple Store!  We were so blessed!

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Full Swing

It is the second week of school, and we are in the full swing of things!  Activities don’t start for another week, (thank goodness), but we are really starting to get our routine down.

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Math with Papa on our bed…

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Fun with magnets…

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Thankful Thursday Tea Parties…

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Learning letters with sister…

It’s nice to be back in a routine.  And, it’s nice to be able to homeschool!  (Just be glad you can’t hear some of the complaining when you see these pictures; ha!)