Monthly Archives: October 2008

School Days

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Oy, I’m terrible at posting lately! And why I’m choosing this moment to begin a blog entry I do not know. I am sitting here listening to my four older children tidy the living room (at least I hope that’s what they’re doing since I told them to) and my baby flushing the toilet (she’s recently learned this skill, and while it is somewhat annoying to hear a thousand flushes a day, it’s better than if she was sticking her hands in the toilet!) We’re a few weeks into school for this year, and as we’ve worked out a few bugs and are pretty happy with how school is going, I thought I’d post what we actually ended up doing, at least thus far, for the year.

We have about two or two and a half hours of school each day, four days a week. The first half hour is always circle time, which is kind of our little "Bible School" time. It’s always tempting for me to start with phonics or something that feels more "schoolish", but if we live by God’s Word, I would prefer to send the message to my girls that it is the most important part of our school day, and therefore we start with that. I actually think circle time is my favorite part in many ways, and we’re able to fit quite a lot in thirty minutes. This is when Alyssa is still awake, so she practices sitting nicely on my lap. We start with practicing our chruch liturgy – every other day we practice the songs we sing each week (I love to sing with the girls!), and every other day we practice all of the spoken liturgy. It’s been a joy to see the girls learn our liturgy so they can enjoy being more involved during service – and they can memorize it so quickly! Next we read our memory verses – right now we’re learning I Cor. 13 and Eph. 6:1-3. Then we read a passage of either Proverbs or Romans and talk a bit about it. We practice the children’s catechism – which I think is always the girls’ favorite! We look over our Doorposts charts to help them apply Bible truths and they love these colorful charts. Then we finish up with a story from Elsie Egermeier’s story Bible. Then baby is off to bed, and we’re on to table time.

Table time is usually about an hour. Naomi and Juli sit at the table and play with the toy of the day: play foam (much less messy than play dough!), lacing beads, little chalk boards, or paper and markers – I try to rotate this so they don’t get bored. If they aren’t quiet at the table, they can go play in the living room, but they prefer to stay at the table with us, so they’re usually pretty good. This is when I work on phonics and a bit of math with Isabelle and Hannah. We are trying a new phonics program which we are really enjoying. I print out an alphabet for Hannah to trace each day since she’s still learning to write letters, and Isabelle does some copywork from Queen Homeschool Supplies’ Copywork For Little Ones series – I really like it! It’s a great way for her to learn some grammer principles and practice making beautiful letters. Isabelle and Hannah are very opposite in what kind of students they are, so it’s interesting working with their little personalities! We go over letter sounds, reading rules, etc – I usually have each girl review seperately while the other works on writing, so I can make sure they are both learning well. They each get a turn to read aloud to me a bit at their level (Hannah can do Bob Books, Isabelle pretty much anything I give her). I also try to work on some number counting charts with them, so they can learn to recognize large numbers – we count by 2s, 5s, 10s and 1s. After we finish the big girls’ work, they take over the little girls toy and the little girls get their "preschool" time. I save this for last because they are so excited that it helps them remember to be good for phonics time. It’s funny, we just say the letters of the alpabet, or look at pretty flashcards, or practice colors and such, but they just love "their" time. We also work on speech therapy together. Oh, I must mention table time is when I enjoy my coffee!

We finish up with couch time, which is when I read aloud to the girls. Some days I let them play with quiet school game toys on the floor, other days we just all snuggle on the couch while I read. I was reading Story Of The World, but after finishing the first volume, I became frustrated with the feeling that the author was trying to make history "neutral". History just isn’t neutral – God’s Hand works in all of it, and I grew weary of trying to reword the stories so they taught that. So now I have been reserving books at the library which tell different stories throughout history – biographies and stories about important countries or events. I glean ideas from the tanglewood school website for good books for 1st grade. It’s been really enjoyable to just enjoy these "living" picture books with the girls – so far we’ve learned about Abe Lincoln, Pompeii, Gilgamesh, the Great Wall, the tulip craze, and lots of other things. Isabelle usally sneaks the book away to read before we get to it, so she always tries to hold it in and not tell us what’s coming. I plan to make a nice long timeline and put on there things the girls would recognize – especially Bible stories – then mark on the timeline each time we read a book like this – so they can see what else was going on and to help tie it together a bit. We also read science stories – we have the StoryBook of Science, which I LOVE, but I will admit the old fashioned language makes it harder for the girls to understand, and also a Christian Liberty science reader. And we read stories and poems – A Child’s Garden Of Verses, Now We Are Six, Milly-Molly-Mandy (LOVE these stories!), Elsa Beskow books are some of our favorites. I wish couch time were longer, but it’s usually about 30 minutes. We try to read aloud later in the day, too.

After this it’s lunch time. The older two girls have some workbook pages they do. Hannah does a Kumon workbook where she traces and reads words, and sometimes a number page. Isabelle does a couple pages of Rod and Staff 1st grade math. One of them works on her pages, while the other plays a computer game like Bella Sara or Quarter Mile Math, then they switch. The little girls usually play or watch a singing movie here.

In theory I have a half hour with just the two older girls before nap to work on music, art, french or math manipulatives, but I don’t often get to this to be honest. I don’t worry, though, as I am quite happy with what we get done in circle, table and couch time!

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Conversations and Strange Happenings

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Conversation in the car:
Juliette: "I want to marry daddy."
Me, chuckling: "Oh, I don’t think you can marry daddy – he’s already married to me."
Juliette: "Mommy, I want to marry daddy at Walmart."
Naomi, laughing uproariously: "Oh, ha, ha, ha, no, no no."
Juliette: "Mommy, I will go to Walmart tomorrow and marry daddy."
Naomi: "No, ha, ha."
Juliette: "Yes, I will (sounds like wiw), I will marry daddy.
Naomi, still laughing uproariously: "No, you can’t!"
Juliette, with a grumpy look on her face, after pondering this for a moment: "Mommy, Naomi mean!"
 
Later at dinner
Juliette: "Daddy, I want to marry you."
Daddy, with a very amused smile: "Oh honey, I can’t marry you."
Juliette: "Yup, you can (sounds like tan). I wanna have go and marry you."
Daddy: "You’re my little girl so I can’t marry you, but I can love you lots and lots."
Juliette whimpers and sniffles rather pathetically . . .  
 
Today in the store we had a bit of a crisis. I saw Naomi briefly stick her finger up her nose, so I told her to take it out and not pick her nose. She started crying and insisted she had to because something was in her nose. I said we would take care of it in the car, but she remained quite distressed. I unfortunately forgot about it in the car, and she didn’t mention it again till we were at home. She was very upset and said there was a shoe in her nose. Not being good at thinking outside the box, I thought for a minute, then asked if her sister had kicked her nose (shoe?). She said no. I asked if she needed a kiss or a tissue, and she asked for a kissue. Assuming she meant a tissue, I brought her one, and she blew enthusiastically. And out popped the last thing I expected, but exactly what she had been trying to tell me: a princess doll’s shoe! Perhaps the trauma will convince her not to do that one again.

Bows And Arrows

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Matt’s just finished building a fence in the backyard, and Isabelle is very excited that she can go out and practice archery by herself now.  Her little "range" is in the perfect spot for me to watch her while I cook, and she and Hannah can take a few minutes to practice on their own. When Matt was showing Isabelle some archery tips, he made sure to caution her to keep her arrow aimed low, for the target, because if it went high up in the air it might come down and hurt someone. She sagely replied: "Yes, it shall soar down like a raven’s wing . . . but it would be a good thing if it hit a burglar." Spoken like a knight’s daughter, I suppose, but I’m glad she manages to keep it to the target! Here are a couple of pictures through the kitchen window – the cloak adds nicely to the elfin effect, I think.

 
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Little Baby Lucy Goose

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I’m such a blog slacker! But at the risk of forgetting all sorts of stories I’d rather remember, I’m determined to press on, however rarely I seem to have the chance to write. Here are some thoughts on babies.

I’ve said before how much I love babies. However, that doesn’t mean that I always find them to be easy! Alyssa in particular is a bit of a spit-fire. A very cute spit-fire, I might add, but rather strong-willed nonetheless. Along the way we’ve come up with some little gimmicks which make our days run more smoothly. She’s the first baby I’ve given regular bottles to. I don’t know if she was hungry or merely appreciated the distraction (I tend to think it started with the former as her happiness greatly increased with the bottles), but she has a bottle each time I give her playpen time. At this point, they’re mostly water (3/4 water, 1/4 milk or formula), but she still loves them. The best part was accidental – on our trip I picked up a few cheap bottles for her, and didn’t realize I had grabbed the slow-flow infant nipples. I was so worried that it would irritate her, but it had the opposite effect – she doesn’t mind at all and one bottle keeps her happy for a loooong time thanks to that slow flow!

I’ve also switched her naps around to help with school. Instead of a long afternoon nap, I put her down after we finish circle time, and she sleeps through the entire rest of our school time – SOOOOO much easier! Then she takes a shorter nap in the afternoon, but all the girls still rest for one hour in common, so I get a bit of quiet.

Lately I’ve grown weary of our rather loud and squawky (on her end, not mine!) wrestling matches in church, and have realized I often spend more time out in the hallway with her than in church. Things like this always creep up on me until I realize that I could attempt to fix them at home (takes my brain awhile to catch up sometimes!) Anyway, I decided I’d had enough of this, and spent the whole of last week making sure I took twenty minutes each day to have her sit in my lap. I decided to keep her awake during school circle time, even if it meant we didn’t get much done for a week except church practice. She got a little swat each time she squawked or squirmed, and amazingly enough it only took a day or two for her to get it. Sometimes I think little ones are just waiting and hoping we will teach them some self control, as they seem so much happier afterward! She loves sitting in my lap now, and I love holding her in my lap. The real test was this past Sunday at church. Matt’s been enjoying sitting in the front row, so I was really hoping she’d remember our practice times. Weeeellll, she did, and she was an angel sitting in my lap. However, just to make sure that her mommy stays humble, or simply because God has a sense of humor, she decided to take the "lawful" route to making sure I didn’t have it too easy. That girl pooped FIVE times while we were at church on Sunday! These were the diaper-filling, too-smelly-to-ignore sorts of poops – I’ve no idea what I fed that baby! So not only did I have to troop in and out of church each time, I also had to beg a diaper off of four friends, since I always bring one diaper and wipes to church – she’s never needed more than that! Trying to be subtle while carting around an odiferous baby and hunting for friends with diapers was not quite the peaceful church picture I’d had in mind . . . .ah well, there’s always next week! Incidentally, to any of the afore-mentioned diaper-loaning friends who might be reading . . . THANK YOU!!!!!

 
Hannah with her connectagons city.
 
Alyssa learned to ride a rocking horse – I think this ended with her falling off, but it was really cute while it lasted.
Ever wonder what my daily "coffee’ looks like – now perhaps you see why I’m addicted!
 
For once I attempted to be crafty – I had all of this purple velvet, so for Isabelle’s birthday I made her and her dolly a matching cloak – goes nicely with her bow and arrow, I think.
The girls were having "chair time" on the floor, and Alyssa thought it was just great – she crawled all over them and gave such kisses as she can manage (a very gooey open mouth pressed against someone’s face!)
She’s also learned to enjoy climbing. I know I should have taken her down rather than taken a picture, and I think this one ended in her falling down, too, but she was "Queen of the table" for a few glorious seconds!
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Naomi enjoying our new flower making school-time game.
Juliette making sure we know she can still do her little crookedy smile.
Have you ever noticed how babies seem to think of their mouth as a third hand? I tried to give her this bear, and instead of putting anything down, she just grabbed it this way. Funny, I wouldn’t think of doing that if someone handed me something.