Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Connecting as a Family

Being connected and close as a is something we are really focusing on right now and (prayerfully) for the rest of our lives.  Since my oldest is about to get married (and recently returned from deployment to Afghanistan), I have become especially aware of how we can allow our "busyness," personal agendas, and stresses of life, etc. to overshadow us...then, before we know it, our time as caretakers of our children is gone. So, we are making a concentrated effort to enjoy these years. Here are some ways we did that this week: making s'mores over a fire in the backyard, coloring Doodles' hair (no worries..I used.natural and gentle coloring that washes out in 28 shampoos), playing board games together, and reading books together as a family. Here are some of our special moments:

Baby Girl enjoys her "s'more"

Doodles roasts her marshmallow, while our dog LuLu is obviously hoping for a bite, too!

Baby Girl gets a kiss from Daddy

Doodles enjoys her marshmallow
Bug roasted marshmallows, too, but I didn't go outside until after he was finished. I missed the opportunity to get his pic.

Doodles' hair "before" picture

Doodles' "after" picture...she chose to go a little darker. It looks really pretty.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Another Goodwill SCORE!!!

Yes!!! My new obsession is finding awesome things at our local Goodwill stores. Today we scored lots of books, a shirt (with tags still attached), tennis shoes for Doodles, board games, and materials for Baby Girl's Montessori/Waldorf learning. I love bargains!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sweet Moment

Baby Girl enjoying some time with her big, big brother while he is on leave

Our Week

We are still working on Baby Girl's issues and asking God to show us how we can help her. She has her good times and her bad times, and we are just holding her and loving her through it all. I finished reading The Connected Family, and we tried out the suggested "aggression" cookie recipe. They are actually oatmeal cookies, but you can work out your stress kneading the dough by hand, as opposed to using a mixer. Bug helped me make them, and then all the kiddos helped him eat them. It was a nice way to incorporate family time and learning (how to bake, read a recipe, measure, discuss fractions, observe a chemical change.) I played some games with the kiddos, both card games and board games (which involve either reading, memorizing, logic, and/or math skills.) Also, our "fun" math books came, so we'll be looking through those this week & picking activities to do. And, most of all, this coming week will be spent on wedding preparations! That's right, my oldest is getting married this coming weekend. Boy, I'm feeling old now! Seriously, though, my soon to be daughter-in-law is precious, and I am glad to have her officially join our family. Here's to exciting times ahead!

Bug measures and pours ingredients for cookies

I kneaded the dough by hand, working out my "aggression" ;)

Our fun math books:
Math Play for Baby Girl
A Taste of Math for Bug
Sixth Grade Math Fun Activities for Doodles
Math for Every Kid for both Bug and Doodles
I will be posting our activities from these books as we do them. We are looking forward to having fun with math!

Doodles must be sad because I've beaten her in the Twilight New Moon & Eclipse board games three times in a row! :) Have I mentioned our obsession with these books & movies? We are eagerly awaiting the November release of Breaking Dawn Part 2!

Baby Girl with her iPad: she asked for "music," so I played my Playlist for her. Of course, due to her vision impairment, she gets really close to the screen. She does the same thing when she's playing her iPad apps & games.

I get a kiss from Baby Girl after a long day. Precious moment!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Books, books, and more books; plus interest-led learning

Ah, books! We love them. We were fortunate enough to find several good books at Goodwill yesterday, and then we also checked out several more at the library today. In a recent post, I typed a list at the end of the post about topics that we wanted to investigate further. For the next two weeks, we are going to spend time delving deeper into these topics. It is really awesome to watch my children eagerly learn and share their ideas with me. Plus, I am learning more myself. I am currently reading one of my favorite Goodwill finds: The Connected Family. It is a great book so far, and it is full of lots of practical ideas about spending time together as a family. It also has excellent advice and discusses the importance of encouraging and building up one another. One thing that really stuck out at me is to stop what you're doing when your kids ask you to play a game, watch something, etc. Your work will wait, but the kids won't...they grow up all too quickly! So, I'd rather have unfolded laundry and dirty floors than to miss out on opportunities to be with my children. It is okay to let some things slide! Next I am going to read another great Goodwill find: Siblings without Rivalry. I just love it when I find bargain books, especially on topics that I'm currently interested in (which right now is on improving our family's strength and helping us to all have fun and enjoy life together as a family.) And never underestimate your influence on your children! I want my children to see me read and enjoy learning things for myself, too. Looking forward to enjoying the adventures that await us in the weeks to come!

Awesome Goodwill finds for everyone!

Library books chosen by Doodles

Library books for Bug

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Learning Fun with Little Ones

Learning letters and sounds with the iPad (this app is WeeSing ABC's)

Bug helps me teach the little ones outside: we sing ABC's and count while we swing, we talk about going "front" and "back," we talk about the birds we see and how they say "tweet, tweet." We also see and talk about squirrels, grass, trees, flowers, etc.

Glider...we also sing, count, and say the alphabet here, too. Also, we have a small garden you can see in this pic, so we can observe our plants as they grow. There is lots to learn outside!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Great Week

I have so much to be thankful for, but I am especially grateful for three things right now: first, Baby Girl is doing better (although she is still having some issues), my oldest is home and is done with his deployment (YAY), and he is getting married in a few weeks. So much going on! Also, we are having a blast simply enjoying the day-to-day life as a family. We are doing a lot of natural learning right now (and quite often I'm amazed at what my children choose to do and learn on their own), plus we also finished Week 29 of Sonlight Core D+E and Bug did a fun science experiment. Here are some pics of our week:
Bug's welcome home sign...he was SO excited to see his big brother again!

My family is complete again (I'm behind the camera)

Doodles' "inside joke" sign for her big brother

I surround Doodles with a giant bubble...FUN!!!

Bug gets "inside the bubble"

Star Wars battle scene that Bug set up in the dining room window

Bug squirts mustard into ice tray for experiment (freezing different materials)

What we put in the freezer (for three hours) that froze solid: lemonade, mustard, hot sauce, butter, and red wine vinegar; things that did NOT freeze solid: pancake syrup, oil, chocolate syrup

Doodles thought Bug's experiment was gross, and Baby Girl didn't know what to think!

Doodles gets creative in the kitchen...she loves to create and try her own recipes.

Bug was reading this in his bed last night, and he drew the following disastrous events:


Mt. Vesuvius (Pompeii)

Dust Bowl

Friday, May 11, 2012

Learning as a Special Needs Family

This week we've had to do things a little differently. We've had to do a more relaxed school schedule due to Baby Girl's needs. She is having a hard time and is very needy right now...still needing to be held the majority of the day. So what do I do? I hold her. I reassure her. I comfort her. And I love her. Doodles and Bug have been wonderful about helping. They are such wonderful kids. They are learning compassion, love, and sacrifice in a way that most kids don't. I try to see all of the challenges that come with raising a special needs child (and in my older children's case--being a sibling of a special needs child) as opportunities for growth and spiritual maturity and the reminder that we need God's strength each day. We are, as the post title is written, a "special needs family." We are all in this together. We are all taking on the challenges and the blessings that come with it. We've done most of our schooling in the living room this week-on the couch, in the recliner, lying on the floor. It's been very relaxed, but we still got most of our work done. I haven't stressed about the schedule. I haven't fretted when we didn't get to read every book that I'd planned to read. Instead, we did what we could (which was actually quite a lot) and enjoyed learning. And you know what? The lessons my kids are learning about loving others the way Jesus does far outreach any academic goal I have for them. Plus, in spite of the difficulties, we still had fun learning. We even took Thursday and Friday to learn more about subjects chosen by Doodles and Bug. Their topics were quite varied, from Bug's interest in China, volcanoes, cloud bursts, the moon and the planets, all the way to Doodles' interest in fashion, makeup, art, origami, and Twilight. We watched a couple of movies that sparked some of their interests, and then we also read books and found more information about their interests by going online. I have a running list of topics they're interested in that we'll use for part of our summer schedule. This is the list we have so far:
Filling Baby Girl's little plastic pool with bubble solution and using a hula hoop to make giant bubbles
Dog training
Kung Fu Panda
Call of Duty
Star Wars
space shuttle
meteor showers
using his telescope
baking cakes, cupcakes, and cookies

The list is ongoing, of course. We'll add to it as more interests arise. We are still working on completing Sonlight Core D+E and finishing our math books for the year, and we are looking forward to starting Core F in either August or September. But there is no pressure! We just enjoy taking our time and learning at our pace, and we are so blessed to be able to do that.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Homeschooling: Week of April 30

Well, another week is complete! I mostly worked with the older children this week, but they still had lots of independent time. I only did informal activities with the little ones, such as clapping & counting, singing, and cuddling. Baby Girl is still having some issues, so I'm just giving her lots of extra loving, but even then she is learning. She can now count to thirteen and sing her ABC's, just from our informal learning sessions! She picks up so much just living and listening every day, just like the older children. And,  as I said, the older children had lots of free time this week & they came up with some great things to do. They did the usual stuff, like riding bikes, jumping on the trampoline, playing with our dog, and of course some computer and Wii time. They also helped me cook a few nights this week, which is something I love for them to do!  Also, one of the things that they enjoy doing is playing what they call "Our Game." It is quite elaborate and imaginative! I won't go into details here out of respect for their privacy (for some reason they are shy about their creative ideas). But I will say that they role play in the game & it includes "battles" and "treasure seeking." They have even drawn some really amazing maps & battle plans which they showed to me. They play their game outside when weather permits, but if it's rainy, they will play it indoors, too. Perhaps they will give me permission to post some pics of their game, but until then, you'll just have to use your imagination! I do have some pics of the week though. Here you go:

Bug and Doodles work on projects they came up with on their own: Bug is making an airplane (he used the iPad to google information & images to help with his design and Doodles is making a sign to advertise her muffin sale)

Bug paints his airplane

Bug's completed airplane

The sign Doodles made to advertise her muffin sale

Doodles makes her muffins

Doodles reads a book (found in Sonlight's Science F) while she holds Baby Girl, which was such a special blessing since Baby Girl usually wants to be held...but she also wanted her lunch at the same time...and, I may be a pretty cool mama, but I still can't be in two places at once! So, I was very grateful for Doodles' help while I fixed Baby Girl's lunch.

Bug is dropping two small toys: one with a homemade parachute and one see which lands first! This activity is found in one of the Sonlight Science K books.

Self-Care That's Not So Fun

As promised in my previous post, I am now going to talk about self-care that's not so much fun. This kind of self-care involves thin...