Friday, September 11, 2009


We finally started school this week. Wednesday was our first day, and so far things are going well. It's still a lot to juggle...the care and feeding of Evie, keeping Marc-Adam entertained, and squeezing in everything we want to get done. But we still get everything (or at least the important things) accomplished.

As much as I enjoyed the curriculum we used at the end of last year, I knew we'd have to do something different this year to better fit our needs. I just don't have the time to plan and go into lengthy projects right now. So we're sticking with the basics and hoping that next year we can dive in to curriculum that's a little more in depth (and fun!).

So, this year, we are sticking with Math-U-See for math. We're doing the Alpha book and plan to take it a lot more slowly than we did the Primer. Math-U-See teaches concepts to mastery, not the spiral approach like other curricula and public schools use. So, this year, we have to make sure that Stephen masters each concept before we move on. That wasn't so important last year. The Alpha level teaches single-digit addition and subtraction, skip counting by 2, 5, and 10 (which he's already pretty familiar with) and even has a lesson for "solving for the unknown". There's also some appendices for telling time, which I've been lazy about teaching. Stephen's concept of time is fantastic. He can tell time from a digital clock and gets that when it says 12:30 that it will be 1:00 in 30 minutes and he knows what time something will happen if I tell him "10 more minutes". There's really nothing else I need to teach him about time other than how to read an analog clock (with the arms and all that). He's actually been asking me to teach him that. I might take a few days to skip ahead to the appendices so that he can learn how to read a clock.

We're also sticking with Handwriting Without Tears for handwriting. This year, Igot Zachary the preschool book, which he's excited about. We didn't work much on handwriting over the summer, but I can already tell that Stephen is picking it up much better than he did last year. I think he just needed a little more time. I've read that some kids just can't write well until they are closer to 7 or 8 and I think that's the case with Stephen. It's too early to tell with Zachary.

For reading, I've worked in more independent reading time for Stephen while I'm working with one of the other boys. Then I ask him questions about the book or ask him to tell it back to me so that I can assure that a) he actually read it and b) he comprehends what he read. I personally have issues with comprehension sometimes, so I want to make sure that's not a problem with him. I'm also starting Scaredy Cat (our version is different than the one in the link) with Zachary. Actually we touched on it last year, but I intend to actually finish it with him. He's doing really well with it so far, and is reading many many "consonant-vowel-consonant" words and is fantastic at sounding words out. He's very excited because he gets to get a library card this year (our rule is that you have to be able to read before you get your own library card, before that you have to use Mom's). We also a couple of Explode the Code books, too, that they enjoy doing. We use those to take a break from our normal books and to enforce what they've already learned. In addition, I'm also using First Language Lessons to start learning grammar and parts of speech and such. Those are easy 5-15 minute lessons that we do a couple times a week.

This year, we're using a separate science curriculum. I found out about Apologia Science several weeks ago....I looked into it and thought that it might be good for us, since I didn't want to take the unit study approach this year. I gave the kids their choice of the different science subjects (they could have chosen from botany, zoology, astronomy....and something else I can't remember) and (of course) they chose Astronomy. We did a little bit of astronomy last year, and they loved it, so we're doing it again. For the whole. year. But this curriculum also has short lessons that we do a couple times a week, so it's just small bites of info. I was thinking about getting Stephen a telescope for Christmas (he's been asking for one), but a friend from church offered to let us borrow theirs. I think I'll take them up on it.

I e-mailed our Children's Director at our church and got a list of the bible verses the kids' are covering in Sunday School each week, and it's my intention to go along with those for our bible time each day. And I got Stephen an awesome devotional bible a couple weeks ago, so we've been reading out of that, too, the last couple of days.

As for Marc-Adam, well, he's welcome to sit in quietly on any of the lessons we're doing, but since nothing is quiet about Marc-Adam, he's usually playing, coloring or playing on the computer while I'm doing the other kids' lessons. He also insists on having a workbook of his own. Last year, I just sat down with him with a coloring book and a fat pencil and he was happy with that. But this year, I got him his own workbook about shapes and colors. I also intend on making sure we cover letters and letter sounds with him this year. But really, I think 3 is much too young for a formal curriculum and that kids that age should just be allowed to learn through daily play and interaction, so I don't want to do too much formal work with him yet. I just give him 5 minutes of "workbook" time, so he doesn't feel left out when the boys are working on their handwriting or math.

So. I guess that's it. Even with all that, we still have lots of time for free play and to play outside. I worked out a schedule for us that I wrote up and hung on a wall, and we have yet to stick to it, so I may have to re-work it. And Stephen (being the classic first child he is) is obsessed with it and gets a little upset if we aren't following it. I just did it so we would have an idea of what we should when and to make sure that we fit everything in. But it might be more trouble than it's worth.

I can't believe that we're starting our second year of homeschooling. I don't feel like such a newbie anymore. I think we're really finding our groove, and again, I'm so thankful that we live in a state that allows us to homeschool in the way we feel best and that Sweet Hubby and I can afford being able to to live on one income so that I can stay home and teach our kids. We are so blessed to live this lifestyle. And I can't imagine doing anything differently.

Monday, September 07, 2009

4 months!

My girl is 4 months today. 1/3 of a year. Yikes. She's such a fun addition, and has really just fit right in to our family in the last 4 months. Here's what's up:

* We go to the doctor tomorrow for her 4 month well check, but I had to take her to the doctor 2 weeks ago (because I freaked out over something weird), and she weighed 11 pounds 2 ounces then. Tiny little thing, but still bigger than her oldest (eldest? whatever) brother was at this point. I'll be surprised if she's broken the 12 pound mark by tomorrow. *UPDATE* She only weighed 10 lbs 12 ounces at the doctor's appointment. The doctor wanted to weigh her again...she peed when I took her diaper off and then she only weighed 10 lbs 10.5 ounces. So we'll be working on getting her weight back up. I'm going to start out by trying to feed her more often and hope that she's actually hungry.

* Stephen made her laugh out loud spontaneously for the first time a few days ago. It's so precious to watch her watch her brothers. They are so in love with her.

* She's trying to turn from back to tummy. She mostly does it when she's mad, and she hasn't completely accomplished it on her own yet, but she's trying. It's still amazing to me that she can roll from tummy to back because the boys didn't start doing it till they were a little more than 4 months.

* Nursing is going great. I've recently started to extend the time between feeds to about 3.5-4 hours and she seems to be doing well with that.

* Sleep is fantastic. At least, night sleep is fantastic, and that's all that matters to me. Not long after her 3 month post, she started sleeping 12 hours at night. And has done it every night since. Naps aren't great. They're ALWAYS hit or miss. But I'm not going to complain. I can deal with whatever she does during the day as long as she sleeps well at night.

* It's clear that her favorite place to be these days is in the sling. When she's having a hard time napping, and I can't commit to sleep training in her room for 30 minutes or more, I put her in the sling. The other day, she was screaming when it was naptime, so I grabbed the sling and as soon as I picked her up and folded her legs the way I do just before I put her in the sling, she immediately quieted down and didn't make another peep for an hour until it was time to eat. Sometimes she sleeps in it, sometimes not, but she always snuggles in and sucks her thumb.

* Speaking of sucking her thumb, she's getting really good at finding it whenever she wants it. She doesn't prefer one over the other and she'll even suck on her fingers if they land in her mouth first, but mostly it's her thumb she wants for comfort. She's ALWAYS got her hands in her mouth and it's really cute when she starts sticking her tongue out and you can see it peeking out from between her fingers.

* Even though she's four months now, I have no intention of starting solids anytime soon. Just not ready.

* She's a sweet baby, but she's stingy with the smiles and laughs (but she has gotten a little more free with the smiles in the last couple days). And she's cranky if you take her out of her normal environment for more than just a couple hours. When we went to my parents' house last week for a little vacation, she was a crank for the first few days and by the time we left to go home, she had gotten used to it and was finally acting like her sweet self.

* We're still dealing with reflux and I'm so glad we go to the doctor tomorrow to get the new dose amount for her meds. I think that might be our problem with naps (well, besides the fact that she's spoiled rotten).

* Toys are getting interesting and she reaches out to grab whatever's there and tries to cram it in her mouth. Of course, she does that with pretty much anything within reach, not just toys (my hair, my shirt, the side of my face). But she loves to play on her mat and grab the toys to try to eat them.

* Still in 0-3 month clothes. Not much change there. 3-6 month clothes just hang on her.

Tiara pictures went much better this month...I even got some smiles!!

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