"These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." - John 16:33

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Maple Syrup Unit Study

2 weeks ago the kids and I did our first official week long unit study.  Our unit study was on maple syrup and sugaring.  It timed out perfectly that it was sugaring season in our area. It also just so happen that a sugar house about 30 minutes from our home was having an open house (field trip!).  As fate would have it, the day of the open house was the same day that we had scheduled to have spring cleaning done in our house (there was no way I was going to manage that seeing as I'm still behind on laundry from before the baby was born over 6 months ago). This was perfect because we had to be out of the house for the day, and my mother was planning on helping with the kids.

I couldn't find any complete unit studies online for maple syrup but I was able to piece things together using these sites:
Homeschool Share
Scholastic- "It's Maple Sugaring Time!"
Metroparks.com
Homeschoolroom.com
Wartgames.com
Homeschooling.about.com
Kidscoop.com
Cornell Sugar Maple Research Program
Eek Teacher Pages
The Canadian Homeschooler
Word Playhouse

I was also able to get a few books from the library including:
Curious George Makes Maple Syrup
Grandpas Sugar Bush
Pancakes For Supper

The kids had a great time all week cooking with maple syrup, reading, watching videos, doing experiments and making lapbooks on the subject.  We then finished the week with a trip to a Sugar house.  I would consider them maple syrup experts now!

Sassy, checking out the sugar house.


Sugaring equipment

Peanut checking out the process of boiling down the sap

We also had to take advantage of the cow train ride of course!



This was so fun I think next year for second grade I think I'll expand on the subject even further. We had a great time and I will definitely bring the kids back next year. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Baby Update

I plan on doing Munchkin's birth story, but I figured I should do one final catch-up from my blog break seeing as the last time I was blogging I was pregnant.  

My pregnancy was healthy and went very well.  The first three months were filled with exhaustion and nausea, but once I got to the fourth month the nausea subsided and I was able to put my energy back into the kids and baby preparations.  

I had been working once a week as a RN and as soon as we found out I was pregnant, I started to put my paycheck into a savings account to get us used to living without my pay and to buy baby things.  I changed to per diem at work, and 6 months into the pregnancy was able to stop working to enjoy the pregnancy.  Since having the baby we have decided that it is more important for me to stay home full time with the kids.  I gave my notice and I am now officially a SAHM.

We had given away all of our baby things after the birth of Sassy, so we were starting from the bare minimum.  We still had Peanuts crib and mattress, bedding, and Sassy's changing table, but that was about it.  A close friend of ours threw me a baby shower and thanks to our very generous friends and family, combined with the money we saved, we were able to get everything we needed for Munchkin and more.
Here I am at 9 months.  I was SO ready to pop!
Munchkin was born 2 weeks late.  He was 9Ibs 3oz (One ounce less than Sassy's birth weight) and 21 1/2 inches long.  The birth was exactly what I had prayed and wished for.  My recovery was quick and the easiest so far.  He latched on immediately and nursed for almost an hour after birth and has been going strong ever since.
2 Days old
Munchkin's weight gain was fast.  At 4 months old he was 17 Ibs 14oz and now at 6 months old he is almost a whopping 21Ibs!  He is exclusively breastfed (no bottles at all).  We just started solids in the past week or so (at 6 1/2 months old- using a baby led feeding method- whole foods only, no grains).  He is my healthiest and most alert baby so far.  He is such a joy and a blessing to our lives!

Before

He is also a wild man!  I had to share this!

After
"Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him." Psalm 127:3



Friday, March 21, 2014

Our experience starting homeschool-First grade and a new baby.

*This post contains affiliate links.

Starting homeschool was nothing like I thought it was going to be, that's for sure.  I had worked for months and months putting together a plan, curriculum and prepare all the materials ahead of time. I wanted everything ready for us so when the baby came we were ready.  We had been homeschooling for some of preschool and all of kindergarten but this was first grade, and I was nervous. This would be the first year I would have to officially declare our intentions to the state. 

We loved My Fathers World for Kindergarten and I really liked the looks of the first grade program.  I purchased the deluxe version which covered Bible, math, science, history, phonics/reading, and music.  I got additional materials to supplement for geography and health. I set the school room up in stations with additional activities ready to go.  
The kids working s our "math" center.
Playing at the library.
I also went online and found additional activities that the kids would enjoy such as the Home Depot Kids Workshops, pottery making, and a weekly puppet show at our local library.
Peanut at Home Depot

My due date was the end of August, and I had  feeling I was going to go past my due date (seeing as I did with the first two kiddos).  The plan was to start in the beginning of August to get our feet wet for a few weeks.  When the baby came we would take 1 month off and then slowly get back into our routine.  Boy was I in for a shock!  I had a hard time near the end of the pregnancy.  I was having hard Braxton Hicks contractions and they made it nearly impossible to concentrate on what we were doing.  I ended up going 2 weeks past my due date and we only did school for about half that time.  In the first few weeks it became apparent that Peanut did not like our curriculum.  He was bored and wanted nothing to do with it.  Getting him to pay attention was nearly impossible.  


A very frustrated Peanut working on some handwriting.


While the weather was nice we did as much as possible outside which helped.  The kids really enjoyed when an entire day had to do with one subject, almost like a unit study.


Our ant experiment.
Final ant project


After the baby was born, we took our one month break.  My husband had just started back at work, so I took an extra week off before we started back at school.  After many breaks and changes to our curriculum I was defeated.  Homeschooling with a newborn was not an easy task to say the least.  It was even harder because the baby was not taking bottles (and still isn't) and I hadn't discovered breastfeeding while baby wearing.  

A crying baby definitely adds to the frustration and stress for me and the kids.  So I did the only thing I could think of, and that was to pray.  After some thought and prayer (and a break from school) and you know what I discovered? Its not about what I like, its about what they liked.  If they liked it, they would learn! (duh!)  I didn't necessarily need a special room, and things didn't need to be set up like a school.  This wasn't a school, it was their home.  

I sat down with the kids for the first time and asked them what they liked and disliked about homeschool.  Then together we came up with things they would like to do.  What a difference!  We pretty much abandoned the curriculum.  We kept their geography work, health, science, some of their math, some of the art and the music program.  I've been piecing together some Bible work.  Peanut loves computers and his iPad, so why not use it for school?  So now they use their iPads for most of their math and phonics (more on the apps in a later post). We play games, and do crafts and have continued with the library, and the Home Depot Kids Workshops
Peanut at one of the Kids Workshops.
We have also started unit studies and lapbooking as  way to make learning interesting.  They are learning more now than ever, and we are all less stressed.  This week is the first week we are doing a unit study that is almost a full week long (on maple syrup! yum!) and we are having a blast!
A recent trip to a local childrens museum.
I have now started to look at second grade materials.  It might seem a bit early, but its become obvious that we wont be successful with a boxed curriculum and I have never put something together on my own.  I am also looking into some online programs.  One of the programs I am looking into is *K5 Learning.  K5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students. I've been given a 6 week free trial to test and write a review of their program. If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their open invitation to write an online learning review of their program.

I've learned alot about homeschooling in this first year. Actually, much more than I expected.  Now that spring is finally here we can do more outdoor activities, and I'm excited for all the learning fun we are going to have!


God Bless!!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Long time no see...

I know, I know, it's been almost 9 months.  What can I say?  Life happens, and it definitely happened to us! The end of my pregnancy was a whirlwind of preparations, homeschool, birthday parties, ect, ect.  God and my family always come first and so unfortunately a blogging break was needed in order for me to focus on my faith and family.  Now, I feel like things have stabilized a bit, and I have a handle on things a bit more.

My beautiful family
I  started first grade with Sassy and Peanut in the beginning of August to get our feet wet before the baby came. I've learned a lot in this first official year of homeschooling which I cant wait to share.

Learning about ants
They are starting to read!
















Going from two children to three is no cake walk to say the least.  Things are much easier now that little Munchkin is 6 months old and Peanut and Sassy are used to mommy having to give their baby brother more attention than they would like.

I had an organic pregnancy and natural birth, which was amazing. He was born 2 weeks past my due date, on September 10, 2013 and was 9Ibs 3oz and 21 1/2 inches long!  His labor was more than I could have ever asked for and my recovery was amazingly fast.   I'm looking forward to sharing Munchkins birth story with all of you.  I am also exclusively breast feeding which is new to me as well, and thankfully (with a lot of prayer), its going great! 

Munchkin at 2 days old.
I'm excited to jump back in and start blogging.  More catching up coming soon!!

God Bless!

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens..."
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Our Maine Trip

I was excited to travel back to the Llama farm this year.  My husband and I were both in need of a vacation to relax and rest.  It was our last vacation together as a family of 4 so I wanted to make it count.  Well...destiny had other plans that's for sure!  

Packing was much easier this year, mainly because I knew what I was doing this year.  The night before we left Sassy kept us up all night (she's been having issues sleeping, we think it has to do with the new baby coming).  We were exhausted driving up but made the best of it and both of us stayed in a great mood.  The weather predicted rain, which started about an hour and a half into our drive.
Daddy and Peanut at the first rest stop.
We stopped at an LL Bean outlet and visited some trout (which the kids always think is pretty cool) and nana bought the kids some mud boots so they could splash in the rain.

Here fishy fishy!
It was raining for the first 2 days we were in Maine.  The kids went for a walk in the rain and happily splashed in the puddles in their new boots.  We went to a few places in between bouts of rain.  Peanut  was in heaven at Jasper Beach collecting rocks and throwing rocks into the ocean.  The sound of the rocks was amazing.  Unfortunately I don't have pictures.  We brought 2 cameras.  We discovered one camera was missing it's memory card (after we took a dozen pictures or so), and the second camera had it's memory card...but the card was full.  Needless to say, we missed out on pictures that day.

That Sunday Sassy and I awoke with congestion and sinus pressure.  The pollen count was extremely high in the area so it wasn't surprising.  We were happy to see the sun and began the day.  As I was helping Sassy get dressed I discovered she was covered in hives and wheals!  Soon after she developed red cheeks with a hive or two and a dry sounding cough.  Out came the Benadryl!  All I had was Benadryl with artificial dyes.  I don't think Sassy has ever had artificial dyes, and about an hour after her first dose she complained of feeling sick.  We found a local drug store and was able to buy the dye-free version.  She as still "loopy" but wasn't complaining about feeling sick.  The hives continued throughout the day.  As a precaution we spent the day in Machias, which had a hospital.  
Hives and wheals despite Benadryl
We couldn't figure out what was causing the reaction.  She has never has a reaction like this before.  We brought all our own food and all our own bedding which was washed before we left and was all made of organic cotton.  The farm doesn't spray any chemicals.  The only thing we could think of was the pollen.  Our pediatricians office agreed that was the most likely cause.  I was afraid to continue to keep her immune system on "high alert".  She was getting the maximum dose allowed for her age every 4 hours and the hives still continued.  Her cheeks would get red and she would complain of a "sick mouth".  The Llama farm was 30 minutes away from the closest hospital and we decided to pack up and leave that night.  So, at 7 pm that night we packed up the car and made the 6 hour drive home.  We kept a close eye on her the whole way home and at 1 am Monday morning we were home.

Sassy slept in bed with me that night so I could keep a close watch over her.  Less than 24 hours her symptoms resolved and she no longer needed Benadryl.  I started her on some Live Life to help clear all of the chemicals from the Benadryl from her system.  My husband wasn't back to work until Wednesday so we tried to make the most of our time together.  It was raining (of course, because it was sunny in Maine by that time!), so we took the kids to the mall and out to eat.  When the rain stopped we brought them to the park to play soccer.

Out playing soccer
Tuesday night we got ingredients to make pizza.  I made some gluten free dough and let them make their own personal pizza's.  Despite having to cut our Maine vacation short, they seemed to still have fun which is all we really wanted.
Making Pizza's!
Our vacation definitely wasn't what we planned, but we still had fun together as a family. We were able to look on the bight side and are thankful that Sassy's reaction didn't get any worse than it did. It was bittersweet for me.  In 10 weeks we will no longer be a family of four, but will be a family of 5!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Baby Update!!

I'm happy to announce that we are having a boy!  We have decided to to things differently than we did with the first 2 children we had.  One of which is to have only one ultrasound.  Naturally (because I'm not a fan of surprises) we made sure to also find out if the baby was a boy or girl.  I thought for sure it was a girl, my husband thought for sure it was a boy.  I was right with Peanut and Sassy so I was bound to be wrong at least once!  Everyone has a 50/50 chance at being right or wrong I guess.  The ultrasound showed he it on target for weight and everything looked healthy (which obviously made me very happy to hear).  

Peanut is VERY excited to have a baby brother on the way.  Sassy, although happy to have another sibling was a bit disappointed to find out she was not going to get a baby sister.  She has already put in her request for a baby sister the next time around.  I told she would have to wait to see if God chooses to give us another miracle, and even then, it's no guarantee we would have a girl.  

We name all of our children after admirable people in the Bible and so this little munchkin is no different.  Of course, we keep the kids real names under wraps online so I can't really tell you his name.  For the blog, I'm thinking "Munchkin" is a good name for him here.  I can tell you his name means "dove" so I'm hoping for a peaceful baby.

No one has come out and asked me yet, but I'll put it out there for those of you who are wondering.  Am I a little nervous having another boy (because we have 2 children who are diagnosed with Autism and the rate of Autism is higher in males than females)?  Honestly...no.  My husband and I had many talks about the possibility of having another child.  After much discussion we decided to throw caution to the wind and if it were meant to happen it would.  In the mean time I made sure to start eating healthier and eliminated as much environmental toxin exposure as possible.  I researched a bit and planned in the event that I did get pregnant, and we patiently waited.  This baby finally came after many months (about 6 or so) of prayer.  I have faith that what ever God intends to happen, will happen.  Its in God's hands and for me, letting God have control of your life is the best choice to make.  I have faith that our little Munchkin will be a happy and healthy child of God.

Introducing our little Munchkin!!!

" We live by faith, not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7

Monday, May 6, 2013

Planning...

SO I keep posting about how crazy I feel my life is and then stop posting.  To be honest I think I needed a blogging break, but I really do want to get back into it.  I was able to take some time and sit down and try to get things in order to give myself a clear view of what I needed to "see".  I'm now hoping to get back to blogging.

I have been working hard at making lists and preparations for our home and family.  They are all still a work in progress, but the gears are starting to turn.  I have 3 weeks left to work and then I officially go Per Diem.  I'm not so sure how it's going to work out yet.  I'm not completely quitting work, but taking a break for now.  I'm calling it my "extended maternity leave."  I'm not due until the end of August but I'm going Per Diem at work in June to give me more time to spend with my family.  I will not be working at all  until the baby is at least a few months old.  After that I may pick up a shift or two here and there to cover vacations.

We have another trip Down East planned in June which I'm very excited for.  In all the baby planning and prep I realized I haven't sat and planned out the trip to Maine yet.  We've done it before so I'm thinking it will be easier to prep for this time around now that I know what to expect.I'm hoping to post some more updates on how I'm preparing, the baby, the kids etc.

I pray you're all doing well!!