"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!"
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!


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

"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)