Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back to (home)School!

Last week, we started our homeschool year with Heart of Dakota. Despite being busy, the week went really well. I'm already so thankful that we chose to switch curriculums. Last year, I felt like things were so scattered and disorganized that any change to our schedule would throw me off track. I really value a curriculum that we can pick up and take with us or easily adjust the workload to make up for a lost day here and there because life is on the move!

Anyway, Elsie is officially a first grader, and she's loving it! I am too. We're settling into a comfortable routine of history, splashing it with science and geography, exploring poetry and music, reading the Biography of Helen Keller, and topping it off with handwriting, phonics, and math. Spelling and art is tossed in there as well. Elsie's favorite is reading about Helen Keller. I remember reading her story when I was little so it's amazing to read it again with my daughter. My favorite part is how well integrated the Bible is with the curriculum. She has a memory verse each week, and we're always tying it into the history and poetry lessons we're reading as well as handwriting. Actually, all of the subjects mesh really well and reinforce what we're learning in other subjects. I adore that.

Here are a few pictures from our first week!

We read about pioneers from Spain crossing the Atlantic Ocean to Florida in History. In Science, we learned about some of the animals they would see on the voyage. For this activity, Elsie coated one of her hands in shortening to represent the blubber of a whale. I think she thought I was crazy when I set the container in front of her and told her to stick her hand in as far as she could, lol!

Then, I had her put both hands in a bowl of cold water for a minute.

BRR! That's cold! Can I take my hands out yet?


Which hand is colder? This one! She decided that we weren't designed for life in cold water like whales are.

Claira had a fun start as well. I skipped preschool for Elsie so I'm happy to do some fun things with Claira this year. The preschool program is full of songs, fun finger plays, learning her letters and sounds, and going over Bible stories with some devotions and other artwork and activities thrown in. We learned about the letter A this week. My favorite moment of the entire week was teaching Claira the letter A sound while putting our hands on our cheeks and saying, "aaaaah!" and having Lucy join in with a loud "Aaaaah!!" of her own. Our girls are too sweet!

Here's Claira finding her way around the letter A:

This week is already in full swing so I'm hoping to update the blog more quickly this time! Happy Back to School to everyone!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Your mission, should you choose to accept it...

Today, the girls and I decided to clean out the mini-van. Technically, I decided for them and was pleasantly surprised that they were rockin' helpers. Lucy did her part by sitting in her carseat, happily playing with long lost toys her big sisters were constantly passing her way.

Rewind. Are you one of those people whose vehicles is meticulously spotless? If so, you may just want to stop reading now. If not, forge onward with me! For the rest of us, having your child pull a french fry from the seat of your car when you've been nowhere near a french fry in at least 2 weeks is no surprise. My van has clutter. Lots of it. Or at least it did yesterday!

I can't prove it since I didn't take photos. In retrospect, I should have because as I was cleaning, I was also making a list of everything in the van that didn't belong. Why on Earth would I do that? For a blog challenge of course! That's right. I'm going to type that list out here for everyone to see, and I challenge you to do the same! I hope all of you still come back to read after that!

So, here it is.

17 half-full bottles of water
4 unopened bottles of water
3 baby dolls
a rubber duck
a diaper bag
2 hair bows
5 packages of baby wipes (wow! and I thought I'd need to buy some soon)
a folder
3 blankets
6 dvd's
a ballet bag
11 straw papers
a towel
a washcloth, and no-not a matched set
12 used napkins (okay, so this is just a guess-I didn't count those one-by-one. yuck!)
4 jackets
1 princess wand
a helmet for construction sites (thank you, Jason!)
2 teething toys
a gymnastics leotard
3 hot tamales
2 sticky straws
a Leapster
18 used kleenex (hey, I wasn't counting those out either)
a box of crayons
a pair of scissors
3 pacifiers
a magazine
2 pairs of sunglasses
2 hair ties
a teddy bear
5 water bottles/sippy cups (these made me thankful that we only put water in them--I don't even want to consider the other possibilities)
an empty soda can
23 random tiny toys
4 hair clips
a scrunchie
a sticker book
a single glove (perhaps you have the other one?)
2 tiaras
4 shopping bags
3 bracelets
one of Jason's shirts
one of my shirts
2 of Lucy's outfits (where are we all going without clothes anyway?)
12 pieces of junk mail
3 pencils
7 pens (alright-so I left the pens and pencils out there)
a diaper changing pad
5 headbands
14 half eaten french fries
a fish floatie

Your turn! Please come back and share a link to your blog post with the details of your own mission here. I'll send something fun to one lucky commenter!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Elsie Grace and Patience

For those who don't know, all 3 of our daughters have 2 middle names, the first Biblical (and in our case-all virtues) and the second family. Elsie's name is Elsie Grace Eileen. When she was an infant, dh and I would often say that we should've named her Elsie Patience because she could've used some! She wanted to be taken care of right away, and if you took too long, she'd waste no time letting you know.

I'm happy to report that she's grown a bit (okay, a lot) since then. At 6.5, she's basically the best big sister ever and really doesn't have much of a choice but to be patient. She's a huge help to me and will often sacrifice her turn for the sake of Claira or Lucy. I'm so proud of the young lady she's becoming. She's an incredibly easy child.

Of course, the benefits of an easy child are countless. The drawbacks? Time, or lack thereof, I should say. That old saying "the squeaky wheel gets the oil" definitely rings true. Perhaps there are other drawbacks, but this one, this time, I frequently feel slipping through my fingertips as I try to grab hold of the fringes and hang on tight. Six. Six and a half. Um, she's halfway to her teenage years. Yikes!

Our school year is about to begin, and I know we're on the brink of something so big and amazing. I'm excited and reluctant all at the same time. We're moving beyond that learning to read phase, and there's a whole world about to open up to her. I'm so thankful that I'll be there to witness every step of the way.

In the meantime, I'm living in the moment. It's one of the many reasons why I can't take too many photos. There have been so many times lately that I've taken photos of the 3 girls (NOT an easy task) and much of my time is focused on Claira and/or Lucy. It's easy to get a few good ones of Elsie and be done with her. That's not always good enough though. Yesterday, we had a chunk of time together for photo taking, and we had so much fun. It was refreshing and effortless. I adore her willingness to try out new things with me, and I love the smile that's always on her face.

I'm so very blessed to be her Mama!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Pool Fun

I think all 3 of our girls would agree that we don't spend enough time at the pool. We have one of those rectangular blow-up pools, which keeps Elsie and Claira happy on hot days. We've dipped Lucy's feet in on a few occasions, and she always screams at us in protest. With that in mind, we haven't dared venture into a larger pool with her for most of the summer. At least, not until last weekend.

Some friends of ours invited us over for dinner and a swim. Daddy got in the pool with the big girls so we thought we'd let Lucy give it a whirl, and she was happy as a clam to splash around in the water.

You should see her splash in the tub now! She doesn't leave much water for bathing!

Monday, August 1, 2011

When the UPS guy hands you lemons...

you make lemonade! Right? Isn't that how the saying goes? I know the original most likely doesn't mention the UPS guy, but this little story of mine does. When I checked my email this morning, I couldn't help but revisit the email containing tracking info. for our HOD box. I won't deny that I was giddy with anticipation to find the words "out for delivery" at the top of the tracking summary. 5 hours later, I was less amused. Deliver the box already! I kept thinking to myself.
Finally, during Lucy's afternoon nap, I heard some scuffling outside the front door and sent Elsie down to investigate. She reported the arrival of a big white box and delivered it to me. We wasted no time tearing into it and removing the brown parcel paper wrapped around the books. The books! I adore books as much as anyone, but new books?! Simply marvelous. We examined each one, flipping it over, determining which were Elsie's and which were Claira's. And then came the scrutiny, the furrowed brow, and the realization that something was missing. Math. Backordered.
Did I mention that we're scheduled to start 2 weeks from today. Ugh. I called HOD and received no answer. I should email to find out when we're likely to receive the math. Instead, I'm procrastinating. Well, not exactly procrastinating. Instead, I'm sweetening the lemonade. Originally, I took the easy way out. I chose a curriculum and just went along with their suggested math textbook. Where's the fun in that? Apparently, there is none. It was too easy, and now I'm exploring other options. I'm making lemonade. I'll let you know how it turns out.