My Adorable Students: Not Back to School Week #3


Not Back to School Blog Hop

Wow.

I can’t believe we’re already at Week #3 of the
Not-Back-to-School Blog Hop.

I’m so excited to be participating this year,
it’s been great reading everyone’s blog posts and
reading your comments here.

But I need to be honest here:
When I first decided to join up with the blog hop,
I was a little nervous about week #3.

Week #3 is Student Photo Week.

Okay, so you might have noticed that I don’t show pictures of my children.
And besides their initial “bloggy birth announcements
their beautiful little faces are creatively shielded from view.
Yes, you might see a hand, or a flash of hair sometimes,
maybe even the back of a head.
But overall they are kept out of the photos I share here.

Why?
It’s simple really.

PRIVACY.

Now don’t get offended here.

It’s Not that I don’t love sharing my life with you.
(I adore our time together here)

But, When I started blogging I simply sat down and weighed the Pro’s and Con’s of
featuring my children online, and through much prayer and family discussion
I came to the decision to keep our family life private.

The bottom line for me was
the whole “reality tv/mommy blogger” connection.
it just doesn’t sit well with me.
It’s a personal decision.
One that every family makes for themselves.

And YES, I realize that it’s much more “FUN” to read a blog where
you can see actual photos of children growing, and learning, and playing.
(I completely understand, I LOVE those blogs too, in fact they are MY favorite!)

So please know that I’m not CONDEMNING or JUDGING or SLANDERING,
Just EXPLAINING why you won’t see actual photos of my kiddos here,
Baby photos and the little cartoons will have to do.

I hope you’ll still read me?

And because I’m not a complete Blog Hop Party Pooper,
And because my children no longer look like this;
I did go dig out some cute baby photos to share with you:
(See, I really do Adore you)

Sissy. Sissy is now 8, and in Third Grade.
She is spunky, bossy, and has a huge heart.
She is a great friend, loves competitions and hard work.
Every year Sissy grows out her hair and donates to Locks of Love.

Bubba. Bubba is now 5, and in First Grade.
The boy is a genius. Boy Wonder.
He is extra confident and secretly a superhero.
He never stops talking. He’s talking to me as I type this.
I. LOVE. HIM.


Monkey. Monkey is now 2, and just starting to talk.
He is Crazy. A Crazy Monkey. A Fearless Crazy Monkey.
Currently, jumping off the couch with a toothbrush in his mouth crazy.


Freckles. Freckles is now 7 months.
He giggles. He crawls. He Sits up.
He eats random Cheerios off the carpet.
He’s a human vacuum. With an output diaper.
He’s perfect.
And I can still smell baby on him.

So there are my adorable students!

At the start of every school year I take them out
to some of the beautiful parks in our town, and stage a
photo session with them!

I’m always looking for adorable school photo opportunities
So, I can’t wait to go gleen all your wonderful ideas for
taking student photos!!

PSSSST:

(You might notice that I just RECENTLY added an actual photo of myself to my blog)

Right there in the upper right hand corner.
I know you thought I was an actual cartoon, but I am real too.
*grins

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Our HS Classroom: Not Back to School Blog Hop #2

Not Back to School Blog Hop

Once again I’m joining up with the Heart of the Matter
for the Not Back to School Blog Hop!

This week our task is to feature our Homeschool Classroom
(Or in my case….lack thereof)

Over the years we’ve had many different methods to our madness,
we’ve actually moved three times in the past 5 years so with each
move, came an entirely different setup.

But we’ve NEVER had an actual ClassROOM.

It’s always been school in our Kitchen and Living Room
which isn’t exactly ideal,
but with a few tips and tricks it’s definitely doable!

First let me say that while I’m thoroughly jealous
impressed with all the amazing photographs of homeschool classrooms I see online,
I simply cannot do that to our Living Room.
(I want to. I DO. but I think in the long run I’d go insane)

So, since our living room cannot LOOK like a classroom 24 hours a day,
I try to keep things tucked away, or disguised, or even integrated
into our living space.

And it took me a while to find a method that I liked,
with things hidden but not so tucked away that it takes a ridiculous
amount of time to get through the day.

So our setup is a bit different then what you might expect,
but it works for us!

Oh! And as I take you through our classroom,
I also thought I’d include a few TIPS to share with you.
Small, Handy little things to keep in mind as you’re planning
out your own school space. Nothing magical….take em’ or leave em’.
(Feel free to leave me your Living Room School tips too, I love new ideas!)

So anyway, without any further ado,
Here is where it all goes down:

The kitchen table.

I put One big kid on each side.
with Mom and Monkey in the middle :)
Baby is on my lap, in a walker, or just maybe even napping!
TIP: Keep kid who needs the most help to the right side. Left if you’re left handed

And here is how I hide organize all of our different resources

Current workbooks and projects are stored in this amazing “Apprentice” desk organizer. I first saw this over on Educating Layton and Delightful Learning and I rushed right out to buy one. (btw: These are at Staples for about $25-$30)

It was well worth the money. This thing holds everything Sissy and Bubba are doing for the day, as well as basic supplies and tools. It Spins, and has handles on the sides so you can pick it up and throw it in your closet when you’re having people over.
Which is exactly where I put it:

TIP: Spend a few moments during the first week of school teaching children where to put their new things back. Do NOT clean up for them…..teach a man to fish is a much better concept. Break time doesn’t start, Lunch isn’t served, and the school day isn’t over until every last paper and pen is put in it’s PROPER place. Eventually it becomes second nature.
(Okay, that’s a TIP for me….wonder how long my house will stay this clean…hmmmm)

Okay on to the school closet:

This is the closet that I recently cleaned out, remember the before pictures? Yup, still clean….Yea me!! And Yea children!!

Our school closet has quite a bit to it:

The bottom levels are dedicated to Monkey (2) who has lots of themed “Big Boy Boxes” I suppose these are like Workbokes, except they have LIDS. Do workboxes have LIDS? I dunno. But these are not really workboxes. They are FUN boxes! These are boxes he can pull out (one at a time of course) and work on while the kids are busy with their school work. Monkey LOVES his Big Boy Boxes, and he is being taught to clean up before he “trades” for another. Yes. A Two-year old boy can be taught to clean up after himself. I didn’t believe it at first, but it’s true.

Some of the different themes I have for him are:

Puff balls w/Ice Cube Tray
Alphabet Magnets
File Folder Games
Blocks
Animals
See & Spell
Board Books
Counting Bears & Cups
Matchbox cars
Education Cubes
Alphabet Matching Game
Wooden Puzzle Pieces

TIP: One trick I only recently learned was to keep his wooden puzzle pieces all together in one box. Then I can easily just slide the boards into the side spaces and not have to worry about the pieces falling out or getting lost or causing mass confusing in the closet area.

Above all of Monkey’s Big Boy Boxes are Sissy and Bubba’s boxes. Some of the different resources I have in those are:

Leveled File Folder Games
Base 10 blocks
Flashcards
Math Manipulitives
Unifex Cubes
Geo Shapes
Rocks and Minerals
Science Tools
Tangrams
Dry Erase Cards
Crayons/Markers/Pencils
Table Top Pocket Chart

TIP: When organizing buy enough containers that you can all of the same color/size. They fit together better, the look nicer, it will give you peace. Got mine from Walmart, $1 each, big ones were $3. $30 makeover.

And let me just say that I love having things organized this way.
It makes it SO simple to grab the necessary tools as we need them.
I labeled each container with laminated flashcards
(Using my awesome new laminator)
and it takes me all of two seconds to find just what I’m looking for.

Okay, that’s all nice and pretty, but now
I’m sure you’re wondering a few things:

Where does she keep all her Teacher Supply books?

Isn’t this THE CRAFTY CLASSROOM….Where are all the craft supplies?

What about all the resources that will be used later in the year?

Where do the children do their online activities?

Where are all the children’s BIG projects, ones that don’t fit into anything.

And for the Love of Peanut Butter what about blogging?

And Here’s the short answer to all of the above: In the Living Room

Okay, that’s sort of a cop out eh?
So Here’s the long answer:

This is my desk. MINE.
Don’t sit in my chair, Don’t mess with my papers,
Don’t put your toys, your books, your trash or your sippy cups
anywhere near my computer and NEVER EVER NEVER play hide and seek
anywhere near this entire corner of the living room.

My desk is not only where I work, but it’s also where I keep upcoming
projects and resources for our homeschool.

It’s also where I blog.
Picture me ignoring that my desk is a mess,
Picture me paying no attention to the gigantic pile of books
that have accumulated across the top
Picture me sipping a homemade Iced Vanilla Latte,
and conjuring up all sorts of funny, inspirational things to tell you about.

Picture me Rollin’
(Sorry, that was a Shout Out to my Bomb-Diggity friend Erica ;)

Sometimes I just can’t help myself.
Ahem.

Moving on…
My children also have their own desk. To share.
(that makes two desks in our living room are you keeping track here?
I swear we have regular furniture too)

This is a smaller desk where the kiddos can do all things on the computer.
Their own computer. (i.e. Not Mine)
They’re happy, I’m happy, Happy computer using family.

TIP: Having a second workstation can do wonders for quieting down your classroom and keeping people happy.

Next to the desk is a junk drawer file cabnient which has become my “catch all” for things
that don’t exactly have a place yet. I repeat this is a “Catch all”, and NOT a Junk Drawer.
Catch – ALL

Come along now…

Most of the current Teacher books that I have are piled on my desk or hidden in this handy little cupboard next the the kitchen table.
TIP: When shopping for furniture, look for things that can double as hidden school storage!

Next to the cupboard is our Kitchen hutch. When my kids do good work on a lesson, I display it on a shelf inside, which has plenty of room for all their craft projects.

They LOVE having their projects displayed this way, like cherished keepsakes….and whenever Grandma comes she knows where to look to see what her little stinkers have been up too.
Me?
I love that my fridge looks like a fridge.

I cannot stand watching art projects slowly slide down the fridge door with each successive slam.
Like nails on a chalkboard.

Is that OCD?
Do you think I’m crazy?
Hmmm….Maybe I should delete that last paragraph before I publish.

(TIP: Keep past projects in a rubbermaid, great to revisit for upcoming lessons…but only keep a few choice items. YOU Seriously don’t need to keep every little dried up corn kernel your kid glued to a empty yogurt container. You’ve got to chuck some of that stuff….lest your neighbor submit your homeschool classroom to A&E’s Hoarders or something.

(I do not speak from experience.)

And finally on to the Crafts. Craft Resources are strategically kept out of the house. I’m so over trusting my children NOT to get into the finger paint, glitter, glue, colored sand, fill-in-the blank with any other craft material you don’t want logged in your carpet, toilet, pillowcase fill-in-the blank with anything that belongs to you and was expensive.

This method ensures harmony and an overall feeling that Life is good.

Okay so that is our entire classroom this year folks!
Hope you found these tips helpful,
or easy to ignore if you didn’t.

Now I’m off to explore some more ideas from all the other submissions!

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Yo Yo Hairbows

Last night, I dared to look into my craft closet.

I know what your thinking…
and YES the entire closet if filled with crafts

It’s nothing special, just a simple linen closet completly devoid of linen.
I love my Craft Closet.
There is a scrapbooking shelf, a sewing shelf, a knitting/yarn craft shelf
and then a shelf of “Open Projects” as I like to call them.

(One shelf actually has linen on it, with a few bedsheets smushed in between a serger and a sewing machine)

Oh, and as you’re reading this You might be noticing
that I haven’t included a photo of these lovely shelves,
It’s not because I forgot.

But Anyway, perched atop the “Open Project” shelf
I found my bag of Yo-Yo hairbows:

yo yo crafts for kids

And like a child who just found a bag of candy treasure,
I got all giddy and excited about this long forgotten project!

You see, I’ve actually been making these for a while now,
(I even sold them in boutique store before we moved)
and now I’m passing the torch, and sharing my super secret
Yo-yo hairbow tutorial
with the public.

(you’ll laugh at that later, because these are soooo easy to make)

In fact these are perfect beginning sewing projects for your little girls!
Which is exactly why I included the tutorials in our new Home Economic
Sewing Projects.

Yo-Yo Tutorial

Yo-Yo Hairbow Tutorial

Happy Sewing!

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Coming in August…..

Hearts speekee

Thanks to our July Sponsors: Hearts at Home Curriculum Store and Speekee

Hearts at Home Curriculum is a fantastic place to do your curriculum shopping, did you know they have Apologia titles at 30% off?

Speekee offers a Free Trial of their online Spanish program for kids! This is a great time to test it out to see if it’s a good fit for your family.

And I want to say a special THANK YOU to everyone for sharing a link to
The Crafty Classroom!
Here are the Top Five referring websites:

Pinterest
Homeschool Creations
Heart of the Matter
Homeschool Giveaways
No Ordinary Moments

Thanks Friends!!!

Okay….so it’s August.
Already.

And besides continuing to homeschool this Summer,
we are also in some serious TRAINING over her:

Potty Training.

Monkey(2) has decided that he no longer wants to be held down by a humongous soggy elmo diaper….instead opting to steal his brothers Spiddy-pants to enjoy the freedom of running through the house, yard, and street at a much faster pace. And then later of course making grand unintelligible attempts at telling me (AFTER THE FACT) of all the strange things that happened on his Spiddy Adventure.

So……It’s time to get proactive here.

(perhaps before his brother catches on that the Spiddy pants are in-fact his and not a new pair I bought for Monkey to to be just like big brother.)

So most of the rest of my Summer (and Winter and Spring) will be spent running around asking, “Need to go pee pee?” “Lets go try potty!” “Time to flush,” “Bye Bye!” and of course

No no NO TOUCH Poo Poo!

I’ll be pretty busy.

But I am hoping to add a few things here and there:

Not Back to School Blog Hop

First, in all the potty chaos I’m hoping that I’ll stay organized enough to participate in the Not-Back-to-School Blog Hop, there are three more weeks covering SchoolRoom, Student Photo & Day in the Life. I simply must get my act together if I’m going to accomplish this.

ten commandment lapbook

And I’m also (hoping to finish in August) a Ten Commandments Lapbook…..nothing to serious, somthing for the little ones to study and hopefully memorize them all. I’ve seen lots of amazing commandment folders and I’m excited to finally cut a file folder into the shape of tablets!
(I’m easily amused, no?)


Also, I’ll be posting more Bible Verse Printables on Totally Tots!
We’re currently on the third CD of Seeds family worship music.

Other then that I’ll be hanging out on Pinterest, and Facebook.…come stop by and say hi!


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10 things I bet ya didn’t know about me….



1. I have my motorcycle licence.

2. I got pregnant within a month of getting my motorcycle licence, so I’ve yet to ride a motorcycle further than a Costco parking lot.

3. I have allergies. I am allergic to whinning, excuse making, laziness, muddy boots, and anything else that the diaper misses. Oh and grass.

4. I really do have allergies. Well I did, and then I didn’t, and then I did again. When I was a child I would get an allergy shot EVERY Tuesday. Then I hit puberty and grew out of them. Life was good. Then I got pregnant and they came back. Booooo. I loathe my Mood-swinging allergies.

5. I only wanted two children. That sounds bad. Let me restate that. I only PLANNED on wanting two children. God changed my heart…and my plans. I’m HAPPY with four. Four is good. Four is plenty. In fact I’m pretty sure that I’d be allergic to Five.

6.I Hate/Love/Hate/Love attention. As a child I was always interested in being onstage. I loved preforming ridiculous Elvis impersonations for my friends and I wasn’t ashamed in the least to belt out my own version of Heartbreak Hotel……complete with leg shaking, hip swaying, stink face

7. I am no longer like that. In public.

8. I have a secret desire to write a book. In fact I’ve already started. But don’t hold me to finishing, I hate deadlines and just might abandon the whole thing all together if I’m pressured.

9. I struggle with Scatterbrain-ness. I simply cannot hold up a “Real-Life” conversation and watch my children at the same time. I’m not crazy. It’s just impossible for me to bounce a baby on my hip, keep my toddler from drowning in the pool, stop my older two from giving each other black eyes, and hold up a decent discussion on politics….Heck, I couldn’t even tell you the colors of the rainbow right now..and the mumbling, and drooling, and half-finished sentences you hear coming from my direction are simply part of my autonomous system and I have absolutely no control over them. Noooo Control. Again, I’m not crazy. Please don’t think I’m crazy.

10. I worry that people will think I’m crazy.



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Coming up in July:

speekee

Thanks to our July Sponsor: Speekee~

You might remember that last month I mentioned Speekee’s new homeschool curriculum? Well it’s ready and LIVE on the site,
so now is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the Free trial.
Here are some details:

“This is a 40-week program divided into 4-day weeks with an activity per day. Most activities are around 10-15 minutes in length and all are very easy to follow. As we are happy to reiterate, there is no need for the parent to have a knowledge of Spanish when using Speekee with their children; teacher and student learn together.”

Here are some screen shots of what you can expect:

(You can click these a couple times to see larger versions)

Needless to say I’m super excited about this!
I don’t know Spanish so I can appreciate the guidance that comes with a program like this.
Starting in September we’ll be using Speekee’s 4 day outline alongside one day of Co-op Spanish class.

And I want to say a special THANK YOU to everyone for sharing a link to
The Crafty Classroom!
Here are the Top Five referring websites:

Homeschool Creations
No Time For Flashcards
No Ordinary Moments
Totally Tots
1+1+1=1

Thanks Friends!!!

Lynn and I are working on a new bible lesson for Preschool Post,
The theme will be Responsibility with a preschool theme of Cats!
We’re placing this into our October lessons, but as always you can use them
whenever you need!


I’ll be posting more Bible Verse Printables on Totally Tots!
We’ll be starting up the third CD of Seeds family worship music.

I also plan to share a little bit about what we’ll be using for our
2011-2012 Homeschool Year…Once I finalize all my chocies that is!

So that’s what’s coming up!
Subscribe or Stay Tuned!


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Getting Right with God….and my closet.

I’m almost to ashamed to post these photos.

It’s like unveiling hidden sin. I don’t want anyone to see it.
I keep piling it in, storing it away, covering it up,
shutting the door tight and hanging a do not disturb sign on it.

But it’s time to let go.
Of the sin.
And of course the actual clutter.

If you’re squeamish, don’t look.

This is RAW footage people:

GASP!

I know right?

Please don’t ask me how this could have happened (again)

I’m sure it boils down to a simple mathmatical equation:

Children + Toys – Patience x Baby – Time + Toddler – Sleep = Mess.

But I’ve seen plenty of HGTV decluttering shows (and Hoarding shows too)
and I know just how to deal with this:

And you might notice that this process is very similar to God’s process for detangling the sin from our lives.

So, we pulled it all out and put it on display,

For everyone to see:

Oh no! Don’t Look!

Okay Look. But scroll FAST

The Horror!

Once you drag everything out, you can see the problem clear as day.
There is no hiding it anymore.

It’s time to get to work.
Slowly removing the unnecessary items

Gathering up what is still useful and good,
and storing it usable and accessible ways.

Then finally we’re left with something much more appealing:

More then we started out with really:

Phew. That was exhausting.
Like a good cry.

I feel much better now.

How about you? Have you decluttered yet?

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