Posts Filed Under Homeschooling

Why Is Music So Important?

by bosssanders on July 31, 2015 with no comments
Please welcome our guest poster, Amy Allen!  Amy Allen has a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education and a certified Harmony Road Music teacher and opened her own authorized Harmony Road Music Education Center in Western KY.  Amy has spent many years serving others through her gift of music.

In the last 30 years that I have been teaching music to children, I have seen the ebb and flow of school funding for music programs and instruction nationally. Early on, music programs in our schools were seen as fluff and considered to be extracurricular activities. As a result, when communities saw tough times financially and school funding became scarce, and when the demand for higher academic standards increased, I saw schools cut their music education programs. For the last 15 – 20 years, however, we have seen study after study reinforce the value of music instruction on brain development, social development, and especially spatial-temporal intelligence, and national standards for education have begun to include arts and music components, requiring all schools to make these disciplines a part of their offerings. Today, however, we stand again at a crossroads. Hard economic times and the decrease in federal and state funding is once again causing our schools to get creative with how to best educate our students, and schools are being expected to do more with less.

The value of participation in music for every child has not lost its importance, however; in fact, its impact continues to be reinforced by the research — more and more, we are seeing that music is not just a nice thing to learn, but an essential ingredient of a person’s education and development.

For example, a simple search on the internet about the effect of music on brain development and education from early childhood to adulthood will yield the following studies and observations from top researchers and writers:

  • A 2-year study with preschoolers led by behavioral psychologist, Frances Rauscher, and physicist, Dr. Gordon Shaw, compared the effects of certain types of instruction and activities on intellectual development. Four groups of students were given either piano/keyboard lessons, singing lessons, private computer lessons, or free-play time for 20 minutes, 5 days a week. At the end of 6 months, the children were given tests to measure spatial-temporal ability. Those children who received the piano/keyboard training performed 34% higher than the other children.
  • In another study, students with music training scored an average of 52 points higher on the verbal portion of the SAT and 36 points higher on the math portions of the SAT than students with no musical experiences.
  • In the March 1999 issue of Neurological Research, a study showed that a group of second and third-graders who learned eighth, quarter, half and whole notes, scored 100% higher than peers who were taught fractions using traditional methods.
  • Again, Dr. Gordon Shaw conducted research with 2nd grade children who were given 4 months of piano keyboard training, as well as time playing with specially-designed learning software. Those given the training scored 27% higher on proportional math and fraction tests than children who had not received training. Dr. Shaw said of the results, “Piano instruction is thought to enhance the brain’s ‘hard-wiring’ for spatial-temporal reasoning, or the ability to visualize ratios, fractions, proportions and thinking in space and time.”
  • A March 2010 article by LA Times columnist, Melissa Healy, reporting on research about music and the brain states, “Five months after we are conceived, music begins to capture our attention and wire our brains for a lifetime of aural experience. At the other end of life, musical memories can be imprinted on the brain so indelibly that they can be retrieved, perfectly intact, from a mind ravaged by Alzheimer’s disease. . . . But for all its beauty, power and capacity to move, researchers have concluded that music is little more than ear candy for the brain if it is consumed only passively. If you want to sharpen your senses, boost your ability to focus and perhaps even improve your memory, the latest word from science is you’ll need more than hype and a loaded iPod. You gotta get in there and play. Or sing, bang or pluck!”
  • An article published in the May 2012 Developmental Science journal states that infants who participate actively in musical experiences show “superior development of pre-linguistic communicative gestures and social behavior” as compared to their peers who only experience music passively. We are finding that actively musical babies are more skilled at communicating too!

Why these results and emphasis on active music-making? Neuroscience shows us that our early experiences, notably those from birth to age 6 determine which brain cells (neurons) will connect with other brain cells and which ones will become inactive. The more neural connections that are generated, the more learning that takes place, and the more capacity for intelligence built in the brain. The experiences with active music-making build connections of brain cells in a way that few other disciplines will because it is so multi-sensory, involving the ear, the eye, the tactile-kinesthetic, and the whole emotional sensory processing. Music is also organized mathematically. The rhythms in music are mathematical—the meter in music is mathematical—even the frequencies of the vibrations of musical octaves are mathematically related. No wonder the data supports using music instruction to reinforce and build math skills! But that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

Yes, music has the power to bridge into the mind like nothing else. It is a unique discipline that provides multi-sensory information at the same time with the same set of perfectly-ordered (mathematical) information. By not providing active music-making experiences for our children in our schools AND in our homes, we are missing out on one of the greatest possible gifts we can give our children—a well-developed, organized neural network brought about by continuous exposure to, and participation in music. Music is not just a nice thing to do with and for our children. It is essential!

Become an advocate for music education in your school and community, and even better, “sing, or bang, or pluck” side-by-side with your child! What better way to encourage and motivate them to be actively engaged in music and to build your brain power too!

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A Day In The Life (Homeschooling 2015-2016 edition)

by bosssanders on July 27, 2015 with 4 comments

I’ve had a lot of requests lately to post our schedule or “routine,” if you will.  I cringe at the word schedule, because with 5 littles ages 1 – 8 spanned over 4 teaching levels, keeping an EXACT schedule is near impossible!  But, we DO have a general routine that we follow most days.  This routine solves the confusion, and helps me address the many things I need to do day in and day out (bills, menu planning, starting supper, homeschooling, keeping our home, writing, studying my bible, etc.)

6:40 AM – My alarm clock goes off.  I check my phone for important emails, messages, and may even scan facebook for a few minutes (if I do it on my phone, it’s more of a hassle, so I’m less likely to get sucked in.)  I do this for a few minutes to help my brain “wake-up).  Then, I get my morning dose of God’s word.  –Lately it’s been Jesus Calling Devotional or just a Proverbs a day.  I always find ONE line to meditate on throughout the day.  This keeps me grounded.  (Some days I do more in-depth study during nap time, as well.  But, this daily dose in the morning is just enough to hold me over in case my best plans go haywire!)

7 AM – Get kids up and I take my shower.  The two 8 year olds help with getting the younger kids fed and ready.  The “bigs” have a list on their doors of things to do each morning.  They also know how to clean up after themselves, so rooms should be tidied and kitchen table and dishes all cleaned off.  I also start supper if I need to.

8 AM – School begins!  It takes me a couple of weeks to get into the groove with new curriculum or a break, but this is what we end up with.  During this time, the 1 year old gets toys in the playpen (which is in the middle of our homeschool room so EVERYONE and EVERYTHING can be seen.  He loves to watch and play and talk to everyone.  The 3 year old starts off drawing, playing with Play-Doh, an educational show on the IPAD, or a Montessori activity.  We begin with subjects I need to teach the bigs actively.  They also get a list or a folder of assignments to be completed.

9 AM – Somewhere in here is about when we get to our first homework “break” –Which is really a break for ME and homework for them.  It’s part of the time where they are working on their math homework, worksheets, etc.  THIS is where I take time to work with my three year old.  These are still my favorites for Pre-K age.  Right now, I’m working with him on ABCs sooo very slowly :)  He also sits in on Bible lessons with us.  One year old gets a break from being confined to playing in the playpen and we do age-appropriate Montessori activities.

10 AM – More active work (teaching) with the bigs.  By 10 or 10:30, we are getting around to the individual grade level instruction in language arts and math.  I will get one kid started by teaching/explaining and then have them begin homework and move to next kiddo.  I cycle around several times.  My 3 year old has an “activity” he’s participating in.  Depending on his mood, I may set it up entirely (like, Montessori) OR he may choose to use our geometric blocks to make shakes, play with puzzles, play with his cars…or, like today… build a fort in the living room while pretending (ever so quietly) that he’s going to capture all of us.  Our one year old is playing in the playpen with a fresh array of toys or getting a snack right about now.  :)  Or, he and I catch up on some snuggles while I teach.  Any kids who finish early get to go play with the younger ones.

11 AM – LUNCH TIME – We eat a quick lunch and then get back to finishing our work.

11:30/Noon – USUALLY, we are mostly finished with the “desk” work.  We may have a couple of stragglers with homework, and they will get that finished on their own for the most part.

1 PM –  If we have any special projects or science experiments or science projects… we do them during this time, generally.

2 PM –  4PM –NAP TIME!  Depending on the day, I do different things during this time.  I have days set aside for deeper cleaning, errands, planning, writing, hobbies, etc.  If it’s a deep cleaning day, the older kiddos may go down for nap 30 minutes after the younger kiddos so they can help me clean a few things.

4 PM – If a kiddo still needs extra time to complete an assignment, they may do it now.  Otherwise, it’s free reading time.


7 PM – Clean up, dishes, etc.

8 PM – Bedtime

**Occasionally, we’ll have a little one who REALLY struggles with a concept.  On those days, if we have quiet time, I’ll work with them while the other kids nap (unless by that point *I* really need a break).  OR, daddy will work with them right after supper (or, I will if I need to RETEACH the lesson).

I hope this helps.  What are YOUR routines/ schedules like?  What do you struggle with?  What have you found that works really well?


FAQ – The Homeschooling Edition, PART 2!

by bosssanders on July 6, 2015 with no comments

If you missed PART ONE, you can find it HERE!  Go on over and read the first part and I’ll wait here.

Okay, are you ready?

Here we go!

How do you weed through curriculum to decide?
I weigh several factors when choosing curriculum:

1.  The cost.  Also, what is the value of everything I’m getting?  If it’s a curriculum, is it priced in a way that is cheaper than if I bought it separately, and if the curriculum publisher wrote their own books, are they priced and of the same value as others I can get?  (Some families also choose materials with high re-sell value.  Personally, we don’t re-sell ours just because…I’m a nerd and …yeh.)  I don’t have a “that’s overpriced” amount…I just look at all of the things that are included and decide if I’m willing to/can pay that amount.

2.  Time to plan.  Some curricula require a LOT of planning and gathering.  Others are more pick up and go.  I prefer 80-90% pick up and go and 10-20% planning (in the form of special projects).  HOWEVER, I did more planning when we only had ONE child in school and I may be up for more (or not) when the kids can help a little more.

3.  Time to do.  How long does it take to get through a day’s worth of curriculum?  Again, I have 4 kids.  I can’t do 4 separate 8 hour days.  Mathematically, it just won’t happen.  I need a curriculum that VALUES my time and carefully chooses the BEST resources to help me teach them rather than lots of fluff and time-wasters.

4.  Does it fit in with our family values and beliefs?  We wanted something that would help us teach from a Christian background… THAT was important to us.  Whatever is important to you, make sure your curriculum fits in with that.

5.  Learning Styles – Does your curriculum utilize the learning styles of your children to help them learn?  We try to find curriculum/resources that bring in a little bit of everything.
- Visual (learn with pictures)
- Aural (auditory – learn with sound/music)
- Verbal (words in speech/writing)
- Physical (hands-on)
- Logical (logic/reasoning/systems/mathematical)
- Social (learn better in groups of people, with others)
-Solitary (self-study)

6.  Do you prefer a Charlotte-Mason or Classical approach?

7.  How does this Curriculum fit in with several kids in different grade levels (if applies)?  For example, some curricula are for ONE GRADE…so, trying to take 3+ kids through SEPARATE studies could be a lot.  Or, my favorite is the cyclical approach (like My Father’s World uses).  Go HERE for more info on MFW cycles.

8.  Do you need extra guidance to teach certain subjects…do you need teacher books that will tell you what to say verbatim?  Do you prefer certain subjects to be taught via online or dvd to your children?

9.  Do you want something “accredited?”  –This is not a big deal to us.  In our state, we are considered a private school and even if we choose to homeschool through high school, MANY colleges easily accept homeschooled kids.

10.  Do I have to depend on lots of library books?  Our library doesn’t have what we need by way of learning books MOST OF THE TIME…so, a super cheap curriculum doesn’t do me much good if I can’t get all of the (or most of the) books.  If you have a GREAT library and don’t mind being there a lot, this could be a great asset for you.

How much prep & planning does mom need to do 1) before each school year 2) each week?
Really, it depends on which curriculum you choose.  I’ve tried some where I planned more than I was able to teach (so we decided to only use certain activities to supplement and have fun with).  What we use now is pretty pick up and go.  For ME, the most planning I do before the school year is decide which curriculum I’m using, which major school supplies I need (paper, ink, new scissors, pencil sharpener, binder, etc), and I glance through their books.  I make sure I have everything I need and try to get a bit of a feel for how the books work (we also try to start a couple of weeks early to give us time to learn how it’ll all flow.  This way, we can take one week and do it over 2 weeks and nobody is stressed, and by the end of 2 weeks, we’re ready to ROLL!  Also, I look over the main points of what we’re studying…like, for this year, we are studying biomes and countries/cultures.  SO, I’m on the lookout for cool things related (think: fun things from EPCOT countries and asking friends to bring back a couple of goodies from their travels).  I keep a running list as I think of things.  OH!  Also, I pick a planner.  Which, I have a favorite one, that’s free … so, I’ll use that until she quits offering it FREE!  For each week, I simply look at the materials needed for the week and make sure I have them and sit down at some point to write in grades.  If I want to add any extra things in (hello, Pinterest!), I will plan for that, as well.  Again, though, this is because MFW takes much of the planning and does it for you (but easily modified).

Will you homeschool my kids? No, seriously, that’s the question.  :)
This seriously made me laugh.  Call me.  lol :)

How do I get started?
I’m assuming you’ve already prayed about it and talked to your spouse… so, I’m starting AFTER that:
1.  Look up homeschooling laws in YOUR state.  I like this site:
2.  Find a support group for homeschoolers close to you.  We have a group and they have been awesome at walking us through questions, and it’s GREAT for doing things together as groups!
3.  Consider signing up with HSLDA – they are attorneys who work for homeschoolers and can answer any homeschooling LEGAL questions AND represent you if you ever need it.  They are a WEALTH of information.
4.   Choose your curriculum (see above for my tips for choosing curriculum)

Do you have any extra tips?
- pair older kids with younger kids as “learning buddies.”
- start a week or two early to get your “groove” on without stressing.
- Basics first.  Then, extras.  Do your math, language arts, history and science.  THEN the other stuff.  And, if it’s a really bad day… focus on the math and language arts.
- Don’t do anything for your kids that they can do for themselves.
- Have fun.
- Don’t compare.
- For more than one child, try giving one child an activity/work that they don’t need your help with while you teach the other child (math/language arts), and then vice versa.  It helps a TON in our house.
- Also, we really like  There is a free version PLUS an app (ipad).  It’s GREAT for 2nd/3rd graders and UP.  I plug in my 3rd grader’s spelling list once a week and she plays games all week to learn the words.  Then, at the end of the week, she does a test on the site (or, I give her one, depending on the week).  And, BAM!  Spelling is finished!

Do you have any tips you would give?
Have any questions?
I’d love to hear from you!


FAQ – The Homeschooling Edition

by bosssanders on July 6, 2015 with 2 comments

I was recently asked to write a FAQ about homeschooling – and, so …here it is!  This isn’t a “I have everything PERFECT – LOOK AT ME!” post.  This is also not a “Homeschooling is better than Private or Public Schooling.”  I have many friends who are educators in many different arenas and we have friends with children who are coming from all sorts of educational backgrounds.  It’s more of a … “This is how we do it and are mostly sane.”

Is homeschooling “hard”?
I struggle with answering this one.  It’s really complex.  Is it CHALLENGING?  Well, sure.  (Have you ever worked through reading with a first grader as they learned to read?)  So, if my “hard,” you mean “challenging”… then, yes.  If you mean “hard” as in… knowledge hard (beyond how do I not lose my mind while they take 10 minutes to read one word out of 100)… not so much (ESPECIALLY if you find a great curriculum).

What qualifies you to be a teacher?
Usually, this question is asked with a mix of snark and just plain rudeness.  They don’t actually want an answer.  In that case, my answer is different.  But, for those who actually want to know if they are “qualified” to teach their kids…
I’m their mom.  I live day in and day out with them.  I know what they excel at and what they don’t.  I can teach them and mostly not go crazy.  I am mostly patient (until I’m not).  And, I know how to do all of the things they’re required to learn from now until end of Senior year in High School.  –But, even if I didn’t… there are self-teaching curricula that you can buy.  My kids thrive with one-on-one teaching and have been able to maximize their potential.

How much does it cost to homeschool?
Technically… you could do it for almost free if you don’t count paper, pens, gas to the library, internet, and netflix, and possibly a printer/ink.  I’m too type-A to piece together my own curriculum, though.  Personally, I need to know I’m doing as good or better than what they’d be getting in public/private school (I have high expectations of myself)… I’m not saying this is what you should do…this is just MY personality (right or wrong).  For OUR family, we SPEND around $40 for 3 kids for regular school supplies and around $400/year for curriculum.  Plus, I add in a few extra books.  So, $500 approximately for 3 kids PER YEAR …and I can re-use everything except for a couple of cheap workbooks.  If we do field trips and what-nots, that’s extra.

Which curriculum do you use?
We use My Father’s World.   I’ve “experimented” with and researched others, but this is my favorite (so far!)  I LOVE all things educational and book-ish (so, if you are publisher and want us to review your curriculum, send it!).  The kids like, I like it… we’re all happy.  It has the perfect mix of hand-on and living books/reading and it really just gives you the best BANG for your time.  So, you learn more without doing ridiculous amounts of STUFF.  Also, it’s mostly pick up and go… which is important for our family.  We can take it when we go out of town or WHEREVER we go.  It also allows me to homeschool my children in “cycles,” meaning I don’t need a different curriculum for each kid.  They all learn science, history, geography, art, music, and the bible TOGETHER.  Then, we repeat this cycle in a couple of years, so it really “sticks.”  They have different leveled language arts and math books/workbooks that they work out of.
Currently, we are Exploring Countries and Cultures!

Which Subjects do you teach?
Depending on your state, you’ll be required to teach different subjects.
For us, we teach: Science, Math, Language Arts (Grammar, Handwriting/Cursive, Spelling, Reading), History/Social Studies, Art, Geography, Music, Life Skills, and Bible.

Don’t you worry your kids will be socially awkward/not socialized?
Um…no.  I know quite a few socially awkward people, but none of them were homeschooled.  I think a lot of it depends on their parents.  Anyhow, my kids have MANY opportunities to play with friends.  They even play on sports teams.  They practice manners and “socialize” with a HUGE range of ages very often…at least several times a week (if you don’t count the DAILY interactions required of being a family of 6).

Do you test your children?
Yes.  all the time.  Although, we don’t do the big standardized tests because they don’t give a full picture of where a child is.  They get quizzes and unit tests, though, so I can track their progress and see which areas we may need to spend more time on or re-visit.

What does your schedule look like?
We don’t have a “schedule” as much as we have a routine.  I tried using a schedule, but every time it got off-track, I’d feel like a failure…I just don’t like the rigidity.  SO, instead… We usually try to start school at 8:30 AM.  We usually do BIBLE, then MATH (because they are “freshest” in the morning)…then, LANGUAGE ARTS… then, HISTORY, GEOGRAPHY, and SCIENCE.  ART and MUSIC are generally last.  Typically, I get my 1st graders started on math and then get my 3rd grader started on her math.  As their math gets harder, I may have to do something differently so I can offer them help as they need it… like, let one read a school book or do easier practice problems or spelling work on the ipad while I’m teaching another child their math.  USUALLY… we finish up around noon or 1PM for lunch.  We eat, they take naps (or read in bed), then we do art, music, extra reading, geography games, or work on life skills in the evening.

When does your school-year begin?
Depends on when we get out of school.  USUALLY, we start the beginning of JULY.  This year, we finished up early May so we started back up last week (mid-June).  It gives us a HUGE buffer for when things come up (like trips or sicknesses or life changes).  OR, if we come to a subject that the kids just really want to dive deeper on, we have time to do that, as well.  We can take off all of December, if we want and on our birthdays…which is pretty cool!  (There is a minimum number of school days required by the state and we MORE THAN cover those…usually we have about 50% OVER the minimum.)

How do you teach 4 kids?

I have a toddler, two 1st graders, and a 3rd grader.  Technically, the “toddler” isn’t really taught beyond practicing fine/gross motor skills, counting/alphabet and trying to keep him from dumping things out of boredom/anger.  My 3rd grader is a pretty fluent reader, so she helps her younger siblings practice reading.  She can also help them with math.  It’s a win-win for all of us.  They love it, she loves it, and mommy loves it!  We have a basic “buddy” system in general that helps with everything else… the oldest girl is paired with her younger sister and the oldest boy is paired with the youngest brother.  (Also, I mentioned the “cycle” system, which helps a TON.)

What do you do over the summer?
Over the summer, we don’t really have a set routine (other than when we start our day, nap-time, and meal-time ranges).  This year, we kept working on reading and math workbooks.  I also asked all of the kids to give me a suggestion of what they’d like to learn about (ex. whales, castles, snakes, etc.)  Then, for each week, my goal was to focus on one subject (using library books, websites, documentaries/youtube videos, movies, etc) AND one life skill AND a creative play activity.  It’s been pretty freeing and lots of fun!

How do you feel good enough?
Ah, well… how do we ever feel good enough about anything?
Honestly, for me, I give it all back to God.  Every morning, my husband and I pray together that I would have peace and patience and that God would make sure our children will get whatever they need from our homeschool day.  Second, I really feel comfortable with our curriculum.  Third, my husband and I both agree that I can’t homeschool AND vacuum/clean house at the EXACT same time.  AND, when we are home ALL day, we make bigger messes.  Which means… we have to expect less.  I can teach our kids OR I can clean.  Granted, I do clean and cook many nights (via crockpot and fast/easy meals that I post on here), BUT the house isn’t spotless.  We both agree that our kids’ hearts come before the chores… and because we are in agreement, it’s easier to not feel like I’ve failed.  As far as feeling “good enough” to teach your children?  Let me just say this, dear mama.

You ARE good enough.
I’ve had some really great teachers and some that were not great at all.  You know what the difference between them was?  It wasn’t how smart they were or how many facts they knew.  It was how much they cared and how much effort they put in to making learning special for me.

They worked their bums off, and I knew it.  They cared about me.

Who else is more QUALIFIED than a child’s mother to LOVE them and teach them to love learning?  –I have some GREAT friends who are teachers, and THIS is why they are great… because they LOVE their students and help them to LOVE learning.

Don’t worry about doing it all or not doing enough.  Choose a curriculum that you feel comfortable with and have researched and then just trust God.  The first few weeks will be the “figure it out” weeks, as I call them.  They are the ones where you begin to learn to balance your homeschooling schedule/routine.  After that, you will slowly learn how to add back in the other things like cleaning/cooking/life with homeschooling.  Stick to the basics FIRST and once you’ve got those down, THEN you add in the art/music/field trips/pinterest ideas/crazy science experiments.


Do you have any other questions not listed above that you’d like to ask?
Or, do you want to link your own FAQ up in the comments?
I’d love to hear from you!

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by bosssanders on July 29, 2014 with 2 comments

We have GREAT days where we zoom through school at lightning speed.  There are days where I feel peaceful and full of joy.  Other days, I feel like we are struggling just to all make it to the end of the day, alive…much less with peace or joy.  For the days when you feel like you’re doing it all wrong and that you are the only one bordering on insanity, feel free to come back to this post.  Please know that the following is not my EVERY DAY… but these days come and go.  It’s just part of the season of life that we are in right now… with a newly adopted 7 year old boy, 5  and 7 year old daughters, and 2.5 year old little boy.  Some days… we even call it quits and start over the next day.

**The following contains sarcasm and humor.  I do not hate my life (although occasionally I question whether I can both homeschool and keep my sanity and be a good mom all at once).

8AM – I slowly reach beside the bed for my phone to check the time.  I’m just now getting out of bed, a full hour later than what I normally aim for.  But, the toddler was up throughout the night, fussy (he has a cold-like virus) and I’d gotten in late from a meeting.  I debate pretending having never seen the time and just pulling the sheets over my head and falling back to sleep.

8:03 AM – I lost the inner-debate.  I’m up.  I open my door and tell the kids to get up and do their morning routine (brush hair and teeth, get clothes on, take any meds, and eat their breakfast –apples and peanut butter this morning).  Then, I get in the shower.

8:30 AM – Technically, I’ve showered all of me… but, the tub floor seems really appealing… what if I just lay down for JUST a few minutes?

8:31 AM – The shower flickered cold and I change my mind.  I get out and check the rings under my eyes in the mirror.  Then, I realize said rings are really just a smudge of leftover mascara.

8:45 AM – I’m dressed (in clean pajamas.  Because I can.).  I open my bedroom door and am hit by a very strong smell of peanut butter.  This is never good.  Then, the toddler runs down the hallway to show me something.  He painted his shirt while I was in the shower.  With peanut butter.  And his arm.  And his leg.  I tell my 7 year olds that they are now banned from peanut butter since they let the toddler bathe in as I make my way back to the bathroom with said toddler to give him the fastest shower known to man.

8:48 AM – I pull the toddler from the shower while he complains that he wasn’t “finished” (i.e., didn’t get to dump water all over my floor with the neti pot.)  I wrap him in a sweet pink hooded towel and lay him on my bed as I go get a diaper.

8:49 AM – I have diaper in hand, but toddler is running down the hall buck-naked, screaming that he wants his Elmo towel.  I refuse to get another towel dirty.  Perhaps I should pick my battles, but it’s still early.

8:50 AM – Toddler is diapered.  I walk through the house and tell the 5 and two 7 year olds that it looks like a disaster.  Every toy they own is on display, covering every inch of floor space.  They get a warning to to clean it up.  I think my eye just twitched a little.  Also, there’s peanut butter all over the kitchen table and chair that they just supposedly “cleaned.”

8:51 AM- After just staring at me blankly for a moment, they get to work, cleaning up their mess.  I find a shirt and shorts for the toddler.  (Had I known said toddler would end up using his shirt all day as a kleenex, I would have just let him wear his Elmo towel all day.  Next time.)

9 AM – My 7 year old son is taking out the trash and the girls are making sure the house looks less trashed.  I’m browning hamburger meat…doesn’t everyone do that at 9 AM?

9:10 AM – I add ingredients to the crockpot for our supper tonight – Crockpot ravioli.  –Which isn’t actually ravioli at all.  I really think they screwed up on naming that one.  I also notice that I really need to scrub the kitchen floors.

9:15 AM – I tell all of the kids to make their way to the living room for school.

9:16 AM – I peek into the living room and wonder if my children are all deaf.  I can tell this is going to be a special day.

9:17 AM – I find the kids and give them my best mommy stern look, telling them to get to the living room NOW.  They oblige.

9:18 AM – The kids are in the living room… but aren’t ready for school.  I look around and wonder if we are all losing our minds.  (The verdict is still out.)  I tell them to go get their pencils and workbooks.

9:20 AM – The toddler is whiny again.  He doesn’t feel good.  Nothing makes him happy.  In fact, he’s somewhere between ticked off at the world and forlorn.  I wonder if it’s too late to go back to bed, yet.  I give him a clove of prepared garlic and a teaspoon of honey for their antibacterial properties.

9:30 AM – We are exactly one hour behind on starting school.  It feels much later, but I take a deep breath.  This isn’t that bad.  The toddler has a sippy cup of milk and has calmed down.  Everyone has pencils and workbooks.  Okay, now we are ready.  I hand one 7 year old her flash cards to practice math, and sit beside the other two children to work through their workbooks.  One child flips right to the correct page while the other aimlessly sifts through pages.  I show him the correct page and begin explaining the directions for the page.  I can see his pencil wagging.  I look up to see him randomly writing numbers.  I know he can’t read all of the directions yet, so we erase and try our listening skills again.  I mentally note that I’m setting my alarm clock for 6:30 AM tomorrow so I can spend some time with my Bible and ground myself in peace before I lose. my. stuff.

9:35 AM – I remind my 7 year old son to pay attention to his work and not whatever he’s looking at.

9:37 AM – He finally asks for help, so we walk through the first page together.  I have to remind him to pay attention a few more times.

9:45 AM – We had a really short math lesson for today and are finished.  It’s review and it’s 1st grade graphing, so it’s straightforward and simple.  Praise the Lord.  I collect their workbooks to put grades in the grade book, but my 7 year old son didn’t have his completed due to lack of focus/paying attention.  I tell him he can explain it to daddy and do it with him (which is like our version of detention).

9:46 AM – I verbally test my 7 year old 3rd grade daughter on spelling words.  I put her grade in grade book.  The toddler is playing in some boxes from an online order.  He is quietly arranging them different ways, crawling in and out and tumbling over in them.

9:47 AM – I write her next spelling list down for her to study while I go through an English lesson with the other two. The three children take turns reciting the two poems they are memorizing.

9:55 AM – We sit down and read about France.  The 5 year old is fidgeting on the couch like something is taking over her body.  Again.  I tell her to settle down and listen so others can listen, as well.

9:56 AM – We are still reading about France, but the toddler has found some empty diaper boxes and has devised his own little jumping post…complete, with my throw pillows as his landing pad.  He jumps, and I mentally decide how much damage this activity will incur to both him and his chosen materials.  He’s not whining and seems safe enough, so I decide to let him jump.  I’ve just gone back on my own “no-jumping” rule.  It’s too early for a glass of wine.

10:00 AM – We are now reading about Animal Adaptations.  The toddler is NOT happy with this choice of reading, apparently.  I dodge a crayon thrown at my head.  Several more are thrown, despite my mommy-stern face.  One hits the newly painted wall.  I’m pretty sure my stern-face has turned more to a grimace.  Two more fly behind the couch.  Five get kicked under the couch.  He’s whining, now.  Loudly.  He makes a list of demands.  I wonder if the FBI could give me any tips on hostage negotiating.  He’s threatening my sanity.  “Please pick up the crayons,” I say.  “AJ, DO NOT throw that.  DO NOT…”  He throws it at my head.  I take the crayons away and make him sit down.  He’s ticked, now.  He’s wailing…it’s a new thing.  We are somewhere between TERRIBLE TWOs and KILL ME NOW THREEs.  Such a special time.

10:05 AM – Stern-ness isn’t working.  I have a general no-disrespect policy, but decide to try a new tactic.  I smile and ask him in a sweet and sugary voice how I can help him.  He’s not really sure.  “MY NOSE IS RUNNING!!!”  He screams.  “Okay, can mommy wipe it?”  “NOOOOOO!!!”  He screams.  “How can mommy help you calm down?”  I ask.  “I’m huuuuunnnngggrrryyyy!”  He says.  I ask him what he would like to snack on and my ignorance insults him.  He is scream-wailing.  I feel like something came in the night and possessed my sweet-tempered boy known as “Chillax” to others who know us.  Nobody believes me when I tell them I totally UNDERSTAND toddler craziness.  I realize that he’s in a “mood” right now… like he’s been in the past few weeks (on and off).  It’s been made worse by not feeling well.  He doesn’t feel bad enough to snuggle mommy, he just wants to scream.  There are only 2 ways to make him stop – candy or television.  I’m unwilling to do either because I know I’d just be setting us up for a longer-term battle.

10:08 AM – I ask him to just let us finish this one page and mommy will get him some food (if he really wants it) and read to him.  He wails a little more and then is distracted by a jug of geometric blocks.  He pours them on the floor and sorts through them.   I take the opportunity to refocus the kids’ attention and we begin again.

10:12 AM – The toddler is still sifting shapes, so we venture into our last reading assignment for the morning.  It’s all of 3 pages.  The toddler begins to whine.  I ask him what’s wrong.  He whines in response.  I read a little louder.  “MOMMY, GET ME SOME-FING!” He demands.  I calmly tell him there is a snack on the kitchen table.  “I’M HUNGRY! ” he says.  I repeat that there is a snack on the kitchen table for him.  He whines and tells me, “NO!  I’m hungry!”  I tell him to go get his snack.  He replies, “I CAN’T!”  He can.  This is going nowhere.  I make another mental-note to create a box of special activities for him during times like this.

10:13 AM – I begin reading again, a little louder.  His volume increases.  Mine does too.  I can read really loud, apparently.

10:14 AM – All of the cushions are off my couch.  The toddler is attempting to slide down them.  I’m not sure how much I care since the whining has temporarily ceased.

10:15 AM – He’s bored with the cushions.  He starts whining random syllables.  “JAAAJAAAAJAAAJAAAJAAANOONOOONOOO!” He says, getting more creative as he goes along.  I read a little bit louder.

10:18 AM – We are finished reading.  I ask the little one to clean up the geometric blocks.  “I CAN’T” He moans loudly.  “Let me show you,” I say, putting his hand over blocks that he’s put away a million and one times and then over the bucket to drop them in.  “I CAAAAANNNN’TTTT!  DON’T WANT TO!”  He says.  He begins his moaning again, testing volume and new sounds.  I’m beginning to think he likes the sound of his own whining.  Maybe I should make him a CD.

10: 20 AM – I hand the older 3 a science worksheet and help the toddler clean up blocks, insisting he pick them up with me.

10:23 AM – I dart for the kitchen.  “AJ, what would you like for lunch?  Meatballs or Pasta?” I ask.  “NOT HUNGRY!” He wails.  “I WANT MILK!!”  I grab a sippy cup and fill it 3/4 of the way with water and top it with whole milk.  “NOT THAT MILK!” He moans.  “OTHER MILK”  He’s referring to the brand new jug of milk.  I try to explain it’s all the same, but he’s zoned in to the other jug and doesn’t really care what I have to say.

10:25 AM – He finally accepts his sippy cup of milk and guzzles it down.  I enjoy the 60 seconds of quiet.  I heat up leftovers for the kids, in order of youngest to oldest.

10:27 AM – AJ has his plate and is happily picking at it.  I can tell he’s not very hungry, but am pleased that he’s at least happy to pick through the food he chose.  And, the moaning/yelling has stopped.  For the moment.

10:30 AM – I check on our supper in the crockpot and help the older kids with their science worksheet at the table.  One child decides to go rogue and draw randomness in the illustration circles.  I hand him an eraser and remind him AGAIN to listen carefully and pay attention.

10:35 AM – Our worksheets are finished and the children go put them on the couch by my grade book, then come back to the kitchen for an early lunch.

11:00 AM – All of the kids are eating.  Their mouths are busy chewing, and it’s quiet.  I finally sit down to eat whatever is left.  I calculate how much time is left until nap-time.

11:30 AM – We all clean up the kitchen and living room area.  Then, the kids get a break.  Today’s not going to be a mega-cleaning day, but I challenge myself to at least pick up 30 items in my bedroom-turned-catch all room.  I feel a little productive when I can see the floor again in a pathway.

1 PM – It’s nap-time.  The littlest one is still having a rough time.  I offer him some ibuprofen, hoping it will give him some rest for a little while.

1:15 PM – Everything is quiet.  I check my messages and respond.  I check off a few more items from my to-do list.  I doze in and out of sleep for a bit.  I wake up feeling MUCH better.

3:00PM – I get up and decide to make a cup of coffee for myself.

3:15 PM – Coffee cup in hand, I go back to my room to take advantage of the still-quiet house.  I look up more inspiration for helping toddlers stay APPROPRIATELY busy during school time.

3:20 PM – I get a second cup of coffee.

3:25 PM – There is moaning in the hallway, coming toward me.  “HUNGRY!” He says.  Hungry clearly doesn’t mean the same to the both of us.  Translation: I WANT SOMETHING BUT DON’T KNOW WHAT!  I tell him his lunch plate of pasta is still on the table.  “HUNGRY!” He repeats…again and again.  He crawls into bed, where I’m sitting, and begins to repeat random syllables in some trance-like moan song.  “MOOO-VOO-MOO-JUUUUUUU-JUUUUUUU-HUUUUUU-MOOOOOOO-MOOOOO”  I’m both laughing inwardly and gritting my teeth at the noise.  He doesn’t notice and keeps up his weird trance song.  I wonder if the earth is about to open up.

3:30 PM – I finally convince him to go take a few bites of pasta.

3:31 PM – He’s back in my bed with a mouthful of pasta.  He’s smiling, now… and the trance-song has begun again.  He wipes his snotty nose on the comforter.  At this point, I’m just glad it’s not on my clothes…and that it’s on my husband’s side of the bed.  I make another mental note to wash the comforter, sheets, and basically everything toddler has touched.

4:00 PM – I get the kids up from their naps/quiet time to play for a bit.  AJ (toddler) is trying to tie himself up in a towel.

4:15 PM – The toddler is pretending to wash me with his towel.  It takes me a few moments to realize that the dampness I feel is not from where he used it earlier to dry off, but from his snotty nose… which has been smeared all up and down my arm.  And on my computer, from where he was “cleaning” it.  I don’t feel very clean.  (And this is why I don’t dress up for days spent with AJ.)

5:00 PM – We work on Geography.  I hear a funny ding ding noise in the other room.  I note that the toddler has been pretty quiet.  I quickly make my way to the other room.  He’s sticking things down the vents.  Perfect.

5:15 PM – We’re still practicing geography.  AJ seems to be in a better mood.  This makes me happy.  And, saner.  I can hear him dropping toys on the carpeted floor in the other room.  I’m happy he’s not throwing them at the walls…or down the vents…or through windows or flushing them down the toilet.  I quickly shut off that thought, because we all know toddlers can mind-read (how else do they know the EXACT moment you go to the bathroom?)  I walk into the living room to find him poised on the back of the couch, ready to jump (his favorite thing).  I pull him down just in time and give him a handful of toy cars to play with.

5:30 PM – I add a few last-minute ingredients to the crockpot for supper tonight.  The older 3 kids clean up their messes.

filed under Homeschooling

As of today, July 25, 2014

by bosssanders on July 25, 2014 with 2 comments

I am thinking…

Hubby took us all to the drive-in movies last week for our date night (we shared it with the kiddos).  It’s my week again, and I’m thinking… go-karts and laser tag.  Or, wine trail.  Decisions, decisions.

I am thankful…

141.  For books.  I REALLY like books :)
142.  For friends who encourage.
143.  For friends who know me well enough to when I’m struggling and call me out on it.
144.  For ibuprofen.
145.  For the internet and the world of learning (FREE) that it opens up to us!
146.  Online shopping!  Our favorite diapers are from target, but we don’t have a target!
147.  Also…amazon prime.
148.  African drums.  I really love the sound…
149.  Dead mosquitoes.  Not live ones….just dead ones.
150.  Not being killed for my faith.

In the kitchen

I have a new recipe for y’all.  It’s one of our favorite (and EASY) breakfast casseroles.

Sausage, Egg, Crescent Roll Casserole

- 2 cans crescent rolls
- 2 pkgs sausage
- 1 dozen eggs
- 8 oz cream cheese

Grease a 9×13 casserole dish.  Cook sausage.  Drain.  Then, combine room temp cream cheese and sausage.

On bottom of 9×13 dish. unroll crescent rolls and cinch along perforation marks.  Pour in sausage/cream cheese mix.

Whisk 12 eggs and scramble in pan.  Add this on top of sausage layer.

Cover with another layer of crescent roll dough.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350 F

I also made some cucumber sandwiches (1 cucumber diced, 8 oz cream cheese, 1/3 c mayo, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and a 1tsp of dill – mix it all up and spread onto sandwich bread), cucumber “salad” (1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water to cover, a little sugar and pinch of salt –then in fridge for an hour or more).  We are using the cucumber “salad” for our Norwegian meal and we had cucumber sandwiches and bacon-tomato sandwiches today for lunch.

In my “cooking therapy” yesterday, I also put together a yummy new casserole.  It began as a squash casserole, but then morphed into a one-dish-dinner.  Not too shabby.

I am reading…

Hubby and I are still reading Kingdom Man and Kingdom Woman by Tony Evans together.  –definitely the type of book that makes me want to sit and read with highlighter in hand!

We/I am learning…

We just finished studying Norway.  Today, we finished up with some Norwegian candy and a geography review of Europe.  We’ll close our study up with a Norwegian meal this weekend – super excited!

Around the house…

Dreaming up ideas for our master bedroom…  to turn it into a lovely retreat instead of a dark cave


For Today, July 3, 2014

by bosssanders on July 3, 2014 with 1 comment

Say “Hello” to Super Little Red Princess No-Eyes!

Outside my window…
It’s a sun-shiney day!

I am thinking…

about date ideas!

Last week, we did this:

We headed to a studio to paint…

We both chose “Parisian” themes…  and set to work…

It was hubby’s first time EVER to paint.  He did a great job!  –And, we both had a lot of fun!

Last night, we had an impromptu date night… created a new recipe that ended like this:

It was… YUMMY!  No idea what I’m going to call it in my recipe journal… but, it’s definitely a new favorite with the whole family.

Then, we put the munchkins to bed… and the MR. and I watched funny youtube videos.  We laughed so hard and until our sides hurt.  It was a great and easy “date” for the week (no sitter needed!  And, FREE!)  If you want to watch some of our favorites, go HERE.

This weekend is HIS turn to plan a date, so I’m pretty curious to see what he chooses!

I am thankful…

118.  Fireworks – bright colors bursting on black
119.  Sweet smiles
120.  Being serenaded by the littlest…

“Momma, what song me sing for you?” – AJ

121.  My lovely husband
122.  $1 movies and pool with friends!
123.  A good book and cuddly blanket
124.  Sweet neighbors
125.  Naptime (Oh, praise Jesus for naptime!)
126.  Golden fields and rainbows
127.  Side-splitting laughter
128.  My little brother
129.  Story-telling with my sweet Grams
130.  Singing praises to Jesus at church with the doors open wide
131.  Fresh flowers on my table from a friend…

132.  A Summer Bath

In the kitchen

We’ve tried two new dishes this week, so that’s been fun!  Both were very well-liked!  Tonight is smothered beef and bean burritos per hubs request.  (Also, he’s cooking it.  Ha!  It’s the only way he can ensure it doesn’t have veggies in it.)

I am reading…


And…still this:  I’ve been writing more than I’ve been reading, lately.  I’ve started writing over at and a few things over at (it’s not spiffy-looking yet, but I needed to get thoughts out of my head, so…there it is.)

We/I am learning…

This week, we’ve focused more on life than schoolwork :)   Concentrated on hearts and little spirits.  HOWEVER, we have made a major switch in curriculum for the first graders… we are swapping out hooked on phonics first grade and doing MFW first-grade reading program, instead.  It’s working MUCH better for us!  (The kindergarten HOP was GREAT, but we needed a new direction after we finished it up!)

Around the house…

This week has involved lots of cleaning!  Monday is our cleaning day, anyhow… so, we cleaned cleaned cleaned.  Tuesday, we had a fun day with friends, then came home and cleaned a little more.  Wednesday, we went to my parents’ house and cleaned together for a little while as a surprise gift.  I don’t know why my house isn’t sparkling by now!?

Favorite Things and Moments…

Dresses made by Mimi… and the sweet sisters in them…

Another one…


For Today, June 17, 2014

by bosssanders on June 17, 2014 with no comments

“Mom, I just don’t know how to listen to you, sometimes.”  You’ve made that very clear, dear…now, get out of the sandbox.

Outside my window…

It is warm and we are back home (YAY!)  Today, we had some soapy water play… one of the kids’ FAVORITES!  Next time, I’ll put them all in bathing suits and we’ll call it a BATH!  I love multi-tasking!

I am thinking…
That life is an adventure.

A friend of mine recently remarked that she wishes that she could live with us because we have so many adventures.  And, it’s true… but, the truth is… we all have adventures.  This life…it’s an adventure.  Some adventures are less fun, but they are still adventures!

We’ve lived some pretty crazy extremes… we’ve had years where we didn’t know how we were going to buy food for the next week and adventures where we were blessed to go on a couple of trips in one year.  We’ve had adventures where we’ve seen amazing love and terrifying hate.  We’ve seen life, we’ve seen death.  We’ve been built up, we’ve been stretched thin.  We’ve had adventures where we have brought new life in the world while separated by oceans (deployment).

Life seems so much more amazing when we look through the lens that EVERYTHING is an adventure.  There is beauty in the mundane and the hard, too…if we’ll just look hard enough.

This last week, we were invited to tag along with hubby for a business trip.

There was a mix-up on the hotel room.

6 people.  1 week.  This.  (This is the WHOLE room.)

I will admit.  I didn’t feel particularly adventurous after a whole day in the car and THIS being the room we walk into (after expecting a suite).  In fact, I walked straight into the closet to cry.  And then, after the front desk told us that nothing else was available, I begged to go home or buy duck tape and anti-anxiety meds for the week.

There wasn’t even room for pallets on the floor for everyone.

But then, the hotel changed it’s mind and gave us a room with 2 small doubles.  It wasn’t perfect, but we could work with it!

Then, this:

Turns out, limos are cheaper than cabs for big parties.  So, we rode in style for a week!

We browsed the American Girl store and got a quick treat.  Then, we went to the lego store to play with legos :)

We stayed up past our bedtimes and had slap-happy laughter…

We ate chicago-stuffed-pizza and…

were photo-bombed by a zombie.

Mommy was TIRED and WORN OUT, but there was fun to be had!

So, we went to the zoo…

and had our faces painted… (and, if you squint, it almost looks professional and worth the $16 each)

We went to the park, (girls) learned to sew, and…

went on a death-defying ferris wheel.

Then, mommy came home and slept for 2 days.

I am thankful…
85.  For chocolate coffee
86.  Little bubbles, flying
87.  A husband who is willing to wake up at 6 am to mow the yard
88.  …and, go to the grocery at 9 pm
89.  …and feed the kids supper because I was too nauseous to eat what I had fixed
90.  To the sounds of the littles and their daddy practicing their “crazy” laughs
91.  Watching littles break into dance on dance floors at weddings
92.  lego creations
93.  Excitement on little faces as they learn new things
94.  The smell of honeysuckle
95.  For a husband who defends me and has my back
96.  For love-letters from my darling La
97.  Sweet tears from La because she just can’t stand being away from me, sometimes (because she is just overwhelmed by love)
98.  For nightly “dates” with my hubby, watching our favorite shows all snuggled up
99.  fireflies – little orbs of light dancing all around
100.  The sweet fragrance of honeysuckle floating on balmy breeze
101.  Warm concrete, cool grass
102.  Sunflowers, outstretched petals
103.  Refreshing rainshowers
104.  Clover – white polka dots on blankets of green
105.  Clear blue skies
106.  Colors, crisp and bright
107.  Swinging high, legs pumping, wind through my hair
108.  Relaxing in the hammock with a good book
109.  Star-gazing
110.  The windchime’s song
111.  Butterfly waltz
112.  The joyous sound of the ice cream truck coming around the block
113.  Running through sprinklers
114.  Fellowship with friends
115.  Walking on the beach
116.  S’mores over campfire
117.  Farmers Market

In the kitchen…

Mini quiche from yesterday (see FB page for easy recipe HERE!)  <— be sure to like our FB page for fun updates and funnies.
Tonight, we are having chicken pot pie (recipe HERE)

I am reading…

I’ve been writing more than I’ve been reading, lately.  I’ve started writing over at and a few things over at (it’s not spiffy-looking yet, but I needed to get thoughts out of my head, so…there it is.)

We/I am learning…

This week is our first week (officially) of school.  We school year-round, which enables us to take breaks as needed.  Plus, we don’t go backwards on any of our learning.  Technically, though, the kids have been working on math and random learning-stuff even on their break through May and half of June.

Currently, we are learning about the RAINFOREST (one of my favorites!) and South America.  The big 3 have all selected 2 animals and a plant from the rainforest and will be researching them and giving a short presentation as to what makes them special.  They are SUPER excited!  Of course, Ro chose the flower that eats things.  :)

Also, we accidentally killed our venus fly trap babies.  Well, technically… they were seeds.  And, they took too long to grow.  There are a couple of tiny shoots, now, but keeping the lid on (as instructed) created more of a mold emporium than greenhouse since the seeds took FOREVER.  So, if you know of a great place to buy a venus fly trap that is actually a decent size… let me know.

Around the house…

Today, I cleaned out the fridge.  Penicillin, anyone?

Oh, also unpacked, cleaned out the microwave, and wiped down the cabinet doors.  Nothing creative in the works right now.  Just trying to get back to “normal.”

A favorite quote…

“Mom, I like you more than a cat.” –La

Um, thanks?


2013-2014 Homeschool Year: What Worked And What Didn’t

by bosssanders on May 28, 2014 with no comments

What Worked:

  • I may be way behind everyone else, but we just discovered Ticonderoga Pencils this year.  And. They. Are. Awesome.  The cheap and cutesy pencils are NOTHING compared to these.  They are just awesome.
  • My homeschool binder.  I’ve used binders/notebooks/planning that I’ve spent some good money for, but my favorite SO FAR is this FREE one (click link).
  • My Father’s World – we use MFW for the three oldest kids.  Three of them do science/history/art/music/geography together.  Language Arts and Math, they do separately.  We buy the deluxe set from MFW and like it pretty well.  There were a few books that were above our age level (see the What Didn’t section).  But, for the most part, I really like the pick-up-and-go nature of MFW.
  • For the Kindergarteners – we used Hooked On Phonics for Kindergarten Reading
  • For the 2nd grader – we used Primary Language Lessons and Singapore 2A and 2B math.  They both worked really well for us.
  • We discovered that doing Math FIRST THING works best for us.  It’s our “brightest” hour, apparently :)
  • Another fun discovery this year was that the “big” kids are great learning buddies to the littles.  I have “helpers” that help the little ones practice reading and math, which helps me GREATLY.
  • Also, scheduled mommy time for math/language arts with each child.  (see more below)
  • Beginning school in July and ending early May.  It gives us a month or month and a half off and LOTS of time available for sick or vacation days without having to stress.  We take off a couple of weeks in December and keep doing math/reading (30 min a day) through the summer to help keep us “fresh.”

What Didn’t:

  • I don’t need TONS of planning pages.  Writing down our day-by-day activities and pages are a little much for us…at least, for now.  So, I did away with daily planning pages because I just felt like crap for not keeping up with the “planning” part of it (even though I was doing the “doing” part of it).
  • We tried workboxes for a bit and tweaked it so that it worked in tote bags.  Unfortunately, it takes a LOT of planning.  Well, not a lot, but more than I’m willing to give.  I like to enjoy my kids and keep my sanity, ya know?!  BUT, I did like the concept that each kid has “scheduled” mommy time for school subjects.  It keeps from having three children all vying for mommy’s attention at THAT EXACT MOMENT and helps them learn to work individually until I can get to each of them (and it helps them KNOW they WILL have their time).
  • I want to be better at planning all of the fun activities I have in folders, but not to the point of stressing.  I need to come up with a way to plan for those.

What worked and what didn’t for you this past year?


Fun With Water Beads

by bosssanders on May 23, 2014 with 2 comments

We’ve been enjoying the fun that is WATER BEADS!  These little guys are hidden gems that have been around quite a while in the floral department.  Right now, they are getting lots of attention for creative play.

The ones I bought look like these (at Walmart–they were a little over $3 each):

I only used one pack.  I added the water per directions, but separated the water and beads out into 4 separate bowls and added FOOD COLORING!

The photograph at the top of the post is what we got!

A couple of tips, though…
If you color them, use a LOT of food coloring or they’ll be too pale.
If you mix them together and let them sit, they will begin to change colors…we ended up with green.

We have had lots of fun over the past week playing with our water beads!

You can:
- smash them
- add measuring cups and little toys (animals, little people toys, and tractors are all fun options)
- set them in the sun and watch them shrink and then add water to watch them grow (science!)
- freeze them (they will smush really easily once they thaw.)
- add colored water and watch them soak in the colored water ( you could even make blue and yellow and then watch them change to green when put together overnight)

(the kids taking turns at “creative stations” – water beads and making cards for Pa’s birthday!)

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