Happy Easter 2012

I don’t have a lot of pictures from Easter this year. The girls were not super cooperative at the same time – or at all. I am so glad that Easter is not about dresses, shoes, or pictures. I am thankful for the day set aside to celebrate the resurrection of my Savior.

Museum Of Transportation

Several months ago, we bought a groupon to the St. Louis Museum of Transportation. It was about to expire (March 26th, I think) so we decided to use it on Norah’s birthday. Kevin took the afternoon off and we met him there after a quick lunch at home.

The weather wasn’t great, but it only actually rained for a couple of minutes while we were there. The rain/hail basically held off until we were on our way home. Then is just down poured. I have never seen so much hail in my life. It was like driving through snow – and the roads were slick!! Daphne slept through the whole thing – which I can’t believe because it was so loud!!

Some Things Are Better With Grandma!

My family came to our house last weekend for a little celebration for Norah’s birthday. My mom ended up staying for a couple of extra days – which is always a huge blessing. I end up getting a few extra things done around the house, a few errands run by myself, and she always does my laundry!!

Let me back up a little before I get to the meat of this post. Lucy had this idea to buy Norah a sewing machine for her birthday. She came up with the idea all on her own and was SURE Norah would love it. We discussed the fact that sewing machines are a little out of the price range we usually have the girls stick to when picking out a gift for each other. She didn’t care. She decided that even though she is saving for an American Girl doll, she would take all the money she had so far in the spend and save sections of her bank to use for Norah’s present. Then she would start fresh saving for the American Girl doll. I am going to stop here and point out that we know with little doubts that Lucy’s love language is gift giving – and if you know me, you know that this would be the LAST one on my list.

So, we ended up pitching in some money and letting Lucy buy the sewing machine without using ALL of her money. Norah did love it (with Norah, you just never know. Her response to things can be unpredictable so I was praying that she would be grateful since Lucy was sure this was exactly what Norah would want) and spent a week begging to sew. Knowing my mom was coming, I held Norah off. Norah was more than anxious to get busy sewing. Mom helped her make a skirt, bag and a skirt for her doll. Mom said she did fantastic – I tried to stay out of the way – and I know mom was a much better teacher. Grandmas just have more patience – at least that is the case in our family.

Lucy, of course, wanted to sew too, so on Tuesday Mom spent the morning sewing with her. They sewed everything by hand – actually Mom did most of the sewing and Lucy was happy to sit next to her and cut up scraps of fabric and sew every once in a while. Mom said Lucy was so excited, she talked a mile a minute!! Mom and Lucy made a hat, purse, and a wallet.

Snow Stuff

Norah’s writing curriculum is similar to Writer’s Workshop. Here she is “publishing” one of her stories.

When we finished our gingerbread man theme, we jumped right into a snow theme. I thought this would be perfect planning – January in Missouri – surely we will have snow. Umm, no. Actually, it has been 60 degrees instead. Ha!
The girls had fun anyway! We read The Snowy Day, The Jacket I Wear in the Snow, and The Mitten.

The girls played with play dough. This is the recipe I use. I love it! It doesn’t dry out – it lasts forever! This time I didn’t add any color – but I added sprinkles. Daphne thought it was fun!

Lucy was helping Daphne with “The Jacket I Wear in the Snow” activity. Ahh – it makes me crazy that both the girls sit in the “w” position. I correct it EVERYDAY but they still do it!

Daphne is so serious when she “writes” – I love it! Look at that perfect grip – even as a leftie! I really hope she doesn’t lose it because I am now trying to fix Lucy’s crazy grip. Ahh!

Daphne loves her Montessori activities that are available everyday (I change them every week). She is putting “scrunchies” on a thick dowel rod. She eventually sorted them by color, too.

Daphne also loves stringing beads right now. I love the chunky beads because she can easily grip them and the shoe strings work well too.

Lucy – working on sight word puzzles from here.

And here she is working very hard to maintain a proper grip. She is holding a quarter under her ring and pinkie fingers. If she doesn’t let the quarter drop – she gets to keep it. She is doing really well – I also have her use some pencil grippers, too.

Some Curriculum Changes

I am learning. . . now that we are 3 years in to this homeschool thing, that some curriculum choices that we make at the beginning of the year may not end up being the best decision for our family. I tend to be the type of person that insists on finishing what we started, but when we all dread something or one subject makes a child cry – then we need a new plan.
Basically, this year we really like almost everything. There were, however, 2 things that needed to be changed. First, was Lucy’s reading curriculum. I struggled in the beginning with what to do with her. She was beyond a regular kindergarten reading curriculum, but didn’t know if she was confident enough in her reading to jump into a first grade program (for reading only). I ended up choosing a 1st grade reading curriculum that was on the easy side in comparison to most 1st grade programs. I thought this one was sort of a happy medium between kindergarten and a true 1st grade (like I used with Norah in 1st grade). However, while Lucy started reading last year, she was really struggling this year to pick up all the phonics rules at such a quick pace. She was basically learning a new rule every day. She did great the day of the rule, but by the next day when she was learning another, she had already forgotten the one from the day before. She was crying everyday about doing her reading. She didn’t mind actually reading to me, but she hated any workbook pages related directly to the rules. I seriously about made myself CRAZY trying to decide what to do with her. Finally, I decided to take more of a Charlotte Mason approach to her reading. She is reading to me every day and as we come across a word she can’t figure out – we go over that rule. She is also using Explode the Code – but we are in a book that is a little on the easy side for her. She has it in her mind that because Norah is such a good reader that she isn’t going to be a good reader. (She actually told me today that is going to have her nose in math all the time – just like Norah has her nose in books all the time.) I really think she needs to build up some confidence before I push her too much. So far, this is working and she doesn’t cry about reading (she does whine about it – but it is much easier to deal with than the falling on the ground and sobbing that was happening before.)
The second change is with our science. We really enjoyed our science last year – but the curriculum that I bought this year for Norah came with its own science so I decided to go with it. Now, I need to say that we LOVE the history and Bible portion of Norah’s curriculum. It is great for us and the girls love both of those subjects. Lucy does them with us because she doesn’t want to be left out. The science is on the weak side. We just pushed through the first half of the year but after Christmas, I told Kevin that I couldn’t take it anymore. I dreaded doing science with them and unless I took tons of extra time adding to the lessons, I didn’t feel like the girls were getting much out of it. The books that we used are good, but there was no rhyme or reason to the structure. To me, it didn’t flow well and it was mostly reading. The reading was such a brief overview that I didn’t think the girls were getting/remembering anything that they were learning.
We just started using Real Science-4-Kids. I am excited about this because it comes with a book to read together, a workbook for experiments/observations/thoughts and a teacher’s guide with detailed instructions. So far, the book is great – the pictures are fun and the writing is done is a way that I think they will remember what they are learning. I love the workbook because I don’t have to come up with a science notebook for the girls – it is all right here and follows the book exactly. There are 3 sets of books for the pre-level 1 (written for grade 1-3, but I think Lucy will enjoy it as much as Norah) – chemistry, biology, and physics. I love that the books are divided into areas of science – perfect for my OCD personality!! The experiments look great too! This week the girls played with legos as we talked about atoms as building blocks and tomorrow the girls are going to build molecules with marshmallows and toothpicks.

The other change is my time with Daphne. Her totschool time had sort of fallen by the wayside. We got busy doing other things and I would plan to do stuff with her later in the day and it never happened. Now, I am doing school stuff with her first thing – Lucy joins us for most of it. Then Lucy does a couple of independent things while I work with Daphne. Then when I am done with Daphne (we usually work for about 30-45 min), I work with Lucy. We get all of her work done (except history and science – which we do with Norah) by lunch. Daphne is LOVING her school-time. She asks every day, “It my cool time yet? Peas?” Seriously, cute.

Norah spends the whole morning doing independent work. She practices the piano, works on math facts, completes her handwriting, works on her writing lesson, reads, etc. I try to change it up for her – but she is a creature of habit so she likes the regular schedule. Once Daphne goes down for her nap, er, I mean, rest time (Well, I don’t know what to call her afternoon time in her room. She doesn’t sleep, she doesn’t rest, and she really isn’t quiet. at. all.), I teach history and science. When we finish that, Lucy goes to her room to listen to a book on cd or to play. Then I teach math, spelling and grammar. The schedule is working well, except for the fact that we literally don’t finish until 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon. The girls do get breaks here and there so it works for them.
I am glad that we are back into a routine after a crazy December. The girls are happy with the minor changes that we made. It is hard to believe that this school year is more than half over. I am so not ready to start looking at curriculum for next year but it won’t be long!!

Random School Stuff

The girls seem to really enjoy history this year. We are using My Father’s World for 2nd grade history, but Lucy joins us for almost everything. She doesn’t want to be left out of this part of our day! The first couple of months, the girls learned about the history of the United States. They learned about various explorers, Pilgrims, Native Americans, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, 13 colonies, Declaration of Independence, Revolutionary War, etc.

Here is Norah writing with a quill pen. . . after talking about the Declaration of Independence and John Hancock. My mom picked up the quill pen and ink set when they were in Pennsylvania this summer.

Now the girls are learning a little bit about each state – in the order in which they joined the union. While talking about the New England states – we enjoyed some clam chowder. Well, Kevin and I enjoyed it. Norah and Lucy did not (Daphne can’t have it because of her food allergies). Norah reluctantly ate the little bit we gave her. Lucy gagged and spit it out! It was slightly amusing – she has never done that before!!
We made a peach cobbler when we talked about Georgia – that went over better than the clam chowder.
When talking about South Carolina (and briefly about the Civil War) we talked about food the soldiers may have eaten. We made some hardtack – which is basically a hard biscuit, made with flour, water and salt. Sounds yummy, right?

All three girls ate a whole piece, but decided they were glad they didn’t have to eat it again!!

We also made yarn dolls – but I never took a picture of that.
The girls enjoy telling Kevin what they have learned about each state. The second day of our state study (Pennsylvania), he asked the girls what they learned about the sports teams in PA. I think their response was, “Mommy didn’t teach us any of that.” Since then I have tried to teach them a random fact about a sports team – but they can’t seem to remember any of it. Either that or they think it is funny when Kevin questions them and they don’t answer. When we talked about MA, I told the girls about the Boston Red Sox. They couldn’t seem to remember anything I told them and they kept saying “stinky Red Sox” which was okay with Kevin!
We are only 8 states in, but so far the way this curriculum is put together has been great for both girls! We are taking December off from our regular history to do some extra Christmas stuff, but I think we will all be excited to get back into the study of the states after the first of the year!!

Where To Begin

Well, as usual, life has been crazy. From talking to everyone else around me, this seems to be the norm. Some days, I wish life would slow down, but I don’t think that is possible with 3 kids!
We have had a lot of fun over the last several weeks/weekends – but we are looking forward to several weekends at home!!
Some brief updates –
Norah continues to LOVE reading. This girl spends HOURS a day reading! She usually reads about 30 minutes during our school day, then at least an hour during their independent quiet time and then about an hour before bed. She totally zones everyone and everything out while she reads (gets that from me!!). The tricky part is finding books that are challenging enough, but has age appropriate content for a 7 year old. She loves the Boxcar Children! She insists on reading them in order so she often has to wait for one to be returned from the library! She also has read several books from the Classic Starts set and Illustrated Classics.
She also continues to question the need for spelling in her school day. I am constantly telling her that spelling is one of those things that you just have to do to be a better writer. My question – would anyone really say that spelling was their favorite subject? However, it is still important!!
Norah is really into sewing right now. My mom bought her this book for her birthday and Norah read through it cover to cover. She made a pin cushion and has
her eye on several other projects to make for gifts for people. She is surprisingly patient and doesn’t get too frustrated when she makes a mistake. I
hope this continues!!

Norah is really into making tents or forts. She often has blankets draped over pieces of furniture! Kevin made the girls a teepee this year so they play in that often too!
Lucy is slowly adjusting to her school schedule. 5 days a week has been a major adjustment for her – by Friday she has lost a lot of focus and really doesn’t want to do much school!! She loves math – totally the opposite of Norah! She is really doing great with her reading. She has read all of the Fun Tales and is working her way through the Bob Books.
Lucy’s most recent fascination has been with making paper dolls. She literally makes them from scratch on cardstock and they are so cute! She has about 40. Yes, 40. She worked so hard!!

Lucy is 3 nights in to breaking her finger sucking habit. . . again. This time seems better already! She seems to get it this time and is really trying – even during the day. She is wearing gloves – just like Norah did. I know it seems cruel, but the dentist confirmed that this is the best way to go about it and knowing Lucy is probably not far from losing teeth, we knew we needed to start working on it.

Lucy LOVES to dress-up and dance. She usually has a princess dress on and is twirling to the music. Her favorite cds right now are this one and this one. Let me tell you how funny it is to watch her twirling to God Bless America in her princess dress or leotard. She belts it out as she sings too!!
I don’t even know where to begin with Daphne. Wow – she is a spit-fire. She has tons of personality and she is constantly cracking everyone up!!
Some recent quotes:
“Mom, you go to p**pcamp today?” She says this everyday and cracks herself up every time!
“You not feat me. I mustateer!” (quote from Barbie “you cannot defeat me for I am a muskateer”).
“On guard. Huh-uh” while pointing anything resembling a sword
“I not weawy hungwy!!” – She tells me this at every. single. meal. not kidding. However, when you are almost 3 and still only weigh 21 pounds – we do not negotiate at meal time!
“I not have to go p** p**” – She tells me this whenever I tell her to sit on the potty. every. single. time! Oh, and she screams it!
“You want bwaid or pigtails?” Brushing my hair is one of her favorite things to do right now – and she is surprisingly gentle.
“I don’t like it. I LOVE it, LOVE it, LOVE it.”
Daphne LOVES to pretend and by herself. If I try to play with her or talk to her while she is pretending, she usually tells me, “I not talk you. I talk to my peoples. I play myself.”
Funny story – this morning our church had its annual serve day. We were at a local park painting picnic tables. The kids helped part of the time and played part of the time. When we finished painting the kids were all playing and I was trying to round them up. Daphne didn’t want to leave so I told her, “Let’s go see what daddy is doing.” Kevin was down a little hill under the pavilion. I picked her up and started walking toward him. She started yelling, “Not that way, this way” while pointing the opposite direction. I said, “Daddy is down here.” She replied, “I not see that daddy. I see my other daddy” and she points at some random man playing with his kids.
This picture was totally not posed!! I walked into the living room and saw Daphne like this. No one else was even watching yet!!
I have tons of pictures to post from the last couple of months so I will hopefully get to those soon!!