Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November Birthday Girl

Another birthday post from us! It's so funny how things turn out. Our birthday season starts in August and goes through November, skips December and picks up in January and February. Since we have a family of 7 we alone cover more than half the year! My poor Mom!! :)

Anyway, this post is a spotlight on our 2nd daughter. She just celebrated her 10th birthday yesterday but due to a sick baby I am posting this a day late. 

This girl is as crafty as they come. She LOVES to create and bake. She made her own birthday breakfast of french toast, which she chose and helped to bake and frost her own cupcakes.

She also shares my love of sewing. She is always trying to create something with fabric. It's fun to watch. We let her pick something out from Hobby Lobby for her gift from us and she picked out the coolest Special Occasion Fashion Designer set. It has been thoroughly enjoyed! 
We are so thankful for this 2nd daughter of ours! Love you Ari, Happy Birthday!!!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fall Nature Wreath

A couple of times a month we get together with another family and have what we call a "mini co-op"
of sorts. Since between our two families there are 9 children ages 11 and younger we try to keep our meetings simple and easy. We have done a park day, a back to school party, cool crayon canvas art that I need to show you all, and our most recent, a nature adventure with a Fall theme. It's always a fun time and the kids (and I) look forward to our get togethers.

I found the idea for our last activity while browsing through a magazine and immediately thought that it would be perfect for our little group. I was especially excited that it met our criteria: quick, simple and cheap!

Here's what you need:
Poster board cut into wreath forms - this is simply a donut shape cut 7 inches diameter
glue - either tacky or hot glue (2 glue guns would be great)
paper clips, small hooks or anything you have to use as a wreath hanger
paper plates - for the glue
sponge paint brush
plastic ziploc bags for each child
access to a woodsy area

Okay, the first step would be to find a woodsy area that is safe enough for the kiddos to roam around in. Thankfully our friends live in the country so we were able to take advantage of the area surrounding their property. 
Next, we gave each of our kids a plastic baggy and let them fill it up with anything that they like. My
youngest filled hers with mostly rocks (which we didn't use) while the older ones found nuts, pinecones, pretty weeds, dry pine needles, colorful leaves, etc.

Once everything is collected, go back to the house and give each child a wreath form. We had ours
 glue on the leaves first. We just painted their wreath forms with tacky glue using a foam brush and then they covered their forms with the leaves. Then we had each child position the rest of their decoration on the leaves as they wished and us Moms manned the glue gun.
We did have to help quite a bit thus there are no pictures of this part. It was a little crazy but so worth it! I love the way these things turned out. I hung mine using small 3M hooks but you can use paper clips, or whatever else you have on hand.
This was our first nature project that turned out this nice. I think we will try to do this every year.

What nature projects have you been working on lately?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Prairie Apron Tutorial Preview

Made this almost two years ago but haven't finished the tutorial yet. Well, now I'm gonna make myself!


Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Happy Birthday!!!

5 months old
5 years old
I can't believe this little spunky thing is turning 5. What a wild, fun, energetic, crazy and adorable girl she is. We are so thankful for this 3rd Pink!!

Although she was the smallest of all our children, she certainly has the biggest personality. She keeps me praying and seeking the Lord for wisdom on how to parent her. I am always learning new lessons with her and I pray that God will grant me the wisdom to continue to train her in His perfect way. In the way in which SHE needs.

We interviewed her for her birthday. You can watch it below. She is silly. We love you sweet girl! Hope your birthday is amazing!!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

How We Homeschool-Bible Memory

Been 22 days since I blogged, told ya I'm only an occasional blogger! ;)

I am back today to share another snippet of our homeschool with you. If you missed our first post about how we even came to homeschool in the first place you can read that here.

I feel led to dedicate this post to my favorite area of our school, our Bible memory. Why is it my favorite? Well because although all of the other things that my children will learn are important, I know that nothing, nothing will impact them more than the Word of God. If they take only this one aspect of our schooling with them into their adulthood I will be happy. Happy because above all else, more than all of the grammar, math, reading, spelling and activities that we will absorb, only the Word of God is that which can transform them into the young ladies and young man that God wants them to be. That is what my husband and I want. Children that grow into adults that God desires.

So, how do we hide His Word in our hearts? Well about 3 years ago or so I came across the Simply Charlotte Mason blog. (Lots of great stuff there!) Somehow, I happened upon the post about their method of Bible Memory and became intrigued. An organized, purposeful way to memorize God's Word? We needed that. So, I read, learned and put the method into action. Can I tell you that this method works? It is systematic yet simple and effective. Our family has never memorized Scripture so effortlessly! And you don't just memorize and forget, you retain because...well, I'm babbling, let me just dive into it and you will see for yourself.

First you need to gather your supplies:
  • Large index box (I guess you could use a smaller one until you outgrew it I have just always used a large one.)
  • 41 tabbed divider cards (if they have numbers or letters on them that's okay, just buy some stickers to label your own. See my pic). OR get a free printable of these divider cards here.
  • small labels for your dividers *optional
  • blank or lined index cards
Next you will need to label your tabbed dividers (or stickers if you are using them) as follows:
  • divider 1 - Daily
  • divider 2 - Odd
  • divider 3 - Even
  • 7 dividers - Days of the week (Mon, Tues, etc.)
  • 31 dividers - Numbers 1-31
Now you will need to put those dividers into your little box and get ready to fill 'er up! Decide which passage of Scripture or which verse you want to begin with. We started with Genesis 1:1-5 and are currently working on Philippians 2:1-8. We currently have 31 verses memorized...never counted until today. Wow.

You can choose any verse or passage that suits the needs of your family/studies. For example, we are memorizing the verses in Philippians because we have been studying humility as a family. We are doing this study. However, when we first began this system I also printed out this list of suggestions from Simply Charlotte Mason and keep it in my brain homeschool notebook for reference/ideas/inspiration. Alternatively, you can go here and download a 12 file pdf of the verses from their site. This is the first I've seen of that so yes, I downloaded it.

Next, you will write one verse on each card. Our current passage has 8 verses so we have eight cards. Put your first card behind the Daily tab and the rest in the front of that tab to be studied later.

Each day you will do the cards behind the Daily, Odd or Even, Day of the Week and Date of the Month tabs. Of course when you first begin you will only have the Daily card but you will acquire more and more as you go along.

For example, if today were Monday, the 7th, you would do the following dividers:
  • Daily, 
  • Odd (because 7 is odd),
  • Monday 
  • and 7. 
(If don't you have that many verses don't worry, just do what you have and your little box will grow.) 

The next day you would do 
  • Daily, 
  • Even (cause it would be the 8th), 
  • Tuesday
  •  and 8.
Is that clear as mud? I hope it's clearer.

Okay, final step. As you learn the verse behind the Daily divider, you will move it to either the Odd or Even depending on which divider is first for you. The card that was behind say, Even, will be moved to Odd and the card that was behind Odd would move to Monday and Monday's card goes behind Tuesday. You will just keep moving those cards back one divider as each new verse is memorized.

***This is where I do mine differently than what I learned on the Charlotte Mason site. If we are memorizing a passage of Scripture, I don't move those cards separately, I like to keep them all together. So yes, it takes longer for the cards to be moved around but doing it this way makes more sense to me. I like that we are always reciting entire passages together instead of splitting them up. Once we have them mastered, we will move all of the cards from the passage back one divider. I usually allot a week per verse unless they are short. If I have two short verses I will combine those onto one card.***

The genius in this system is that you are constantly reviewing the Word of God so you don't have time to forget any of it. I have changed a lot of things about our homeschool over the years but not this area. This has been the one constant in our lives. I am in love with this system of Bible memory! 

Okay, well, that's it. I hope you have enjoyed reading about this and I really hope that sharing how we do Bible memory in our home has inspired you to look for ways to integrate Bible memory into yours as well.

If you already have a system in place feel free to share your ideas in the comment section below. By the way, one random statement, I am just loving this cooler fall weather. Hope it's cooler where you are too!

In my next post I hope to show you how our large family of 7 schools in a 1400 sq. ft double wide. Nothing spectacular but it works for us!

Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Happy Birthday to Our Blue!

Can't believe it's been 8 years since this boy has come into our lives. Doesn't seem like it's been that long!!

We are going to celebrate his birthday while on vacation next week but for today we treated him to chocolate pancakes with icing and sprinkles and a special birthday interview! Here are some pics.
His icing melted cause the pancakes were so hot. Lesson learned!

And here is our Video Interview:

Thanks for stopping by!!!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Constitution Day Preparations

Did you know that this coming Tuesday, September 17, is Constitution Day? I knew but actually
forgot until I got an email from Jolanthe over at Homeschool Creations. She shared what she was going to do with her family and also shared some printables she created to go along with their lessons. They looked pretty great so I decided that we would take advantage of them and integrate some Constitution learning in our homeschool next week as well.

I am planning on using her printables along with the Constitution Day DVD from Shlessinger Media that we got from our local library. This is a short 12 minute educational dvd that explains some key points about our Constitution and what it means to be a US Citizen. There are also discussion questions on the video and a Teacher's Guide that can be printed out from the link above.

We will also read some books we checked out including the following; A More Perfect Union, We the People, and If You Were There When They Signed the Constitution.

The book I am most excited about however is one entitled Constitution Translated for Kids by Cathy Travis. I have read through this book and find it so valuable to our week's studies. The almost 100 page book has pages divided into two columns, the left column for the Constitution in it's original wording and for the right column, Mrs. Travis has painstakingly translated each paragraph, article and amendment into language that is more easily understood by children (and adults!) Here is a peek:

The original, "No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken."

Quite a mouthfull!! The right, translated column reads,"Congress must tax according to the number of citizens there are in the country based on the census. (The Sixteenth Amendment changed this so Congress could charge and collect taxes any way they wanted.)"

Makes it more understandable doesn't it? The book includes the 7 Articles, The Bill of Rights, Other Amendments, Words to Look at While You Are Reading and more. This may be one book that I end up purchasing for our family. It would be a great reference tool to have on hand.

I am also hoping to work hard on having our older kids memorize the Preamble to the Constitution next week as well. (Jolanthe included this in her printable packet linked above.) I memorized it in 7th grade and still know it to this day! We will take a look at the Preamble sentence by sentence and talk about the meaning of each. 

With so much going on in our country right now I feel it's so important that our children learn about this document that our Founding Father's thought was so important to create. I am hoping that they learn, at least a little, about why our nation is so great. 

And also, Sept. 17th isn't just Constitution Day for us, but it happens to be the 8th birthday of our Boy! Wow, can't believe this handsome fella is already gonna be 8. What a blessing this guy is to our family. Couldn't imagine our 4 pinks without this blue!!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, September 6, 2013

How We Homeschool Part 1 - Because of "Whatever"

Before I can even tell you why we homeschool I need to start from the very beginning. Way back in the fall of 1996, when I began Bible college, I was headed into a two year Secretarial degree. Little did I know that God had other plans in store for me.

The hubs and I in our college days.
You see, I was never one of those girls who knew exactly what she wanted in life. You know the type. The ones who, at age 14, know what colors they are going to pick out for their bride's maid's dresses, how many kids she was going to have, and what they were to be named. No, I never spent much time, if any, thinking about those kinds of things. All I knew is that from the time I came to know the Lord as my personal Saviour (at almost 15), I wanted nothing more than to please Him. It didn't really matter to me how I was going to go about doing that, I just knew that is what I wanted to do. Whatever He asked, I would do.

So, this two year degree in Secretarial Business was changed by the end of my Freshman year. When I came back as a Sophmore, I was now looking at a degree in Elementary Education. No, not something I ever would have considered, but when you tell God "I will do whatever", He will lead you to "whatever".

I spent the next three years taking teaching classes and trying to figure out how to take a shy, quiet young girl and turn her into a "teacher." Along the way I met and fell in love with a quiet, unassuming guy named Jerry, the most faithful man you will ever meet by the way! After graduation I spent the summer planning my wedding and preparing to teach 2nd grade. I was excited. Still surprised that I was going to be a teacher, but excited nonetheless.

My first year was amazing, I LOVED my class. They were the sweetest kids and we had a great year. I cried at the end of the year awards ceremony. I had grown so close to these children, they were the first kids that I ever really felt close to. And, honestly, THEY taught ME so much. That year changed me and looking back I can see why.

Teaching them helped me to grow up, it prepared me for my life as a Mom. And that was only one year!

We had our first child midway through my 2nd year of teaching. God was already setting things in motion for my "life as a teaching Mom."

Big Sister helping out the Little Sister.
During the summer of 2002 we relocated to North Carolina where my husband took a position on staff at a church to begin a Spanish ministry. We served happily there and welcomed another baby girl only 22 months after the first was born.

It was around that time that my husband and I began to talk about school. I had assumed that we would just send them to a Christian school. I never gave homeschooling much thought actually until we moved to NC. The Pastor's wife homeschooled her girls but other than that, it was a foreign concept. I never planned to be a stay at home mom. As a matter of fact, I clearly remember one Sunday when our oldest was only a few weeks old. I was standing in the church nursery talking with another mom. I don't remember how we got into the conversation but I vividly remember saying, "I am just not the stay at home type." She wholeheartedly agreed that neither was she. I bet the Lord was laughing at me then! (What does the "stay at home type" look like anyway?!)

The biggest 3 kiddos in '07
Anyway, my husband and I came to the conclusion that we would probably not be able to afford Christian school on his meager income. He brought up homeschooling. I remember not being thrilled at all but made it a matter of prayer because I wanted to do whatever it was that God wanted. Just like most mothers, I wanted to give my children whatever it was that God had planned for me to give them.

I read up on homeschooling, talked with some preacher's wives that came through our church about it, spoke with my own Pastor's wife about it and prayed. After some time God began to show me that this was what He wanted for our family.

So, in the fall of 2006, I "officially" began teaching my oldest who was all of 4 years old. (Honestly, I never taught any of my others that early. That's the zealous beginning of a homeschool life for you!)

I will be honest, it wasn't all as smooth as I wish it were. We struggled...well, mostly I struggled and brought my poor little girl with me. Homeschooling was not and is not easy, however I could see God working in me. Continuing to mold me into the Mom that He knew I needed to be. Into the Mom that I wanted to be, I just didn't know it.

Me, preggo with baby 4.
Long story short, we now have 5 kids and are in our 7th year of homeschooling. Our boy is being homeschooled for the first time since he spent the last two in a Christian school and our girls did spend one year school also. More on that in a later post.

But, that is how we got our begninning. No fancy stories, no sparkling revelations from God, just a slow and steady pace, step by step, with me committing my life and desires to God Almighty. It amazes me sometimes to sit back and think that the little child-fearing girl (I NEVER babysat!) that I was has been transformed into a teaching Mama of five. God will do the unthinkable in your life if you simply let Him have control. His will may take you to places that you never dreamed of but there is nothing sweeter than being confident that you are doing His work.

Psalm 37:4,5 reminds us, "Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; him and he shall bring it to pass."

We see from these verses that we need to first, delight in Him. Delight. Just enjoy your Saviour, take great pleasure in Him and Who He is. He promises to give you the desires of your heart if you do. My desires were simply to do whatever. And He gave me that through being a Mom and homeschooling. He gave me something I didn't even know I wanted, yet am so thankful for!

Next, we need to commit our lives to Him, all of it. Don't hold any part back. If you are His child then it belongs to Him anyway.

And finally, trust that He knows what He's doing. Don't fret, just tell the Lord that whatever He wants, you will be willing to do. You may be amazed at where you find yourself!
Drawn by my oldest in '07.

Drawn by my oldest in '07.

So that is why we homeschool. Not because we have a disdain for public school, not because we are against private Christian education and not because we want to seclude our children from the world. We homeschool simply because we told God we would do whatever and THIS is our "whatever." We are homeschoolers because God has called us to it. Nothing more, nothing less.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How We Homeschool

As of late I have had questions about homeschooling from many of my non-homeschooling friends. Although I try to answer as many of their questions as possible, I don't always feel like I've explained our reasons for homeschooling well. 

I have spent a lot of time thinking and praying about that over the last few days and have decided to do a series of blog posts about what homeschooling looks like to our family.

Please keep in mind that homeschooling can be as diverse as the family who is doing it and there is no "formula" for a successful homeschool. Anyone considering schooling at home should first make it a matter of sincere prayer. It is not an easy undertaking by any means but the grace of God extends far beyond what you and I comprehend. Where He leads, He will provide grace and strength to see you through.

Now, all of that being said, I have to admit that I am only an Occasional Blogger. (I even considered that as a name for this blog!) That means that I am not a weekly series type of gal. I would dare to say that I may not even be a bi-weekly series type of gal. We have a large family, which requires lots of attention and we homeschool. I am busy. However, I feel compelled to explain why we are doing what we do, so I will do my best to be as faithful as life allows. Please be patient with me. I will finish this series...eventually! :)

So, if you are curious about homeschooling, stay tuned, cause this Momma of 4 Pinks and A Blue is gonna share her story with you.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Quiet Book for a Noisy Child

Since the beginning of time I have run all my errands and made all my appointments with my 4 pinks and a blue. Okay, so that was a slight exaggeration. It hasn't been since the beginning of time but it feels like I've been doing it that long sometimes. :)

People often ask how in the world I can do all those things with all these kids in tow, but those of us with big families know that it's not much different than doing things with 2 or 3 kids. You get use to what you have to handle and you find ways to make things a little easier in the process.

Take today's post for instance. Our church is beginning a Ladies Prayer Meeting on Thursdays that I really want to be a part of. It will be no problem for the 18 month old because, Lord willing, she will be taking a nap at that time. :) But the 4 year old will be a participant of the meeting...and we all know 4 year olds don't we? They cannot be trusted to be quiet for long periods of time. At least mine can't. But I love her!!!!

I had pinned some Quiet Book ideas to one of my Pinterest boards a while back and quickly thought of them when I found out about the meetings. I made it my goal this week to get a couple pages done so that the 4 year old will have something to "quietly" occupy herself while we pray.

My favorite idea is the Potato Head quiet pages. Isn't she adorable? Jocelyn of Sunshine, Lollypops and Rainbows was amazingly kind enough to offer the pattern for free!!! Go there to get it!!

Today I will share with you how I made these for our littlest Pinks.

1. Print off pattern here.
2. Decide which colors of felt you will need to buy. (I would suggest that you even write on the pattern pieces which colors of felt you want for what so you don't forget anything.
3. Decide which color/colors you want to use for the actual pages. I used a whole sheet of felt from Wally World for each page.
4. Decide how you are going to bind your pages. I simply hole punched mine since I know that the kids will be sharing the book and I think it defeats the purpose of a Quiet Book if the children are fighting over it. :) (I wasn't up to making two books either.) I placed mine in a binder for now. SEE NOTE TOWARDS END OF POST.
5. Buy your felt and also TWO erasable markers. You will want one to be white so that it will show up on the darker colors of felt.
6. Gather your other basic sewing supplies: thread, scissors, seam ripper and any little
embellishments if you would like; rick-rac, buttons, lace...you get the point.
7. Start. It took me between 3 and 4 hours to complete this project. I didn't do it in one sitting though I did start and finish the same day. Yes, I was up late...my excuse for the terrible lighting in the pictures you are about to see.

 I cut out all the patterns and then traced them onto the felt with a water soluble marker. I then cut each shape, except for the body, earrings, eye centers, flower center and the bucket "envelope" out in a double layer so that the pieces would be sturdier.
 I decided to machine sew mine but you could hand sew it as well. As a tip, if you want to embellish any of the pieces, like the lips, you have two options: 
  • You can sew both layers together and embellish through both which will result in the stitches being seen on both sides.
  • Or you can embellish the top layer first and then sew the top layer to the bottom layer giving you a nice clean looking back side. This is more time consuming but the perfectionists out there may be more satisfied with this option.
I simply sewed mine through both layers cause I didn't think about it before I started. Not sure I'd have opted for option two anyway though. Tells a lot about me huh?! :)

 I also opted to sew with my twin needle. Not any scientific reason why, just wanted too. Well, it was already in my machine from a previous project and I was too lazy to change it. I like how it all turned out though. Follow your machine's instructions for sewing with a twin needle.
 How that hat looks after sewing, love that contrasting cream thread!
 Carefully cut out your pieces being careful to leave enough felt on the outer edges of the stitches. And DON'T cut through your stitches!! That would just be sad.
 Repeat for each piece adding as many or as few details as you would like. Love how it's coming together!!!

Ugh, sorry about the shadow! It was late remember. This is the bucket envelope. To make sure it was laying straight I used a ruler to measure 1.5 inches from the bottom of my poorly cut felt page. :/ Pin and sew in place. 

Do the same for the bodies but make sure you leave enough room for the hat and shoes! I also only sewed the arms down under the body. They hang free so that the girls can slip things on and off of them. They do hang off the page a bit but it's not an issue for me since the book isn't bound. 

NOTE: If you were going to sew your pages together however you may want to purchase some yards of felt off the bolt so that your pages are big enough.
Give them to your little one and let them have fun!! I do have to say the the bigger 3 had lots of fun with these spuds before leaving for school this morning! Who said they were just for the younger kids huh?

Sigh. I just love when a project turns out!! I want to cut out more pieces but this is what is ready for tomorrow's meeting. Pray that it works and she plays quietly cause right now she is playing with it...and singing...loudly. Oh boy.

Linkin' it up:

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