Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Local Enrichment Plans

These plans have been a long time in the making.  I have reconsidered after the VBS debacle of 2013 and we are taking things slow.

Spitfire's extra curricular activities include:

1. Free time in gymnastics center once a week for an hour and a half.  We did this last year and Spitfire always has fun and tells me about the "new friends" she makes.  This is important to me because I don't want her to be awkward or that weird homeschooled girl!  I considered dropping this because of price (it's not too bad when you pay for the season rate, but money can always be used elsewhere, if ya know what I mean) but felt the social aspect was too important to lose, at least this year.

2. Activities with our local Catholic homeschooling group.  I've been working closely with our leader and we've come up with a rotation of activities so that we have something once a week.  We have previously (I have only been involved the last two years so I'm speaking of those) only met once a month, so this is a big change for our group, and some of our members have not taken to the idea yet.  I say it's only because they haven't seen the fruit of our labor.  The current plan is
     Week 1: Adoration & free play
     Week 2: Daily Mass & free play
     Week 3: Liturgical feast day & free play
     Week 4: Service project or field trip

3. Spitfire will try chorus with a newly formed co-op but widely respected (and fun) teacher!  I offered the other classes in the co-op, art and science, to Spitfire and she seemed too nervous, so I dropped that idea.

4. Separate from the homeschooling community, Spitfire will try Ballet again.  From our final experience with VBS I have some ideas to make her comfortable so she can thrive in her classes.

DIY Whiteboard

Do you like waiting until the last minute?

I do.

Or I don't but I always seem to do it anyway. 

The weekend before "school" started in our home, I told Blazing Inferno that I needed a magnetic whiteboard.  Oh, and I needed him to cut the huge whiteboard in our garage and to also make a wooden frame for said whiteboard out of materials found only in our home.  He wanted to buy MDF, I said no.  I'm pretty mean like that.  I asked if he could buy real wood instead.  Then I asked if he could use the free maple in our garage.  To use the {free} wood in our garage to make our {free} whiteboard, he informed me that he would have a buy a tool.  It was so hard for him to say it and it was even harder for him to get a new tool out of the deal.  We're still saving money because the tool can be used for a number of other things whereas if we had bought new wood, it would have been the frame for the whiteboard and that's it!

Now where did we get such a giant whiteboard?  Friends of ours came into two huge whiteboards from a local college that was getting rid of them.  They took what they wanted from the whiteboard and gave us the rest :)


 fancy routed (routered?) edges
complete and ready to be used!!!
I bet you wish you had a handy dandy husband to turn an ordinary whiteboard into exactly what you need, and make it beautiful in the process!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Kindergarten Plans

September is quickly approaching (runs and hides under rock) which means our little Spitfire will be starting Kindergarten!  She was super excited last summer to start kindergarten but I told her then we'd call it PRE kindergarten and that satisfied her.  Now that we are actually starting kindergarten, she is not as thrilled.  Go figure!

Laminating is FUN!

Our plans include (but are not limited to):

We are finishing up Pre-Level 1 but I hope to complete All About Reading Level 1 this year.

Read Alouds/Morning Basket
I've compiled a reading list (future post?) drawing from 4 sources of good literature for Spitfire and Firecracker.  I will also read selections from Kindergarten Stories and Morning Talks by Sara E. Wiltse.

After finishing My First School Book we will work on Letters and Numbers for Me from Handwriting Without Tears.  We will also use the wooden letter pieces (again) and our homemade sandpaper letters (again!).

I debated for so long about which curriculum to choose for math.  I settled on Rightstart Math Level A.  I'm hoping the hands on approach really resonates with Spitfire.  She is a tricky one to pin down!

We will draw from several resources (My Jesus and I from CHC, Catholic Children's Treasure Box 1-20, Leading Little Ones to Mary, and Kindergarten Catechism from Seton) as well as reading along the Liturgical year with picture books and accompanying crafts!

We will continue with Making Music Praying Twice!

We will continue with Perceptual Motor Lesson Plans by Jack Capon.

History/Science/Nature Study/Geography
A selection of living books that will be added to our morning basket.  We will also do science experiments from the Magic School Bus science kits for some hands on learning. Perhaps (and hopefully!!!!) start a nature journal.

Arts and Crafts
Pinterest and other Blogs will be my inspiration!

Habit Training
This might be the biggest thing I want to work on this year!  Yes, even more than phonics or math!  The two resources we are going to use are Laying Down the Rails and Laying Down the Rails for Children from Simply Charlotte Mason.  We will try to role play and model appropriate behavior.

In addition, we will be seeking enrichment from our local (awesome) homeschooling community!  Hopefully I will be back soon to post my goals for Firecracker!  Hint: Montessori and busy bags! :) 

Monday, August 12, 2013

VBS Recap

More for my own recollection:

Wednesday: Brave juice didn't work, but bribing with screen time did.  I almost gave up again but after a brief break while I nursed Sparkle, Spitfire and Firecracker played bubbles with an angel-mama-friend.  After that, Spitfire went willingly to join her group for recess!

Thursday: We were waiting outside when Spitfire's "tribe leader" arrived and asked Spitfire if she was coming in.  Spitfire ran over to her, grabbed, her hand, and went in.  I stayed for about 10 minutes to be sure she didn't run out of the building and then went home!  Or rather to the zoo with Firecracker and Sparkle!

Friday: Spitfire wanted to do the same routine so we stalked  waited for her "tribe leader" and she went in with her!  That night, there was a show for the parents to see what the children learned all week.  Spitfire was talking about it for days, planning who she was going to invite (EVERYONE) and what she was going to wear (something FANCY).  Once there, she again waited for her "tribe leader" and joined her group.  The first big song, Spitfire carried the sign with their tribe name in a procession.  When it was their turn on stage, she joined them and even sang!  We were so proud as it was a major accomplishment for her!  (She neglected to do the hand movements, but one step at a time) Finally, for the last two songs, she stayed on stage, sang, and did the hand movements!

All in all, it was an emotionally charged week for all of us!  I'd call it a success for sure, even if the first day was a GIANT FAIL.  Blazing Inferno (as my husband would now like to be called after asking him if I could refer to him by his real name...) and I were very proud of the progress Spitfire made this week.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

God's letter to me

Last night Firecracker re-broke the leg that had just come out of the cast the day before.  It was hard on all of us.  I kept trying to discern God's will in the situation.  Why again?  Why us?

I realize in the grand scheme of life, this injury isn't a huge deal.  In 4-6 weeks we will be done.  Some parents have sick children much longer and with much worse conditions.

However, I still dreamed up this letter from God to myself

Dear Karra,
You didn't learn your lesson my dear girl.  The first time this happened, you got the idea.  Be more intentional with your children, they are only little for a short time.  There were fun craft projects everyday, sitting outside with everybody while the big children played, playing fun games together, and just plain playing together.  But, as Firecracker became mobile again, you slipped into some old habits.  By the time the cast was off, it was as if it never happened.  STOP.  Enjoy your children where they are right now.  Even if it is hard.  Even if you are tired.  You can do it!

I'm recommitting to being intentional with the children EVERY DAY.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

AP Parenting Success!

After yesterday, I believe today can be viewed as a success!

VBS started with mass this morning in which the parents were invited to stay.  Sparkle's fan club was there so I had help juggling all three little ones during mass.  Daily mass is so awesome because you get to receive Jesus in the Eucharist and its abbreviated.  That's what having young kids will make you appreciate, a shorter mass!  I had promised Spitfire "brave gum" after mass.  I took her to her group and she stayed with her friend.  My mistake: staying within sight.  She came to find me in a couple minutes (was chatting in the back with some mama friends) and I admit, I was worried.  We had agreed beforehand that I would stay but that she would stay with her group.  I reminded her of this several times.  Firecracker was begging for a drink from the water fountain, so we all went to get a drink.  When Spitfire was having a drink, I told her that I noticed that the "brave juice" was filling up her leg and she needed to drink more.  The next sip I told her it was all the way to her neck and she needed one final sip.  After that, she was full of "brave juice" and ready to join her group.  I took her to a couple stations but we ended up at the one where her friend was completing a craft.  I left her there and quickly went outside.  Firecracker, Sparkle and I set up a picnic outside the door (in case she bolted, she would find me right away).

I was so curious to find out if she was doing anything or sitting off to the side but I had to resist because I knew I was toast if she saw me.  At one point I went to retrieve Firecracker from the door and I saw Spitfire run up next to her friend and she. Was. Smiling!  Success!

A couple times, some women came out and told me that she was doing great and that I could leave.  I didn't feel that I could because I told Spitfire I wouldn't and I needed her to trust me.

We all made it to the end.  And we made it peacefully.  Spitfire was very excited and talked about it on and off all night long.  She did admit to us that she didn't participate in everything, but I am just so glad she stayed with her group.  And she was singing the songs all night! :)

Praying tomorrow brings as much joy and more...

Monday, August 5, 2013

Epic Fail, if there was ever a TRULY. EPIC. FAIL.

Picture this:

There is a crying mama holding a sleeping infant, 5 year old crying/screaming clutching her leg as if she will DIE if she lets go and a 2 year old crying out of confusion at the whole matter trying to find his own spot to grab onto his mama.

Welcome to my morning.

The plan was for Spitfire to attend a local Vacation Bible School (VBS) with a friend of hers.  Apparently, as goes with her "nickname," Spitfire wasn't having it!  I knew it was going to be a stretch to have her stay and participate but figured it might work since her good friend would be there. 

I can immediately see Spitfire taking in everything that is going on as we check in.  The first thing she tells me is that she's not going to wear her bandana (each group had a different color bandana).  She wouldn't join her group for the opening song.  I went with her to join her friend at a craft station with no speaking or crafting from her!  Firecracker, on the other hand, took her piece of clay and started to do what they asked.  When they looked or asked him a question though, he looked down and whispered "Don't look at me."  ( I laughed so hard to myself)  At this point, the dear friend holding Sparkle for me, came to me because Sparkle wanted to nurse.  The three of us went to the back of the gym to take care of Sparkle.  Then Firecracker decided he needed a snack from the car.  Our other dear friend offered to go get it, sweet little pregnant thing that she is :)  This introverted mama was reaching her limit.  Throughout all this, the endless dialogue between Spitfire and I was exhausting.  I started to cry.  I managed to keep it together though.

An extremely nice woman, who informed me she was the nurse, came to "help" next.  Little did she know, my sweet children are not even a smidge normal so her normal helping tricks wouldn't even touch the surface.  Her plan was for Firecracker to stay with her and color with markers while I took Spitfire over to the crafts again (clueless to the nursing infant).  Hah!  First, unlatch nursing infant.  Next "leave" Firecracker - he followed us (as I knew he would).  Third, bring Spitfire to complete craft.  How many guesses as to whether she did it??  Anyone?  Big fat no.

Snack time was next.  Would Spitfire sit next to her friend?  Nope.  Would Firecracker beg to drink her juice?  Yep.  Meanwhile, someone had taken Sparkle again. I lost it at this point.  Tears and lots of them were falling from my emotionally exhausted face.  Firecracker was so sweet and confused asking why I was crying.  All this leads to the climax of the story: There is a crying mama holding a sleeping infant, 5 year old crying/screaming clutching her leg as if she will DIE if she lets go and a 2 year old crying out of confusion at the whole matter trying to find his own spot to grab onto his mama.

It was time to go.  You may be asking why we stayed so long.  Spitfire kept claiming she didn't want to leave.  Her motivation to stay was because she was supposed to be going to said friends house after VBS.  Spitfire still wanted to go to her house, but she did not want anything to do with VBS.

The women there thought I was crying because I didn't want to leave Spitfire.  Believe me, I was OK leaving her, I was crying because I was so sad and emotionally exhausted.  They and others surely wondered why I didn't just leave Spitfire and let her cry.  It's just not what we do.  Does it look like the children run the household?  Perhaps.  Do I care?  Yes, even though other people's perceptions shouldn't bother me.  If I left her to cry, would that make her feel safe in the environment?  (No.)  Would she get over it?  (Maybe.)  Did WE ALL get over it when our parents left us? (Maybe.)

I don't mean to complain of the situation.  It certainly has brought up a lot to think about. I'm now rethinking all of my "plans" for this coming school year.  God has sure been chuckling over my plans lately!