Thursday, June 30, 2011

Life of Fred Elementary math is now out!

I've been patiently waiting for this to be released. I think Skylar will love using this for math. It's math in story format, not using text or workbooks.
Here are some links to read more about it:

Life of Fred
Samples

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Today we are starting an obedience chart

This was a concept I read about in the Duggars book, The Duggars 20 and Counting. They teach their children instant obedience through the use of an obedience chart and a game somewhat like simon says. I looked online and found a few charts already made up by other Mom's but I like this blank one the best from Chart jungle that I can customize a bit, putting the kids names on top.

Friday, June 10, 2011

New school room pictures

Today the kids and I spent the day (well some of the day) getting our playroom and school room in order. In our new house (since Feb) we've done school in the kitchen. But today I got sick and tired of the way the school room and playrooms were looking, especially as these are the first rooms guests see when they come over.
I also organized the preschool workbox/basket items into easy to access set up for both my younger kids. 




Close up of two year olds items. 
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My two year olds items are in this easy access basket. 

This a holding area for extra items for any items for the youngers boxes. 


Playroom (on floor plan this is the formal dining room)


Enough books for now but didn't unpack all of them for now. 

Over by the railing is the preschool workbox materials.


This is a close up of my son's activity bags.
They are in Gallon size Ziplock bags. 
These are the items my 4 year old uses just a close up of the bags. 

On the wall of windows is the older girls workboxes. This room would be the formal living room for others.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Some fun things for preschoolers/toddlers

I just put a quick list together for a friend of some of the things in our preschool work box / workbaskets and thought I'd copy and paste it here:

-Playfoam (this is easier than playdough to pick off of carpet and does not dry or harden)
-Play dough with some tools, especially those playdough scissors (all done over a box or tray to keep things neat)
-Puzzles (the ones with the wood knobs are great for younger kids or the big wood cube that has the shapes that you put into them)
-My 4 year old loves file folder games. Some I printed free offline and others I made on my own using posters that I bought from Rainbow Resource for maybe $1 each. Then I laminated them and put them in a file folder. I did one for numbers and colors that he loves.
-Homemade bolt board. This is a scrap of wood that we made so my son can use a small screwdriver and put bolts in and out of it.
-Homemade clay and golf tees to hammer into the clay. We got non hardening modeling clay, used a notepad memo cube (ours happened to be golf theme) added golf tees to it and found a small hammer that Decklin had for another toy.
-Scraps of paper with hole punches
-Color wonder makers and paper sets
-Lacing beads and lacing cards
-Mighty minds
-Lauri toddler and preschool pack (love these as they are not made in china LOL)
-Safari toobs (these are made in china but lead free and non toxic). Come in varying animals, insects and varying playsets.
-Fun felt (Decklin has the dress up bear felt set). I'm getting Ember the toddler book so we can take that to church for her.
-Kumon About 2 books (cutting, pasting, etc)
-Funtastic Frogs from Rainbow Resource (with activity cards). Decklin loves these!
-Brainquest Write and Erase sets (Amazon has these)
-Aquadoodle with a paint brush
-Colored toothpicks to put through holes I made in an old butter container
-Colored rocks (those kind you'd use in decorative items) they use these to put from one container to another and sort them by color, etc.
-Ember has an Alphabet Abacus that has pictures on one side and the letter on another.
-Stacking cups for Ember. I like the ones by Green Toys I think it is and my Mom got us some from Ikea also.
-Ember has rolling turtles by Haba that have three in a set and then the balls come off the turtles back.
-Haba fruit and veggies (sorting these is fun for the kids)
-From Curriclick for Decklin I got him a few really neat things:
1. Glue sheets (these are neat as Decklin uses glue to fill the dots.) here is the direct link: http://www.currclick.com/product_info.php?products_id=23392&it=1
2. More Glue sheets here is the direct link for that: http://www.currclick.com/product_info.php?products_id=21225&it=1
(they have a bundle of both on sale for $5 I saw today when I was there). Even the older kids like these for fun because who doesn't love playing with glue LOL.
-Mini cupcake pans with large cotton balls and tongs. Kids put them in and take them out with tongs.
-Dried pasta in varying colors. (They sort these by color or shape)
-Felt play food, like sandwiches to build, pizza slices to decorate. (I got these from Etsy.com)
-Ispy bags (also got these from Etsy) - We take these to church since it keeps them both so busy but your crafty and might be able to make something like this yourself.
-Small white boards with wipe off markers and eraser
-Small chalk board with chalk and eraser or wet sponge
-Leapster and other leapfrog items
-water colors with qtips (can use old eye shadow or make up you don't like either)
-Varying bare books (barebooks.com), for coloring, tracing stencils, etc.
-Sorting activities using beans, colored marbles, shapes, etc. and using spoons, tweezers, chopsticks and tongs.
-Flower arranging (I got a bunch from the dollar store and cut them into single flowers with long stems for fun arranging)
-Pouring activities of water from tiny pitchers to larger ones or into bowls
-A spray bottle filled with water and a dishpan to spray in (my 2 year old loves spray bottles LOL)
-bean count cards (these are cards I printed with the number and a dot or circle that matches the number on the card) and my kids use beans to fill the circle to correspond with the number on the card.
-Cutting pictures from magazines to make their own collages with glue. (with a child who is doing phonics I've had them hunt and find for things starting with certain letters).
-Legos
-Wood block shape sorter
-mini laundry basket (got ours from dollar store) and picked up 12 small balls in a pack, also from the dollar store. The kids can toss these into the basket. They put the basket on the steps and play a little version of basket ball : ).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Born again... One sermon changed my life.

I was reflecting tonight, and thinking that anyone who visits my blog may have noticed a change in my posting. Maybe noticed more about the bible or God in some of my posts where as in the past I made it a point to never really mention my beliefs on this blog.
Tonight I felt led to share a bit about what has led me to where I find myself at this moment in time.

We had a miracle from God in our family as our daughter Skylar went through her liver transplant 7 years ago. Her trials have been proof positive to us, not only of God's love and healing power but the power of prayers of many voices being joined as one, and prayer making a difference. I can clearly remember, Bry and Skylar being in the hospital one one side of the city and myself and our then infant daughter sitting in a church a few hours away, often for hours (so many circumstances made it hard for me to be able to get to see Skylar in the hospital as much as I needed to be there). So I sat in church, as close as I felt I could be to God with a baby in my arms with tears flowing down my cheeks, saying "please" over and over. This "please" I would say to God encompassed "Please don't let my baby girl die, please take me instead".
You know God's promise in the bible to Noah with the rainbow. We got that very same promise from God in the form of a rainbow the day of Skylar's transplant. And I knew in that moment, it was God saying "she will be okay". I felt it. God is good.

So you'd think with that experience under our belt, I'd never have lost my way and my faith would have been strong right?
But that was not the case. Despite my sitting and praying in the Catholic church those days for Skylar, nothing about church drew me toward it, and I still stayed away from attending any type of services.

You see as I look back over my life, my faith was never strong. If you'd asked me then if it was I would have said, oh yeah sure. Yes, I was brought up in a Catholic home (but I can't recall us really ever talking about God at home). Yes, I went to church (because I was forced) and went to Sunday school (again because I was forced). I received my sacraments in church, not because I wanted to. As soon as I was able to ditch going to church that was the first thing I did.  And I never planned on going back to church again. Did I still have faith? Yes    Did I still believe in God? Yes     Did I read the bible all the way through at any point in my life? No     Did I ever read about Jesus' time on earth? Never    Did I even own a bible that was not a child's bible once I became an adult? No   Did I believe the bible was the true word of God? Eh not so much. : (  Did I believe God was love? No   Did I pray to God each night out of love? No I prayed out of fear.   Did the God my church painted for me as a child resemble the God I've come to know now? No, not at all.
I did teach my children about God, but I was not feeling it in my heart.  I even used Sonlight curriculum for homeschooling and took out any books that I felt were "to Christian" aside from the kids bibles and wanted to use the cores in a secular nature.

Fast forward:
My life changed in one split second on 2/20/11 hearing a Pastor speak at my brother's church (now my church as well). I left the service, shook the Pastor's hand and said "that was amazing". I meant that like no sentence I ever said before.
From that service I felt a change in me, a driving force to go home and read the bible. I can assure you I'd never felt a pull like that before. I do feel it was the holy spirit. I only had children's bibles, so I went on Amazon and found a copy of the bible for people like me (me who never could make it through a bible), a bible called The Book. In this version it tells you to start with the Gospels on when Jesus walked the earth which is exactly what I did.... wow! Then from there I begin researching questions that came up as I read, notebooking the questions and answers, keeping emails from my Pastor of questions I'd asked him and his answers. I read More than a Carpenter and that answered any doubts I may have had about anything in the bible not being true. And from then I just could not stop seeking or as our church calls it, stalking God.
Today I attend church every Sunday because I can't wait to be there. A church I love! It's like a party every Sunday in God's honor! And it's fun to be there with others who do not believe that church has to be what I had been part of as a child. With Pastor's I respect and admire, who have taken the time to help me find my way by answering questions I'd been scared to ever ask before. Prayer time is now a daily priority to our family. Every night we pray together. We read God's word, we read character qualities from the bible, we read Jesus Calling together and in our prayer circle as a family, we feel God's presence in the center among us. Beyond just going through the motions of attending a church, we put into practice what the sermon is about. I leave service determined to change and I do make those changes in myself. I sought out a counselor who was Christian to help guide me in this journey and she has helped me work on areas that were of trouble to me. Bry and I have been baptized in our new church because it felt so right to do so, to make that commitment to God. We immediately felt different in our hearts something had changed. That hole that was once in my heart that was not filled despite having a wonderful husband and children, is filling now with my relationship with God. Each day I look forward to reading God's word and seeing how it will speak to me, and it does each time. I love reading Jesus calling, it's so uplifting and feels like a hug from God. Though Our whole family dynamic has changed with God at the forefront.
It is hard to describe accurately the chain of events that has been sparked from that one day at church. But as you can see, it's been an amazing journey.

I am now truly able to help my children grow with God because I absolutely without question feel that relationship with God myself. I feel so lucky that God is patient and kind and that no matter how long it took, he welcomed me with loving arms.
At their young ages my kids enjoy being in our church, they look forward to hearing the Pastor speak and look forward to each Sunday. I wish I'd have attended a church as a child that made me excited to be there. It may have shaped my taking a different path in so many aspects of my life. But the main point is that no matter how long the trip, I've arrived and it was worth the scenic route to get here.