Sunday, September 27, 2015

First Day of School 2015

So, I guess we've kind of started a tradition of starting school at the end of September, which is totally fine by me!  =)

We had our first day last week, so of course we took some pictures.  Unfortunately, it was not our finest hour for picture-taking, but oh, well!

The good news is that so far everyone is excited about doing, as they call it, "school supplies"!  Ha!  =)  Hopefully that enthusiasm keeps up!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Our Big Camping Road Trip!

We just got back from the camping road trip that we've been looking forward to for months!  We loaded up our minivan with all of our stuff and all of our kids and spent a week on the road, traveling from Western Washington all the way down the coast of Oregon and into the Redwoods in Northern California.  We'd never been gone that long with the kids before, so we weren't quite sure how it would go, but it was great!  We got up really early Friday morning and left at 4 am to miss traffic, which was fun and made it feel really special!  =)  The Oregon coast was gorgeous; we played in the sand, dipped our toes in the ocean, and enjoyed seeing the creatures in some tide pools.  The Redwoods were definitely a highlight of our trip; they were huge and so beautiful!  We did some tent camping, and then stayed in yurts for a couple of nights, and a cabin for a couple of nights.  The kids loved playing at the campsites, and they got to play with some kids they met.  While we love tent camping, it was fun to try some different things, and we really enjoyed staying in the yurts.  It rained the last couple of nights of our trip, so we were really glad we weren't staying in a tent then!  We did end up spending a lot more time in the car than we had anticipated; all of our drives took much longer than Google said they would!  But the kids did fantastic in the car; we were really proud of them.  I made them each a Lego box, using a metal lunchbox, and those kept them pretty busy.  We also listened to several audiobooks that I had checked out of the library, and we started our Story of the World audiobook (it was a hit with everyone).  Although some of us occasionally needed a break from the constant noise, the audiobooks worked really well for the long car drives.  We had so much fun, got lots of much-needed rest, and made lots of new family memories!

Some of the picture highlights:

We kept seeing these adorable, small brown squirrels.

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach

Tide Pools

He had so much fun with the sand!

The Tillamook Cheese Factory

Samples!  Yum!

Our first Yurt

Inside the yurt

This grassy hill overlooking the ocean made me think of
Anne of Green Gables, so I had Seth take a picture,
but the picture didn't really capture it very well.

There was this awesome climbing tree by the
yurt that the kids really enjoyed!

Face Rock.  Do you see it?

The cabin we stayed in.

The Redwoods!

So gorgeous...

And...that's a wrap!  

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Homeschooling Plans 2015

My homeschooling plans for the year are set, and I'm looking forward to what we have planned!
This year Benjamin will be in 1st grade and Joanna will be starting kindergarten.  We're continuing to keep things really simple and relaxed, although I'm adding just a bit more structure to what we did last year.

Here's my plan:

We'll be continuing with our "morning time", which consists of doing our calendar, reading stories, working on a bit of memorizing, songs, reading poems, and the like.  As we discovered last year, it works for us to do it right before lunch, after our morning clean-up.

We will also continue to read lots of books.  We read stories before bed, and I read chapter books at lunch time.

Both Benjamin and Joanna will be doing reading this year.  Last year I worked with Benjamin on reading for 5-10 minutes a day during rest time.  Since I'll have two reading this year, I've decided to do it after rest time, so that I can enjoy rest time, too!  Joanna will be learning to read, and we'll be using Alphaphonics again.  Benjamin knows how to read now, so his goal will just be to practice.  We'll be getting easy readers at the library and I'll spend 10 or so minutes a day with him, working on fluency and comprehension.

In addition, I'm adding what I'll be calling "project time" to the afternoons.  After snack time, we'll stay at the table for 20 or so minutes and work on different things each day.  This is really for Benjamin, but my plan is to have everyone there, and the younger kids can either participate in what we're doing, or they can color or do other table activities.  One or two days a week we'll be working on writing, either by writing in a journal, our learning notebooks, or writing letters.  Seth is going to do art with the kids one day each week.  We'll also do math one day and history one day.

I've chosen Life of Fred for our math curriculum this year.  I've heard nothing but good things about these books, so I purchased the first one.  We received it and I've looked through it a bit, and it seems perfect for us!  The whole point of the curriculum is to apply math to everyday life, and to teach it through story form, which fits my unschooling and learn-through-life tendencies perfectly, and I'm really excited about it!

For History, we're using Story of the World.  Again, I hear nothing but good things about this, so we're trying it out.  I purchased the audio version, so we're planning on listening during our history time each week, but we can also use it in the car, or I can play it during snack or lunch time if I need to move our schedule around.  I'm excited to see how I like this, and I'm hoping I'll learn some new things, too!

We'll be doing some Bible learning, too, going through our What's in the Bible dvds again.  This is an excellent series, and our whole family enjoys it.  We'll probably be watching one episode a week.  I plan on having us rewatch this series every year, for, I guess, forever.  =)

Since we have a zoo membership now, we're planning one going there frequently, we also go to our local kids museum often, and we usually go to the library once a week.  I'm hoping to plan a few other field trips this year, as well, such as the fire station, salmon hatchery, etc.

We're also planning on experimenting with "learning notebooks".  Our thought with these is to have the kids choose something they want to learn about each week, find a few books at the library about their chosen subject, and read them.  Then, during our writing time, they can write, draw a picture, or dictate something they learned.  We'll give it a try and see how it goes.

We recently discovered Magic School Bus DVDs at the library, and have been watching through those.  I never really watched these as a kid, but I've been enjoying them, too!  They are fantastic, and are great for learning science in a fun way!

This sounds like a lot when I write it all out, but most of it is just woven into life and becomes just "what we do", so hopefully it will continue to feel like that!  I've consciously chosen to not "do school" in the morning, which is really the kids' main play time, and my work time, so for us the afternoons are more open to other activities.

I'm excited to see how this year goes!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Six Months

Simon is six months now, which of course is a bit unbelievable.  Wasn't he just born, like a month ago?  He is such a happy baby, which I am so thankful for!  He is busy, too; he is constantly moving and grabbing things, and he loves to be down on the floor exploring.  He's not crawling yet, but he has no problem getting around the room, rolling around and scooting a bit.  He loves the Johnny-Jump-Up, too!  He has started eating some real foods now, and he is a huge fan!  =)

Mr. Two-Year-Old

We have a two-year-old in our house again; we celebrated Toby's birthday a couple of weeks ago.  Because he LOVES animals, we decided to take him to the zoo for his birthday, which was great fun. We didn't get to see nearly everything we wanted to, so we're already looking forward to going back! We got passes, and we'll try to go a bunch over the next year, since that totally counts as school in my book!  =)

We kept the rest of his birthday simple with a few little gifts, including training pants, because, yes, potty training time is coming soon!  Toby still doesn't talk much, just a couple of words here and there, but, of course, he still has no trouble communicating his wants, and he most definitely knows his own mind!  =)  Watching movies is pretty much his favorite thing, but he also likes playing outside, and just now at the end of summer has started liking to go in the pool and other water.  He loves books as well, especially ones with something to "find"!  For the most part, he's now dropped his daily nap, much to my chagrin, but so far he's doing great with rest time!   Toby is such a sweet, happy boy, and we are so thankful for him!  =)