Good thing is that while it looks insanely crazy, since everything has a place, it’s not too bad to clean up. It does look overwhelming though, and when mess stress strikes, this would definitely make me go bonkers. I love wooden toys and we much prefer that for our kids, but as the kids have gotten older, wooden toys don’t always cut it. We give in from time to time, especially when it comes to My Little Pony, but the grandparents give in often. We’ve learned to take a chill pill, and the grandparents even know that sometimes things get taken away. HA! And of course, there’s a whole lot of Spiderman because that’s just Brave’s thing and everyone gives her Spidey stuff.
We often do a whole lot of purging and donating to help limit our kids from becoming hoarders, but our kids are regular kids and while I don’t like all this stuff, I’ve learned to be okay with some of it. If you look closely, you’ll also see how they infuse their own creativity into their play, so even though the room looks out of hand, they’re making memories together and I’m cool with that. Plus, I’ll make sure they clean it after. I’ll definitely have to share some of our favorite toys in another post, as well as what this room looks like cleaned up.
These were the photo booth strips we took at the OC Fair. We pretty much only go to the fair to take these photos. I love these pictures so much. All our photo booth and polaroid pictures are just extra special to me, especially since I rarely print out photos (I’m just so bad at it). Oh and it was so hard to get all the girls in their own photo for that strip on the right. It goes so fast, and you’re trying to switch them out quick (and keep them close at the same time), it’s a feat I tell you!
I feel like my days are fuller than ever, and I’ve been trying to set more evenings aside to relax. I did get caught up on most my emails this week (high-five!), and I think I answered most of your blog comments back (if it warranted a reply), and with the girls gone on vacation with my parents next week, I’m hoping to cross lots of things off my to-do list. I always have a to-do list, but really, who doesn’t?!
I’ve been thinking a lot of how motherhood can feel so isolating sometimes. If you’re a working mom, stay home mom, or work-at-home mom, it’s still a lot of work and pressure no matter how you slice it. Your heart (and mind) is all over the place trying to love on everyone and do everything, but the busyness can be overwhelming. I’m trying to serve my kids well, love them well, feed them well, and teach them well (oh and of course Ben too), but sometimes I lose sight of grace and Jesus, and then I end up not doing so well after all. I’ve been reading the book, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full, and listening to this sermon on “Grace Filled Parenting,” and both have been a really good rebuke and encouragement to my heart.
Week two done and onto week three… whew! Days are much busier with homeschooling the three (we’ve sort of added Soul to the mix), or as they have progressed in grade, their learning material takes more time. Soul’s preschool age, but I’m not one to push kids to learn everything so early. I think children need a lot of play (they learn a lot through that) and when it’s time, and they seem ready, then we can tackle all that vowel, consonant, and number stuff. We’ve changed things up in our homeschool area to accommodate for her though, so she can feel part of it. Most of her “work” consists of coloring and drawing, but we’re slowly going through the vowels. The important thing is now she feels like part of the team, and she likes being right there next to her sisters as they learn. I’ll have a homeschool space tour for you soon, but for now, let’s talk about why (I’ve shared this before and it really hasn’t changed) and what we use.
I’ve tackled some of the whys we homeschool here, but basically, it’s what we feel is best for our family right now. That’s the same reason I gave in the previous post too. We live in an area with a good school district, and while I don’t doubt the teachers there are excellent, we still feel it best to homeschool our children. I have my bachelor’s degree in Child and Adolescent Development, and went on to get my California Multiple Subject Credential, and I used to teach 4th grade at a public school. I loved being a teacher to thirty, fun loving (most of them) fourth graders, and while my career as a public school teacher wasn’t that long, I think that experience really helps enrich my daughters’ homeschooling.
I find teaching my three daughters (still mostly two though) is much more difficult than managing a class of thirty, but it’s infinitely more rewarding (and did I mention hard?!). In addition, these days there’s a lot of pressure for teachers to “teach to the test” because of the standardized testing and what those scores mean for schools. While we still participate in the state testing, I’m free to teach my children with what I feel is best, not just in preparation for the test. We actually get to fully explore science, history, and art, which is something some schools may not be able to do as much due to class sizes, time constraints, and budgets.
While I advocate homeschooling, it may not be the best thing for your family and your situation. Every situation is different and we are all making the best choices we feel would best suit our family. I’m also thankful for the public school system. I still have many friends who are still public school teachers and they are so darn good at what they do. In regards to homeschool, private school, or public school, I don’t think one is particularly better than the other, but it’s to each their own. There are some parents who shouldn’t be homeschooling and they are some teachers who shouldn’t be teaching, you’ll find good and bad ones in both areas.
We mostly follow Classical Education, and while it really emphasizes facts, memorization, and language-based learning, especially in the early grades, I tweak and change it to what fits my kids best, and I give them plenty of opportunities for creativity. The structure of Classical Education is something we do well with, and I believe the learning of facts as a base is very important, but we always extend beyond the lessons to include creative projects. My children are visual learners, so I accommodate for that in our lessons.
Here is our curriculum information…
Math: Singapore Math
Reading: We go through different books through the year, but currently it’s Old French Fairy Tales since we’re focusing on the Late Renaissance/Early Modern period.
Grammar: First Language Lessons Level 3
Writing: Writing with Ease Level 3
Spelling: Spelling Workout Level C
Cursive: New American Cursive
History: Story of the World Middle Ages (almost done with this)
Science: Adventures with Atoms and Molecules with support from Usborne Sciecne Encyclopedia
Latin: Song School Latin (this our first year)
Art: Child-Size Masterpieces
It’s a lot of stuff, but listing it out looks more than it feels when we are doing it. I will have to break down how we tackle all this stuff, but history and science are taught on alternating days, same with Latin and art. In addition to what we do at home, they go to a full day school once a week (9am-3:30pm) and take a class on the American Girls, Geography, Spanish, and Theatre. They also get to interact with other homeschoolers there. The extra-curricular things they are involved in are hip hop, piano, and swim classes. Our days are full, I feel crazy most of the time, but we all try to find our rhythm together.
Technically, True is in third grade and Brave in second, but we do all third grade curriculum and Brave keeps up just fine. She scores especially high when it comes to informational text (she loves reading informational texts and encyclopedia type books!). I make accommodations for areas where I think they may be different, but they are so similar developmentally, that having them using material at the same level works great for the girls. It will be interesting when Soul joins next year for Kinder (and then Glow the year after) because I will have to become a better juggler. It will be a multi-age school house in our home!
The photos are just simple moments during the week. I’ve been working on being more intentional on shutting out excess noise in my life, and while doing so, I’ve noticed that I can no longer just enjoy a dull moment. If I have a free second at home, at a red light (totally guilty!), standing in line, or sitting as a passenger, I will automatically grab my phone to check it (email and instagram). It’s this mindless habit that I have become accustomed to and it’s absolutely horrible. This bad habit has contributed to some of the noise in my life and I have really been working on getting rid of it.
Ben and I were sitting outside one evening and he went inside to grab something. I saw the iPad right there on the table, it was either just sit there and do nothing, or grab the iPad. I wanted to grab it so badly, probably to check Pinterest or something, but I had to resist. There was nothing I had to look at, nothing urgent at all, but I’ve trained myself to fill my dull moments with an electronic device.
Therefore, this week I’ve tried to enjoy the dull moments more. Once the girls go to bed, I usually get on the computer to blog, email, or just waste more time (hello Pinterest and online window shopping!), but this week I’ve planned my evenings to stay away from the computer. I even enjoyed a glass or two of wine while reading a book or watching something relaxing on Netflix. The girls are usually getting ready for bed by 7pm, so if I have to do something online, I’ll try do it between 7-8pm, and then after that, step away and enjoy the evening with Ben. It’s been so refreshing. I feel like we’re both always working on our home, but we never get to enjoy our home. Does that make sense?! It’s like everyday is go, go, go, and we never actually sit there and enjoy it. Anyone else feel that way?
I’m going to keep on trying to enjoy these dull moments as they come. Sure, sometimes I may still check something on my phone, but I don’t want that to be my go-to all the time. It’s lame for my kids to see and I’m probably missing out on a lot of great things by looking down, even if it’s just for a couple minutes.
One great thing about all of them being close in age is that I don’t feel like I have to constantly entertain or play with them, especially when the baby is napping, because they all do a really good job of playing together (usually). A couple days ago, once the baby went to nap, I set off to organize and clean the homeschool area. I was so engrossed in my task that I had no clue what the girls were doing downstairs (parenting at its finest, right?!). It was pretty quiet and their was no fighting, so I took that as a good sign. Of course, the girls had no problems entertaining themselves. I went downstairs to find everything is disarray (I was totally controlling my urge to clean up), but their mess was really cute because they turned the whole first floor into an arcade central, more specifically it became Chuck. E. Cheese. I chuckled as I walked room by room reading the challenges and the “tocens.” Once I entered the guest room/play room, I had to smile big because of the prize area… there was all their junk, um, I mean toys, displayed for all to see.
And you know the best way to make clean your white walls?! Use a filter when sharing a picture of it on instagram… instantly wonderfully white! To be honest, all my white walls are pretty dingy due to little hands, toys, and crayons, and they all look like the second picture above.
Even though their home arcade messes looked pretty fun, they did have to clean it later in the day.
I’ve started to realize I have way too much noise in my life. Noise from binge watching shows on Netflix, from the internet, my own dumb wants, music, social media, projects, and the list goes on. I have been horrible at listening to my husband, children, and especially my God. I’ve filled my life with so much noise that I was losing focus and neglecting the things that should be most important to me. This week I started to see and hear more clearly, and I’m thankful for the different ways God revealed to me just how cluttered my life was. Sometimes I really suck at this wife and mother thing, so I’m praying (and trying to be more consistent at praying) that God keep shaping and growing my selfish heart into a selfless one.