Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Honeymoon is Over

No, I'm not talking about between Theo and I.  After 14 1/2 years our honeymoon phase is still going strong!! ;)  I'm actually talking about home schooling.  You remember this post?  Did you notice the last paragraph?  I always knew that if the home schooling thing didn't work out I always had the option of putting them back in school, well that time has come.  And I know my home schooling friends who are reading this right now are probably shaking their heads and thinking I didn't give it enough time.  Well, I agree, a few months is not enough time to get your bearings on home schooling.  But when you factor in going cold turkey teaching 4 different grade levels when you haven't had any experience teaching, things can get overwhelming very quickly.  I'm going to break down my decision for you.

1.) I wasn't totally convinced that this was to be my path in life, even after I made the decision to home school.  I always had my doubts.  When I would explain home schooling to others I felt I was having to reassure myself that this is the right thing, every time.  I made my Pro's and Con's list, but what looked good on paper, I found very different when actually applying them in life.

2.) No one warned me about how expensive home schooling was going to be!!  I wanted to do this as close to free as possible, but I didn't feel comfortable without a drawn out curriculum.  I just couldn't do the 'unschooling' way, or even a relaxed way.  I felt so much pressure on myself that there is just soooooo much information out there that my kids have to learn, how am I going to cram all that stuff into our days?  And I know people say kids are sponges, just let them go and they'll learn, but unless life is about "My Little Pony", "Barbie" and MineCraft, my kids are screwed!

3.)  As I mentioned before, I have 4 grade levels that I have to teach at once.  From 6th grade down to a Kindergartener.  What is fun for a Kindergartener, the older ones scoff at.  What's good for the older ones, the Kindergartener doesn't understand.  My 1st grader doesn't even attempt to understand!  I've done the 1-on-1 teaching, but we don't have a moments peace.  My lesson is always interrupted by fighting kids tattling on one another, or another needing some help with their individual work, or Charlotte needing her shows turned on.  A 15 minute lesson took double, or triple the amount of time!

4.)  That brings up Charlotte, I feel like she is being so neglected right now.  She just gets her sippy cup and marches upstairs to watch T.V. in our bed THE WHOLE DAY while I teach the other ones downstairs.  If I try to include her, she yells, she distracts, she tries to get everyone to laugh.  I just can't have her around when I'm trying to get the work done.  I miss my baby.  I took this opportunity because I missed my kids and feared missing their childhood to school, but lately I'm missing out on my snuggle time with my last born.  Once she's grown I won't have anymore baby...period.  Now I will give her the time that I was able to give to her siblings when they were all little.

But most important, something happened to me back when I wrote that first post.  A horrific, life shattering thing that rocked my world and was a major factor in my decision to home school.  The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.  When those Kindergarteners were shot down something in my brain broke and my heart was shattered.  I have a strong sense of empathy, which isn't always fun, and I put myself in those mothers positions, I can close my eyes and be in those classrooms.  I saw the terrified looks of the children that survived, and read all the stories about the families that were affected.  Even now my chest is seizing up and I'm fighting tears.  I sank into a deep depression, and the only way I knew to cope was to over compensate the protection of my taking them out of school.  I know it may sound rash, but to a mother who had a Kindergartener in school at that time, and another one who would be a Kindergartener I just couldn't deal.  Now I feel like I'm coming out of that dark place, that my brain and heart are healing, and because of that I'm able to just trust God and let them go back to school. 

I didn't make this decision on my own, even though I made the decision to home school on my own without consulting my kids.  We had a family counsel, and I asked the kids now that they know what home school is about would they like to keep doing it, or would they like to go back to school.  It was unanimous...they all wanted to go back.  They missed their friends, their teachers, even lunch from the cafeteria.  And even though I was sad that I wasn't successful in this, I felt peace.  That peace began to grow into excitement.  Hearing my kids 'educate' Hannah in all the cool things in school is just wonderful.  She is so excited to start school and I'm glad for her.  They all get to make friends that they get to see every day, have holiday parties. (I'm still bummed Hannah missed out on her first Kindergarten Halloween party and parade at school.)  Play on the playground, be in clubs...and down the road; dances, sports, choir.  I'm so excited for them to have all these experiences, even with the bad; bullies, tests, poor grades, rejection.  I saw on a show about numbers that it doesn't matter what kind of schooling you have, whether private or public (they didn't mention homeschoolers) the most successful kids were the ones whose parents were involved in their schooling.  I may not have been able to be their full time teacher, but I am going to be right there with them in school!  I love my kids and only want the best for them.

If I were to change anything about this experience it's that I would have started when Tobie was first starting out.  Not to say that some can't, I do not recommend doing like I did, cold turkey, BAM! four different grade levels!  It really was a wonderful experience, and when everything was going right it felt like magic.  I would encourage anyone who was thinking about it to start when their kids are little and see if it's something that you want to do, then you can add kids one at a time.  And by then you'll be getting the hang of it and it won't seem like such a shock.  Someone even suggested to me to just take out one at a time, but with my kids we can't do that.  If they see one staying home they are going to whine and complain until the cows come home that they want the same treatment.  It's best for us to just level the playing field so no one can compare and complain. 

It was a neat experience, and even though I didn't make it work for the long haul, at least I can say I tried.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pinterest Pulled Through

I can't believe it's been over a month since my last posting! I've been really busy lately, whoever said you would have more time when you home school?  I feel like I never have a free moment! But I love it, so don't take that as a complaint! :)  I'll just recap this month for you. 

At the beginning of the month Emma turned 7!  She said she wanted a dolphin cake, (I don't know where this came from, except for maybe it was that she was holding a stuffed dolphin right at the moment I asked her what kind of cake she wanted. LOL!) so I went on Pinterest to get some ideas.  I found THIS to be the perfect cake:

Since we have just a small family party on off birthdays, this was the perfect size.  It came with a template that I printed out and used to cut the cake rounds.

It was pretty fun piecing it together.  It took some maneuvering, but this is what it looked like when I finally had all the pieces lined up:

 She didn't want just any dolphin cake, she wanted a PINK dolphin cake.  Which I thought that sounded more like her style.  Did you know that there actually are pink dolphins in the Amazon?  Google's true, and they're really pretty.  Mine was pretty as well, I think:

The bow helps, LOL!  She really liked it, and that's what it's all about. :)  Can you tell she's happy?

She REFUSED to make a decent smiley face, hahahaha!  That's Emma for you!  It was a good birthday.

I got the chance to make another cake for a friend that I did THIS MYTHBUSTERS cake for.  This time it was for her 9 year old.  He was a hoot!  When I asked what he wanted he told me he wanted a statue of himself!  I thought that was too awesome, and I wanted to take him up on it, but then I thought that might be just too much for me, so I suggested a bust.  He liked the idea and I was so excited to do it for him!  I was really proud of this one:

I made the bust out of Rice Krispies and covered it in fondant.  The whole column part is pound cake covered in more fondant.  The disc that the bust is sitting on is foam board covered in fondant.  It was fun and delicious!! (....the cake, not the foam board...) ;)

We've had a few Art crafts this month in preparation of Halloween.  Here are a couple of our projects, both found on Pinterest:

 This one is made of glue and glitter.  You just make the outline of a spider web with glue on either wax paper or parchment paper, cover with glitter and let dry.  I let them dry for a whole day, then I could just peel them off the paper.  I used double sided tape to put them on the front of our screen door.  Mines the top right, all black, I have no creativity...below mine is Hannah's and she went with a Mardi Gras theme.  Emma's is beside hers and went with a Patriot theme, although it could work for Spiderman as well, ha! Then Miriam's is a little more glamorous than mine because she added some silver glitter with the black.  They did good, and I think they look good.  Tobie was too macho to play with glitter, that's why you don't see one for him.
 This was a really easy one as well.  You take old egg cartons and cut out 3 egg holders, paint them black and add googly eyes.  I hot glued some pretty festive ribbon to the top and then taped them up.  Little egg carton bats!  The fun thing with this is, I didn't have any black, so our lesson was learning how to make black out of the primary colors.  Can you guess who's pink bat is right there in the middle?  That's right!  Emma's!!  LOL!
Cute, easy and favorite kind of craft!  I love when Pinterest actually pulls through with great ideas! =)

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Best Kind of Fail

I found this cool counting game for Hannah on Pinterest:

I really liked the idea and for our Art class today (two birds, one stone ladies and gentlemen) she helped me make our own version of the game:

We decided to do a pumpkin instead, and used the candy corn with jelly pumpkin candy.  She LOVES this 'game' as I called it.  One of the die is for the corn and the other is for the pumpkins.  She puts the right number of each on the big pumpkin and then adds them up to give me the total.  Then I say, "Yes! 4 plus 6 is 10, good job!"  Then we clear the pumpkin and do it again, and again, and again, and again....and...again.  I had a chiropractors appointment which I thought ended our fun time.  But she wasn't near being done.

Here she is at the end of my bed with the game.  I told her it was night time and we would play the game tomorrow, but that just wasn't the answer she wanted.  She brought the game up to my room so she could keep playing with me.  I'm beyond happy that she loves this game so much, but as I titled this post, this is the best kind of fail.  I wasn't planning on playing this game WITH her for hours on end!  But, seriously, how can I complain when she is learning so much and being so dog gone cute doing it!

Monday, September 9, 2013

First Day NOT Back to School

I actually did it, I've been thinking about it for so long and it finally happened.  My kids woke up on the first day of school and....we didn't have to go anywhere.  We parked ourselves in our dining room and did a full days work of homeschooling.  It went pretty smoothly for the first day, I got to experience first hand how my kids SOAK up knowledge!  I was super boring, I focused on the basics, and yet they were awesome with it all.  I really hope this is the precursor to how life will be.  I know we will have our ups and downs, but for the majority I would love to have more days like this than the other way around.  We had Art today and for our lesson we did First Day of School photos.  We were going all over the yard trying to find the right lighting, we tried different positions until we could get a semi-professional pose.  It was so funny how much Miriam was getting into it, before I could say anything to the person I was taking the picture of she was behind me saying, "Straighten your back, pull your shoulders down, drop your chin...etc."  It was awesome!  I think I got some pretty good pictures, and here they are:

 Of course I couldn't leave Charlotte out, and yes, she is running around in the street in her pj's.
To celebrate our first NOT back to school day we ate dinner al fresco!  I absolutely LOVE when the weather is nice and we can eat outside.  The lights are a bonus.  The kids truly felt special and I was filled with love for each of these beautiful spirits Heavenly Father has trusted me with.  I can only hope and pray that He will give me the continued guidance to be the teacher He wants me to be, and the teacher that they need for many years to come!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Rice Krispy Wedding Cake

I don't normally do wedding cakes, but when someone at my church approached me about doing their son's wedding cake ALL Rice Krispies, I was intrigued.  They showed me a few examples on Pinterest, but I was worried that I wouldn't get the depth for the height of the cake to look right.  I knew I needed a deep dish cake pan to make the tiers in so I wouldn't have that layered look inside each tier, it had to be a block of Rice Krispy or it wouldn't look right.
I found some Fat Daddy cake pans, but they would have been to expensive, and I was worried that I may not get them out all the way.  So I asked Theo to make me some deep shadow boxes that I could use as a frame for each tier. In no time at all, he cranked out these bad boys:
10X10, 8X8, and a 6X6

I covered the sides with tinfoil and greased them up real good, then placed them on greased up plastic wrap so they wouldn't stick to the table.

Here are the Krispy tiers all snug in their packed frames.  It took 19 batches of Rice Krispy treats to fill these suckers!!!

The naked cake all stacked and pretty.  Good thing Theo had the foresight to build the frames with screws, even with all the shortening the bigger tiers gave me a tough time.  Theo just unscrewed the screws and pulled the sides off, it was magical!

And here is the cake in all it's glory!  They had the decoration already figured out for the cake so I just had to stack it and she added the flag bunting and a really cool sparkly ribbon on the bottom of each tier.  I'd have to say, this is my favorite version of a Rice Krispy wedding cake, of course I am a little biased...:)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Birthday to Remember

Even though Hannah turned the big 5 last week, we finally were able to have her party last night.  She has been talking up Chuck E. Cheese for the past year!  I can't tell you how much I hate this place; video games, children running a muck, a giant rodent...but since my kids are limited to which birthdays they actually get a big party (1, 5, 8, 10, 13, 16) I was acquiesced to oblige.  I was, however, impressed with all that was included in the party package.  And also since that meant I didn't have to entertain or clean up after the party, Chuck E. Cheese has earned a gold star in my book.  That has not changed my mind what so ever to quickly saying 'No!' when Hannah asked this morning if we could go back today.  LOL!  Here are some pics from the evenings festivities:

She got a cool crown, that she wore the entire time.  It had 8 extra tokens, and she used every single one!

Miriam's duck face

Hannah's friend Elsa playing air hockey with her Dad.

Elsa's brother just chillin' with Chuck.

Charlotte has quite the throwing arm, she got at least two balls in the other lane, LOL!

The party crew getting ready for the show.

This was a bonus in  my book, I knew the mouse would come out for pictures, but what I didn't expect is that he was going to come party with us.

Hannah with her cake, and I feel I have some 'spaining to do.  When I asked her what kind of cake she wanted me to make, she said she wanted a Chuck E. Cheese cake because she "Wants to know what they taste like."  "Well, you are the birthday girl." I replied through gritted teeth.  It was good enough, and at least I didn't have to do the cleaning up afterwards...see! no bitterness here...

Rocking out on her awesome balloon guitar!

A cool medallion, which is hanging right up with Theo's and mine's running medallions.  Hey, it's a great achievement to make it to 5!

Blowing out the candles

Dance off with Chuck!

Time for poses!!

Charlotte has got to be my only child who hounds these fuzzy ginormous abnormal animal costumed people.  I thought Chuck E. was going to have to file a restraining order against her.  Here she photo bombed another little friend of Hannah's who was trying to get her photo with him. *Sigh* Sorry Lexi, she has issues!

This was another bonus, they have this Ticket Blaster that she got to stand in and the tickets swirled around as she tried to catch as many as she could.  I was feeling anxiety that she wasn't getting many, (I think she ended up with around 8, and that was with 3 stuck in her hair) I was afraid that she would be bummed that she didn't get many.  But there was a catch, this was just for show and she actually got 1,000 tickets afterwards! Phew!

Opening presents!

I think she fared well, two games, a My Little Pony plush doll with white glitter polish.  I didn't mention that we got her the My Little Pony castle with Princess Cadence and Shining Armor wedding set for her birthday last week.  Polish was the first thing to go on when we got home last night, she slept with Twilight Sparkle and this morning she couldn't wait to play her new games with her sisters!

She's telling her friends thanks for the gifts, Lilia is in the background and the little boy is Josh.  We had a really good turnout, plus it helps to have a big family so just in case there really aren't a lot of kids we give the illusion of a big party!  She had a blast and was so happy her friends could be there to enjoy it with her.

Thanks Chuck E.!!  You have redeemed yourself in my book.  See you in a few least...hopefully...