31 May 2015

Day 118: A beautiful Letter

After church, I was handed this letter from my Peanut. I don't think it needs any explanation.

Anybody that knows me personally, knows what a rough start Peanut and I have had. For the past five years (and a few months added to that), I've been trying to establish a relationship with her. And only in the last few months, I can see a breakthrough. It makes me so happy. So receiving this today, brings tears of joy to me.

I am thankful that she is part of our family. That she is different and keeps me on my toes. That she is always funny and silly, and brightens up all of our days. I thank her that she teaches me new points of view and that she stretches me constantly. I am blessed with a beautiful daughter.

30 May 2015

Day 117: Story Telling Cubes

I am sure most of you have seen those little cube games in the store. We got Story Cubes as a gift for one of the kids, I actually don't remember which one. Nonetheless, they are a great tool for learning to tell stories, homeschooling or not. This morning, the kids got it out and the Hubby joined them in telling tall tales. He is so great with his huge imagination (I don't have any) - I am glad that the kids can play this with him and learn to be creative, something I never learn and it is kind of sad.

The many rounds of story telling actually ended with a round of singing rhyming songs. It was so funny and got really loud, but the kids had a ton of fun.

29 May 2015

Day 116: Tic Tac Toe

The Hubby was off today, so we went out for lunch to one of our favorite spots. Of course, as part of the American tradition, the kids get a kids menu that includes coloring pages and other activities. The two big kids usually get to work right away and don't need any help. But little Munchkin still wants help or color together. So I decided to teach her to play tic tac toe. She made all the crosses and I had the circles. Not only did she do a good job with the crosses, but she also beat me the second time! Kids are so much smarter than we think.....

28 May 2015

Day 115: Writing the Letters of the Alphabet

While the two big kids get to go to PE class, Munchkin has to hang out with me. For the last five months, this has become her one-hour-of-playing-on-my-phone-time. We believe that technology has its place but we don't let it rule our live, so we are limiting our kids very much on any screen time. This hour is a treasured time for her as she only gets it once a week. (and I am not sure what she will do once PE class is over for the school year)

There are a few apps that I let her play on my old phone, mostly those are puzzles, but lately she has preferred to play letter writing games. Some let you trace, but the lines show up automatically. This one (it is called ABC Tracing) is a bit harder as the lines show as SHE is writing them, crooked and not straight at all. It was her first try today, and I think she did really well. (Proud Mami speaking here)

Now I have looked for the ABC Tracing app and I can't find it anymore - I wonder if they took it off. BUT before you sigh, there are a ton of other tracing apps that are equally good. Alphabet Tracing is free and works the same way. Little Writer cost two dollars, but is just another great app. iTrace uses both techniques, teaching connecting dots to create letters and free writing. Those are just a few, there are many more. 

27 May 2015

Day 114: The Scholastic Mouse

Coqui's new favorite book series is Geronimo Stilton. We own a few books as they aren't cheap. So with a trip to the library, we got a total of seven 'new' books into the house. He barely washes his hands coming home, and as soon as he can he plops on the floor and reads. I love when my passion becomes his passion. I love to read and I truly believe that reading will broaden his horizon and enlarge his imagination. Homeschooling rocks.

Apparently, they also have workbooks - I need to look into those. I am sure Coqui won't mind Reading Comprehension as much with his favorite mouse. 

26 May 2015

Day 113: My Munchkin

We were stuck in the house for most of the day, had some friends over for diversity, but we needed to get out once Daddy was home from work. We did get a lot of school work done today. But most of it was sitting still at a table with books and workbooks. So after dinner, we went out for ice cream. This little girl grows up way too fast. I want to make time stand still. She is funny and silly, and yet so gentle and loving.

Once the sugar rush kicked in, we let them run around for a little while to get the energy out.

25 May 2015

Day 112: Blessed With Great Friends

These are most of the kids from our small group. We had a gathering tonight with a little celebration for Memorial Day (and for just the fun of it). The kids could play and eat and run around. I love this group so much. All but three of them, know each other since birth. How awesome that they can grow up together. They care for each other and they fight like siblings. The learn next to each other, and grow. Like friends are suppose to. They are all special and unique.

Of course, the adults are all friends, too. We learn together, we pray together, we share life together. This is our 'security blanket' when rough times come and we need practical and spiritual help. We are so blessed with great friends, and the kids are equally blessed with their friends.

24 May 2015

Day 111: Top Secret Adventures

Coqui has been collecting the Top Secret Adventure countries for a while now. It comes as a monthly magazine, and it teaches them about a country at a time through solving mysteries. He loves it.

When we went to a homeschool book sale and he saw this game, he had to get it. And so did Mami! We played it right away the next day, but today, Daddy joined us for a big round. It was so much fun going around the board, swapping suspects, items, and countries, in order to fulfill our missions. I won the first round, and Coqui won the second. The girls played, too, rolling the dice, moving the little people, and trying to answer the quiz questions. It is such a great game for the entire family.

23 May 2015

Day 110: Sleeping Potion

It's the best time of the day..... bed time. Yes, trust me, it is. The kids are ready to go down but they are still so wired up from the day, that they will have a hard time settling down. Sounds familiar?
There is a simple solution: sleeping potion! Yep, that's what the magic is called in our house. See that little red bottle? That's it. It is filled with essential oils valor and lavender and a carrier oil. I slather it on the kids big toes, cover it with socks, and then I send them off to slumber land. It is totally like magic because they get the sleep they need and we get the quiet time we need as parents. Win-win.

22 May 2015

Day 109: Robin Hood Play

A local homeschool group had put together a play and we heard about it. It was Robin Hood. So Coqui decided to wear an outfit for the play, he even made his own hat (that got left behind at home, so don't remind him!) and an arrow pouch. We all got dressed up and went to see these young artists. They did a phenomenal. One could see some rising stars.

After the show, the kids went to collect autographs and the girls even got some flowers from one of the actresses. What a sweet memory we will have forever. And we will have to study this topic now.... I can see it in the near distance, Coqui will want to read the book.

21 May 2015

Day 108: Blowing Bubbles

I can't believe that she is almost three and she had never blown bubbles before. We usually don't have bubbles around the house - it's just one of those kids things that I am not a fan of, so I don't have it. Now she has seen them and I believe in her Sunday class, the teacher sometimes blows bubbles, but I don't think the kids get to do it.

So we had to practice quite a bit before she got the hang of it. But once she did, she was doing just this nonstop for a long time. The girls even had a contest. What fun times with friends.

20 May 2015

Day 107: Math App

A friend of us told me about this cool app that she is using for her kids to supplement Math. Now I don't think we need to add any more Math to our daily schedule, but it was worth trying it out. So I downloaded it this morning, signed up for the two weeks trial, and got Coqui hooked. He loved it immediately although he said that it was very hard.

The program is called Dreambox, it is an online Math learning program for elementary and middle school. It cost money, that's why I signed up for the free trial first before I commit to anything. We will try it out every day to see if it is worth the investment.

So far, I like that he is challenged already on day one. I like that I can go into the program as a parent (aka teacher) to see the progress he has made. It tells me where he has had trouble and where he has done great. It has many different areas covered (as far as I can tell from today), for example fractions with money, all the operations, measurements, decimal, etc..... It seems to cover pretty much everything. Let's see what I think in two weeks.

19 May 2015

Day 106: He loves school.....

This picture really doesn't need any caption......

Let me be honest, we have great days, and days where homeschooling is real work and not much fun. But when this kid uses his new compass to practice drawing circles and then writes that he loves school - in those moments, I jump up in the air three feet high! THIS is what it is all about. The moments when they get it. Love it. Feeling extremely blessed to be the Mami of these awesome kids and to be able to teach them at home.

18 May 2015

Day 105: "Read me a story."

It's the end of the day and I am tired after having eight kids in the house today. But there is just one more thing before we call for lights out. One thing that even Mami is looking forward to. Good night stories. Many nights, we come home late and there is not enough time to read. So we cherish the nights that we can read. Our bedtime routine can take over an hour with taking baths and showers, getting their PJs on, brushing teeth, and READING.

I love to read to them. I know it will too soon be over. Coqui already prefers to read on his own and only seldom joins us for the book fun. But the girls still love me reading - they can't get enough, and usually it doesn't stop at just two or three books. Eventually, I do have to stop.

There are tons of researches that proof how important it is to read to the kids. For us, it is a nice way to calm down from the business of the day. We spend quality and quantity time with each other in enjoyment over the stories we read. Many times, when I ask my Peanut what her favorite part of the day was, she answers with "This right here." - she loves me being there with her, reading, talking, cuddling. Good night. Gute Nacht.

17 May 2015

Day 104: Complete Metamorphosis

After studying birds for the first part of the year, we moved to the flying dinosaurs. Apologia then had us studying the bats. Now we moved on to insects and will do that for the rest of the year.

I can not tell you how much I (!) am learning alongside these kids. I know we talked about metamorphosis during my school years, but I am pretty sure that we never covered complete and incomplete metamorphosis. That is what we learned the other day. So today, Coqui showed me what he 'built' with those shapes that his sisters usually plays with. All four stages of a complete metamorphosis. I love when they do this kind of stuff on their own.

They got it. Yeah.

Now one big reason why I love Apologia is that it is Christian based, creation based, and anything taught points back to God.  Studying the complete metamorphosis, the book tight in the Christian walk of becoming a new creation when we first believe and invite Jesus into our hearts. What a beautiful picture that is. When we become a Christ follower, we also go through a complete metamorphosis, and at the end, we come out like a brand-new, beautiful butterfly.

16 May 2015

Day 103: Robots on the playground

The kids got to build these robots today. They are built completely out of recycled materials. We cut, we glued, we taped. It took over an hour in a very warm room, but the kids had a blast. I love seeing all their different characters mirrored in these creations. Coqui's robot is realistic, and Peanut's is a fashion queen. Super cute.

Afterwards, we went to the playground to let the robots play.... All eight of them had fun in the sun.

15 May 2015

Day 102: The Aquarium

This afternoon, we went to the local aquarium. The kids had a blast learning about, touching, and feeding the animals. We got to feed an iguana, sharks, birds, and stingrays. Now the stingrays were the absolute favorite. I even dared putting my hand in the water - it feels a bit slimy but not as much as one would think. Now it does feel kind of satin like, just with water. Super soft. And they are just so cute.

The birds were the second favorite, I think. They spent a lot of time in the cage, feeding and holding these little creatures. Munchkin was so proud of being able to hold them and loved feeding them, but she did not like when they landed on her head. To me, that is just too creepy. I did not get in, of course! But I am glad to see that my kids did not inherit my phobia about these flying things.

14 May 2015

Day 101: The Life of a Snail

Last week, we went to the park with our friends where they found this cute little snail. Apparently, they took it home and had it there for a week. Today, they brought it back and my kids enjoyed learning about snails. We watched this little guy eat grass, swallowing it with his body - because snails have thousand of teeth all along their body, something I sure did not learn in school. It was interesting to watch the kids 'care' for this little guy.

13 May 2015

Day 100: Hiding God's word in their hearts

These two kids worked so hard all year long to memorize God's Words and now they could reap the harvest. Each of them got called up on stage three times. We could not be any prouder of them. They really earned all those awards. We will miss this activity, even if it is a lot of hard work each week. Congratulations to Coqui and Peanut.

Though I have to say, that the award for 'Most Improved' is going to Munchkin. Dropping her off in her little class, she went from screaming and crying to confidently running into her room. She could not wait for this day of the week. She loved it and I was told that she learned some songs and bible verses as well. Great job.

12 May 2015

Day 99: Historic Settlers of Rome (aka Settlers of Catan)

So we finished our History book for the year. It was a little sad. After drawing chariot racers, building a working aqueduct, dressing some Roman dolls, reconstructing a Roman villa, playing the Ransom Caesar game, becoming a senator, and building the Roman Colosseum, we are ready for something new. Rome was divided and is fallen. We have learned a lot and enjoyed every minute of it. I really love how history comes to life in our house - I did not experience it like this when I went to school, actually, it was rather boring. 

To celebrate today, we played a game of Settlers of Catan, the Cities & Knights expansion, and pretended that the barbarians are attacking the Roman empire, not Catan. It was so much fun.

We already got the next book of the Story of the World, volume Two, and we are very excited to get it started in a little while.

11 May 2015

Day 98: Rock climbing

Today was a long day...... so here is one picture of Coqui hanging in the wall rock climbing. He did awesome and had so much fun with his friends.
The perk about homeschooling was to go to a birthday party in the middle of the day when it was all empty and the boys had the whole place to themselves..... until school got out and three big buses of a private school unloaded their students.

10 May 2015

Day 97: Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day.

09 May 2015

Day 96: Blessings from Friends

This morning, I spoke at our Women's ministry meeting. I am not a born public speaker, but God had put this one theme on my heart that I wanted to share with my ladies at church. So I needed to overcome that fear of speaking in front of a group for the sake of a message that needed to be heard. My teaching was on Intentional Friendships. God wants us to be in relationships with the people around us. We need to learn to trust and rely on friends, as they can enrich our lives so tremendously. Friends can broaden our horizon, they can give us love, respect, and acceptance, but they also can lend us a helping hand when we are in need of practical help. Most of all, they can counsel us as only those iron-sharpens-iron-friends can do, in speaking the truth with love and grace, so that we can grow in our faith. Our diverse friends compliment us, as God created us all as individuals, so we need to embrace our differences. It was a good speech and I think I made a few ladies think.

I loved that I had a special guest, too. It made it more meaningful. And I felt supported by her. Thank you for being there. Forgiveness is a great healer and I love that I was able to learn to forgive and to be forgiven. God is so good. And I am excited for the future.
And the kids didn't mind going to church either, as they got to play with their friends. Here is Munchkin having fun instead of crying (going to church is not her favorite thing of the week).

08 May 2015

Day 95: A mom's night out

What a busy day. We went on our last field trip of the season and the kids had a blast. What a fantastic year it has been with our group. The kids had a blast riding the train, doing a scavenger hunt, playing, exploring, eating, and having a water balloon fight. We spend a total of five hours at the park, of which the last two hours were spent in the rain. The kids just didn't want to go home.

At home, we relaxed. We needed that. Just for me to collect enough energy to go on my next adventure. The ladies from this fabulous group had a mom's night out. We went to a local art school where an instructor walked us through painting the above painting. I am not a great artist but I don't think it was too bad. At the end, it was a great evening with my ladies. Love that we are friends. I am so blessed to know them and to be a part of the group. It has enriched our lives greatly.

07 May 2015

Day 94: Immunity boost in a roller bottle

About two weeks ago, when my parents were in town, I felt like getting sick. I am sure you know the feeling that is creeping up, that slight body ache, feeling extra tired, and sniffles coming and going. So I used my immunity boost roller bottle for the first time. It is made with the above pictured oils of lemon, thieves, oregano, frankincense, and melaleuca alternifolia (aka tea tree oil). The oils are mixed with a carrier oil in a roller bottle for easier use on the kids and me. And using a roller bottle will also help you save every drop of the bottle for the good use they are intended for.

The lemon helps breaking up the mucus and soothes a sore throat, which the thieves helps with, also. Thieves is a blend of multiple oils and it smells heavenly. It can boost your overall immunity, helps kill bacteria and germs, and supports the body's natural defense. So usually, I would tell you to take thieves when you feel like getting sick, and oregano once you are sick already. Putting both in the same mix is a win win situation. Because oregano is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and antiviral is a great fighter during a cold. The frankincense eases sore muscles and boosts the immune system. Melaleuca alternifolia is also known as tea tree oil, which relieves colds, supports the respiratory system, and cleanses and purifies.

All together, this is a powerful mix. I rolled it on my feet for three days every morning and night, and even once or twice more during the day, and I was fine on the forth day.
I love that I have found these oils that help me and my family to stay healthy or get back to healthy when we need it. I love that we can help ourselves without calling the doctor (not that I would have done that anyways). And most of all, I love that I am learning more about plants - plants and I have not the greatest relationship, but they are soooooo useful. I wish I would have 'grown up' earlier to help us be more healthy.

06 May 2015

Day 93: A great school day

I know I just wrote about Peanut's writing skills with A Reason for Handwriting, but today was just a 'boring' school day after a morning at their friends' house. I did not take a picture because I left them there while I ran to the doctors. They had a ton of fun and I appreciate my friends so much for taking my kids in so lovingly.

So the afternoon was just simply filled with school work. Peanut has good days and bad ones, but today was a great day! She flew through her assignments in record time and had a great attitude, especially for her least favorite thing, writing those 'boring' words over and over.
I know it's great practice for spelling and reading, so I will keep on 'making' her do it. She will appreciate it one day when spelling will come easy to her.

05 May 2015

Day 92: A Research paper about Japan

Coqui is not a fan of English, especially when it asks for writing letter, reports or research papers. We are using Bob Jones University, which alternates between grammar and writing chapters. Well, we finished our grammar chapter and are now working on a research paper about a country of his choice. He chose Japan, his favorite country of the moment. After some resistance from him, he totally got into the research, and I was not gonna stop him. He kept reading and reading, and even took some notes. It was one of those rare moments of pride. One day, they will really get this whole homeschooling idea of independent study and research and interest lead learning. 

04 May 2015

Day 91: Peanut counts on

In my post about Peanut showing off her work, I mentioned that we had to take a break from the Horizon Math. We finished the Singapore book and are back to Horizon, yeah. Here she is practicing 'Counting On' with her fingers. She can add in her head most of the addition problems, but some are a bit harder, or rather the numbers are higher, so she needs a little help. I am so proud of her for sticking it through, even on hard days. We know that one day, she will fly through it.

03 May 2015

Day 90: Going to church

The kids really dressed up for church today. Their aunt and uncle came with us, too. So it made for a very nice family outing. My two oldest really love going to our church, they love their classes, their friends, and their teachers. (I am one of them, ;-).)

It was an awesome morning, here is why. My Munchkin doesn't like to go to church. Yep, she doesn't like to go to her class. We can not figure out why because she used to like it, and she loves to go to our bible club class. So Sunday mornings are crazy. First we need to make it to church, and then we have a toddler who cries the moment we turn the corner of the church. We had gotten so good that she didn't cry until we stood in front of her room.

Well, today was different. Maybe she decided to become a big girl. But she refused to hold my hand crossing the parking lot. Then she marched right up to her room and went in. She did turn around and looked at me, not sure for a moment, but then she went right on playing. Wow. This was huge! We were so happy. It made going to church a lot less stressful on us. Yeah, for our big girl.

02 May 2015

Day 89: Handwriting through Bible verse study

Peanut has been working hard on her Reason for Handwriting book. Now that the repetitions are over and we moved to the bible verse study every week, she is a lot happier about it. So we study one verse per week. Monday through Wednesday, she has certain words that she needs to work on. By Thursday, she has to trace the entire verse. And on Friday, she has to copy the verse onto a border sheet, which is really just lines with a nice frame around that she can color.

We didn't get to do it yesterday, so there was some work waiting for her today. She had to start over two times, because her letter formation looks like one of a doctor..... yep, she likes to scribble fast without taking her time. But she got it done, and then she could do what she loves best: coloring the picture around the verse.

01 May 2015

Day 88: Harvesting Strawberries

Thank goodness, it's Friday. Our weeks are quite busy again, which is a blessing, but it is also tiring. So by the end of the week, I am glad that we are only doing school for four days a week. Today, we went to a local farm to pick strawberries. It was already the end of the season, so our harvest was not great, but the kids still had fun chasing the good berries with their friends. They kept at it for about an hour and a half, which I think is great for their ages. We got two big boxes full to take home and eat. Yummy.

I was especially happy that my Munchkin left the Ergo to help harvest. Unfortunately, it was a short harvesting fun for her as she fell into the mud. She was covered from toe to shoulders - I was so thankful that her hands and hair had not gotten any of the mud. So I needed to bring her to the car, trying to take all her clothes off without getting it into her hair. I had just put a second shirt into her bag in the morning, so at least she was clothed on the top, but unfortunately, the bottom stayed quite 'naked'. So I had to put her back into the Ergo, carry her around for the rest of the field trip and to lunch, which we shared with our friends as well. She is a trooper.