Monday, December 21, 2015

Settling in to our new home in Jersey.

We are working on getting settled into our new house here in Jersey! We were extremely blessed to find a house that not only works for our family but is also amazing! After spending 6 months on the family farm in Kentucky I was not really loving the idea of moving back to Jersey and living in a subdivision surrounded by people 24/7. We knew the area we wanted to live in however and started looking for a house to meet our needs.

 I knew the Lord had a plan for our family when we were forced to move out of our old house due to a corrupt landlord. I spent the entire summer praying that I would have the patience and the strength to wait for His time to reveal His plan. When the time did He blow my socks off!

Our new house is a dream come true. Sitting on an acre of land in the middle of the state forest we could not ask for a better location. We do have neighbors close enough to provide some "security" but far enough away to give our family some privacy.

The house itself is a lovely 5 bedroom split level home. The owners recently remodeled the home adding an addition to the rear of the property. I had never lived in a split level before and wasn't too sure how I felt about the layout. Having moved in and spent some time here however I have to say I really like it.

The "great room" on the upper floor is a big selling point for me. The sight lines are better allowing me to keep a better eye on the children. This allows me to keep the entire room clean versus several separate rooms where the children are able to simply drop something and walk away without my noticing.

 The downstairs "great room" is a nice cozy room where we have our coat cubbies, family room, and school room.  I am enjoying having the school room slightly removed from the upper levels and bedrooms. It is hard for the children to concentrate on their readings when their siblings are constantly running in and out of the room.

We are settling in and anxiously awaiting the return of the missing member of our family. Going through so many moves and changes while my husband has been deployed was not easy by any stretch of the imagination.  It has been 198 days since he left. That is an extremely long time to be apart! The Lord has held my hand through the last 198 days and I am sure I am going to need Him to hang on to me for a bit longer. I can not wait until this deployment is behind us.

Until then we will keep on keeping on here on the home front.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Kindergarten Graduation!!!

It is hard to believe our twins are already graduating kindergarten! If we enrolled them in public school they would be just beginning their kindergarten year. They wanted to begin "doing school" when they saw their older siblings working on their school work. I decided to start them on a preschool curriculum since they were chomping at the bit to get started. When they completed an entire years preschool curriculum in just three months I decided it was time to start them on kindergarten level work. I expected them to stall out halfway through and need some time to "grow into" the material. That never happened however. They blew through My Father's World Kindergarten with no issues.  Leaving me with two new Kindergarten graduates!

I decided we needed to have a Kindergarten graduation party!! We had a grand total of 3 days before we needed to leave for New Jersey. It was important to me to have the graduation in Kentucky so that our family could be present. Luckily my mother stepped in and took over all of the party preparations. I really don't think I could have pulled it off without her help!

I am slowly getting used to the idea that I now have two 1st graders!

I would love to hear about your kindergarten graduation traditions!

Sunday, December 13, 2015


We have been continuing our exploration into the world of My Father's World Exploring Countries and Cultures. We have spent the last two weeks exploring Norway!

One of the nice things about MFW ECC is that you are given the option to chose your own read aloud for the sections. The teacher's manual gives options in the book basket section but none of the books are required reading. I like getting to chose the read alouds for our family. I try and keep them exciting and interesting while still covering the culture in the country we are studying. For our section on Norway I chose Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan. It was recommended reading not only by MFW but also by sonlight.  That is like a gold star in our book.

Our kids loved this book and were thrilled to hear that it was based on a true story.  You have to love a story that involves children on sleds hiding gold from German occupying forces. There was quite a bit of gasping throughout and groaning when we reached the end of the readings for the day. The kids couldn't wait to hear what happened next!


I like to add in some craft options since our children are still on the young side of things. I did some searching on pinterest and found these cute Norwegian Christmas hearts. I will admit I spent quite a while figuring out how to make these things! A template would have been helpful. Our oldest daughter found my fumbling to be quite funny. Whatever I can do to provide comic relief.....

I had initially planned to drag out the painting supplies and have the children try to reproduce the Rosemaling style artwork that is popular throughout Norway. I however found these very cute coloring pages that reproduced the style of artwork. I decided crayons were safer for my floors.

We found this very cute picture book about The Day Hans Got His Way. We happened to receive a box of treats from my Great Aunt just as we were sitting down to read our story. It seemed fitting to eat chocolate while listening to the trouble Hans got into trying to show his wife how simple her job was. Our 9 year old is currently obsessed with the movie Frozen and found the names sprinkled throughout our readings this month to be quite fascinating. We discovered that the movie could have been set in Norway. The common names, landscapes, animals, and climate all line up with what we have learned of Norway. To say this was a major moment for our daughter would be an understatement.

Of course we had to finish out our study of Norway by trying some Norwegian recipes as well! We decided to try Lapskaus with Flatbrød. Basically this was just beef stew with all the liquid removed and flatbread on the side. Very simple and very yummy!

We had a great deal of fun learning about Norway and are looking forward to learning all about France next week. I have to admit I am a bit biased towards France, it should be an interesting two weeks!

Friday, December 11, 2015

MFW Kindergarten Unit 25 & 26

We are on the last two units of My Father's World Kindergarten! I had intended to do a few cute projects for these units.......time however got away from me. While working through these units we were packing up the farmhouse in Kentucky and finishing up the school work with the older girls. I was simply stretched too thin. We completed the readings, worksheets, and ladders then decided to call it a day. We thoroughly enjoyed our time spent completing My Father's World Kindergarten. We will forever associate it with our amazing summer on the farm in Kentucky! I am looking forward to going through the curriculum again with our youngest two children.

I would love to hear how your family completed these two units! Please let us know all about it!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Our week of Unschooling

As I talked about last week we are trying something new with our last week of the fall semester. We decided to drop our boxed curriculum for the week and try something new. We decided to try "unschooling" or "child led learning" depending on your vocabulary preference. Both education models allow the child to chose what they learn and how they learn it. This was a giant step in a new direction for our family. I had recently finished reading several books on the topic and found the idea fascinating. I went into this week as a research project for chosing our curriculum for the fall. The kids went into the week ecstatic to be able to chose what they wanted to learn.

The amount of documentation required by homeschool families varies based on state regulations. Our state is very hands off and does not require any reporting throughout the year. I however like to have all my ducks in a row in case of inquiry.  For our family that includes keeping daily student assignment sheets. This week however we did not have a set curriculum so I could not record their assignments in advance. I chose to write down exactly what the children were learning throughout the week on their blank student sheets as the week progressed.

Here are the forerunners of our education for the week!

* Safari outside with Lion books
    One of our girls is currently fascinated with all types of cats. When I asked her what she wanted to study this week she went straight for the Lion books at the library. I thought it would be fun to have an outside safari and read through the books.


*Read about constitution  and bill of rights
   Our oldest daughter had quite a few questions about how the governmental process works. Specifically the history of the Presidential Office and  how our officials are elected. We sat down together and read through a juvenile reference book on the subject. We both learned quite a bit about the process and were able to talk one on one with each other as we went through the book. It was nice to be able to work one on one instead of with a room full of children. We could speak on her level instead of at a lower level that the younger children could understand.

  I don't know what it is about tanagrams but they are a huge hit in our home. Our younger girls were in love with the idea of being able to play with them anytime they liked.

*Types of potatoes
  While eating dinner the children started asking questions about all the different types of potatoes. We ran with the interest and learned about all the different types of potatoes, climates where they are grown, their uses, and popularity.

* cadet meeting: Astronomy badge
   Our oldest daughter earned her Astronomy badge while at her Cadet scout meeting.  She worked with her fellow cadets and her girl scout leader to learn about the different constellations and several space related facts.

*Stained glass lesson
   While driving by a church our oldest daughter commented on how beautiful the stained glass windows were. This started a conversation about how the windows were made. My parents and grandfather have all made stained glass artwork over the years and allowed me to make a few small projects when I was younger. We talked about the process as we finished our drive home.

*How glass is made
  Learning about stained glass of course moved into how glass itself was made. We ended up staying in the car when we reached our destination and watched some YouTube videos on the subject. The look of shock on her face when she realized that glass is made from sand was priceless. 

*4 new badges: budgeting, comparison shopping, good sportsmanship, and comic strips
      Our oldest daughter is really motivated to complete her cadet badges. She worked hard and earned her badges in budgeting, comparison shopping, and good sportsmanship. Her good sportsmanship badge was earned through completing her first swim meet with her Special Olympics team. She placed 1st and 2nd in her heats.

*Discussed Geopolitics. Egypt plane crash, terrorism, and bullies
   My husband loves CNN and watches it quite a bit throughout the day. I originally felt like I needed to shelter my children from the horrible tragedies in the world. I however have come to the decision that this was not the correct path to take with our children. All 5 older children were part of this conversation. We learned the basics about terrorism which quickly moved to learning about bullies and the plight of people throughout the world who suffer from terroristic threats on a routine basis.

*Discussed democratic process: Difference between democrats and republicans, what is a primary, voting processes.
  After learning about terrorism we quickly moved on the learning about the democratic process. I could have talked about this subject till I was blue in the face a few months ago and the children would not have absorbed any of the information. Since learning about this information was their decision however they really absorbed the information and found it fascinating. 

*How a rainbow is formed

*Animal tracks. How to track different animals based on tracks

*Measuring Lions and Tigers
     We had been learning about Lions and other large cats throughout the week. I knew that learning the facts about the sizes of the animals wasn't REALLY sinking in for the kids. I can say "the Lion is 2 Daddy's long" but that wasn't really working to help the kids visualize how BIG these animals are. So we pulled out the reference books, tape measure, and sidewalk chalk. The children worked together to measure out the different cats on the back patio. They were shocked by the sizes of these animals. I have to admit I was pretty shocked by the size of the Siberian Tiger!

Looking through our list I did see some general points of interest.

Our oldest daughter (11yrs old) seemed to be the most quizzical and interested in investigating different subjects. The younger three girls spent the majority of their time outside playing house and riding their bikes. I am sure they were learning *something* during this time. I am just not sure exactly what they were learning.

The children also did not have any interest in investigating anything math related. The few math activities that we completed were totally my idea and did not go anywhere near the level of the math work they had been completing.

This week was a lot more work for ME! I had the preconceived idea that "unschooling" or "child led learning" would be easier on me for the week. I pictured piles of books everywhere and me off taking care of the little ones and keeping the house clean. In my imagination the older girls would sit down and read about all the things that interested them and I would get a break for a week.  Yeah right! This week was exhausting! Between finding all the information and books, coming up with projects on the fly, and randomly stopping what we were doing to go into research mode at the drop of a hat.......I was tired! It is MUCH easier to open a boxed curriculum and work our way through the books as listed in the teachers manual.

So what did we decide for the future of our homeschooling journey?

I am not equipped to be an "unschooling" or "child led learning" parent for the long term. I can see the benefits for children and families however. Being able to follow "rabbit trails" and explore the topics that interest you is a major plus of homeschooling in general. As a year round homeschooling family I could see adding in a week of "unschooling" here and there every few months. Maybe at the end of each semester or right before a major holiday. This is definitely something I need to think and pray about for the future.

If you have experience with unschooling I would love to hear about it!

One Mama's Journey Copyright 2008 All Rights Reserved Baby Blog Designed by Ipiet | All Image Presented by Tadpole's Notez