Monday, August 4, 2014

They've Done it Again

   I decided to stay in my pjs all day today.  I read a book and spent some time sewing.  The kids spent most of the day playing upstairs.  Tonight I go up to tuck them all in and I can't walk.  Not only have they made a mess in their rooms, they've drug toys out of the rooms and onto the landing and loft.  Seriously, I'm praying our house doesn't catch on fire tonight because I don't think we'd all get out safely.  I wasn't sure I was going to make it back downstairs because of all the toys on the stairs.  Two of the four know how to clean up behind themselves but when they're playing, they just don't do it.  I know the little two get a free pass, at least for another year or so, but I'm tired of giving free passes to everyone.  I can't do it all.  I can't spend all day every day cleaning.  I have to have down time for fun too.  Today I've enjoyed my laziness but it's counterproductive because it creates more work for me tomorrow.

   There are a few other things going on with the kids too.  They're watching way too much television and playing way too many video games this summer.  They fight way too much.  They don't seem to hear when asked to do something simple like setting the table for dinner.  I'm at my wits end.  I'm frustrated and just not happy with things at home lately.  I yell in order to get things accomplished and then get comments from my husband about the yelling.  Something has got to give and I don't know how to do it.  I'm not really sure how life got like this.  My kids are typically great at helping.  They're typically pleasant to be around.  They have great imaginations and love to play.  When did they become lazy and hateful?  When did I become lazy and hateful?  At some point I stopped staying on top of them and then I started yelling when things didn't get done.

   I am one of those moms that reads anything I can on parenting, relationships, etc.  Not sure if this is because I studied child development, psychology and sociology so extensively in school or if it's just because my life is so crazy and I need the help.  I suspect it's a little of both.  Anyway, all of our books are currently packed in boxes due to all of the summer remodeling (I suspect this is where my parenting laziness came in to play) and I don't think I have anything that applies to us currently.  I decided that I'd read some Mommy Blogs both to remind me that I am not alone and to also encourage me to make some changes that will turn this family around.

   I've come to a few conclusions on my own before reading these blogs.  First, this week we are going back on our school schedule of bedtimes and no electronics during the week.  It worked great through out the day but Dad let them watch tv for a bit this evening.  Oh well, we're working on this.  Second, we've got to actually spend more time at home because they aren't going to learn these lessons and routines while riding around in the van and bouncing from place to place.  This one is much easier said than done though.  I'm working to reduce our outside obligations but there are a few things that I don't have a choice on.  Third, I know that our home needs to be better organized and free of clutter.  I am working on this but it does take time.  With four kids and about to have a baby, clutter-free isn't exactly a reality.  With remodeling projects going on all over the house, total organization isn't really possible either.  We are working on it though.   After these, I draw a blank!  I need help!

  Here are some links with some great articles and blog posts that I found helpful and encouraging.  Be sure to leave links in the comments if you have any others that you would like to add.  I love reading Mommy Blogs!

25 Ways to Simplify Your Life With Kids

Drastic Toy Decluttering

Simplify Toys

Getting Kids to Clean Their Room

How I Get My Kids to Clean Their Room  This one is exactly what I need to be doing.  I need to put all other things aside and spend each day teaching them to clean up behind themselves.  I need to get rid of more toys or pack them up to rotate so that there isn't much in their rooms to mess up.  I need to label bins with pictures for the younger two that can't yet read.  I need to work on keeping the rest of the house picked up daily and having the kids help.  Once this habit is established, then I can find time to do little things that I enjoy again.  Until they get this habit, me trying to do things for myself are just going to continue to cause more frustration.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Grandfather's Journey Resources and Links

This will be our last FIAR unit until January.  We will be completing 3 more units from Hands of a Child but they are Thanksgiving and Christmas themed units and the festivities of this holiday season will provide plenty of additional instruction time.  This story is the perfect story to lead into the holidays as it is about family ties and a love for home.  Our family doesn't have far to travel for the holidays but we do go "home" to visit with cousins, aunts/uncles, parents and grandparents.

This story introduces the culture of Japan and also World War II.  I plan to do a basic introduction to both.  While the FIAR Vol 1 manual focuses on culture, poetry and art, the Using Caldecotts Across the Curriculum manual focuses on travel and writing.  I feel like these are two great directions for both Elijah and Levi.  It will take some work to adapt this for my 3 year old.

Each topic listed is straight from one of the two books.  I will add links under each.

There is a Five in a Row Fold N Learn for this story.  It is very color-rich so be sure that you have plenty of ink before you get started.

Social Studies:  Family Relationships
   We will work together to make a family tree.  I don't know much past my great-grandparents but with this unit we have the perfect oppertunity to "interview" my own grandparents to go back a little further.

   I like the simple family tree found on this blog post to be used by my preschooler.

Social Studies:  Geography
    A map and simple lesson on transportation are included in the Fold N Learn.  I'd like to find a rug with a world map on it and use this along with a basket of vehicles as a lesson for my preschooler.  He can play with them however he would like but my hope would be that through out the week he realizes that a ship goes in the water, airplane in the air, car/truck/bus on land, etc.

Social Studies: Culture
    This is perhaps my favorite social studies topic.  The FIAR guide mentions the kimono but I would like to look deeper into this culture.  This is briefly discussed with the Fold N Learn but culture is something that I think every child should experiance at a young age, either through travel or literature.  A field trip to Japan is not within our realm of reality right now but we there is plenty that we can do to experiance this culture right here at home.  

   There are recipes from both Japan and San Francisco in the FIAR Cookbook.  It would be neat to cook a meal with an element of both to show how the family may have stuck to some things they were already familiar with but also how they embraced their new culture.  I believe that this is an important concept to teach children as I know many adults that are unwilling to give things from other cultures a try.  I'd like to instill in my children the courtesy of being polite when presented with a food they may not be familiar with but also a love of trying anything once.  I love Andrew Zimmern's tag line from Bizarre Foods, "If it looks good, EAT IT!"  I grew up in a family that didn't embrace cultural differences and was very negative towards anything that didn't fit into our realm of normal.  After I got married, Gabe was able to get me to try a few foods that I wasn't familiar with, we began traveling and visiting other parts of the country and we became big fans of shows such as Bizarre Foods, Iron Chef, and No Reservations.  I had a college teacher that encouraged us to explore other cultures through literature and around the same time I really became interested in foreign mission work.  Each of these things combined to open my eyes and heart to other cultures and realize that normal is strictly a word and that no one culture has the privelege of defining normal for the entire world.  Other cultures aren't weird, they're simply different from my own.  Who am I to say my culture is normal anyways, I live in Louisiana and eat things like crawfish and alligator?

   There are some great cultural activities in the Using Caldecotts book.
              *Making a rock garden would be a lot of fun and the weather should be perfect around this                            time to make this outside.
              *Making a few Japanese customes shouldn't be too hard to do and would be lots of fun.
              *Practicing the art of flower arranging should also be lots of fun and again is something easy to                         provide.
              *Making paper fans is an easy project.
              *Of course, they also mention cooking some traditional Japanese meals.

Social Studies: History- World War II

  This looks like a good book for kids but I will do more research on it before purchasing.  It will likely lead to a much longer study but that never really bothers me much.

   Eyewitness books are usually a good resource.  

Science:  Landforms

   While I'd love to have fancy Montessori landform trays, we just don't have the room to store them.  These can easily be made with clay and cheap ziploc containers.  Making them can even be part of the lesson!   There are several lessons available from Montessori Print Shop for Land and Water Forms.

Science:  Pollution
   I found this great video of a Bill Nye episode on pollution.

Science:  Birds
   I love the Bird cards from Montessori Print Shop.  We have the book and nomenclature cards.  We also have the bird puzzle that goes along with the cards.  We've done several units on birds, usually one per year, so we probably won't go into much detail on this one but we will introduce the topic as a review for my older kids and introduction for my younger kids.  We tend to study birds a lot on our own so I don't feel a need to go in depth here.




 



Friday, June 20, 2014

Five Little Pumpkins resources and ideas

This is a unit from In the Hands of a Child.  This company has the best lapbooks of any other lapbook company that I have found.  They're laid out with daily lesson plans and everything that you need to complete the lapbook.  There's even a list of additional books that go along with the unit.  If you want a unit on just about any topic, you can probably find it on their website.  There are 1 week units and many 2 week units too.  The units are labeled with the grades that they are meant to cover but they are also easily adaptable for children younger or older than the specified age range.

Five Little Pumpkins is a unit labeled Pre-K to 1st Grade.  Of course, Elijah will be participating with us so I will be adding some additional work for him to complete in his Notebook (Officially his FIAR binder but we will refer to it as a Notebook this year as he is learning to research and take notes on what he is learning).  He will be completing some of the Notebook pages from the FIAR Notebook Builder (by far the best $24 I've spent on homeschool materials in the past 3 years, these pages can be used with ANY curriculum and are great for taking a unit that would be more for your younger children and adapting it for use with the older child).

Five Little Pumpkins This unit covers the following concepts: the color orange, numbers 1-5, circles, square, the letter "P", sequencing, and graphing. Tracer font or cut and paste answers are provided for this unit.

You can see that these skills are even a bit below that of a 1st grader but this unit will serve as a great review and confidence builder for Levi.

The lessons each day are fairly short so this unit will fit nicely for the last week of the month of October when we are doing other fun fall activities as part of our everyday life.  I've only scheduled 2 units for October due to the arrival of the new baby, which turns out even better since Goodnight Moon turned into a 2 week unit.

Some easy/fun fall activities:

Carving a pumpkin- count seeds after cleaning and then roast them for a tasty snack.
Find the Tree that Matches the Leaf
Pumpkin scented play doh
Pumpkin scissor skills 
Nature Collage
Bake a pumpkin pie
Bake pumpkin bread or muffins
Pumpkin measuring
Some really cute and fun pumpkin activities
Counting/Number match cards
Pumpkin Contractions 
Pumpkin seed multiplication
Pumpkin pie fractions
I love this fun fall Bucket List.

More in-depth educational activities:
First Grade pumpkin themed Literacy pack 
Preschool pumpkin themed activities
Montessori inspired Pumpkin activities.

Specific to this poem:
List all of the verbs

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Goodnight Moon resources and ideas

Moving forward in compiling some ideas before I start the detailed lesson planning.  For more about my planning process, read this post.  For more Before Five in a Row and Five in a Row resources and ideas, you can read individual posts that I've labeled as Five in a Row.



Be sure to print out the Goodnight Moon Fold n Learn from Five in a Row.  These are available for FREE by signing up for the FIAR newsletter.  The link is on the right hand side and once you type in your email address and submit, you will get a welcome letter with a link and password for the Fold N Learns.  These are simple lapbooks that reinforce the concepts taught in the story and guides.

Also, this story is a Before Five in a Row story so the book guide is well below the level that my 3rd grader will need.  I will be using notebook pages from the Notebook Builder to assign more grade specific work for him.  I am also looking at possibly using the Exploring Nearby Space Project Pack from Hands of a Child with both the 1st and 3rd graders.  I will wait to decide this based on the amount of resources that I am able to pull together.  If I add this project pack, this unit will likely become a two-week unit, which is exactly why I choose only 20 books for the year.  It gives us time to explore topics a little more in-depth.  We will be reading Owl Moon later in the school year as well so I am not yet sure the direction that study will take us.  I'd like to use this unit as an introductory unit to the solar system for the older two and Owl Moon as a more in-depth look at the solar system.

I really like the simplicity of the activities that this blogger used for this book.  

A classroom teacher shares her art projects and additional reading material on this blog.

I like this activity found on Teachers Pay Teachers.  For my preschooler, I would print two sets of the picture/word cards and cut one set out for him to match with the other set.  For my first grader, I would use the mat with only the words along with the picture/word cards for him to match.  For my 3rd grader, I would use only the pictures and have him write the word.  The vocabulary and spelling part of this will be a bit below his level but he does need the cursive handwriting practice.

This is a preschool level project pack that correlates with this story nicely.  If I choose to do the additional project pack with the older two, this would be a good one to do with my preschooler and possibly my 2 year old to keep them engaged for a few extra days.

I LOVE the ideas found on this blog, especially the Tot Trays.  Her science lesson would be great for each of my kids.

A few great ideas for using a light box along with some activities for toddlers.  I probably would come up with a few things for the older boys as well since they've never done any work with the light box.  She also has a fun vocabulary lesson for toddlers.  Don't forget the fun sensory activities. 

A GREAT list of Montessori inspired activities that go along with this story.   I am personally in love with this blog.  I foresee many more days spent lost on this page.

And some Montessori moon activities for the older kids.  Wow!  What I thought was going to be a short simple BfFIAR unit will end up being a really good study for all of the kids and will be able to stretch to at least 2, if not 3 weeks.  We visited Kennedy Space Center in August 2013 and I bought quite a few solar system posters and books.  We will get some great use out of those during this unit!!!

This is a really good printable pack that has some activities that would work with each of the boys.  I wouldn't print everything for each but instead would pick and choose the things that I feel each would use and add those to their assignment folders for the week.  Of course those activities would later be punched and added to their FIAR notebooks.

I am so excited about all of the great resources that I found for this unit and can't wait to continue my lesson planning so that we will be ready for school this fall.  Be sure to check back for updates to this unit as I do plan farther and also to see how the unit goes for us.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Learning to Ride

   Learning to do new things is sometimes scary.  You have to let go and just give it a try sometimes.  Recently my 5 year old learned to ride his bike.  He took his training wheels off and with just one push from Dad and another from Mom, he had it figured out.  In all actuality, I think we should have taken the training wheels off of his bike a long time ago.  He really already knew exactly what to do, he just needed to actually let go and give it a try.  As soon as he realized that he could do it, he immediately wanted to "catch up" with his brother, who was riding down the road.  He had barely gotten the hang of it and he already felt behind.



   So many times I find myself wanting to do the same.  I've barely learned to sew a straight stitch and yet I want to make something with ruffles.  I can barely make homemade ice-cream but I want to make blueberry ice-cream with homemade blueberry syrup.  How many times do we do this with homeschooling as well? We've barely made the decision to homeschool but yet we want to catch up and have the Pinterest Perfect homeschool classroom and daily Pinterest worthy lesson plans.  We struggle to catch up with those around us that have been homeschooling for years.  We strive to have everything together and have a perfect year but what we forget is the learning curve.

   Three years ago we made the decision to homeschool.  I found some great Montessori homeschool blogs and I was going to do it all just like those moms.  I worked all summer trying to make lessons and buy those that I could afford.  I saved up money that I found in the laundry, babysat for a few friends, sold a few scrapbook things and worked in my husband's office in order to have money to purchase those expensive materials.  Things were great.  We had a few friends join us the first few weeks of school and all was going great until I started to fall behind on my work for my husband's company.  He hired someone to take my place but then we had to move out of the office area that we were using for a classroom.  It was early December and I felt like my plans for the year were just over and that our year had been horrible.  We rushed to finish a room upstairs, moved our bedroom up and then used the old bedroom as our classroom.  All was well with the world again but I still felt like I had failed my kids.  For our co-op yearbook that year, a good friend of mine made a collage to be used as our family page.  Take a look at the year we had and tell me if you see the chaos.  What I see when I look at that collage is a great year full of fun, laughter and learning.

2011-12 Collage for the year book.

    Not thinking about the actual successes of the year, I focused on things that I just couldn't keep up with.  I decided that Montessori homeschooling just wasn't for us and I purchased curriculum.  You know, the kind that has a whole collection of text books that look just like what I used in school, along with nice crisp workbooks.  I was in love!  Everything was going to be soooooo easy that year.  Boy was I wrong!!!  Elijah hated them!  You know what he loved?  The extra activities that I planned to go along with his lessons from the textbook.  Desperate and upset that I had spent all that money on curriculum, I talked with a Montessori teacher friend that decided to spend her day off with us and give me some textbook free ideas.  Again I felt disoriented with our homeschool journey and just knew that I was doing my children a disservice by keeping them home.  I didn't have a fancy collage of photos through out the year this time but you know what I did have, a little boy that would beg to stay up after bedtime to read.  I had another little boy that begged to have stories read to him all day long.  I asked them if they wanted to go to school in the fall and they asked me, "Why?"  It seems they enjoyed the year and like being at home with Mom.

End of the year celebration and Student of the Year trophies.
I even got a Teacher of the Year plaque.

   This past year was possibly our worst one yet.  We now have 2 foster children and have had several others come through our house over the past school year.  Thirteen to be exact.  We even had a newborn for a few weeks.  As hard as I try to stay organized, I lost all sense of organization when the second foster child entered our home.  She's been with us a year now and I'm just now getting into the groove of things and trying to get organized, of course, we now have a baby on the way of our own.  Anyways, so this past school year we started out going back to Montessori but we added a Math curriculum that fits well with the Montessori philosophy.  I thought the year was going to be great because I was so ready, I didn't know that the state was going to throw in extra family visits during the week.  I didn't know that having afternoon activities 4 days a week was going to affect our entire day.  I didn't know that Saturday morning soccer games and Sunday morning church were going to keep me from getting anything done on the weekends.  Needless to say, very little school got done until we stopped all activities and visits in January.  We managed to fit in 9 months of school in just 4 months before we were completely burnt out again.

A day at Walter B Jacobs, a nature trail and wildlife refuge.
September 2013

   Was this year a disaster?  I'd say so!  Did I learn from this year?  Certainly!  Will I always remember how horrible this year was?  Probably not!  The truth is, that regardless of how bad this school year was, there was still much good in it.  My kids love our math program, ShillerMath.  They love to read and visit the library.  They love their school work and are looking forward to starting back in the fall.  As I have done each May since we first decided to homeschool, I gave my kids a choice.  I asked if they want to go to school or continue homeschooling.  Their answer always puts a smile on my face and reminds me that despite all of the challenges of homeschooling, we must be getting something right.  My boys don't want to go to school, they want to stay right here at home and continue homeschooling.

   I won't say that I've completely learned to ride yet, but I can proudly say that I continue to get back up each and every time that I fall.  I've got scars to remind me of the journey and the lessons that I've learned along the way.  Each time I fall, I have to remind myself that I haven't failed, I've only learned one more way that doesn't work for our family.  I'll be trying things a bit different this school year too.  There will be more trials and lessons to be learned but through each one, we are still learning as a family.

   Keep learning to ride.  Get right back on when you fall off.  Remember the lessons learned with each and every fall.  The trail is a rough one but one day we'll look back after the last child has graduated high school and we'll realize that we've finally learned to ride.  We will then be ready to teach others how to ride!

 




Friday, June 13, 2014

That moment.....

We all have that moment when we hear that weird noise coming from the bathroom, accompanied by running water.  Normally that moment would evoke a feeling of panic in a mom.  She rushes into the bathroom, turns off the water and puts a stop to the fun.  But then there's that other moment.  The moment when we just don't care anymore.  We let the kids keep making the mess because they're occupied for the moment and we have that much needed moment of peace and quiet.

That's where I am this afternoon.  I'm sitting at my desk in tears for no reason other than hormones, I got woken up early from my nap this afternoon, I had to cancel my planned shopping trip for tomorrow and honestly, I just wanted a few minutes of quiet.  The two year old was eating Oreos happily in the living room, right in my line of vision and the 3 year old was making coffee in the bathroom.  They were completely oblivious to my moment of self-pity and they were having a blast.

I let them continue.  Does it make me a bad mom?  A good mom?  Who really is the judge of that anyways?  I'll tell you what it does make me.  It makes me a mom that got to have her moment all to herself while the kids were happily doing what they wanted.  It didn't hurt anything that the 2 year old ate too many Oreos and the 3 year old made a mess on the bathroom floor.  Those things will soon be forgotten but the peace that I gained in those few minutes (and the few while I'm writing this, as they are standing at the door watching Daddy get out of the truck) will do much to carry me through this weekend in which I had to give up something I was excited about.

Friday, June 6, 2014

David's Gift needs your help!

We have a family that needs help from David's Gift to pay for the services for their 2 month old baby.  The family has paid some towards this but I know that we can raise the money to pay the difference.   We need to raise $910.58 this weekend.  If you can help with this, please visit www.davidsgift.org to make a donation.  Thank you!!!!!


Monday, June 2, 2014

Moving tonight.....

No, not moving physically, just moving away from Facebook for a while.  I've actually been thinking of this for quite a while and decided that tonight was as good a time as any.  I'll continue posting homeschool specific things but I will also be posting a bit more about our day to day life.  I really do enjoy posting about the cute random things my children do and sharing with my friends on Facebook.  I realize that Facebook also zaps a lot of my time and energy throughout the day too.  My friends list has gotten really big, I downsize and then it grows again.  I'm a pretty public person so really there's no need to keep a closed friends list anyways.  We're in the phone book, my name actually comes up in a Google search and my address is considered public information because of the non-profit registration of David's Gift.  I enjoy writing and through the years I've filled probably hundreds of notebooks with stories of my day, memories that pop into my head or ideas for stories that I'd like to write one day.  Though these things may not be specifically homeschool related, they are a part of our homeschool trail because they are a part of our daily lives.  As homeschoolers, the world is our classroom.  We aren't confined by walls or rules.  I'm going to let this spill over onto this blog.  I look forward to this new "home" to share the joys and frustrations of homeschooling, foster care, being a preacher's wife and contractor's wife, as well as being the Mommy of 4 (about to be 5) crazy little ones.  I'm glad you'll be joining me!

Pumpkin Runner resources

Another unit from Five in a Row.  This one is found in Volume 4.

I will be posting links to random resources that I find for the book and will later organize those links and post my detailed lesson plan for that unit.  Once we have completed the unit, I will post photos of our family enjoying these activities.

Kangaroo dot to dot

A list of 36 pumpkin activites

Great blog post about this unit.

Co-op blog post about this unit

Activity ideas from the author

Fun math ideas

to be continued.....

Lon Po Po resources

For this story, I will be using the book Using Caldecotts Across the Curriculum.  It is very similar to Five in a Row though the lessons aren't as in-depth.  

Again, I'm just compiling a list of resources at this point in my planning and will come back later to add detailed plans and once we've completed the unit, I'll add photos of our adventures.  I may just randomly post links at first but will go back and organize once I'm finished gathering resources.  



I had trouble finding a lot of activities and ideas for Lon Po Po outside of what is in the guide book and the two units above.  This unit will require some creative thinking on my part!  Stay tuned for updates.  

Caps for Sale resources

Continuing with my "folder filling".  Working on ideas for Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina.  This is one of our favorite stories but we've never done a unit study on it.  You can find the study for this story in Before Five in a Row.

Be sure to get the FREE Fold n Learn from Five in a Row.  You will have to sign up for their email list in order to get the links.  These are full color printables to use to make a small lapbook.

More great printables can be found here!

This is a great blog post for preschool and 1st grade using this story.  I LOVE her ideas!!!!

Fun stack the caps cutting and pasting activity.  This will be great for fine motor.  

Fun photo op for the book.  Kids wear funky hats and hold these up.  

Free themed writing paper to use with an older child.

Cute dramatic play with different hats.

Reading/L.A. activities to use with older students.  

Fun art activity 

I will update with extra book list and detailed plans for our week as I get farther along in my planning.  Right now I'm just gathering ideas and printables.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Story About Ping

I am continuing to follow Kendall's Planning Schedule from the Five in a Row Forums.  I am at step 9 which is filling my folders with ideas.  Well, I don't want to print out every great blog post I find with ideas and I don't want to lose those great posts on my FIAR Pinterest board.  I decided that I will make a blog post for each story and add links to it as I find things that I like.  Once I am ready to actually plan that unit, I can type up and print out the things that have too many photos (like the ones of blogger's kiddos enjoying the projects) and just print the ones that don't.

Social Studies:
China flag and map
China wordsearch
Video about China

Science:
Experiment:  Why ducks don't get wet.  
Sink and float
Ducks hatching video
Life cycle of ducks

Math:
Duck dot to dot
Counting Ducks

Health and Safety:
Video about water safety
Water safety printable
Video about stranger danger

Don't forget about the FREE Fold n Learn that goes along with this story.  To get those, you just need to sign up for the FIAR newsletters.

Note:  The link in the Fold n Learn is no longer available.  We found this link to be helpful in providing simple facts about ducks.  http://birding.about.com/od/birdprofiles/a/15-Fun-Facts-About-Ducks.htm

This post will be updated as I continue planning this unit.  My lesson plan will be available along with the printables and activity instructions for the things that we will be doing.





Saturday, May 17, 2014

Getting Started Planning for 2014-2015 School Year




   A few years ago I saw this great book called Using Caldecotts Across the Curriculum  and loved the idea of using these picture books in a unit.  I later learned of Five in a Row and again, fell in love.  Last summer I was introduced to Hands of a Child, which took our love of lapbooks and hands-on learning to a new level.  It took a while  to actually decide that this was what I wanted to use with my kids though because I was too busy trying every other mind-boggling homeschool method that just didn't work for us.  Well, with 3 kids doing school this fall, a toddler with special needs and a new-born on the way, I had to make some drastic changes.  What we were doing already wasn't working for us and with the new addition, it wasn't going to get any easier.  

   I get excited about planning for the new year and I find myself reading EVERYTHING I can get my hands on.  There are some great ideas on Pinterest and even more on the Five in a Row Forums.  I just couldn't figure out where to start though.  I posted a thread on the FIAR Forums and was given this great POST.  It's a great place to get started when you get ready to begin planning your year using children's picture books as your unit starter.  

   To get started, I needed a school calendar.  We don't have any need to go by the public school calendar so I decided that for next year we will start the first week of August and go through the end of May.  This is longer than our typical year but with the new baby coming, I want plenty of lead-way.  I didn't plan for specific weeks but I did plan 2 books per month, for a total of 20.  This allows us time to delve deeper into some topics that we really enjoy, take field trips and take time off for doctors appointments and other things that come up when you have a house full of children.  I decided to use a random sampling of stories from Before FIAR, FIAR, Using Caldecotts and Hands of a Child.  I tried to base these on books that we already have, books that we've borrowed from the library before and enjoyed or books that we've wanted to read and just haven't.    

   Following along with Kendall's schedule from the forum, the next step would be to obtain planning pages for the entire school year.  I think this should be pushed down a few but I will share what I did.  I found a lesson planning sheet on Just Finding My Niche that I liked for the detailed lesson plans and one on Whispered Abundance that was perfect for the overall planning and preparation for the week.  I am aware the Five in a Row puts out a yearly planner with these sheets in it each year but the 14-15 version isn't available yet.  I'm too impatient to wait!   There are many great resources in that pack that I look forward to having once the new year is available.  It is not only for homeschool planning but family organization and planning as well.  

   So now for the FUN part!  Step 4 on that list is is selecting 18-20 titles for the year and the next step is putting them in the order you will use them.  I combined these two steps.  I decided to do 2 a month for 10 months so we have 20.  I choose some from each volume of FIAR, Before FIAR, Using Caldecotts and Hands of a Child.  Only a few from Hands of a Child do not focus on just one book, the others do.  Several of the books were in FIAR, Using Caldecotts and Hands of a Child too.  We will most likely make long rabbit trails with those and do several weeks using activities from each source.  

   You can see our schedule here.  Be sure to check back in the coming weeks as I work farther along Kendall's planning schedule and get each unit planned in detail for the coming year.  

Monday, May 5, 2014

Cleaning your child's room

If you're like me, there are way too many toys in your children's bedrooms.  I've done a great job pairing this down some, cleaning out the classroom and just getting rid of clutter but I've got a long way to go in the kids' rooms.  I joined a Facebook group called 40 Bags in 40 Days and someone posted about this very problem this morning.  Another member posted a link that I think is WONDERFUL!  I thought I'd share with you.

I will mention that it talks about limiting how much you spend on toys, we already do this!  We buy one thing for birthdays and only 2-3 for Christmas.  The problem is that 2 kids have December birthdays, 1 has a February birthday and the other has a March birthday.  There's no middle of the year clean and replace for us.  It all comes in at once!  Grandparents in an effort to make up for what they feel we are depriving our children of, buy lots of toys for gifts.  Some are cheap things that get broken pretty fast.  These used to bug me because they would upset my children.  Now I kinda like these because they get thrown away faster and my kids have started to recognize quality and understand when they break.  My parents were divorced so we have 3 sets of parents to visit for Christmas.  Two of our kids are foster children so they have their own families buying them gifts as well.  It's all too much!  Grandparents don't listen either!  Oh, and don't forget the trip to my own grandparents Christmas where my 6 aunts and uncles all give the kids a little something just so that they have something to open.  It's all clutter!  We don't need it!  The kids recognize that it's too much but they still want to hang on to the toys for a little while.

Anyways, we're about to go declutter their room for the 3rd time since Christmas.  We aren't adding anything to it, we're removing each time.  Some things are going put away to rotate, some are getting donated.  Their room is still getting messy!!!!  I don't know the answer and I don't have a cure-all solution.  I do like the tips offered in this article though.  Read it for yourself and see what you think!

http://www.becomingminimalist.com/a-parents-tip-sheet-for-owning-fewer-toys/

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Summer Reading Goals

   Each summer my older two boys set themselves a reading goal.  Elijah reads on his own and Levi does shared reading with me.  If they meet their goal, they get to pick a toy around the $30 mark.  They both have December birthdays so this is the only big item they get throughout the year.  Last summer Elijah set a goal of 100 books and met that in just 1 month!!!!!  Levi's goal was 30, which he also met in one month.  They both chose super soakers which happened to be on sale BOGO FREE at Toys R Us the week we went shopping!!!!  This year the boys have set the same goal BUT, Elijah's are all chapter books now and he will be testing on bookadventure.com.  Levi will also have 30 books to read but I'm going to be testing him on books that I read to him and hopefully by the end of the summer he will be reading some Bob books to list as well.  Each summer we read 1-2 chapter books aloud and those count towards their goal.  I feel this gives them a great example of fluency and allows us to spend some special quality time together.  The younger two join us for story time but we don't yet keep up with books read to them.

Summer Reading Record

Feel free to use this file however you may like.  I made it pretty quickly and realized that it wouldn't all print on one sheet in portrait so I swapped to landscape.  I did not readjust the spreadsheet so that it would be centered on the sheet.  If you want to use it as is, please do.  If you want to use this as a guide to make your own, that's fine too.  I just wanted to share this idea and record keeping sheet with you in case you would like to do this with your kiddos this summer.  Be sure to leave a comment to let me know how you use it and how it works for your family this summer.

Random Notes from My Desk

Our school year is over and I'm cleaning out the classroom so that we can paint and begin rearranging bedrooms to make room for the baby.  I've got random notes and things on my desk that need filing or tossing.  Some of the notes I want to hold on to for later reference but not necessarily keep the paper.  I figured I'd share those with you so that you might use them too!  I'll update this list as I go through this pile.  It may take me a few days as I'm only working in spare time.

199 Fun Family Activities-  A great book of fun family activities!  I got this book as a free book from the christian bookstore when I purchased other books from the clearance table.  I know it's easy to come up with fun stuff for the family but I thought that this book may have some things I hadn't thought of.  IT DOES!!!!  From outside activities to fun ideas for getting everyone involved with household chores, this book is a great little find.  
_________________________________________________________________________________
An Email from a friend with websites and info for helping my kids with speech problems-  

      For instruction to make specific sounds, try these:  www.rachelsenglish.com  www.soundsofenglish.org

      There are also some excellent YouTube videos...  You can type in "how to make the s and z sound" and all kinds of things will pop up.  There are lots of ways to make the sound, so you might have to try a few before he gets it.  There are also developmental ages for each sound and that is easy to access also.
      The site that speech therapists love the most to purchase all kinds of wonderful things is www.superduper.com.  They have so much neat stuff and wonderful games for learning vocabulary and enhancing reading skills.

      There is a book you can get from Amazon called "The Road to the Land of S"...  It's a drillbook to help you learn to make good S and Z sounds.  I personally don't teach in drill, because we don't talk in drill.  I would rather teach the sound while teaching a learning skill.  It gives the need to produce the sound more importance.  

      These are some websites that I love, love, love:
            www.zacbrowser.com  (This website was developed in England where their incidence of autism is much higher than ours).  This site was developed by mothers of autistic children, but I use it with all of my students.  They love it and so do their parents.  Once it pulls up, they can get on it without messing up your desktop or getting to your settings.  You hit Ctl-L to get back to your normal desktop.  Down at the bottom you will see a row of icons... a tv, aquarium, soccer ball, and stuff like that.  It takes you to different activities.  The movie selection and tv section have a lot of phonics clips that are wonderful.  There is a game section with a huge selection and the kids never get tired of it.  There is a stories section where actors read the stories out loud, LOVE IT!!!   There is a music section and a section for writing, which even includes a cute little squirt bottle to clean the board.  My grandkids love this site so much, they fight over the computer to get to it.

            www.zoodles.com accesses a wealth of sites and has tons of activities also, but I am partial to zacbrowser.  When X#X#X# was homeschooling C$C$C$C$, she preferred zoodles.

            www.educationworld.com  A ton of stuff on there for every grade and level.

            www.readwritethink.org  Love this site and use it often.  Just taught a wonderful unit on Letter Writing that went along with the book Santa Calls.

            www.topmarks.co.uk  This is a British site that is a lot like our pbskids.org.  It is wonderful and my students absolutely love it.  I screen some of the activities, because some of the British stuff can be a little "cheeky".

            www.tumblebooks.org  I access this through the Bossier Public Library website (also available in Caddo Parish and many other public libraries across the US).  It is an awesome resource.  They have books on all levels and it will read them out loud (good for modeling those target sounds and building vocabulary) or you can read them manually.  There is an amazing amount of books on this site and you will love it.

      I hope you like some of these.  I know the list is a little overwhelming, but I absolutely love using technology to teach and it is nice that I can access things that the parents use at home.  There is so much more to access now than there was when I homeschooled my children briefly.  All my homeschooling friends had was the library and educational supply stores that we couldn't afford.  
_________________________________________________________________________________

Home Educating Family- a great magazine that an unknown friend gifted me with a subscription.  You can find more info at www.hedua.com

_________________________________________________________________________________

Home Organization 101: A 14 Week program to get your home organized- this is a great tool that I found on www.abowlfulloflemons.blogspot.com  It goes through each room of your house, one a week, for 14 weeks.  You clear away clutter and work on organization.  There's a checklist for each week, instructions for cleaning that space and also a Cleaning Schedule with daily/weekly/monthly/semi-annually and annually chores.  I have a stack of about 6 different charts that I printed along with this.  There are no websites listed but I believe that I got them all from the same site.

      I have been working on getting our house in order but needed it done much more quickly than 14 weeks.  I joined a group on Facebook called 40 Bags in 40 Days that has been a great motivation for me to clear my clutter and organize my home.  I've been working for about 3 weeks and have made great progress.  Now I've got to maintain it and keep pressing forward to finish the house.  We have way too much stuff and need to clear out about half of it!!!

_________________________________________________________________________________

Flylady.com This is one I've gone back and forth with for years.  It worked great before kids, decent after kids, I haven't found a way to make it work with homeschooling though.  It's been a few years since I've tried so once I have gotten our house settled from moving rooms around, I may give it another go.

      She has detailed cleaning lists for each room of your house and sends daily emails (this part drives me crazy) to encourage you to do the chore for that day.  She starts out with BabySteps to help you set up a routine and make it a habit.  It really is a great site and she has some really good tips.  It just seems hard to keep up with when you homeschool.  I find myself having to make the decision each day as to what needs more attention that day, school or house.  Her plan doesn't allow for skipping days though she does say just jump in right where you are that you are not behind.

      Like I said, I do want to try it again once we've finished our massive decluttering projects and moving the rooms around to accomodate the baby.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Alright, that's it!  The desk is cleaned off.  Everything is filed away where it belongs.  I can see the surface again!!!  I hope that you are able to use some of the things that I have shared.  If you find great resources, please share them!!!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Are We There Yet?

   The school year is winding down for most of us.  Our CC friends only have a couple of weeks left and we only have about 6 weeks left.  As we are getting our house ready for the new baby, we've had to make many changes and adjustments to how we use each room of our house.  With 4 kids and another on the way, we've decided that rooms full of toys and a classroom full of lessons just isn't going to work for us.  Not to mention that we have to find room for the baby somewhere.

   The plan is to clean out the classroom, keeping only the Math and LA manipulatives and materials.  I really like the Montessori approach to Math and LA so these materials are going on shelves in the closet under the stairs.  So, I have to clean that closet out too.  My husband's company office is in our home office, along with his church office and my school office is in the classroom, with the David's Gift office in my bedroom.  He's going to be moving his company office out and I will be moving my offices into the home office so now we are going to be sharing office space.  I'm still unsure of how this is going to work but I do like that my office space will finally be combined so that I don't have to run up/down stairs every time I need a 3-hole punch.  Gabe and I are moving our bedroom into the classroom and our current bedroom will be divided into 2 rooms with a curtain and if necessary, one of those big mounted baby gates.  Each of the boys will have their own room, which I feel is needed since they are together all day/every day.  We each need time to ourselves and by sharing a room, they just aren't getting that.  Ladybug and the baby will be sharing the nursery.  All of our craft stuff will be joining my scrapbook and sewing stuff on the landing upstairs, though I may put my scrapbook and sewing stuff in mine and Gabe's room.

   If it's not obvious from that last paragraph, I've got a lot of moving and organizing to do before the baby gets here in October.  I have a huge mess of hypothetical dominoes to knock down in the process.  I'm anxiously awaiting the close of our school year so that I can spend more time working on everything!  I have started though.  So far I've:
                                    * Cleaned out the toys and old clothing in each of the kids' rooms.
                                    * Cleaned out one of my closets, removing clothing that no longer fits to make room                                        for me to clean out the closet under the stairs and combine everything into 1 closet.
                                    * Cleaned off shelves in the classroom and moved the boys' desks to their room.                                              Their school work is now in their backpacks and hanging from a hook in the                                                  hallway.
                                    * Sold many of our materials and organized what we are keeping into bins by month                                        that we will be using them.  To do this, I printed the scope and sequence for                                                  LifePacs (we will be using these next year to make it easier on us with a new baby)                                        and labeled 10 bins for Aug-May.  The LifePacs come in 10 workbooks so I                                                labeled each workbook by month.
                                    * Cleaned out the classroom closet, setting stuff aside to sell and other stuff into the                                          bins that they go in.  For items that will not be used next year, I put those in a                                                separate bin labeled as such.

   We will be doing Five in a Row as just something fun to do as a family.  Our art and cooking will come from this along with some of the other activities suggested but I will not be using this as our primary curriculum.  I had thought about using it like that but then the baby made him/herself known so I had to find something a bit less "mom dependent" so that we won't be missing a whole month or so of school when the baby gets here.  This will be the basis of our preschool for Prince, who will hopefully legally be a McCormick by the time school starts.  I also feel like the older two need something a little more focused for science and social studies.  The topics each will cover in their LifePacs are great and it will be so nice to finally have a curriculum that is laid out all nice and neat for me.  We started ShillerMath this year and it's laid out all nice and neat too.  Our first two years I felt like I was pulling stuff from everywhere trying to put curriculum together, much like I did when teaching preschool.  I felt like this was best for the kids but I've finally come to realize that a less stressed Mom is much better for them and they will learn regardless if I put their curriculum together or if someone else does.  I kept many of our hands-on materials to use along with our LifePacs so they won't miss out on those at all.  I plan to organize our story books to go along with the bins so that it is easy to find extra things to read for each topic as well.

   As you can see, I have my work cut out for me.  I've got a lot to do in just a little bit of time.  We may not be "there" yet but I can see a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel.  I finally feel at peace with our homeschool methods and I feel like next year should go pretty smoothly.  This year has not gone like I had planned because life has gotten in the way.  We finally got started good in January and I hope to finish in April.  We will have managed to get an entire year's worth of work done in just 4 months!  We've worked hard to manage that but we are going to make it.  We will be "there" soon!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Ugly Truth

   I knew the day would come.  Everything I read warned about it.  The comedians joked about it.  I thought it would hold off a bit longer though.  What day am I talking about?  The day that the big yellow bus shines in all it's glory as it passes by your house, whisking children away for 8 hours at a time.  I look around my house and think about the things that I could accomplish if my kids weren't home all day long.  I look at my toe nails, remnants of last summer's red polish still there.  Oh how nice a pedicure would be.  There's a pile of old mail on the mantle, kid's school work piled on the baker's rack waiting to be filed, the classroom closet is a disaster, I can't remember when I last washed our sheets.  Our last date night was over 6 months ago, a lunch date now sounds like a luxury.  When did I fall into this pit?  How do I get out?  I once loved my job, now I dream about having a paying job just so that I get a 30 minute lunch break to myself each day.
   I know that this is the best for my family but I can't help but wonder what the best thing for me is.  Where am I in all of this?  Who am I these days?  I used to enjoy scrapbooking with friends once a month, that hasn't happened in several years.  In fact, I rarely talk to those friends anymore, we all have our own lives and with all our kid's schedules, it's just hard.  What's sad is that I don't even find the time to scrapbook on my own.  I learned to sew a little over a year ago, I enjoy it but never had the time for it.  My once always "company ready" house is now one rainy day away from FEMA declaring it a disaster zone.  My kids are all still happy so I guess something is going right, but I'm not happy.

   I'm not happy with how my house looks, I'm not happy with how I feel, I'm not happy with the weight that I've gained over the past 3 years and I'm not happy with myself.  I want to be excited about life again.  I want to have something to look forward to each week.  I want to feel like I have actually accomplished something each day.  Instead, I'm exhausted by the time dinner is over so the kitchen gets left.  Laundry piles up and it seems it only gets washed when we need a specific article of clothing or a towel clean.  What do I really do all day?  The kids get their school work done.  Random things around the house get picked up, but the floors get left.  The laundry and dishes get neglected.  I get neglected.  Where is the dream of being a perfect housewife?  Where is the excitement of spending each day with my children?  Where is the joy in following God's will for my family?

   Honestly, I think this is what drove women into the workforce to begin with.  They didn't have blogs or facebook to be able to share their feelings with thousands of other women going through the same thing.  Sure, they talked to friends on the phone but if it was anything like it is when I get on the phone, they didn't talk long before the kids started interrupting.  So how do women make it?  How do I keep my head up, force a smile and keep going through all of these feelings?  Why do I feel guilty for feeling this way?  Anywhere you turn, you can find articles and blogs saying why being a working mom is best, why being a stay at home mom is best, why homeschooling is best.  Where are the blogs of working women saying they sometimes hate it?  Where are the blogs of stay at home moms saying they sometimes hate it?  Where are the blogs of the homeschooling moms saying they sometimes hate it?  Why are we all so scared to admit that being a mom is tough and that our situation is not as glamorous as we thought it would be?

   As a working mom, I envied those stay at home moms.  I wanted to be the room mom when my son got in school.  I wanted to have weekly lunch dates with my friends.  I wanted to have time to pick the house up and then sit down and enjoy it being clean, while reading a book, until it was time to pick my son up.  When I found out we were expecting #2, that's exactly what I did.  I had 3 years of being a stay at home mom while one was in school.  It wasn't quite what I imagined, as tuition was expensive and we were short my income.  When faced with going back to work to afford tuition for 2 kids, I couldn't find a job that I actually wanted to do and my oldest was begging to homeschool.  We prayed about it, I read about it and we decided to go for it.  I now see exactly how God had prepared us for that and how He has provided for us to be able to do this.

   I jumped into homeschooling with expectations of how wonderful it was going to be.  Our first year, the oldest's kindergarten year, was great.  Then in year 2, our foster son (soon to be adopted son) came to live with us.  Later that year, our foster daughter came to live with us.  This 3rd school year has been our absolute worst year.  I've felt disorganized much of the year, our schedules have been way too overloaded and school felt like just one more chore that needed to be done.  From talking with other families, I know that this is normal but it's still very hard.  Especially since we now have a baby on the way.  How will we get it all done to finish up this year?  How will we get through next year with 2 little ones and 3 in school (preschool, k/1st and 3rd)?  It's overwhelming!  We've got to make room in our house for the baby, get rid of lots of clutter that's causing our house to stay a mess, find a more independent way of doing school so that each subject isn't depending on me to teach and also move some rooms around.  While I barely have the energy to do it, I can't lift anything heavy so I can't do it on my own.

   I feel worthless on most days!  Nothing fits these days so I'm wearing yoga pants and t-shirts, very comfortable but not so great for feeling good about yourself.  The house has been worse than ever for the past month or so and what little I get done, gets undone in a matter of minutes by the kids.  It's winter so Gabe's work hasn't been what we're used to so groceries have been drastically budgeted.  No big deal except now there's always someone that doesn't like what I've cooked.  This feels the worst as most days I don't even feel like cooking.  I feel really bad if Gabe doesn't like it.  School is getting done but we've moved away from the fun school we used to do to just trying to get it done for the year so we can have our summer to get organized.  In all of this I feel like a failure.  I don't know where to turn or what to do to make it better.  I feel like I need a maid and a nanny just to get everything done.  

   I know that this is best for us so I keep going.  I keep working and looking forward to my kids all being potty trained and able to make their own sandwiches.  I wish away the sweet toddler years because they're hard.  I wish away the innocent childhood years because it keeps me from being able to be myself.  I don't want to feel like this but there is little to no support to reach out to in order for me have time alone or time with my husband.  Paying a sitter for 4 crazy kids isn't an option right now.  Having a weekend away just the 2 of us is a distant dream that likely won't come true any time soon.  I'm a mom, that's my job.  It comes with it's own rewards but lately I'm looking for them pretty hard.  I'll get through it, I will survive and one day soon I will look back on this day and smile, glad that these feelings have passed and I am once again happy in my job as a Stay-At-Home-Homeschool-Mom.  Until that day, I pray!!!!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Shh! Let me tell you a not-so-secret........

I can't do it all!!!!!!!!!


   I know you aren't shocked.  Chances are, if you're reading this blog, you are a mom too.  You know that no matter how hard we try, we can never get everything done that needs to be done.  There's always that list.  Yeah, the one you dread looking at because it seems to be never ending.  There are many more things written in your beautiful handwriting on that list than things crossed out.  You may even be like me and sometimes make another list, thinking that maybe, just maybe this one might be shorter.  Your list might even be divided into "what I need to do today" and "what I need to do this week."  The thing is, we all have a list.  It's either on paper or in our heads.  Most of us don't finish the list in just one day either.  So what's the secret?  How do we manage to "look" like we've got it all together when really we don't?  It's not that we want to look that way, our friends just seem to think that we look that way.  I hear so often that I must be Super Mom.  I try so hard to be as transparent as I possibly can because I am far from Super Mom.  I don't even believe in Super Mom!  

   Yeah, you read that right.  I try to be transparent so that my friends, especially those on Facebook that rarely see me face to face, will know that I am far from perfect and so are my kids.  I know that I get a bit irritated seeing moms post all about how perfect things are.  You know that it's not really that perfect but you start feeling bad that your life isn't like that.  These moms don't mean to seem like this, they just post the highlights throughout their day.  I don't want to be the mom that makes anyone else feel that they aren't a good mom.  Whether we work in the home or out, we all have the same responsibilities to our kids.  We have to make sure they're fed, clothed in clean clothes, receive a good education, learn to pick up behind themselves, learn to take care of themselves, learn to be responsible citizens, learn to be nice to others and the list goes on, and on, and on.  We also have to be a good wife.  We have to keep the car cleaned out, the house clean, be a good friend, be a good employee, find time to rejuvenate ourselves and actually enjoy life too.  Whew!  It's a daunting task.  None of us can actually do it all and do it all well.  

   The truth is, when you do one thing well, other things get neglected.  Ever wonder why the laundry gets piled up?  Yeah, it's partly because it's our least favorite thing.  It's also because so many other things have to be done too.  We make choices, do I start a load of laundry in this 5 minute window of kids playing nicely or do I finally make a cup of coffee?  Then the kids magically know that Mom is wanting to enjoy that coffee hot so everyone starts arguing or someone has a major Thomas the Train catastrophe and you have to stop to fix the track.  Before you know it, it's noon and no laundry has been done.  Has your morning been a failure because you still have no clean towels to take a shower?  NOT HARDLY!!!!  Let's back up a minute and look at what did get done.  Your kids were fed, diapers were changed, you set aside that hot coffee to play HERO by fixing a train track, probably sat and played trains for a few minutes (only to realize that it had been an hour and was now time for lunch), sang a few songs, etc.  Did your kids care that the laundry wasn't done?  Did your kids care that you're still wearing yesterday's yoga pants?  Did your kids care that your hair was in a ponytail and you had no make-up on?  NOPE!  Our kids care about us.  To your kids you've had a very productive morning.  Your house may be a mess, you have no idea what's in the pantry that you can cook for dinner and you may be dying to drink a hot cup of coffee but you spend time with your kids because that's what's most important right now at this point in your life.  Everything else will wait!!!!!  

   Let me tell just a little about the typical day in our house.  I try to get up before the kids but honestly, I hate to wake up to the buzzing of an alarm.  I'd much rather wake up at 8 to a toddler standing by my bed, with horrible morning breath, right in my face saying, "Good morning Mommy."  I rub my eyes, stumble down the stairs still barely awake.  Head to the bathroom to change the toddler out of his pull-up and into unders and clothes for the day.  By this time, the 8 year old joins us in the kitchen so that I can make bowls of cereal.  I stand up to eat mine as I make a mental list of what I need to do today.  By the time the cereal is done, the 5 year old is up which tells me that the baby should be waking up any minute now.  I go ahead and fix 2 more bowls of cereal (one with no milk) and then go get the baby up and changed.  Into the high chair she goes.  Then it's off to the classroom where the 8 and 2 year old are waiting.  I get the 8 year old started on school work, check to be sure that the toddler is working on something and then back to the dining room to check on the other two.  Floor gets left until later.....  It's now about 9:15 or 9:30.

   Then it's baby to the nursery with the door open and a baby gate up between the classroom and the nursery.  She does her work in her room while I try to get the 5 year old started on something.  At that point, my morning becomes a blur.  Everyone starts talking at once, I feel like I can't sit down for more than a second and all chaos breaks out.  Around about 10:45, the baby joins us in the classroom and the toddler decides that he's done and wants to play in his room.  I have full intentions of doing story time, playing outside, doing music, etc but before I know it, it's time to fix lunch.  It's now noon.  I get lunch cooking, usually chicken nuggets, fish sticks or other version of processed food.  We eat, usually closer to 1 and then it's diaper changed, baby down for nap, toddler needs a nap so I have to lay with him to get him to sleep, etc.  Next thing I know, it's 2:30.  The older two still need school work finished by I need to get a few hours of work in.  I send them outside, spend an hour or so working and around about 4 the babies start waking up and the boys are ready to come in.  At this point, the door gets left open so that they can all go in and out of the classroom and screen porch while I work with one kid at a time on math.  Then we try to all do story time, then I work with one kid again until we get our assignments finished.  Guess what, it's now 5.  

   Time to start dinner, sit down to dinner, bathe the kids, tuck the kids in, etc.  Some days we have sports or therapies mixed in.  Did you notice that lots of things got left out?  Yeah, I mentioned the floor not getting swept after breakfast.  I never mentioned doing the dishes after any meal, sweeping the floor, picking up the things that get dragged out as the kids run in and out of the classroom all day, cleaning the classroom after the chaos that was our school day, cleaning the nursery, doing a load of laundry, etc.  I do try to sneak a bath in during the morning but most of the time, that's left for night-time or I skip my cereal to get one.  I simply CAN'T DO IT ALL!  My kids get taken care of, the house comes later.  Sometimes my husband even ends up doing something that needs to be done, even though I've been home all day.  If I decide to do an art project that day, my kids go play alone while I create.  If I decide to clean that day, the kids go play alone.  See, I can't do it all.  I am not Super Mom, getting it all done.  I'm not even close!  

   I'm that mom with my hair pulled back in a pony-tail, wearing a t-shirt and yoga pants, running around the house like I have no clue what's going on.  Most days, I really don't.  I can't find two of any pair of shoes for this kid, can't find this kid's blue ninja guy with the red headband, can't find my Pepsi that I just opened, can't remember if I brushed my teeth this morning, been needing to pee for an hour and still haven't had a chance to go.  That's me!  I'm real!  I'm just like everyone else and I try not to ever appear that I'm Super Mom.  I'm simply not her.  She doesn't exist.  If she did, she'd need 36 hours in every day, her kids would need to sleep 16 hours at a time, her kids would need to come into this world knowing how to dress themselves, feed themselves and read.  SUPER MOM IS A FAIRY TALE!!!!  I like being me.  I may hate the messy house but I love my children and I know that the house will one day be clean and my kids will be grown.  I try to clean here and there but if it doesn't happen, I don't stress over it.  I want to be a good Mom to my kids and in case you haven't noticed, kids don't really mind if things are a bit messy.  

   So, there you have it.  None of us are perfect.  We all leave lots of things undone while tending to our responsibilities.  We just have to learn to juggle.  Sometimes it may feel like we're constantly treading water trying to keep our heads above water.  It's all just part of it.  We're moms!  We're tough!  We get stressed out!  We've got to stick together and get rid of this whole Super Mom Myth!  We really do love our lives as moms!  This season may not be that great but we're going to get through it together.  Let's encourage one other, give praise when you see a mom trying really hard to juggle everything and maybe even give a hand when you see a mom that could use it.  Being a mom is not for the faint of heart!