Kindergarten Begins

We have started Homeschool Lite. I haven’t started “officially” because I’m still working on my lesson plans. I’ve got the start of an outline, and it will stay an outline until I get closer to each planned day when I will flesh things out more. I still have a bit more planning to do, and I want to make sure everything is ready for my big reveal for our Australia unit. It’s challenging doing everything after they go to bed! It will be easier once we get started because I’ll be able to work on stuff during the day.

In the meantime, I’ve started a few things here and there whenever we have the chance. It’s probably better if we ease into a routine of doing school work. In addition to the nature sticker sheets (we’ve done a few of those), I’ve been trying to have the big girl do a daily homeschool journal. We missed a few days where I wasn’t feeling well, but we’ve been pretty good otherwise for the last week or so. It’s a very simple sheet that doesn’t take her much time to do if she focuses on it. It should be a nice way to go back through the year and watch her progress with handwriting, and to see the things she draws.

I’ve attached a copy of our template below to share. Each journal page takes up a half sheet of regular paper, and the bottom of each page is blank so she can write or draw whatever she likes. I’ve been cutting each page in half so they are free floating, but you could always print double sided and make a little booklet.

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Homeschool Beginnings

I don’t quite feel ready to post yet on my progress, because it will take so much time to gather all the stuff I’ve been pouring over and working with. I think I’m going to just have to dive in or it’ll never happen. Baby napping, older kids playing with their Dad so here we go…

I have decided that for our family it would be most fun to do unit studies. This involves choosing a topic, and basing all your lessons around that topic. I’d like to start with countries around the world so it’s easier to tie in the social studies. After reading some of the Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (specifically the one about how the kangaroo got its big bouncy legs and long tail) I thought it would be fun to start with Australia. I’ll write more on my plans for that later once I’m ready to start the unit.

In the meantime, I have gone through the NH kindergarten standards, and some other resources. I’ve type up myself a document of guidelines based on that. It has really helped me get some ideas, one of which I put into use right away. We are doing amazingly with reading and phonics (my 5 year old surprised me by reading “queen” today without any help or sounding out, and automatically saw the word “jar” and said “Ohh, jair” without needing to sound it out. Soo so close.) However, I have learned after going through some of the kindergarten math standards that I need to be careful that we don’t get behind there. This is where my most recent activity came into play.

A while back I had planned a nature hunt bingo activity that Katie seemed to have some fun with. I drew a grid and some pictures of things she would find in nature. Her and her sister then went and put a sticker on the square once they saw one of that item. Stickers are always a hit in this house.

The bingo activity led to the next activity that I planned for our day trip to the a forest park yesterday. This was about data collection, and representing numbers in different ways. There were 5 rows, and each row had a picture of an item (bird, cloud, sun, car, butterfly). The first column in that row was where she could put a sticker each time she saw one of those items. The next two columns we worked on together today. I had her count the stars, and make tally marks for that number in the first column. Then the second column was for writing the numeral. It didn’t occur to me when I first made the activity, but I think it will be a good idea to fill a few of these sheets out on different activities, and look at them to discuss the different amounts that she finds. For example, some days we may see a lot of birds, while others we might see few or none.

In the future I might structure the sheet to fit a place to write out the word of each item herself, but I didn’t have the space. It took her very little time to do, and I think she had fun with it. Her sister of course loved putting stickers all over her sheet. I’ve included a PDF of the worksheet we used to share. Right click on the image below, and click save.

nature-data-collection

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Three Months!

That’s right, it has been nearly three months since this cheerful little bean came into our lives. I may have done this twice before, but I have learned so much from this little guy. He is cheerful, and cuddly, and pretty chill. He is also growing way too fast. My days, even when they’re rough, just fly right on by.

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Having three children under 5 is definitely overwhelming at times. I am very lucky in that my two eldest are very mild-mannered usually, and really great at doing the things I ask most of the time. They both love their little brother dearly, but it’s hard not to love this guy and his generous wide-eyed grins.

I’ve got so much on my plate right now, but it is entirely my fault. I can’t help it, there are so many things I want to do. I want to cook all our food from scratch, and I have been working my back to that fairly well. Sometimes I forget to refrigerate some stock and have to toss it, or don’t use up something before it goes bad. I’m working on it. Then there’s this big gardening project I want to do this summer. I have been obsessed with this, despite the fact that I don’t generally enjoy gardening and can’t keep plants alive unless they’re succulents. Cutting our grocery costs is the driving factor behind this project. I’m also trying to start homeschooling our eldest to see if that is something that will work for our family. She is going to be 5 this summer, so the right age for Kindergarten in the fall. I don’t need to sleep, right?

I take heart in the fact that my good days are growing, and generally outnumber the really challenging days. Even when it is really tough I take it moment to moment, and every day has at least a few successes.

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A year in abstract

So much to say and so little time! Let’s see if I can make a quick list of the most important.

1. New addition to the family! Baby Lachlan, our first little boy joined us in January.
2. Attempting to home school kindergarten for our eldest. More musings on that later.
3. A new project A Yankee Girl’s Guide in which I attempt writing, and brushing up on my coding skills.

Soon after we met our little boy…
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I can’t believe he’s almost 3 months!
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Local Farming

This is a topic that gets me really excited, so I will try very hard to keep the exclamation points to a minimum. It’s something that touches on the thing that makes me excited about making things. We live in such a factory created world, I have become very fascinated with more humble (and human) means of creation. It should be no surprise that with summer on its way, I am thinking a lot about local farming.

At the CSA farm in the summer of 2012At the CSA farm in the summer of 2012

Our family lives a very frugal existence, but we are very lucky to have access to fairly affordable local (even organic) food. I can’t really do organic in the grocery store, because it is sometimes 2-3 times more expensive. However, this region has a large number of CSA farms which has made such foods very affordable.

CSA stands for community supported agriculture. While that may sound like I’ve gone in for the back breaking work of weeding and planting (our CSA farm *does* encourage its members to help weed but only if they want) that’s not what it’s all about. At its most basic, we buy a “share” for our family, and we get a certain amount of the harvest throughout the year based on this share.

Sure, it’s taking a risk if crops don’t do well. However, the more skilled farmers learn to diversify. If one crop does poorly that year, the idea is that you have a variety of others to rely on. It’s very seasonal, and we tend to get more in the middle and late summer. However, I have found that the grocery savings throughout the 22 weeks that ours runs has more than made up for the high up front cost. Plus, who can pass up locally grown super sweet ripe strawberries!!

We’re not only investing in good food for our family, but we are also investing in a learning experience for our girls. My husband and I really try to discuss the source of our food, about how the farm works, and I think my oldest has learned a lot of valuable stuff. They see where their food comes from, and the people that grow it. They even get to help with the pick-your-own selection the farm has every week. The strawberry season is quite exciting, but tomato season is just as mouth watering with the amazing cherry tomatoes we get to pick as a family.

It has been quite a challenge to make sure to use all the vegetables. Some of the stuff we have gotten I do admit to thinking “What the hell do I do with *this*?” We get weekly e-mails with suggestions and/or recipes for the more uncommon vegetables we receive. However, not all CSAs are you-get-what-you-get. Sure there’s some input from year to year, but essentially we receive what is given to us. Some CSAs have a more pick-and-choose set up. As CSAs are becoming more common there are more options for families to find the right farm for them.

I am so glad that we were financially able to buy a CSA share again this year. This is our second year and I look forward to a very tasty and educational summer. Today I pick up this week’s vegetables, and included will be some asparagus, bok choi, baby spinach, mesclun greens, scallions, and collards. Lots of salads and greens this week!

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Spring Cleaning

I got this intense urge to clean and organize the kids’ toys and play area in the living room. So glad I did. Hopefully I’ll have more motivation to get into a routine of picking up regularly with the girls. Now that everything has a home it will be easier!

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They have lots of little things with pieces, and I finally found a way to keep them all in their place. I even filled a bag with some travel toys that we can take out when we go places to keep them occupied. Those girls are so lucky for all they have.

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In other news, Elowen has become quite the talker! She’s still working on her pronunciation of certain words, but she’s speaking in several word sentences, and repeating things like “All aboard the choo-choo train!” It’s so exciting to watch them learn and grow.

Then of course Katie is drawing recognizable shapes and figures. I love her people drawings. It was like an explosion of interest in drawing in the last few months.

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Spinning…weaving…not knitting

So, a bad thing has happened in my life, that has really turned out to be a good thing. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. About two weeks ago I developed a pretty bad case of self-diagnosed carpel tunnel. Numb hands off and on all day at its worst. It started off fairly mild and built up to being pretty all-consuming by the end of the week.

All knitting stopped. Well, it mostly stopped as much as I can cut knitting out of the picture. I kept myself away from the computer as much as I could over the weekend, and tried to spend two days to recoup. You see, my job involves a lot of typing and I was pretty desperate to find a way to keep doing it because you know..I really enjoy it.

Strange things have been happening. My house has been cleaner. My laundry got done and folded. I’ve never been a very good housekeeper, and I’m still no great example. Still, I have been forcing myself to do other things.

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This has been a good lessen in moderation.

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Long forgotten skills have been remembered.

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I have been forced to do this against my will but…It’s not so bad. I’m still grappling with the depressing realities of this issue, and I don’t want to go too far into detail. Let’s make a quick mention of a languishing hat design and leave it at that just now.

For the moment I will stick with doing what I can to keep busy and happy.

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Growing Up!

My youngest has reached a milestone. Her own bed! She’s so excited.

elowen-bed

In other news, 20% off all my patterns for the month of March! (Price will be discounted at checkout)

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Hats

I don’t do hats. Oh I’ve done hats, but I don’t do hats. I can’t tell you how many hat failures I’ve had. Sure, there have been successes (the plurality of that word is a slight exaggeration). The failures outnumber the successes to an embarassing degree. OK sure we all fail sometimes, and we learn from it, and we move on. But I’ve always been a competent knitter, adventurous, inquisitive. Sure I make mistakes here and there, but I’ve never had a whole category of knitting to drag me down. Well, except for hats of course.

Until of course this happened…

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I know a little baby who is going to receive two of them, because I couldn’t decide which yarn I really wanted to use. I got quite far on the yellow one that I couldn’t rip it out, but felt it was a shame that it didn’t have the softness and drape of the others. So I started the purple one because it’s the mother’s favorite color.

I don’t think I’ll stop there.

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Are you counting?

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Apparently I should be crocheting my hats.

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Crochet Obsessions

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This is what happens when an obsession comes on. I finish something like this in one night. Then I dream about all the others that I can make with my various stash yarn.

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I put some ribbon on the first one, and start another one. I’ve already got plans for four more including this one. It’s just like crocheting dish cloths. I just go and go and go…It’s relaxing.

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Please don’t ask me about the state of my house, OK?

Details @ Ravelry

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