Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Big Game

Taking a break from the planning posts to write about last night's big football game against the archrival team! Unfortunately, "the good guys" lost, but they sure played a great game. I was especially proud of this guy! Night Owl is #75. He looks good in red doesn't he! (Click on the picture to make it full size.)

Some great friends joined us for a tailgate party before the game and helped us cheer the red team on.

The rain stopped before the game and didn't start up again until we were on our way to the car. (Someone must have been praying!)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Boxes, Binders, Bins and Bags (Part 2)

I thought I'd write a little about how I store all the various books and school supplies that come with homeschooling. Home organization is something I am always working on. Trying to keep the house orderly and clean is difficult with 5 children, but having them home all day makes it even more difficult. I'm not complaining - I LOVE having my children home. I'm just stating a fact. A house that is lived in all day is going to get messy and require cleaning more often. One of the ways I am trying to keep things orderly is by getting rid of the extra "stuff" we have. For one thing I don't have a lot of pretty things sitting around. It 's not that I don't want them, it's that they require dusting, which is something I don't want to spend all day doing. There is also the risk of things getting broken. So, for now, our house is very "utilitarian". When my children are all a little older, I will happily decorate to my heart's content.

Now, for the homeschool stuff. I use a system of baskets, boxes and bags to keep things in. I also use my dining room china hutch and bookshelves in the school room. I'll try to go through each room and explain what sort of homeschooling things we do there and how I store the necessary materials.

We begin our day in the Sunroom. This is my favorite room in the house. It was a screened in porch at one time. We remodeled in order to use it year round because we enjoyed the view of the woods and river that are behind our house. You can see there is not much furniture here - something I hope to remedy some day. We gather here for a family morning prayer and I read a picture book or some other reading about the current feast day on our Liturgical Calendar. I will tie an art lesson in with this too, which I will write more about below. We call this time our morning meeting and make sure to discuss anything new or different on our schedule for the day. After that, we do religion in this room. I work individually with the kids one at a time. The children I am not working with are busy with independent work or sometimes they may be able to start on their art lesson. I don't need a whole lot of supplies for this time of day. What I do use fits into these two baskets that I store behind one of the rockers.

After Religion, we move to the dining room table for art. I've decided to move art to an early time of the day because I have a habit of putting it off, and then we don't get to it. I'll be tying many of our art lessons in with what we are doing for Religion so it naturally follows. The window sill behind the table is where I put our "home altar". It's decor changes with the church seasons. For now, we have our statue of the Good Shepherd there, on a green cloth because it is ordinary time. Social Butterfly made the basket, which holds our collection of holy cards, and the wreath which our statue of Mary is standing in.

This is the china hutch in which I store the art supplies. Each drawer holds a different medium - the watercolors drawer holds paints, a container of brushes, and paint palletes. The coloring drawer holds crayons and markers. The clay drawer holds modeling and Sculpey Clay and clay tools. The paper drawer holds drawing paper and construction paper. In other drawers there are pencils, colored pencils, block crayons, and rubbing plates. There are more art supplies in the cabinets underneath, where I also store items for our home altar and table cloths for the table. I don't know what I would do without this china hutch!

After Religion and Art we head down to the school room where the bulk of our school materials are stored. Most everything goes on the book shelves that line the back wall. I also have a book shelf between the windows, and cabinet space against the other wall. The kids have desks in which they can store the books that they are currently using. However, since we started using workboxes (another post) the boys don't really use the desk drawers for books.

Later, in the afternoon we have tea time. The kids and I enjoy sitting on the couch in the living room for this time of day. I keep a basket there, filled with the books we are reading, or will read, during this time. In the first picture, can you see the over-stuffed bag that is peaking out from the corner of the couch? That's my home office. Really! I'll write more about that later. Tea Time is one of the favorite parts of our day. Unfortunately, because it is in the afternoon, after all the other school work is done, it sometimes gets pushed out by extra curricular activities. I try to fit it in at least 2 or 3 times a week though. When I don't, we all miss it.

In the next posts, I will talk about our workboxes a bit more, and describe how I do my planning for our homeschool.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Boxes, Binders, Bins and Bags! (Part 1)

While everyone else in the world seems to be starting back to school, whether it be homeschool, public school or private school, summer is still here at the academy. Where we live, public and private schools don't start until after Labor Day. So, even though some of our homeschool friends and most of our out-of-state family and friends have already started back, we are still enjoying the freedom to sleep in late, enjoy late night bon fires with friends, jump on the trampoline all day, cook wonderful feasts for the family, attend numerous Vacation Bible Schools, play football, swing, picnic, eat popsicles, etc., etc., etc.
Click on these pictures to enlarge them. Beany's expression in the popsicle picture is cute!

HOWEVER, as I am reading lots of school planning posts, schoolroom remodel posts, and other posts entitled "Our First Day of School" on various blogs, I'm thinking I need to get it in gear. Actually, I think about school all summer. I end one school year with books already ordered for the following year and to me summer means more time to plan. I start with a list of goals for each child then I plan a schedule, type up my syllabi, reorganize the classroom, and on and on. I love it! I guess I'm just a one of those people that enjoys planning.

So far, this summer, I have decided on academic goals for each of the kids, and ordered the curriculum that I think will meet those needs. We are enrolled with Mother of Divine Grace School and for the most part I use the books recommended by them. I do adjust things a bit for my children's individual needs, and I work with my consultant from Mother of Divine Grace to do that. It's a real blessing for me to talk to someone on a regular basis about what we're doing, the areas in which we are doing a great job, and the areas in which we are struggling.

Currently, I am working on various systems to help keep things organized around here. I think that is the most difficult part of homeschooling for me. We are blessed with a school room in the basement, but school stuff still manages to clutter the upstairs as well. I don't call books clutter - especially really good books. A stack or basket of books doesn't bother me at all. It's the paper, and the folders, and the notebooks, and the pencils, and the erasers, and the glue sticks, and the craft supplies!!! I could go on and on.

Besides organizing the stuff of homeschooling, I also need a system for planning. It's my plan for planning that helps me when I feel like there's so much to do and so little time to do it. This feeling usually hits about the second day of school! Over the weekend, if I can sit down, and in an orderly way go over my goals, write up the week's plans, make a list of the "to do's" that have to happen before Monday, and actually do the "to do's", life is so much more peaceful.

Reading posts like this one by Jen at Wildflowers and Marbles and this one by Dawn at By Sun and Candlelight are always inspiring for me. I really like both of their planning systems. The pretty papers make what could be a very drab stack of notebooks visually appealing. I'm not quite so creative, but I'm happy with how my planning system is coming along. I've decided to divide this post into a series because it is getting quite long. I will describe my planning system in part 2!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Social Butterfly's Catchy Quote

"A Grandma without wrinkles is like icecream without sprinkles!"

She spoke these words of wisdom during an info- mercial about some sort of wrinkle cream.

Wrinkles or not, we think grandma's are pretty special people!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Am Appetitlichsten! Delicieux! Delisiozo!

A Meal From Switzerland!

Dad and I felt like we ate dinner at a restaurant in Switzerland last night! Night Owl and Social Butterfly worked together to make a most delicious dinner. We started with a cheese fondue, made with 3 different Swiss cheeses and white wine. Night Owl actually made a Swedish bread that we used for dipping. I was very impressed with the bread! It came out beautifully. The cheese fondue which chef Social Butterfly worked on was no easy feat either. Keeping it warm enough to melt all the cheese but not so warm that it scorched was difficult.

The main course consisted of chicken roulades made by Night Owl, an incredibly delicious potato dish made by Social Butterfly, and fried apples also made by Night Owl, with Social Butterfly helping. Wow! Dad's going to take the leftovers to work tomorrow to make his co-workers jealous. It was one of the best meals I 've ever eaten.

As if that wasn't enough we had an incredibly rich chocolate fondue with strawberries, pound cake and marshmallows for dipping. I'm sure I gained 10 pounds.
Night Owl was not too thrilled about getting his picture taken!

During all this cooking we were wondering about the language spoken in Switzerland. Dad already knew but he let us figure it out. This neat site shows that there are actually 3 main languages spoken there, French, German and Italian.

This morning I did another search to find out how to say "delicious" in each of the languages:

am appetitlichsten is "delicious" in German,

delicieux - is the French term for "delicious",

and delisiozo is "delicious" in Italian

Friday, August 14, 2009

Football Season

Football season has officially arrived around here. Night Owl returned from football camp safe and sound, Jetter is signed up for Rocket football, Builder is signed up for Rocket Flag Football, and Dad watched his first Steelers game last night. "Already?" I asked. "Already?! It's been six long months of no football!" came the reply. (I wish I had the little smiley "eye-roll" icon here.)
I do have to admit though, nearly 20 years of watching the Steelers during football season has kind of grown on me. I don't mind watching them, in fact sometimes I enjoy it.

The guys I really enjoy watching are my own sons though. I look forward to their games. There will be a "first" for all 3 of them this year. Night Owl will be playing on the varsity team for the first time. Jetter will have his first year in "contact football" and is quite excited about wearing all the pads, and Builder will have his first year at flag football which is sort of an introduction to the whole football thing.

Here at home, we have our own football camp going. The coach is of course Night Owl and the youngest member of the team is Beany. It's a riot. Even our neighbor likes to come out to the fence and watch the antics of these boys when they're practicing. Night Owl just has fun with it and his brothers love him for it. I'm proud of him for taking the time to do this with the boys. He's really growing up.

Here's some pictures:
First the pep talk. Notice the dog intently watching, waiting to steal the ball and run.

Then come the warm up exercises and a few laps around the yard.

Working on the "3-point stance":

Finally, the tackle drills! This is the favorite part!

These boys are such a blessing to one another. They might not always appreciate what they have, but I sure do.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Picture

Last week we all went to the Company Picnic at my husband's place of work. We had lots of fun getting faces painted, jumping in inflatables, eating icecream and cotton candy and meeting some of the people that Dad works with.
One of the activities offered this year was an opportunity to get a family picture. The person taking the pictures happened to be the owner of the company who is also a talented photographer. This picture of us is probably the most interesting family portrait we've ever had taken! Obviously, we weren't all ready with smiles painted on, backs stiff, little ones crying, etc. The picture was taken before we were "properly posed" but what a treasure! Night Owl and Dad look handsome as ever. Jetter and Social Butterfly look great in their face paint and the picture captures Jetter's personality just perfectly. Beany is the star of the show (as usual) with his smile and look of wonder at the balloon. Builder is looking away, but then, Builder always looks away when he gets his picture taken. He's more concerned about whether or not everyone else is smiling. I feel like I look a bit frazzled, but ... I guess that's me!
I took a picture of the portrait to post here on the blog and in so doing, I lost alot of the clarity of the original. It is of beautiful quality and we are very thankful for such a treasure!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Posting mix up

I finished a post about our daily schedule, but because I started it several weeks ago, it actually posted a few pages back. Here's a link if you are interested. It's basically about our daily schedule for the coming school year, with a few old pictures added just for fun.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Zoo Weekend

Zoo Weekend 2009 was a big hit! We had a great time visiting two very nice zoo's. Saturday we were at the Cincinatti Zoo and Sunday we were at the Detroit Zoo.

At the Cincinatti Zoo, we all enjoyed seeing the animals,

Riding on the train,

And watching a very cool 4D movie!

Beany enjoyed seeing all the animals. He was determined to stay out of the stroller though. That made it a bit frustrating, but Dad, Night Owl, and I traded the task of carrying him. He walked a lot too, but that tended to slow us all down, especially when he wanted to keep backtracking.

The three middle kids all had matching t-shirts, something that Night Owl wanted no part of. I was actually surprised at how much easier it was to keep track of them.

Night Owl seemed to enjoy telling his siblings about the many animals we saw.

Here are some of our favorites from the Cincinnati Zoo:

The White Tiger, which we learned was NOT an albino:

The Red Panda that looks very little like the black and white pandas we're used to seeing:

The very cute tiger cubs, that wouldn't stop playing to pose for a picture:

Gorgeous birds - lots and lots!

And these majestic white lions:

The zoo closed at 6 and we were hungry, hot and tired. We drove about half way to Detroit and found a very nice hotel in Findlay Ohio. It was perfect. The next morning we went to Saint Michael's Church, which was gorgeous. I just had to take a picture afterwards, even though two of the kids had already jumped in the van and taken their shoes off!

We all decided that the Detroit Zoo was more visually pleasing. It seemed like a nice place to take long leisurely walks. The statues, fountains and flowers were all beautiful. Unfortunately, we had run into two traffic jams on the way there so our time was limited so we kept pushing on, occasionally stopping for pictures!

"Amphibiville" was an interesting display of amphibians (obviously!). This gentleman, a docent who really seemed to enjoy his job, helped the kids find the tiny frogs, salamanders and snakes hiding in the foliage of their displays.
One of the most impressive areas was the Arctic Ring of Life. It included an underground, glass tunnel we walked through. We watched the antics of a seal swim back and forth over the top of us.

We were hoping this big guy would jump in the water, but he seemed to enjoy just chillin' out on his little "iceberg".
Some of the other animals we enjoyed at the Detroit Zoo:
Beany really liked these guys that walked around both zoo's. He followed them, but was afraid to get too close. Their colors were quite striking.
So, a good time was had by all, though we're a bit tired today. I think, in the future, one zoo will be enough. We could have spent 2 days at the Cincinnati Zoo alone. But we enjoyed ourselves and the time together as a family will be a treasure to remember.