4.27.2011

Blogs

I like blogs.  I really like blogs.  I could get addicted to blogs.
This one I stumbled upon while looking for a lapbook outline for Island of the Blue Dolphins and I thought it was well worth sharing. I was especially excited to see notebooking pages to go along with the Mathmeticians are People, Too books. 

Notebooking Nook

Enjoy!
JULIA

4.25.2011

Project Time!!!

Call it Spring!  Call it nesting!  Call it whatever you want but I have suddenly acquired a great amount of energy and desire to just DO things!  Projects that have been waiting for months to be completed are finally getting done and it feels great!!

It all started with me finally painting the master bathroom.  It looks so beautiful!  I feel so peaceful now when I wake up and see the light blue walls. 

Then, last weekend I finally tackled the garage (with lots of help from my family).  We organized stuff.  We threw stuff away.  We donated stuff.  It was quite a feat since the last few months the garage has become our dumping ground!! 

This past weekend I cleaned out the laundry/craft/sewing room.  We moved the sewing stuff into the guest room so that now I have clean "study space" in the laundry room.  I'm excited to have that space back!  I even got rid of some things I've been hanging on to "just in case."  Don't you hate those items??  Anyway, it's been nice. 

Our next (and final project before baby I think) is the moving of the boys' room!  We are getting rid of our large playroom downstairs.  I figure it's usually a big mess anyway, so why keep it as a playroom?  We'll move the two older boys down there.  Before we can move them down though, we need to decide what to do with the toys.  We don't have all that much:  legos, Little People, costumes, and playhouse stuff (some food and dolls) is the bulk of it.  But I don't think the boys want all the kids playing in their room all of the time. :-)  So, we're going to be spending a little bit of time building a bookshelves/cubby area in our family room for those items.  I'm so excited to get this done . . . and hopefully well before the baby decides to arrive.

I have to tell you, this pregnancy has seemed so easy.  I'm starting to get uncomfortable, true.  And I'm noticing I can't get things done quite as quickly as I used to.  But that's not really much to complain about.  With the others I had horrible back problems and was much more irritable.  Maybe it's because I have older children.  Maybe it's because I know when to take breaks more than I did before.  Maybe it's because my body had some rest between the last child and now.  Or maybe the Lord just knew I needed to have some added strength to meet the needs of my family and my callings right now.  All I know is that I do feel great and I'm so grateful! 

7 more weeks!!!!  (or less)

4.19.2011

Reading


The other day, this is what I found my girls doing during some free time (sorry, the picture's not the greatest).  This may not seem like a big deal to you, but for me it was borderline miraculous.  It's funny because I've heard that it's easier to teach girls how to potty train and how to read than it is boys.  In my life, both of those scenarios have not played out as they're "supposed to."  Whereas my boys have been very easy to teach and eager to read, my girls have both been reluctant readers. 

My husband and I recently had a discussion about this.  He asked me, "Have you ever wondered why our girls have struggled and our boys have caught on easier?"  I told him that I think about it all the time!!  My husband just wanted to make sure that we weren't setting a precident that boys are expected to be more intelligent than girls or something like that.  A valid concern, but after some thought I really didn't think that was what was happening. 

I will say that my girls have challenged me more so than my boys.  Maybe it's the mother/daughter relationship??  One daughter has had some physical learning challenges as well, which doesn't help.  My oldest boy simply just caught on quickly.  My second boy (6) has decided recently that he wants to do everything his older brother does.  EVERYTHING!  If JW is shooting hoops, so is JL.  If JW is reading, so is JL.  Because JW plays the piano, JL is determined to learn as well. 

I don't know why my girls have had a harder time than my boys.  It really could just be that my girls are late bloomers . . . and that is okay!  I do think boys and girls do learn differently and maybe my style of teaching fits better with my boys than my girls.  This is something I will ponder for awhile.  But for now, I will enjoy the moments that I do "catch" them reading!  :-)

4.16.2011

Family Night Fun

Each week we have what is called Family Home Evening (aka family night) during which we have a little gospel lesson or discussion and then usually play a game, have a treat and just be a family. We all keep that one day of the week free from any other calendar events (as much as possible). Here are just a couple of our more recent family night activities.

The last couple of times after General Conference our family night the Monday after has been "Conference Jeopardy."  This year we had topics such as "Follow the Prophet" (things our prophet said),  Music, Temples, Numbers (i.e. how many missionaries are currently serving throughout the world), and Words of the Apostles.  This is becoming one of our favorite FHE activities.  Next time I think I'm going to have the kids come up with some questions/answers. 

This was JL's lesson this past week.  It took him and B 3 hours to prepare.  Why?  Because they kept changing the scripture story they wanted to share.  It went from Samuel the Lamanite to Ammon cutting off the arms of the sheep robbers to the story of Abinidi.  Either way, I thought the figures JL drew were quite impressive and he really did work hard! 

 * * * * *

On another note:  my husband and I have been discussing how to manage Family Night with the age differences of our children.  The older kids are ready for a much more relaxed gospel discussion-like setting whereas the younger kids still need a little bit of that "entertainment" value that the older kids have had up until now.   I suggested we have a Sunday night discussion with our older kids and then have a quick family night on Mondays geared more toward the little kiddies.  Then I just discovered that a great friend of mine does this with her family and that they love it! 

Another suggestion I had from my sister was that they just have the one family night but her husband will just come up with a topic and each child has to share what they know about that topic.  The little & the big kids can all participate this way going from the very basic to more in depth discussion. 

What do any of you do for famiy home evenings if there's a wide age span?

4.12.2011

Happy Licorice Day

Today we celebrated Licorice Day by reading Twizzlers book on Shapes and Patterns.  They also have a great book on percentages, but we didn't delve into that one yet.  The kids had a blast making all the shapes with their licorice pieces.  And it was a fun way to teach a simple concept. 

So, Happy Licorice Day, Everyone! 


4.07.2011

Thoughts on Public School

As many of you know, my oldest entered public school this year (5th grade).  This has been both a positive and negative experience . . . for me and for my son (although I think I see the negatives more than he does . . . just like a mom, right?!).  :-)  Anyway, when people ask me, "How's school going for JW?" I don't really know how to answer the question.  Do they want the short answer or the long answer?  Do they want my viewpoint as an answer or JW's viewpoint as an answer? 

This week has been his spring break.  And, because of B's participation in The Savior of the World production in our stake, we didn't go anywhere.  That has been a lovely blessing!  But, boy, is JW ever in spring break" mode!!  With the things I'm seeing in him this week I've been asking myself many, many questions for next year and for him.  We've all pretty much decided that he's coming back home next year, so this week was a bit of a trial run (in my mind) to see how we are going to structure next year with him home again.  Three things I've been observing the past month or so (and especially this week):

1) Independence:  I'm recognizing that the transition phase is mostly about independence (at least for us).  Public school has been great for both of us to better recognize this need in JW's life.  For me as a mother and him as the oldest, it's new territory in figuring out the boundaries.  Because of school, I'm definitely more open to him being more detached from the apron strings. 

2) Friends & Being Away from Home:  I'm also recognizing his need to be away from home more, his need for comradery with his peers.  This is the big thing he's most nervous about for next year.  He likes the daily interaction.  He likes getting away.  These are not bad things, it's just reality and something we'll need to face for next year.  With this need I've been tempted to overschedule him for next year (as I think about his schedule).  There are so many ways to get him "outside the home" but do I really want to be the one getting him to all of those places (especially with a new baby in the mix!)? So, I've got to be sure I balance this need while protecting our family needs as well.

3) Scholar Phase or Not?:  Watching him this week something dawned on me very strongly.  This boy wants the perks of being older (scholarish) but he doesn't necessarily want to put forth the effort (take care of the responsibilities) that come with being a scholar.  Now, this could simply be what I'm seeing because he's in "vacation mode" and not having 7 hours of school do deal with each day.  But, it's still something I need to figure out between now and next year. 

My Plan
This summer I will have two goals:  give him plenty of Core/Love of Learning time (de-school him so to speak) and figure out and explain what the next phase really entails, both the responsibilities and the blessings.  I've read not to make "staying in LofL phase" a punishment, and knowing myself I think I'll need to work on my approach before I discuss the plan with him.  :) 

I also will need to be sure that the move to scholar phase is really his choice and not my perception of what I think he should be doing right now (he's still young).  I can say that I have seen a general lack of motivation that has developed in JW since school has started.  When he's home he just wants to play . . . and I have let him because after 7 hours of structure, I wanted him to just play . . . but his educational motivation is not as strong as I think it once was.  That I miss and would like to see it again!  :-)  Again, I take some responsibility for this as well in the sense that I could have demanded more from him at home, but chose not to (I'll blame it on pregnancy). :-)

So, there you have it.  My jumbled thoughts of the week.  I will say, that it has been so much fun having JW home this week.  Even with these questions to answer for next year, I'm still very excited to bring him home again.  Actually, I can't wait!
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