Thursday, October 30, 2014

Reading Out Loud is . . .

In one of my early childhood classes in college, my professor had one saying we all heard daily: "Reading out loud is the single most important thing you can do for a child." When it comes to their education I really do have to agree. Reading opens so many doors, and children who struggle in reading tend to struggle in most all areas of school.

Unless the child has a disability that interferes with reading ability, children who struggle often struggle because they were not read to at home. Just like many things kids learn there are stages to reading that can't be skipped. 
  1. Kid's learn what a book is and how fun it is
  2. They learn that the pages have something meaningful
  3. They learn how to hold it the right way and turn the pages to make a story
  4. Finally they learn that the scribbles on the page mean something. This is the point they are ready to learn to how to read. 
Imagine if they went to kindergarten not having been read a book? 

What should you read to your child? Everything and anything you can get your hands on. One of the great things about being a parent is knowing what your child is interested in. Teachers can't know everything about your child and can't customize reading to fit your child's need, but you as a parent can.

In our house we read picture books for fun and for information. My four year old is very interested in a spider book now and her Bible. My oldest is interested in easy readers since she can read some of the words on the page. Picture books is where I let them be in control of what we read. 

My girls are currently 5, 4, and 3. Guess what we read at night? Before bed we read a short devotion from a princess devotional and a chapter book. If it's my husband's night to read, they read something he has picked out. Currently it's an Usborne girl story book, but in the past they've read The Bernstein Bears (chapter books), Magic School Bus and so many others. On my night's (Mon-Fri) we are reading through the Little House Series. Currently we are reading By the Shores of Silver Lake and the girls are loving it. 

Now I'm sure your wondering if they actually listen and understand chapter books. Well the answer is yes and no. Yes the 5 year old listens, understands, and remembers. The 4 year old listens most of the time, understands some and is curious about some things, and sort of remembers. The little one will usually sit quietly and listen.

So what's the point of reading to the younger ones if they barely remember and understand? The purpose is to train them to sit and listen and retain. It's a skill that has to be developed. We have been reading chapter books for 2 years now and you can slowly see the abilities in sitting still, listening and comprehension increasing. Vocabulary also increases since they are exposed to more complicated language then you find in typical picture books.

As a family we are closer. Spending that time reading together is a memory they will always cherish. It is one of my favorite childhood memories. It is something that brings us together at the end of a long day. 

So don't be afraid to pick up books that are slightly above their reading level. Spend some quality time with your kids and help them become lifelong readers. 

Here is my list of book recommendations to get you started:
  • Little House Series
  • Chronicles of Narnia
  • Harry Potter
  • The Secret Garden 
  •  Adventures in Odyssey book series
  • Micheal Vey by Richard Paul Evans
  • Lion of War series by Cliff Graham (about King David's Mighty Men)
  • The Boxcar Children
I'd love to hear what you like to read with your kids. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Stitch Fix


Last month I signed up for Stitch Fix and last week I got my first box in the mail. Stitch Fix is a personal shopper for you. 

How it works:
  1. Fill out a style profile. Tell them what you like or don't like, body type, what you are looking for, and if you have Pintrest you can link up a board of what you like for your stylist to view.
  2. Schedule a Fix. (It arrives about a month out)
  3. $20 stylist fee is charged, BUT you get that as a credit when you pay for your clothes. 
  4. In about a month you will receive a package of 5 items picked especially for you. You have three days to try them on and think about what you are going to keep.
  5. Then you log on and check out. You will have a chance to tell your stylist what you liked/didn't like about each item.
  6. Send back anything you don't want to keep in a return envelop postage paid. 
 I have to say that I was thrilled with my box. I didn't keep everything because two items didn't fit well. If I had purchased all items, I would have gotten a 25% discount on my total order.

Here is what I kept:






Here is what I returned:

The items I returned because they just didn't fit right. Items are chosen from several different boutiques so finding the right size may not be a guarantee, although they will do their best.

As you will notice, they don't send five items to make an outfit but they send five individual items for you to create a wardrobe with what is already in your closet. What they do send you are stylist cards so you can get ideas on how to use your item to create an outfit. 
This is the first time I really spent money on my wardrobe. Most all my clothes were bought off the clearance rack and after a few washes, they no longer fit well. These are higher end clothes that should last awhile.

My shirts were both $48 and my scarf was $28. It may seem high if you are a clearance shopper, but if you shop JCPenny's or Herbergers these prices are pretty normal. 

If you think this is something you would like to try out please use my referral link. I get a credit for every new person who signs up through my link. I'm a stay at home mom so a little extra money for clothes will really help my family out. Check out Stitch Fix now.

Friday, October 17, 2014

My Baby!

I realized the other day that I have not written a post on my "baby's" birth. She turned three in August, so I guess she really isn't a baby anymore.

Her birth story is by far the most unique of the three girls. It started when my then baby was three months old. She had whooping cough, I had whooping cough, and neither of us were sleeping. It was a long recovery for her and in the middle I find out I'm pregnant again. We were not planning or trying to get pregnant again. I took the pregnancy test on Christmas Eve and it should have been exciting, but my husband received a call the same day that the house we were trying to purchase fell through. Here we are planning on moving into this new house in days, our current house rented out, and no where to go. Thankfully my parents had room for us until we were able to find a new house.

I was not happy about being pregnant, although I did want more kids. Now was not when I planned to have another one. I didn't want anyone to know. I just needed time to deal with everything that was going on in my life and then I added guilt of not wanting her yet and not loving my baby instantly like I did with the other two. It was so hard emotionally, especially when I know couples who want kids and have lost them. I didn't want my baby then. I just couldn't handle it emotionally.

As the next couple months went by, I started losing a lot of weight fast. I couldn't eat much and was so tired and stressed. My little one with whooping cough could only sleep up to two hours at a time. Looking back I know God had a plan for my family and it included another little girl. I should have miscarried but God watched over us and protected us. 

After about three months I was finally in a place emotionally where I could be excited about another baby. My little one was starting to get over the whooping cough, I stopped nursing her, she was sleeping more, and we were moving into a new house.

 At eight months pregnant, my little one was breach. I was scheduled for an inversion (where the doctor attempts to turn the baby so they can drop into the birth canal). The doctor successfully turned her, and as he walks out of the room, she turns back to a breach position. He comes back turns her again successfully. By the time I got home, guess what? She was breach again.

This sent me back the next week to try again to turn the baby. Doctor was able to turn her again successfully only to have her turn back to breach just outside the hospital. 

I was frustrated and a little scared. With a one year old and a 2 1/2 year old I really didn't want a c-section. I knew my husband only had 5 vacation days and I'd need more then a week worth of help. 

Now I'm two weeks before my due date and my doctor decided we should try to turn the baby one more time and then induce me. After looking at options, this seemed the safest for both of us. 

One week before my due date my husband and I went in to the hospital. My doctor was able to turn her, induce me, and an hour later she broke my water. That afternoon we welcomed our baby girl into the world. 

Yet the story isn't over. As she's coming out, I see the doctor push the med student out of the way, grab the baby, and rush her to the warming bed. Within minutes our room had several nurses crowding around our little one. 

As she was coming out, she had been tangled up in the umbilical cord and it had broke. She lost a little blood and had to be monitored for at least an hour. It consisted of blood pressure checks and some tests done. She was perfectly fine, but boy she really wanted to her entrance as dramatic as possible. 


Now she is three years old and spunky. There is always a smile on her face and she is the sweetest. We get hugs and kisses from her all the time. Her favorite toy is her doll and she has become a little mommy to it. Looking over the last three years I know God has really blessed me.






Wednesday, October 15, 2014

10 Rules of Parenting

 
 
  1. No matter what game you play, your child will always win.
  2. Every Christmas, you will have a sick child.
  3. They will take long naps only when you need them up so you can go somewhere.
  4. Toys will never be picked up.
  5. There is no dish fairy. Never again will you be able to have all dishes clean and put away. 
  6. Even if you send them to the bathroom before you leave the house, one will always yelling they have to PEEEEEE 5 minutes down the road.  
  7. Every time you sit down on the toilet, check and double check before you sit.
  8.  You will never shower or pee without an audience. 
  9.  No matter how much extra time you allow to get somewhere, you will be late.
  10. Your kids will make you laugh and cry, pull out your hair and weep for joy. There is no greater joy then being a parent. 


What are your rules for parenting?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What do you want to show me?

I've heard of people picking a verse that guides them for the year. I think it's a great idea. I did not do that, however one was picked for me. Every so often the same verse keeps coming to my head:
"My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 11:22
I've really been wondering why has this been coming back to me. I'm not in the middle of a major crisis. My life is at a time of peace. Well it is but I am struggling with something. Something I'm somewhat aware of but I keep pushing it aside. I'm dealing with the perfection complexion. I am striving to be the perfect mom who doesn't need help and can do it on her own. Secretly I am overwhelmed and slightly depressed. I end up shutting down and not wanting to do what I know is important. 

God is reminding me that I don't need to be perfect. This verse goes against everything our culture is teaching us. Weakness is bad. Weakness is looked so unfavorably that it brings people to bully others. 

In our weakness God makes us stronger. Does he give the weak little guy some new muscles or does he give him a brain that will cure cancer. How about the the alcoholic? Will his strength come from someone who knows what he is going through and can be there for him when he feels weak? Where does strength come from for the mom that doesn't want people to know how weak she feels? This week it came in the form of other women who have a heart for girls and are able to come together with a common goal and know God put us together to support one another and build each other up. 

God gives us strength even when we don't ask for it. He puts people in our lives to give us strength. He gives us his spirit to feel His peace that surrounds us. Being weak is not a bad thing. Being weak gives us a chance to see what God can do in our lives. 

I may not be going through a deep valley where I can't see my way out, but God is showing me what I need now. He has always known what I need and He is providing it. I am weak and I'm ok with that. With God I will be stronger then I ever could on my own.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Night Time Terror, Night Time Delight

One of the best and worst times of my day is usually bed time. It can go one of two ways: a complete nightmare or a great delight. Today I am thankful to say it has been much more of a delight. 

About 8 months out of the year my husband isn't around Monday through Friday because he works very long hours, so I put all three girls to bed myself. I have had to find creative ways to get them all into bed, which seems to change continually. 

In the past some of our nights have been terrors literally. My oldest had night terrors as an infant. The second had whopping cough at three months and spent the next four months in our bed waking every 45 minutes. The third didn't stop nursing during the night until about 17 months and then finally started sleeping through the night every once and awhile.

Getting the girls to bed has had a lot of ups and downs. I am very thankful my oldest has been very easy. She listens, gets dressed, goes potty, jumps in bed and falls asleep. The middle has been the hardest. When she was in the crib I could put a blanket over her head (I know this sounds weird and unsafe, but she started doing it herself around age one and that's how she would sleep) and she'd fall sleep. Once she got the toddler bed, it was a different story.

 I first started rocking her, then she just needed to be tucked in. Soon she was having a hard time staying in her room so I put the baby gate up and she'd just knock it down. Then I would lock her in the room and sit outside until the crying stopped and unlock the door. Next I tried massaging her arms and legs. That really helped relax her and sometimes fell asleep. Now she has a weighted blanket that helps relax her and I sometimes need to sit by her and sing for a bit.

Our current routine has been working very well for us lately and it has made our nights a true delight. After getting the older girls in jamies, they get in bed with a few books in their containers and can read until I get back down. I take the little one up and get her ready for bed. She has her own routine which consists turning off the light, closing the door, rocking with me, and singing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star". Then on nights that aren't too late, I read a chapter in the book we are reading which is currently "Little House on the Prairie".

I hope if you are having a tough time with your kids at night this post will help encourage you. There is no doubt that you will have times that are tough and you may want to cry, but know this: There will also be times where you get to kiss your little ones good night or rock your little and just know that you are blessed. You will get to feel that you can finally relax and enjoy the time of peace and quite and now that no one is going to need your attention. There will be good times.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Our Kindergarten Curriculum

No matter if you are a well seasoned home school parent or a beginner the one question everyone always asks is what curriculum are you using. So for those who are curious I will share that information with you today.

In searching for curriculum I found that a whole curriculum didn't work for us. I know families that love Sonlight and My Father's World and other whole package curriculum and it works well with their families. For me, I knew that wouldn't work as well. I have a background in teaching and don't feel I need something so scripted. My background in special education has given me the ability to adapt curriculum for the individual child, which I will need to do for my own kids since they are very different learners. 

What we have ended up with is a bit of a hodge podge. I've taken from several different places. I will start preschool with the two younger in the fall because they want the school time too. It establishes the routine early for them as they are a year apart and will continue to do reading and math together for the next several years. We will use the Horizons preschool for 4 year olds. 
http://www.educents.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/0dc2d03fe217f8c83829496872af24a0/h/o/horizonspreschool_1_1.jpg 
Together all three will do social studies and science and we notebook for those subjects. It is simple and easy topics that they want to know more about.  At night we are reading through the Little House Series. We pick and choose things that interest them with in the book to talk about during the day. They are very curious about how different things were back then and I want to cultivate that interest. 

Science we are talking about dinosaurs. They are curious about the different kinds and love seeing the pictures of skeletons. Each dinosaur has a page in their notebook with a picture of the dinosaur and the skeleton along with something they learned about it. 

We also do experiments from time to time using Clifford Science Kits. These are great simple experiments for little ones. Before the experiment begins the girls are to predict what might happen and draw a picture. At the end they tell what happened and draw a picture. This has been a lot of fun.
http://www.educents.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/0dc2d03fe217f8c83829496872af24a0/c/l/clifforddealimage_1.jpg 
For our Kindergartener we have chosen Spelling U See, Logic of English, and Math U See. All have worked really well for her so far. 

Spelling U See focuses on the visual part of spelling. Since we don't spell phonically most of the time, Spelling U See doesn't focus only on that part past the first level. There isn't meaningless word lists that the student will memorize and then forget. The lessons are short 10 minutes and focus on reading, copywork, listening, and speaking. My kindergartener actually likes spelling, and is cruising through the program. What I like about it most is that my other two will probably need to go through it slower and this has the ability to really benefit those students who struggle with spelling.

Math U See is similar in the fact that students do better when they can use as many senses as possible. It also focuses on mastery, which is really important to me. This is different then most curriculum used in schools today. Schools use a spiral approach where they will introduce and then reintroduce the next year. Math U See believes in mastery so that if you can count, you can add. If you can add, you can multiply and so on. Students have a video to introduce each new lesson, manipulatives, and work book pages. Students work as fast or slow as needed.

English of Logic is a phonics, reading, spelling, and handwriting program. Although we are already using a spelling program, we use the spelling portion to practice reading words and writing them. We have chosen the cursive program and I'm very surprised how well she is doing with both reading and writing cursive. What I like about this program is that it teaches specific phonograms instead of briefly teaching what sounds letters make. We blend words and chunks, play phonogram games, and practice different fonts that the letters may make. It is a very well rounded program that uses as many senses as possible to help students learn. 

All three of these programs I chose because they are based on ability levels and not grade levels. Each focus on mastery. My girls will be able to move through the levels at the pace that is best for them. My oldest will probably move much faster then the other two because of her learning style, but I believe these curriculums are set up in a way that not only cater to many different learning styles but also at different learning speeds. There is no pressure to finish by a certain time so that they can start at the next grade on time.

If your homeschooling I'd love to hear what you are using and what you love about it.