11-20-2014

The Binders System

When I first started homeschooling I researched several different organizational methods for keeping everything running smoothly. I really loved the workbox station, but I’ve never been able to figure out how to make that work for us. It requires a lot of space, and I could never find drawers that I really liked. It just wasn’t for me. Last year I bought a ton of $1 binders in various colors and each of Sydney’s subjects was in a different binder. This worked better for us (you know, better than the imaginary workbox station that I knew wouldn’t work) but it still drove me crazy because I had PILES of binders everywhere, and Zachary loved to knock them down, there wasn’t enough room for them all, and for some subjects this just didn’t work. So I condensed and merged the two ideas into one that works amazingly for our family.

After my post on how I organize our homeschool paraphernalia (I love that word!), I decided to go a little deeper into our binders.

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Because really, without them everything would fall to pieces.

Sydney has five binders. All the binders are purple, because since they were born I’ve color coded my children. Sydney is purple, Audrey is pink, Zachary is blue, baby Ruby will be yellow. If we have too many children we will have to start thinking in shades instead of colors.

The most important binder is The Sydney Binder. The cover is just a quick thing I made that says “2nd Grade” and I let Sydney color all around it. The back cover holds the maps for the reader’s instructor guide for quick and easy reference. The inside pocket holds her All About Spelling progress chart with stickers. Then there are dividors with pockets. Because I like pockets.

First divider is Reading. This holds the schedule for the book she is currently reading.
Second divider is Writing. It holds the Writing With Ease worksheets for the week.
Third divider is Science, holding the Sonlight Science C schedule for the week.
Fourth divider is Handwriting. It actually holds all the A Reason For Handwriting assignments for the entire year.
Fifth pocket is Math. Holding all the math assignments for the week.
Sixth divider is History. IN the pocket (see, I do use them!) it has the whole year’s schedule for Story of the World Volume 2: Medieval. Behind the tab it has the 6 week rotation of coloring pages. (We do 6 weeks om, 1 week off.) When it’s time to color (usually Friday) I take the coloring page out and put it on the clipboard.
Seventh divider holds all of the notebook paper. I take this out when we do spelling tests or have other needs for lined paper.
There is nothing behind the Eighth divider.

Then I move the daily assignments onto her clipboard when it’s time to do them. So at the beginning of each day she has a stack of papers that we will be working through. Her science worksheet and handwriting worksheet just stay on the clipboard for the entire week, they are never actually behind the dividers.

The first binder is Readers. This is probably the least organized of all of the binders. While I do have Sonlight’s schedule, I rarely use it with Sydney. She is an amazing reader and she doesn’t need the schedule (yet.) I have a box of the books she will be reading this school year, I let her pick which one she wants to read. We don’t go in order of the schedule. I also don’t assign her chapters per day, because she’s a great tiny human. Some days she wants to read a ton, and other days she doesn’t want to read at all. She’s human. But she always finishes the books and she is usually ahead of schedule. Occasionally she falls behind the schedule and I tell her to finish her book by a certain amount of days and she’ll get on it. Right now She’s read 7 of the 20 books assigned for the school year and we are on week 10, she’s about 3 weeks ahead. So what’s the point of the instructor’s guide then? Well, I use the questions. When she reads she tells me where she is and I ask the questions out of the IG. It also helps me to keep informed on what the books is about because I don’t always have time to preread the entire book before she gets to it. She’s a better reader than I am right now.

To keep this binder less hectic the first page lists the book list and schedule. I always put the guide back in it’s proper place. But the book she is currently working on’s guide is in the Sydney binder, ready for questions to be asked!

The second binder is Math. Currently we are using Math-U-See Beta with Sydney. I removed everything from the student packet and the test packet and put it in the binder. There is a divider separating the tests from the regular worksheets. We don’t actually use EVERY worksheet, but I keep them all in place because sometimes we need extra help and rather than preemptively throwing away worksheets we keep them all in one place. Each week I put that week’s worth of assignments in her “Sydney binders.” Worksheets that won’t be used go in the pocket, just in case they will be needed, after she has passed off the test we toss the unused worksheets.

Third binder is the Writing binder. This holds all of the Writing With Ease Level 2 worksheets. This one is not complicated, I just grab each week’s worth and put them in the Sydney binder.

Fourth binder is Science. This has a set of Sonlight’s 36 week dividers. Behind each divider is the schedule and worksheet. The week we will be working on next is always in front. The week we are currently working on is moved to the Sydney binder. The schedule goes behind the “Science” tab, the worksheet goes on the clipboard. When we are finished with the week we move the schedule and the divider with the corresponding number to the back of the binder.

Hopefully this gives you a better idea on how we implement binders to help keep our homeschool running smoothly and keep all the worksheets and curriculum organized. I definitely think that this will be a huge help to us next year as Audrey adds more binders to her shelf. Currently she has only two pink binders, the first being her Letter of the Week curriculum lesson plan (which is pretty much ignored as I remember the order of how it went) and her All About Reading Level 1 Binder. There will be a post just on the organization of All About Reading soon!

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11-01-2014

Happy Halloween!

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We have so much fun during the Halloween season! There are many parts of Halloween that I dislike and that I choose not to participate in. We don’t do creepy and we don’t do slutty. I refuse to walk into the Halloween Spirit store because the last time I did there were dead zombie babies. No thanks.

We choose to subscribe to the cute and fun part of the holiday. Which is how all holidays should be!

The kids dress up in cute clothes, we sing fun songs, read fun stories. Go to the pumpkin patch, make apple sauce, carve pumpkins and just spend a lot of time together as a family.

The best part comes ON Halloween though. Instead of going door to door (which lets face it, isn’t any fun in the PNW it’s usually pouring on Halloween) we make the rounds to the grandparents in the area. My kids get to be spoiled by the people who love them and appreciate the cute costumes. This also means that we get to start early on Halloween and not wait until it gets dark. Because really, who has that kind of patience when they are 4?

I love getting the opportunity to share the fun with our family. Everyone got to hear Zachary say, “I’m stink!” instead of “I’m Link.” Or hear Audrey go on about how she was a Queen Bee, not just a regular bee. Sydney led the way to the houses and showed Zachary how it was done. Listening to the chorus of “Trick or Treat!” and watching the excitement in their eyes when they see people they love, that’s what makes this holiday magical to me. :)

Oh, and let’s be honest. Our families are the only ones who will appreciate all the slaving I do over these costumes ;)

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10-16-2014

The Journey to Audrey

I use this blog to record my family’s history.

I use to keep pen and paper journals, I did this faithfully from the time I was 5 until I was 16. Then sporadically until now. But blogging is a lot easier than pen and paper. So this is my family’s history.

But in writing a public blog I have made a very big mistake. You see I only write the happy things about my family on this blog, on Facebook or on Instagram. And by doing so I have given a very wrong impression. I have given other the impression that I am put together, that I am level headed, and that I am supermom with a rock solid marriage. No one ever sees the bloopers, the trials, or the tears.

I am not supermom. I am not put together. Most days I don’t even get dressed. I love being married to my best friend, but oh man do we get on each other’s nerves sometimes! We often joke that true love is when you want to kill the other person but don’t, because you’d miss them too much. ;)

I’ve eluded a few times on this blog (or other media outlets) that I have fertility issues. I’ve decided to document the journey I went through for Audrey. After all it is part of her history. Someday I might write about Zachary and baby girl’s journey, but for now I feel like sharing Audrey’s story.

This story starts actually with Sydney. I had no problems getting pregnant with Sydney. Actually, I was super fertile and got pregnant on the birth control pill, despite taking it perfectly. I was only 17 when she was born. Despite my young age Jordan and I were excited to be parents and overjoyed when she joined us and made us a family. The day after she was born I went on the shot to avoid another pregnancy so quickly. Shortly after we got married we decided to have another baby. He is close in age with his sisters and he wanted Sydney to get to experience this as well.

Then we celebrated our first anniversary, without any success. I knew pretty quickly something was wrong. I hadn’t breastfed Sydney and yet my cycles had never returned. So I talked to my OB/GYN about it and he brushed me off telling me that I was young and not to worry.

Then six more months went by and I finally convinced him that I was REALLY concerned. He rolled his eyes but prescribed a medication called Clomid. I did 3 rounds of Clomid, each month they upped my dose because it wasn’t doing anything.

Correction: it wasn’t doing anything HELPFUL. It wasn’t making me ovulate.

What it WAS doing however was giving me menopausal hot flashes from hell, kicking my insomnia into high gear, and making me super emotional. Jordan wasn’t sure if he should hug me or sleep with an eye open. I joked later that it really was birth control. No one wants to get the crazy chick pregnant.

After 3 cycles I wasn’t pregnant. And I still wasn’t ovulating. So Dr. B called me with my blood work and told me that I would never have anymore children. So I needed to get over it. I was 19 and had just been told I was never going to have anymore babies. Growing up the only thing I ever really wanted to do was have a big family. I would annoy my teachers by saying I wanted to be a mom. They acted like this wasn’t an option. So this was pretty devastating to me. In the span of two years I had gone from thinking that I was super fertile to being told I would never again have children.

So naturally, me being defiant and rebellious, I gave my middle finger to the man and said, “Watch me!”

Actually, I sobbed. And then went and bought a nice couch set and snuggled my Sydney (despite her protests.)

Then Jordan called a local fertility specialist, he wanted a second opinion. Dr. S was very convinced that I had enometrosis, and he put me on another drug called Femara. Not only did Femara not drive me crazy but it also made me ovulate! I only had to go see this doctor a few times before I got pregnant with Audrey. But something that is super cool is that I got to see Audrey when she was just an egg hanging out in my ovary. I had scheduled endometrosis surgery and cancelled it at my pre-op because my pregnancy test had come back positive.

I found out I was pregnant with her a few days before my nice couches were delivered to my apartment.

Having Audrey was one of the biggest miracles I had witnessed in my life. It was the longest two and a half years of my life waiting for that little girl, and it’s minimal compared to what many have to endure. Watching her grow the last four years has shown me even more miracles than I ever thought possible. She is such a sweet and special little girl, and I am so glad I have the privilege to be her mama.

Five years ago today, I found out that my sweet miracle was on her way. My patience and persistence had paid off. Little did I know then that the waiting had just started with Miss Audrey. And she was no where near done testing my patience.

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10-06-2014

Combining All About Reading and Bob Books

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Bob Books hold a special place in my heart. They truly do. As a four-year-old I learned to read using these books. I thought it was super cool that there was a character named after me. Everyone whose name is Sam is short for Samantha, don’t you know?

I also taught Sydney how to read using these books. But we picked my brain along with an awesome blog called Teaching Reading with Bob Books. While this was a great success with Sydney I didn’t think it would go over well with Audrey.

Audrey doesn’t like to sit still. She likes to play games. She likes to be entertained.

She also gets frustrated very easily.

We use All About Spelling as part of our curriculum with Sydney and I love the methods and style. Shortly after we started using the spelling program they came out with a reading program, and it has lots of fun games and exercises to teach kids to read. Which is right up Audrey’s alley.

My only complaint against All About Reading so far is just that it takes until the 5th lesson for them to start reading out of a book. I loved that (almost) instant gratification children get when they read a WHOLE book by themselves for the first time. Especially since each lesson takes more than one day for Audrey to complete. As I looked through the sequence of AAR I realized pretty quickly that I could supplement Bob Books in where they fit best. So far this is just a tentative list, as it’s based on the sequence provided by AAR in their level 1 manual. But here’s the list:

Mat can be read after AAR lesson 2
Sam can be read after AAR lesson 3
Dot can be read after AAR lesson 8
Mac can be read after AAR lesson 8
Dot & Mit can be read after AAR lesson 8
Dot & the Dog can be read after AAR lesson 8
Jig & Mag can be read after AAR lesson 8
Muff & Ruff can be read after AAR lesson 10
10 Cut Ups can be read after AAR lesson 10
Peg & Ted can be read after AAR lesson 12
Lad and the Fat Cat can be read after AAR lesson 14
The Vet can be read after AAR lesson 14

As you can see the 10 books from the first set of Bob Books fit in with the first 14 lessons of All About Reading level 1. Most after lesson 8. You might want to split them up as you see fit. By lesson 15 they have read 11 short stories from the readers, so my plan is to slip the Bob Books in when there is a lull or as something to read to Daddy when he gets home. Audrey has done this with the first two Bob Books and it is so exciting to her to sit on daddy’s lap and read him a story. I will probably continue to do this with the other sets of Bob Books I own.

Have you used Bob Books to supplement All About Reading?

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09-26-2014

Bountiful Temple

As you might have remembered August 9th, 2011 is the day my family was sealed together for time and all eternity. It was a wonderful day! Every year we celebrate with the children having a family day. We take them to an activity, out to dinner and then we take them to the Portland, Oregon temple.

Unfortunately last year the temple was closed for cleaning. We didn’t know this until we drove for 40 minutes to get there.

This year I checked ahead of time and found out that yet again the temple was closed for cleaning. Boo!!!

So while we were at dinner Jordan said we would take the kids to a temple the next month. My sister-in-law is getting married and Utah has plenty of temples to choose from! Sydney and I thought this sounded like a really fun adventure. Just how many temples could we hit in our weekend?

The answer is ONE. We were so busy will wedding stuff that we completely forgot about our goal to walk the temple grounds at several temples. It wasn’t until we were leaving Sunday night that we remembered. We had pointed at several temples as we drove by during the weekend, but hadn’t stopped.

So, at 9 p.m., on a Sunday, the children in their pjs before we started our 13+ hour trip home, we stopped at the Bountiful, Utah temple.

It was GORGEOUS. Jordan actually went to the dedication of it twenty years ago, how cool is that?

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Taking pictures in the dark is also really hard. But I’m sure this will be something the kiddos remember for a while. The girls loved walking the grounds and looking out at the night sky in the distance with all the bright lights of the city.

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09-16-2014

2014-2015 Students

Something we have always done is school pictures! This year I decided to do something a little more fun, and a lot less formal. I let the girls choose whatever they wanted to wear (which is a rare thing, I’m pretty picky about picture clothes.) Then we set up a desk and some of Papa’s smart looking books and went about being silly, telling jokes and just having a great time.

I’m pretty much in love with these pictures.

Audrey

Sydney

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09-07-2014

School for Two

I have to admit I was really nervous about adding Audrey to our school, I had previously been able to devote all my time to Sydney’s education and was worried about how it would change with Audrey in the mix.

I often compare it to adding another baby to the family. The emotions are exactly the same.

Audrey has surprised me a lot! We’ve only completed two weeks of school but she’s doing really well! I think it’s the only time I’ve seen her sit still, and she’s listening so well!

What’s surprising me as well this year is how I’ve changed things a bit. I thought I knew what I was doing, as this is our fourth year. I should probably just realize that like all parenting related things; I know VERY little. Last year we implemented a binder system. A binder for every subject. This worked okay, but I didn’t really have space to put all the binders while they were being used. I like everything needed for the day on the table, ready to be used.

To start with I bought a planner. This probably isn’t necessary but it helps keep my disorganized brain organized. I can see everything that both Sydney and Audrey are suppose to be doing at a glance. Key words; at a glance. This is NOT a detailed lesson plan. Just the gist of what needs to be accomplished. As we go through our subjects for the day I check each thing off. I really like checking things off!

I bought The Well Planned Day planner and am pretty happy with it. It’s the only one I’ve ever tried. I found another that I think I’ll use next year, but for now this will work great.

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I am also using a box shelf that I got from Target to hold all of our homeschool books and supplies that are needed for both girls.  The self below their blue bin holds their parent manuals that I need as well as their textbooks. The black bins hold Audrey’s file folder games and Sydney’s books that she will be reading this school year.

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My mother bought each of the children a Washington State license plate with their name on it. As soon as I figure out how to attach it to the bin, that’s where it’s going!

As I said, each box has their needed supplies. In Sydney’s I have her Math-U-See manipulatives, her DVDs for science, math, and art. Her clipboard stays in the box when it’s all ready to go, along with her book she’s currently reading, her super cool bookmark, All About Spelling box, and her purple sticky notes.

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I also have an Ikea bookshelf that holds our miscellaneous homeschooling supplies. Calendar parts, history books, yearbooks, Sydney’s kindergarten hand print, pens, ect. But it also holds 4 binders containing Sydney’s detailed lesson plans for science and reading (as well as the worksheets for science), and her math and writing worksheets. Science experiment supplies are also on that shelf.

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I got a small binder to put all of this weeks work in. I already owned the binder so this was not an extra expense. On Friday (or Sunday) I pull out the math, handwriting, writing, history, reading and science binders and take out the things that are needed for the week. Then I put the larger binders back on the shelf. At the end of each day I pull out the next days work and have it ready.

The final thing I added this year were clipboards. Both girls have their own, and when I take the work from the weekly binder I put them on the clipboard. I add sticky notes that say things like “Come Get Me” and “Stop” where they are needed. The science worksheet is for the whole week, but you only do a few problems a day, so I show her where to stop. Work like math and handwriting (sometimes writing) can be done independently. Sydney knows that if I’m not at a place where I can come help her (because I’m teaching Audrey or fighting with Zachary) she can move on to the next independent worksheet or read her reading assignment for the day. She’s really good at this.

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I had always planned on “color coding” my children to help me easily identify whose books/papers/school stuff is theirs. But this is the first year I’ve implemented it! All of Sydney’s binders are purple, along with her sticky notes. Audrey’s binders are (mostly) pink with a pink sticky notes. I might have to buy colored high lighters too, just for fun.

I always wanted a workbox station for my kids, but the method never seemed like it would work in our space. I love this method I seem to have made for us, it helps keep everything organized and ready to go!

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09-01-2014

Goodbye, House!

I never thought I would be so emotionally attached to a house, besides my Grandparents house. I’ve never stayed in one place long enough to get all that attached, I guess.

But that is definitely not the case when it comes to our townhouse that we’ve rented for the past four and a half years.

We moved into this house in March 2010 when I was 6 months pregnant with Audrey. We brought home our baby Audrey to this house. She took her first steps here. This is the only house shes’ ever known.

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Zachary was literally born in this house, all of his firsts took place here.

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It was really sad to think that we will never be coming back. Sydney was only two and a half when we moved in here, so she barely remembers the apartments we lived in before.

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But it’s on the next grand adventure! Living with my in-laws and saving up to buy our own house.

Goodbye, house! You’ve been good to us! :)

PicMonkey Collage

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08-25-2014

First Day of School!

Today was our first day of school for the 2014-2015 year!

And what a year it will be, not only is Sydney now in the 2nd grade but AUDREY is joining us at the table for preschool!

Lets take a moment to reminiscence about my babies, shell we?

Baby Pictures

Aren’t they cute? Well, they grew up into these beautiful young ladies!First DayToday went extremely well! I’ve always had great luck when it comes to the first day of school, they leave me feeling excited and ready for the new school year! Unfortunately, there are days which make me doubt my decisions, my abilities, and my sanity. So it’s good to blog about those days that are awesome, and try to forget about the bad ;)

I’ve been worried, nervous, excited, and very anxious about how school was going to work this year. Not only this Audrey’s first year in “official” school, but in February I’ll be nursing a baby while I teach math (and other subjects, of course!) While this was a breeze with master-champion-nurser Zachary, I was only teaching Sydney and preschool only took 30 minutes.

Oh, and Sydney is very good at sitting still. She’s extremely patient.

I love it when I pass down traits that I do not actually posses. It’s a great thing.

This year we have preschool with the girl who shares more than just my nose and my name. She also shares my lack of patience, and my inability to sit still. Maybe not inability, but she and I share a mutual disinterest when it comes to sitting still.

But much to my surprise and delight the first day went really smoothly! Audrey sat still (mostly), she was thrilled to do her Letter of the Week curriculum, she even sat still during the prayer and scripture study. When her school time was over, she played nicely by herself until Sydney was ready to join her. What a blessing!

Zachary on the other hand….well let’s just say he got banished to naptime when he decided to draw on the wall.

As my Gramma would say, “We made it!”DSC_0161

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08-20-2014

Baby #4!

Despite my excitement about this sweet baby, this post has been really hard to write. I’m not interested in going into details of everything that happened with the loss of baby’s twin, or even what I went through to get pregnant in the first place. A sweet friend from church who also experienced the passing of her son’s twin said something to me on Sunday that meant a lot. She gave me a hug and she said, “It doesn’t mean you don’t want THIS baby, and that you aren’t excited for THIS baby.”

So, I’m ripping the band-aid off.

WE ARE HAVING A BABY IN JANUARY FEBRUARY!

(We all know the truth, my January due date will definitely be a February baby.)

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WHOO!

Our baby GIRL is healthy, doing great and she is a mover! I can’t wait to hold her in my arms.

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I am so thankful that she’s kicking like crazy, it helps to keep my fears at bay.

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