Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Day In The Life During Coronavirus Isolation

I'm thinking there really isn't a better time for an updated day in the life post than during the Coronavirus isolation/quarantine that most of us are doing right now! On the one hand, our life isn't that much different since we already homeschool and are at home a lot during the day anyway, but on the other hand it really is. My husband is home working now, the boys don't have preschool in the afternoons, the girls have no activities or classes, and we don't get to just leave the house to see friends or go to a park or fun place. So it is different! I know this will be something I want to look back on one day when Covid-19 is (hopefully) but a distant memory for us all! 

Monday, March 23, 2020

9:00 I finally drag myself out of bed. Ever since time change my kids have been sleeping in, and during this whole quarantine I've found myself more tired and off schedule than usual. A few kids are already up, so I wake the last one up and get the morning going. We have breakfast (waffles & I make a green smoothie for myself and my husband) and the kids start on their morning checklists. These have been pretty casual and the kids have been wanting to stay in PJs pretty much every day, which I am really ok with. They still need to do things like feed the dog, brush their teeth, unload the dishwasher and make their beds. I get myself dressed in casual/comfy clothes and brush my teeth and then I'm pretty much ready for the day. I haven't worn makeup in over a week. 

10:00 We are finally getting started on school! We start with Bible and the kids are asked to think about what it would be like to be on death row (which also means I have to explain the death penalty first) and then they draw a picture of what they would ask for for their last meal. It leads to a good gospel conversation. I love the catechism curriculum! 

10:20ish We move on to science. We are starting a new unit on the human body and our first lesson is on muscles. We look in a bunch of our Usborne human body books and learn more about muscles, the girls start a human body flip book, they do a corresponding math activity to find out what the hardest working muscle is  and we watch a video about muscles. (Lest you think it's all nice and quiet around here, my kids run around for pretty much the whole rest of the day yelling about shaking their gluteus maximus lol!) 

11:40 Science took longer than usual today so we are getting a late start on language arts. Our language arts lesson for today is a little different. Last week we hit a lesson where we were supposed to have 3 books from this one author to read. Of course, the libraries are closed now and these are pretty old books and a lot are out of print (I hate when curriculums ask you to get books that you can't find!), but luckily I was able to find exactly 3 of his books on Amazon and we got them over the weekend. So we're coming back to that lesson. 2 of the books are more wordy so I am going to just do them as read alouds and continue on with other lessons, but for today, especially since we're running so behind, I just do that as our lesson. I give out spelling words for the week and the girls work on spelling and handwriting while I read A Lion to Guard Us.

Sometime after we get done with read aloud, the girls do their math lessons. They're learning about fractions right now. 

12:30 I've gotten our family set up with an account from Prodigies music lessons. I've been looking into this for a few months, was going to wait and see if the classes my girls go to is going to offer music next year before purchasing, and then I got an email that they, like everyone else, is doing a free trial right now, so I went ahead with it. My boys have actually been doing it more than the girls! I set them up with the first lesson on the tv today and they loved it. One of my girls joins them while the other finishes up math and I get lunch (mac and cheese) fixed. 


12:45ish We're all eating lunch. My husband comes out from his "office" (our bedroom) for awhile since he's got a break in meetings for awhile, so we catch up on our mornings while the kids eat. 

1:10 As the girls finish up eating, they work on finishing and addressing their penpal letters so we can walk down to the mailbox and get those and a few other things sent off. 

1:25 We all take a family walk around the neighborhood, stopping to drop off and pick up mail. It's pretty nice out (it snowed yesterday) so it feels good to stretch our bodies out and get some fresh air, and the kids love having daddy join us in the middle of the day! We go around our circle a few times. Some of the kids pick up bikes at some point in the adventure. 

2:00 My husband has another conference call to hop on, so we get home and get everybody situated with quiet time (much later than usual, but the time outside was necessary!!) Everybody is having some quiet reading time for a bit while I get things cleaned up in the kitchen and get ready for my own quiet time. 

2:25 My boys are doing "virtual preschool" on a facebook page their teachers sent. It's not their teachers, but a page their teachers follow and this teacher is doing large group lessons every day. We don't catch them live, so I've been having the boys do them during this time. They're at that hard age where they could really use a nap but if they nap they won't go to bed well at night, and they're used to going to preschool in the afternoon. So it's been a bit tricky figuring out how to keep them quiet ish and busy during this time. A half hour of preschool time helps. 

I sit down with my Bible and Hebrews study while the boys are doing their preschool and the girls are downstairs playing quietly. 


3:00 The boys head downstairs to join the girls and they all start tv time. I am folding a bunch of laundry at this point, since I didn't do any over the weekend. After laundry I get caught up on some house things while the kids are watching their show. 

4:15 Husband is done working and we head downstairs to workout. Leg day for both of us. Most of the kids join us and one is off doing her own thing (more and more these days....I can feel a new season on the horizon with my oldest)! 

5:00 We are done working out and I head upstairs for a shower, while my husband and son cook dinner. He is grilling a pork loin and they make rolls, mashed potatoes, and veggies to go with it. It was all so yummy! We ate around 6. 

6:30 We've started a new post dinner cleanup routine. I recently realized my kids could totally be helping with the after dinner cleanup so I asked them to help me one night. One dried the pots and pans after I washed them, 2 cleaned off the table and chairs, and one vacuumed around the kitchen and dining area and wiped down the counters. It all went so smoothly and we were done in no time! So I made a checklist and now after dinner they grab the list, each chooses a job and gets after it. When they're done with their task, they go back to the list and choose another one, and do this until all the jobs are done! We're usually done in 10 minutes and my kitchen is getting cleaned up way more than ever before (I was horrible about cleaning the table or under it after meals before)! 

6:45 The kids play for a bit and my husband starts building our new bar stools. I loved our old ones so much and am sad to get rid of them, but they were breaking and after several repairs that weren't lasting, it was time. 

7:00 My friend Megan and her son Dax stop by to do a game swap! Megan always has the best ideas! We've set out Ticket to Ride Jr. and my middle made a little activity page/card for Dax on the porch, and we talk to them through the window for awhile. This is all so weird that this is how we're communicating with people now. It's the highlight of the day and we're all glad for some non-family human interaction! 

7:35ish The girls and I sit down to read Harry Potter. We are almost finished with book 2. I've never read them either so it's been fun reading them all together! My husband is finishing up bar stools and then the boys get ready for bed. 

8:00 The girls do their bedtime checklists and head off to bed around 8:15 or 8:30. 
I intended to write this blog post then, but I was really tired so once Tony was done with the barstools (I think around 9 or 9:30), we put them up, and headed off to our room to get ready for bed and then  mindlessly watch tv until bed (around 11). 

I would say the biggest differences during this quarantine are no school for the boys, husband home and around here and there throughout the day, not going places (we go out almost every day in regular life to a park, playdate, store, etc.) and less of a structured routine (hello sleeping until 9 a.m.....) But this has been a pretty typical day for us so far during the quarantine! 


Thursday, March 19, 2020

T I M E

Time is such a strange thing. 
I think as a parent, it is even stranger. You watch someone else's life flying by right before your eyes and there is no way to stop it. No way to slow it down. Some days it goes so fast you can hardly savor it at all. 
Somedays I feel time slipping through my fingers, and I can come out in almost a sense of panic. I have no control over time. It's going to pass whether I like it or not. My kids are going to grow whether I like it or not. I am getting older whether I like it or not. 
I have a terrible habit of thinking about how much longer I have of something, or comparing amounts of time, like next year when my oldest turns 9, her time in our home will be halfway over.

 I don't know why I do this to myself. I think partly because it makes me really believe it. It makes me stop, slow down, savor what I have right now before it passes. Because I know it's passing. Faster and faster every day. 
My husband has talked for years about getting a clock tattoo. I won't try to explain what all it symbolizes to him because I'll botch it, but the jist is that it's a reminder of time for us. 
In this weird pandemic situation we are currently in, so many of us are now finding ourselves with a lot of time on our hands. I am not someone who has a huge problem filling the time right now because 
1) we aren't that far off of our normal daily routine. Yes, activities are cancelled for the foreseeable future, my boys don't have preschool for at least 4 weeks and my girls don't have their homeschool classes for at least that long, and we don't get to venture out places or do things with friends, but the main chunk of our day is the same. We're at home together working on school work, house work, etc. That hasn't changed (except that my husband is home, but working, so we still aren't seeing a ton of him). 

and 2) I'm an introvert. I am a homebody. I love being around people, I love seeing my friends, I love taking my kids to their activities and going to church and bible study and connection group each week, but I also really love being home. I love curling up with a good book, binging a Netflix series, staying in my pjs all day, doing house projects, playing board games, having a movie night with the kids...it isn't hard for me to find things to do at home. 
But the thought of possibly being here with no person to person contact outside of my 5 family members for a month or more is a lot, even for me. An entire month+ at home...that's a lot of time to fill. 
Here's how I see it. I know I am not alone with the panic-y feeling of time passing so fast and wanting to slow it down. I know so many others who feel the same way (parents especially, I think). All of a sudden, we have this time. It's like a gift that's been handed to us suddenly, out of nowhere. A gift of time, of savoring the moments we know will pass too quickly with our children, of having no outside obligations or activities to distract us from the important work of loving our families and building lasting memories with them.

 Time to spend pouring over the Word of God, studying the Bible, praying to God & worshiping Him. Time that we may otherwise spend prioritizing the things of this world, we can now devote to things eternal. What a gift. Time to build relationships. No, we may not be able to have face to face interaction with people, but with technology, we're only a FaceTime away from friends, family members, and loved ones. We now have time to pick up the phone and really have a conversation, building those relationships, loving on those people, where before we maybe couldn't find the time to make that phone call with all that we had going on. Maybe we even have the time to write a letter and mail it! What a gift to have time to build relationships and show the people that we love the most, how much we care. 

For as much as time has burdened me over the last decade or so, it finally feels like a gift. The world is standing still right now and we have the option to complain about it and dwell on how long it feels, or to use it to our advantage, building into things we otherwise neglect. Which are you going to choose? 

It is my hope & prayer that in a few more weeks when we all feel like we're losing our minds (myself included), we can remember this. And that when this is all over, a year, 5, or 10 years from now, we can look back on this crazy time in history with some fondness over the gift of time we received and the benefits and blessings that came from that time. 

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Mid Year Homeschool Update {2019-2020}

We are well over halfway through our homeschool year (which is insanely hard to believe!) and I wanted to give a little update on how this year has been going.
My oldest is in 2nd and my middle is in 1st doing 2nd grade work, so essentially they're both doing 2nd grade. I feel like this has been our smoothest year yet! I remember when I was teaching and in college doing things in the classrooms, feeling like 2nd grade was such a great year because you're past the hump of learning to read and write but they're still small and sweet, and I definitely feel like that's been true this year! There's so much more we've been able to do since they have reading and writing down pat, and it's been a lot of fun. 

We start our school days with Bible, and we are using New City Catechism Curriculum this year. The catechism has been really great. I have loved that we're opening the Bible together, learning from it, discussing it and memorizing the catechism questions and answers. It has brought up SO many good discussions and questions from my girls which has been just awesome! My only complaint is that with the curriculum, a lot of the activities are hard to modify from a classroom setting to 2 kids (they'll have team activities, and things like that, that you just can't do with 2 kids). But the rest of it has been really good and I would highly recommend it, just knowing that at home, you'll have to modify or skip some things. 

Next up has been history and science. We've been on a rotation doing a unit of history for several weeks, then a unit of science, then back to history, so on and so forth. 
We have been using The Good & The Beautiful History year 1, and I felt like unit 1 was decent, but we were bored out of our minds during unit 2. It was just way over my girls' heads and even I was bored with it. I had hoped that the audio recordings, read aloud and book of stories would liven it up some, but I found that I was just having to over explain everything and it was taking a long time and no real information was being learned or retained. I do think it's a good program and laid out well, and I love that it's family style so all grades can do it together, but I don't think I would order it again until the kids are quite a bit older. So now we are using some units I bought and prepped last year from Teachers Pay Teachers, that we didn't finish, and are currently on Black History again. We'll finish up the year later with maps and landforms, and I think that'll be sufficient for 2nd grade! 
For science this year, we've done all units that I got on TPT and we have had SO much fun with our science units! We've done a unit on pumpkins and winter, and both were a lot of fun and the girls learned a ton. This has worked out so well, that I've already bought some units for next school year and am planning out units! We have 2 more science units this year coming up-human body and bees! Overall, science has been a favorite this year, which makes me happy because I never loved science growing up, so I'm really pleased that it's coming alive for them! 

After history/science, we move onto language arts. We are using The Good & The Beautiful language arts level 2 this year for both girls. We really enjoyed it last year and we are again this year. I was really hoping that their new edition would come out before the year started, but it just came out in January. It looks so beautiful and so much more concise, that I wish we could have used it, but what we've got has been working out well! The girls are learning a ton and their reading has progressed so well again this year. I like that level 2 has added geography in, so they are getting some work in with maps and continents, and other geography things, which has been great. I had intended to do writing on Fridays using another writing book I bought, but we haven't done much of it. My oldest is getting writing this year at her homeschool classes, and I think that the writing instruction has picked up a lot in this level of TGATB, so I'm happy with that and they've both come a long way with their writing this year. Both of the girls really enjoy language arts this year, which makes me happy. We pushed through some frustrating weeks with my oldest the last couple years, and this year it's all coming a lot easier and really clicking, which is the goal! I did do away with the TGATB method for spelling. They have your kids write out sentences each week for each of their spelling words, and after a year and a half of doing it that way and my kids not doing great with spelling (taking several weeks to pass some words), I decided to try something else. Now each day they just have some kind of spelling activity, such as write the rainbow-using one line of the rainbow and writing the word in each color on that line, or magic spelling where they write their words in white crayon, then color over it with marker to make it show up. I think that when they were doing the sentences, they were just trying to come up with a sentence, and not paying attention to the actual spelling word, and that's why they weren't remembering it, and this way they're really retaining the spelling words, so that's been a good change. My middle has gone through all the level 2 spelling words twice, so we just moved onto the level 3 words for her, which shows me that changing it up made a huge difference! One of my favorite benefits of homeschool-if it's not working, you can change it! 

Math usually comes last and it's been going so well this year. We are using CTC math, which is online, so I'm not really teaching math this year (*gasp*!) Of course I am there and step in often to help, but the actual lessons are taught online, they do the questions on their own and if they don't pass (85% is what I have it set to), then we look at where they're getting hung up together. My only complaint is there isn't a lot of review in this. I haven't spent a ton of time on the site figuring everything out, so maybe we could be coming back to things someway, but I just haven't seen it. So some of the trickier concepts, I'm doing problems on the board for them a couple times a week to make sure they retain it. The other thing is that I want to make sure they know how to do it on paper as well as on the website. For some things, like carrying in addition, they have a little box that pops up and prompts them to carry the number, so I want to make sure they know what to do with it without that box there. Overall, I don't have complaints about CTC. The lessons are short and to the point, and math usually takes less than 15 minutes, which is incredible. And it's not for lack of instruction-they're both on grade 2 and learning multiplication right now, with division coming up in the next unit. The short and concise lessons have really eliminated a lot of math frustration for all of us this year, and I feel like they're getting the concepts down a lot better than when it was over explained in an hour long less, so CTC has been a huge blessing and success this year and we'll definitely keep using it! 

My girls have done typing and handwriting as well this year. Typing we are sporadic about...I'm kind of just letting them do it when they want to. They're definitely getting the hang of it, but I know it'll take a few years to really solidify. I'm glad they're getting the foundation and figuring out how the keyboard works. Handwriting is going well this year, and we are using level 2 of The Good & The Beautiful handwriting. They love that there is an activity or picture to do each day to go with the handwriting practice...that makes it a little bit more exciting! I can't believe they'll be learning cursive already next year!

Overall, this year has been really great and I can't believe we're already almost in our 4th quarter! Each year homeschooling just seems to go faster and faster. I'm grateful to be able to teach my girls and that this year has been a huge year of growth for them emotionally, spiritually and academically. 
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