Wednesday, December 28, 2016

What I've Learned About Myself in 2016

2016 was a HUGE growing year for me. I was stretched in so many ways. I've never felt so literally weary in my life. I learned so much. I did so much. I changed so much. It was definitely a year, that's for sure. I thought it would be kind of fun to document everything I've learned this year. About myself, about God, about life maybe? We will see where this leads. I know I'll enjoy looking back on this in years to come because I am sure I'll always remember 2016 as a huge year-both good and bad. 
So here is what I have learned about myself this year....


  • I don't handle stress nearly as well as I thought I did. For possibly the first time, I think I found out what it is like to be under very high stress levels for a consistent and long period of time. I've never had that before, and I didn't manage it well, which made it take its toll on me. 
  • I am emotionally stronger than I thought I was. Although this year has been stressful, I feel like I have been strong and have been a source of strength for others around me. 
  • I need a plan for follow through. I have always had a hard time sticking with things, but this year I found out that I am fully capable of it...when I have a plan. The biggest thing I did this year was read the Bible chronologically in one year (well, I'm not done yet, I started on Jan. 3). I have wanted to read the whole Bible in a year before, but I've never been consistent enough to make it happen and it fizzles out. This year,  I stuck with it and I'm almost done! I am really proud of myself for doing it, and for sticking with it even though I had so much less time and more stress this year. 
  • I NEEEEEED rest. I am bad about self care and about taking time to rest. I am really bad about it. But this year, I have learned that I really need it. I need to go to bed earlier and get a better night of sleep. I need to take a few hours every couple weeks away from the house, by myself, to refresh. I absolutely need time to unwind and unplug. (This is probably also why I don't handle stress very well). 
  • I am a total book nerd! I have always enjoyed reading, but this year (and maybe a little last year), I really realized HOW much I love it! When I set a goal to read 50 books this year, it was because I wanted to pursue that a little bit more, and take time to actually do something I enjoy. I didn't make it to 50, but I don't feel too bad about it considering when I set the goal, I had half the amount of children I do now. I think I will have 28 or 29 read by the end of the year (plus 2 more that I'm partially through), so I feel pretty good about that considering how this year went! (Also, I originally wrote "I think I will have 28 or 29 by the end of the year", but since I had just been talking about my kids it sounded like I was saying I would have 28 or 29 kids....scary). 
  • I thrive when I have a creative outlet! This year a lot of that consisted of photography, but blogging is also a big one. I enjoy having something I can do (bonus if it's from home, while my babies nap!) to feed into my creative side a little! 

  • I am glad to be out of the baby phase. I honestly wasn't sure I would ever feel like that. And not to say we will never have another baby in our home (#fostercareisunpredictable ;) ). I LOVED the baby phase with my girls. And I absolutely adore babies. But this year, I started noticing that I didn't ache for another one when I would hold friends itty bitty ones. And when we added TWO babies to our family this year (who quickly became toddlers), I was not at all sad to be done with multiple naps, bottles, strollers, etc when they moved past all that. That's where I'm at right now-who knows if it'll change! 
  • I am not good at making decisions. I don't know that I've ever really realized it before, or maybe I have been better at it in the past. But for sure this year, I have had such a hard time making decisions...both big ones, and little every day ones. I am overthinking everything and going back and forth on pros and cons. Sometimes I make a decision just so that I can stop thinking about it, and just pray its the right one (we did this recently with a vehicle....it was taking over our life trying to choose one)! 
  • I really enjoy hosting! This is one of those things that you don't realize how much you like it until you're no longer doing it. At our old (much larger) home, we hosted people and events all the time. In our new (much smaller) house, we rarely have the opportunity to. Part of that is because of how crazy this year was adjusting to foster care, etc. but part of it is also the layout and size of our house. We both really miss hosting regularly! 
I'm sure there are more, but my brain is tapped out for the night! What did you learn about yourself in 2016? 
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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Sickness, Christmas Gifts, 8 Years, Girls Day

{one}
I have been sick for 3 weeks....I just can't seem to shake it! It started as what felt like the flu, but I hit some home remedies hard and felt mostly better the next day, then it just turned into the cold gunk. Then other members of the family started getting it, then it moved into my chest and I barely had a voice, then more people in the family got it, then it started to feel like the flu again for a couple days, then it all moved into my head and has been there for a week or so. Have you ever had a cold that lasted 3 weeks? When are you supposed to go get checked? I mean, there's nothing they can do for a cold anyway, right, so.....? Now we have 2 kids on antibiotics-one for an ear infection, and one for an eye infection. Did you know you can get cellulitis of the eye?! Well, you can. And I am SO glad I took her in, because the Dr. said that it often gets bad enough that you have to get on IV antibiotics. So we are praying that clears up quickly. We also had a kid swallow a Lego this week. Of course it happened past 7 p.m. when all the Dr's close, so to the ER we went for x-rays. We called, and they said we had to come in because it could have cut a hole in the esophagus on the way down, so that's really what they were checking for. Luckily it didn't. The Lego itself just passes, which we are still waiting for.....That visit is also how we found out about the ear infection, so I guess it saved me another trip to the Dr ;) My oldest also had an appointment with a cardiologist at the beginning of the month. All was well, praise Jesus. So moral of this story is that I have basically been living at doctors offices/hospitals this month. It figures. We had a pretty low key year in terms of sickness and injury, so of course it would all hit the last month of the year, right? 
{two}
Today I realized that we have a few large things that need to be put together for the kids for Christmas. I mean, I KNEW we had them, but Christmas really snuck up on me! Anyone else? This month has absolutely flown by, and here we are, 5 days out from Christmas! I'm trying to figure out how exactly to do this, because I know based on the Amazon reviews, that one of the items (a play kitchen) took people 4+ hours to put together. So I don't want to save it for Christmas Eve, but how do you start it and hide it until then? I am really excited for Christmas this year. The whole "large family Christmas" thing seems like it will be really fun. And insane. But the memories of wrapping paper flying everywhere and squeals of delight from 4 little ones seeing their new stuff will be so worth it! I can't wait! What are you getting your kids for Christmas? Are you done shopping? Do you ever have those years where you just KNOW your kids will absolutely love their gifts? Most years I feel like they'll be really excited and really enjoy what they got, but this year I just can't wait to see their faces. Maybe it's because they're getting older and actually have ideas of what they want going for awhile, but I just really think they are going to be so excited and that makes me so excited! 
{three}
Today is our 8 year anniversary! 8 years seems really long! It is very hard to believe that it has been almost a decade! This morning I was thinking that probably within a few more years, everything from our wedding and the photos will start looking so outdated. Right?! It seems like usually when you look back at things from 10+ years they look really old. 
{four}
I took my girls out for a girls day on Saturday. They were supposed to have dress rehearsal for their nativity play, but that got cancelled, along with church on Sunday, because it was -30 F with the windchill. NEGATIVE THIRTY DEGREES, GUYS. So I took them out and surprised them with a girls day and it was so much fun! I have been missing them lately. We had my dad, step mom and sister in town over Thanksgiving, then a few days later my mom came, then we've all been battling the sickness off and on and I feel like I just haven't connected with them enough lately. We got donuts first (of course), then we went to see Moana.
 It was super cute and we all enjoyed it. I had one or both girls on my lap for the entire movie, so it was pretty much the best!
 When we came out, it was snowing pretty good, so we went and got lunch at Noodles and Co. I think this was actually my favorite part of the day. We just ate and chatted about the movie and Christmas and whatever their little hearts desired. They seemed so grown up to just sit and have conversations with me over lunch and it was so bittersweet. I love watching them grow. (Also, can I just pause to say that things like going out to eat or to a movie seem SO easy with just my big girls without two wild toddlers in tow! There is no time to pause and chat when we are out with all 4!) After lunch, the snow was still really coming down, but we needed to get the girls gifts for Daddy and brothers, so we braved several stores. I think 5 actually before we all had cold wet feet and and were tired of snow blowing in our faces! It was such a great day, and I think all of our cups were full by the end of it! I could tell by all of the lap sitting, hugging and holding that they requested, that I wasn't the only one who had felt like we haven't connected enough lately. 
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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Miscellaneous Brain Spew (aka blogging like its 2010)

My friend Callie did a blog post today on "old fashioned blogging" and I loved it SO much, I had to write my own! 
If you didn't blog or read blogs back from about 2008-2013 or so, blogging was a TOTALLY different thing then! It was just people writing about their day to day lives and it was so.much.fun. I had a different blog then, called Extraordinary Love. I blogged on almost a daily basis about any random thing that was on my mind and it was such a great hobby and outlet! In 2014, I started this blog with the intention of it becoming more the style of "modern blogs". I burnt out on that REAL FAST. It was SO much to keep up on with promoting posts, doing social media for the blog, having beautiful images, creative titles, and "Pinnable posts", that it took all the fun out of blogging for me! Some people might enjoy these aspects of it, but for me it was just one more thing on my check list! And for what?! The whole point of blogging for me has always been for a hobby so what is the point of doing it if I don't enjoy it?! Which is why I have posted so infrequently the past couple years. I haven't known exactly where to go with this blog. I want to share more day to day life stuff, but it's hard to with foster care. I can't post pictures or really any details of our fosters and obviously that is a huge part of our life so it's hard to balance. So more often than not, it's silent over here. 
But today, I'm kicking it old school with a random brain spew post circa 2010. Maybe, just maybe, you'll be seeing more of the like over here! Based on the comments on Callie's post, it sounds like a lot of people miss that style of blogging!

{one} 
For some reason this year, it just doesn't feel like it should be Christmas. I'm sure a lot of it is how fast this year went by (insanely fast....complete record speed!) but I just can't wrap my mind around it actually being Christmas. It's starting to feel a little more like it now that it is SO stinkin cold out (9 degrees when I was out at noon today... yes, NINE), and there are presents under the tree, but it still weirds me out that it's really here. 

{two} 
It has already snowed here a few times! The kids have been loving it! The first snow was actually pretty warm-still in the 30's so they stayed out for probably almost 2 hours playing in it. Daddy put a harness on and pulled their sled up and down the yard over and over-they had so much fun! 
 My mom caught this picture of us after we woke up and were checking out the first snow. Love my guy and love the first snowfall of the year!!
Bundled up kids are just so cute!! 
{three} 
Last night I made a huge Costco run with my friend Megan (it's about a half hour away so I don't go super often, but stock up when I do). I got SO much stuff-it was kind of ridiculous. They had this planner there called The Happy Planner. I had just recently started hearing about it, and Megan has one and was raving about it, so I decided to go for it. It was only $20 or $25 (can't remember exactly) for a TWO YEAR planner, and a ton of extras. I feel like the washi tape alone could be almost that much!! I have stayed pretty well organized this year with planning, because I've had to with all of the appointments, court dates, social worker visits, etc., but I am excited to do it in style this next year ;) Seriously, one thing I didn't realize about foster care is how many appointments there are. Obviously not wanting to deter anyone from fostering, but holy cow. It's a lot. (Or maybe it's just the kiddos I have?) 

{four} 
My girls were looking awfully cute and festive for church last Sunday! I had to stay home because the sick cycle has been running through our family. Holy smokes, with 6 people it takes forever for it to make it all the way through everyone, so I was at home on duty with the littles. But really, didn't they look so sweet? 
(and since we are going old school today, we are also going with unedited phone pics... Although I just got the iPhone 7 plus and it takes pretty decent pictures!) 

My kids have started waking up from their naps, so that's all the random I've got for you today! This was fun, though--I'll have to do it again sometime soon! 

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

2017 Theme

For years, I've been hearing people talk about their "word of the year". I've never chosen a word of the year before, mainly because I have enough to think about and focus on without widdling it all down to one word. This year, though, I have had a lot of things weighing on my heart and mind and when I really started to think about them, they all kind of connected in certain ways. I am doing too much, I have too much, I probably talk too much and eat too much, I worry too much, I stress too much....
2016 has for sure been the hardest year I have ever had. It has been very trying, and very stressful. There has also been so much goodness and joy this year, but in terms of stress, this year tops the list. I am hoping and praying that next year can be simplified so much more. A lot of this I can't control because of foster care--the process, the courts, the appointments, etc. But many things, I can. So I am choosing to make a theme for myself next year. Something to focus on and strive for. And that theme is.....
I know that probably sounds really weird. Less? Less isn't a super positive word. But it keeps ringing in my brain, so I'm going with it. But why less? 

I want to have less things, so that I can give more. 
I want to worry less, so I can have more peace.
I want to care less what people think, so that I can care more what Jesus thinks.
I want to be less plugged in with electronics and social media, so I can be more plugged in with prayer.
I want to spend less time stressed out, so that I can give my family more. 
I want to talk less, so that I can listen more.
I want to be less concerned with food (read: chocolate), so that I can be more concerned with health.
So maybe "more" is really the theme, but before I can give and do more, I have to remove a lot of the negative that has accumulated. I am excited and grateful for another year to grow, change, learn, and become more like Jesus. 2016 has been such a weird and interesting year. While yes, the most stressful I have ever had, it has also been so eye opening in terms of faith. I have learned SO much about God, about myself, and about our relationship, and I will be forever grateful for that. I am excited to continue learning more about those areas and applying them to myself and my relationship with God. I am hopeful that God will allow me to use what I am learning now to share with others and help them grow, as well. I know that no matter what way 2017 goes, God will be glorified. His mercy is unending, I have found that in 2016 more than I ever have before. 
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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

F.I.V.E.

My oldest is 5! 

Five just seemed like SUCH a big one to me. At 4, I could still be in denial that she was little. But 5...five is a kid. Not a toddler anymore, not really even a preschool (though she's not yet in Kinder). A kid. It's so bittersweet! I absolutely LOVE watching her grow. She is such an awesome girl. But it's also so sad, because she is growing so fast. I have this absolutely horrible habit of counting things down and depressing myself. So I'll do things like say that we are more than 1/4 of the way done having her under our roof. Or that she is as close to being TEN as she is far away from being a newborn. I need to stop! I really truly love watching her at every stage, but WHY, why does it go so fast?! 

Since she turned 5 at the end of September, I have had a little time to let this sink in now, thankfully. I am mostly out of the sadness of it, and just excited to watch her grow...until next year when she turns 6 AND starts kinder..wahhh! 

At 5 years old, she has certainly come into her own. She is spunky and smart. Cute and cuddly. Friendly and fierce. She feels things BIG...no matter what feeling that may be. Some of what I've seen come out in her this last year shows me that she is probably going to be a wonderful challenge as a teen ;) 

This girl has such a big heart. She loves Jesus so much and has SO many questions about Him, Heaven, the Bible, sin, Jesus' death, His life, God's character, and more. Sometimes it is really hard to answer her questions! She is kind of in a phase where she wants to know SO much and she is capable of understanding A LOT, but not everything so it's hard to explain things because there are some things that are simply impossible for her to understand without experiencing life a little more, and that frustrates her. She just wants to know, know, know, and I hope she never loses that trait! 

She is learning a lot in our homeschool times. I love watching her little brain work! So far, it seems that she might lean more towards the math and science type things--that seems to be how her brain works, where her sister picks up language, reading, etc. so quickly. We will see how that progresses as she gets older! Right now it is just really fun to watch her learn and explore and figure out new concepts on her own sometimes! Her favorite parts of school are read aloud, whenever we do a craft or project of some sort, any type of coloring, and math concepts. She is starting to pick up some basic sight words and figuring out the concept of sounding out words a little bit, but they don't seem to be her favorites at all. 

She is SUCH a helper! She absolutely loves being a big sister. She is so good to all of her siblings and really enjoys playing with them and helping them! And they all just adore her, as well! She loves helping out around the house (most of the time) and I'm starting to realize that I need to milk that for all its worth until she realizes cleaning isn't fun ;) 
The girl is an outdoorsy type, to say the least. She would be outside 100% of the time, if I would let her. She loves running around in the backyard, riding her bike up and down the sidewalk (I'm thinking she'll be ready to take her training wheels off in the Spring!), scootering, going on walks, playing at the park, anything having to do with water. Anything outdoors, she loves. (She also REALLY loves superheroes!)

She had been wanting to take an ice skating class, so her Grammie got her that for her birthday, and she just passed the first level! We are getting ready to start her in the next level. She did soccer last Spring and really liked that, but she really wanted to try ice skating, and that seems to be her favorite, by far! We will see if she continues on with it or what happens, but it is fun to watch her! She went from barely being able to stand up on the ice, to actually skating in such a short time! I have a feeling she will excel at it!

She and her sister also started a music class this fall. There are only 4 kids total in the class, and it's just a gentle intro to piano. She looks forward to going every week, but I don't think it'll be something she really wants to pursue in the future, at least not for now! And that's ok! She enjoys playing on her keyboard and practicing, and doing her "homework" every week :) 

There is so much more I could say about my girl, but I'll stop here! I am so thankful I get to parent her and spend every day with her. She is such a joy! 
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Monday, November 14, 2016

Kids Books We Are Currently Loving

We LOVE books in this house! Always have, always will. Both of my girls have been book worms their entire lives, and you can often find my husband and I with our noses in a good book at night! (I wish I could say the same for our littles, but they are WAY too busy to sit for a book...or for a page of a book. *sigh* Someday!) I always love finding out about kids books we haven't explored yet, so I thought it would be fun to share some of the current kids lit on rotation in our home! I would love to hear what some of your current favorite kid's books are! 


Tim Bugbird's Dessert Fairy Books
We absolutely love these books! We have had Izzy the Ice Cream Fairy for several years, but have started collecting several more of these books this year and they are just so cute! I am hoping to eventually add them all to our collection, and they are really affordable books, so it shouldn't be too hard! I think these books make great gifts for little girls, if you ever need something easy for a birthday party or something! Amazon has most (if not all) of these books! 
Why we love them: The illustrations are unique and very engaging. Cute rhyming stories. Every book has a great message, like working together to be successful, being careful with your words, being persistent, etc. One of my FAVORITE things about these books is the diversity you see in the illustrations. So many different beautiful skin tones in each book, and that is something very important to our family! 

The Biggest Story
This is one of those books that my children maybe don't fully comprehend yet, but I think it's such a good starting point for them and we'll continue reading it and having conversations about it throughout the years! (Here's the Amazon link)
Why we love it: Absolutely stunning illustrations that we all enjoy looking at! We love that it tells the story of the gospel and ties the entire Bible together in one big story. It touches on many of the shortcomings of Biblical characters, which could be seen as a negative, but I think it helps my kiddos to understand how much we need Jesus. 

Mercy Watson
I don't know where I first heard about these books, but I am SO glad we checked them out! Our whole family fell in love with the characters. My girls often pretend play with characters from Mercy Watson, or "Mercy Wapson" as they call her ;) We flew through each one when we would check them out at the library, and we ended up getting my oldest daughter the boxed set for her birthday so we can keep coming back to them! They are early chapter books, and we do them as read alouds during school time or at night. The brief synopsis is that these books are based on a pig named Mercy Watson who lives with Mr. and Mrs. Watson. She is basically like their child and they dote on her and call her their "porcine wonder". Mercy LOVES "toast with a great deal of butter" and is often investigating something or another and annoying the elderly neighbor, Eugenia Lincoln. The books are just a hoot...such cute story lines with memorable characters every kid will love! (Amazon)
Why we love them: I probably already gave it away, but we love that these books are funny, easy to read, have hilarious story lines and such fun characters. The illustrations are so cute and very vivid, too! I love that they have been a really great introduction to read alouds. There are still pictures on most, but not all, pages, so my kids are starting to get a little practice with imagining the stories as I read them! 


Five Minutes Peace: This was one of my favorite books as a little girl! I'm not sure why I liked it so much, but my girls like it just as much! We found it a few months ago in some of my things and have been reading it over and over again, ever since! It is such a cute little story AND I am so excited-when I was looking it up on Amazon just now, I saw there is a whole collection of stories with this family! I had no idea! The story is about a Mama elephant who just wants 5 minutes peace from her 3 little ones, but you know she didn't get that. It's a funny telling of how the kids try to get Mom's attention during her "peaceful" bathtime. 
Why we love it: The characters are relatable-my kids enjoy seeing the Large kids hobbies and personalities. Obviously as a Mom of 4, I can relate to not being able to do A.N.Y.T.H.I.N.G. alone! It's a super nostalgic book for me since I have so many memories of my mom reading it to me as a little girl. 

I Believe In Jesus: Leading your child to Christ: I first heard about this book when Callie reviewed it a few months ago. I really respect that Callie always does her  homework on how theologically sound books and resources are, so I knew it was a recommendation I could trust and was excited to get it in the mail! The book is a basic explanation of the Gospel for children. 
Why we love it: I love that it is an easy way to continue Gospel conversations with my kids. It's a great conversation starter and explains the whole Gospel to them in an easy to understand way. My kids love it because it talks about all the things we talk to them about-Jesus, Heaven, sin, His death & resurrection--but in ways that most kids books don't do. I think it really brings it to life for them and is starting to help them make great connections! 

The Princess In Black Collection: The Princess in Black books (I believe there are currently 4, but I hope they make more soon!) are really fun, easy chapter books about a Princess who moonlights as a superhero. My girls are very into superheroes right now so they really enjoy these books! These are another set of books we have used as read alouds during school time. 
Why we love them: Not to sound too cliche, but "girl power". I love books that show my girls that they can be strong and super, too! Princesses are fun, though my girls have never much been into them, but superheros are just awesome! My girls are really into them this year, so they love that the Princess goes out to fight crime in secret, but can still be a girly girl, too! 

Fancy Nancy Series: Fancy Nancy is a little girl that LOVES being fancy! She is always putting on tea parties, using fancy words, and coming up with something creative. 
Why we love them: I love them because they teach my daughters big words! Nancy uses "fancy" words and then explains what they mean. I have noticed my girls using a lot of these words in their vocabulary, which always makes me smile. The girls love them, because Nancy is always up to something fun! 

Clark the Shark Dares to Share: Clark is a shark who needs some help remember that sharing is a good thing. The story is super cute and really funny. 
Why we love it: As a mom, I love every reminder my kids can get about sharing! My girls really enjoy the story and silly characters! 

I Like Myself: This story is about a quirky little girl who talks about all of the different parts of her, and how much she likes them! We have had this book for a few years and have yet to grow tired of it!
Why we love it: We love all of the silly words and traits this child has, and I love that it teaches my girls to be proud of who they are! Not just of their bodies, but of their minds and personalities, too! 

Veggies with Wedgies: This hilarious book is about a crop of veggies who want something to wear, but nothing fits right. They decide to try on their farmer's underwear, that is hanging on the clothes line above their garden. 
Why we love it: It's a book about vegetables wearing underwear. My kids think it's hilarious. I think I'll just leave it at that!

















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Monday, August 22, 2016

First Day of Pre-K

Today we had our first day of Pre-K for the girls! We were all very excited to get started. I have been working a lot over the last few months on getting everything set up and planned for this year, and today was finally the day! We got through *almost* everything I wanted to do today. 


Both of the girls will be doing mostly the same thing, which you can read more about here. Today things took a bit longer than I anticipate it will on other days because we were getting acquainted with supplies, their binders, and how to do everything. I won't lie, there were some tears, and some frustrations, but I think it will be a great year! I had not really thought through what to do with the littles super thoroughly and that did prove to be pretty difficult, but hopefully it will get a little easier as we get into the swing of things. 
Here are just a few phone pics from our morning. We did a lot of other things as well, but I was a little busy teaching to take pictures ;) 

Working in their binders took f-o-r-e-v-e-r today!! They were wanting to use a different color for every little detail on the thankful page, color the clothes on the temperature page in such detail, etc. It was really cute to see them getting so into it and really taking their time, however, I think we'll have to speed that part up in the future ;) I didn't anticipate it taking quite as long as it did. 
We did a Bible lesson. This week we are learning about the Tower of Babel and the trait of God is that He is Glorious. Our verse for the week is Psalm 111:3. We also learned more about the letter Tt and did some reading and activities with that, as well as our sight word for the week which is the word 'a'. We did a few other things and then moved onto the more active stuff. They both loved this muffin tray activity which was just fine motor practice of them transferring the pom poms with tongs. 
 I just LOVE watching them learn and seeing what their little minds come up with! I kind of just left them to it for awhile since they were having fun and when I came back they were sorting into each cup by color...love it! Who knew such a simple activity they would love so much.
We also did a craft involving a tiger and contact paper. They turned out pretty hilarious!
I am excited to watch my girls learn and grow this year and blessed to be teaching them! 
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Monday, August 15, 2016

Preschool Learning Binders

This year for preschool, I put together these binders for each of my girls. I think they'll be a nice addition to our homeschool and the girls are both so excited about having their own big notebook. I haven't shown them the finished product yet, but I know they will be so excited to start using them! These are very much supplemental. My plan right now is that we will do a quick calendar time to start off our morning, then move to the binders for 10-15 minutes or however long it takes them, then move onto the actual activities and curriculum. This will all be really good writing practice for them and great for helping them learn about days, weather, time, etc. I went ahead and made a video to walk through it rather than taking pictures of every page. Enjoy! 
All of the calendar, weather, time, etc. pages are from Confessions of a Homeschooler
The all about me page is from Whimsy Workshop.
The Moods card printable is from Kori at Home.
I am thankful page is from Whimsy Workshop.
Colossians 3:23 print is from Pretty Darn Cute Designs.
The letter and number writing guides are from One Beautiful Home Blog.
The Preschool assessment is also from One Beautiful Home Blog
I think I got them all, but if there's anything else you are wondering about feel free to ask! We are gearing up to start school next week and are super excited! My husband and I spent some time this past weekend while all the kids were away getting the school room in order and I just have a few more things to organize and we will be all set for the year! 
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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Homeschool Curriculum Choices- Pre-K

My girls will be doing Pre-K for the 2016-2017 school year!
We are in kind of a funny position because my oldest daughter is about 10 days after the cut off so maturity and knowledge wise she is ready for Kindergarten, but she is technically not old enough. Which is ok with me because then it feels like she's growing up a little less fast ;) And then my younger daughter is only 3 but knowledge wise she is several years above that, and even ahead of my older daughter in some areas. So, we're just in a funny position. 
Last year, we got really bored with school because all of the preschool packs I found were so repetitive. I am so thankful that so many awesome and hardworking homeschooling mamas have made so many preschool things available to other people, however they are almost all the same more or less. Each week has the same activities with a different letter or theme. I think this is really great for some kids, and I could see my little ones really benefiting from the repetition of those in a few years, but my girls just got bored. Once they had it they had it. They didn't want to keep doing the same thing week after week, so we just kind of stopped schooling and learned through play and life and that was great for us last year! All that to say, I wanted to find something for this year that avoided the repetition, but didn't really want to splurge on a box curriculum for preschool. So here's what I came up with after scouring what felt like millions of preschool packs and programs and curricula online! 
 The girls know majority of their letters and I would say close to most of their letter sounds, but are still mastering sounds. So for this year, my main focus was that I wanted to really get them down pat so they can begin putting sounds together to read words. I am also going to be introducing sight words (I'm going to take the approach of doing both phonics and sight words as I believe them both to be important in different ways) and some basic early math skills. So a large focus and large amount of the activities are going to be on language arts. 
The "main" curriculum I chose was this Letter of the Week curriculum from the Measured Mom.

 What I really like about it is that it does have some repetition, but you can really break it up into what you want the lessons to focus on. Each letter has 4 days and bonus activities. I can go through and know immediately that I want to skip over an activity, or that we will definitely do it and it'll be beneficial! Some of the easier ones we will just skip right over and not look back. I also love that she incorporates so many different kinds of activities. I'm not a huge worksheet person...there's a time and place for them for sure, but I didn't want to just give them a workbook for Pre-K and call it good. This is a good balance of activities, which I love and I know the kids will, too! I like that she has compiled activities from around the net to give so many options.
I am supplementing it with activities from Reading the Alphabet from This Reading Mama.

 I am following her order for letters and sight words because I love the way that her sight word readers build on the sight words each week! Each week I've printed off the sight word book, and the things for the pocket chart and we will do activities with those. I didn't want to use this whole curriculum because many of the activities in it are things the girls have already mastered and it would be a waste of our time to do them, and this is one of the very repetitive curricula. I do think she has laid it out VERY well and it will be a great benefit to us this year with sight words and reading! 
For Bible, I wanted something more than just reading a Bible story every week, but we weren't quite ready to dive into the theology in many of the Bible curricula. So I chose this Bible ABC extension pack from the Crafty Classroom and we will use the corresponding letters. Again, I am not using all of the activities from the pack and I will be doing the Bible story and lesson with my girls at the beginning of the week and then using these resources to help them retain the story and information. I love that this pack has a character attribute of God each week. I have been coloring those so that we can post them each week and pray about and remember who God is throughout this year. I am so excited to teach the girls more about who God is so they can really understand Him better. I also love that there is a memory verse and definition each week to go along with the story, letter and attribute of God. I think this is put together very nicely and also very child friendly so I know the girls will love it!

I have also been putting together Daily Notebooks for both girls. I am using a lot of the sheets from Confessions of a Homeschooler's Daily learning notebook, but again not all. We are not using the letter, number, or shape pages as they will be practicing writing those separately and already identify them. I think , but haven't decided for 100% sure yet, that I am going to do a little calendar time with them to start the day, then have them each work independently on their notebooks. I think it'll be great to get them started being able to work individually on something without much guidance from me and give them that sense of accomplishment as well! I have added a few other things to the notebook that I am excited about! Each day they'll also do an "I'm thankful for..." page and an emotions page to identify how they are feeling that day. I have a few other things I want to add, as well, so I will probably do a full post on the binders when I have them all the way done! 
For right now, I am thinking that I want to do read alouds as a regular part of our school time, starting this year. I have found some easy, early chapter books that I think the girls would like that I may purchase and then read 5-10 minutes per day while they journal or color or something. I haven't quite decided for sure on that, yet. 
I have been scouring pinterest and the internet for other learning activity ideas, science experiment, art ideas, and more sight word and phonics practice and am excited to add some things here and there as well. I also picked up the little curriculum pack books from Sam's Club last spring and I think I'll use a sheet or two from those each day, possibly in their daily notebooks, just to reinforce letters and numbers and some of those skills. 
That's about it! I am super excited for this year! I've been busy over the last few weeks planning,  getting supplies, printing everything off and getting things prepared for the year!  This weekend I'm going to try to get things situated in the school room which I am so excited about--it's been slowly coming together over the last few months. I will be back with more homeschool related posts soon! 
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