Friday, July 27, 2018

1st Grade Curriculum Choices 2018-2019 | Homeschool

Well, I've been meaning to make a video about my curriculum choices for this coming year, but haven't gotten around to it and we are starting school soon! 
I decided to start early August this year. It gets SO hot here in August that we don't even want to be outside usually, and the fall here is so beautiful. So I'm planning to get a head start early, and then take off a few weeks in September or October when the weather is perfect and we want to be outside!  
I will be schooling 2 daughters both at a first grade level this year. We will do school at home 4 days a week and they will join other homeschoolers at a local school 1 day per week for classes.
After a ton of thought and research last spring, here is what we have settled on for our 2018-2019 school year!!
Language Arts

For LA this year, I decided on The Good and The Beautiful Level 1. I've been hearing about it everywhere and think it will be a good fit for us this year. I really loved what we used last year, but we were ready to slow down the pace on all of the rules a little bit and really dig into reading, spelling, and exploring literature together. I am really excited about this curriculum. 
We are going to try something a little different this year, and my girls will do this separately. 
My younger daughter is a bit ahead of my older in a lot of LA areas and I think it will work out better. TGATB has them work on spelling, sight words, and reading daily, and it doesn't make sense to do those things together since they might not be at the same place with all of those. So my plan is to work with one girl at a time, while the other does some independent work (reading, spelling sentences, and handwriting, which I'll talk about more below). I will work with the other one on their course book, phonics cards and sight words at the same time, then we'll switch. I hope this works out, but if not we can adjust! It will be good practice for them learning to start doing some work independently, too. 

I am going to supplement handwriting with a book I found on Amazon. I'll just make copies each week and have them copy the silly sentences (they don't need to practice tracing, so we'll just skip that). Hopefully this will help them enjoy handwriting practice a little more! 

We are continuing on this year with Math Lessons for a Living Education Level 2. We used level 1 for the last few months of kindergarten and it work out really well for the girls, so we went ahead with level 2. I like the story approach to teaching math skills and my girls have enjoyed it a lot more than Math U See. The explanations are simple, instead of complicated like so much of math is these days. I think having something to the point has made math a lot more clear for my daughters, and has made it a lot easier for me to teach. Hopefully this level is just as good!

Science was a really hard choice this year. I purchased a curriculum, got it and decided it was NOT for us. It looked super boring and sooooo much reading (from me to them from a textbook, blah). So I searched and searched. I ended up stumbling upon 106 Days of Creation when reading in a homeschooling forum, and I'm so glad I did. It is such a relaxed approach to science. It's really more of a guideline than curriculum, written by a homeschooling mom who was just looking for a good approach to science. It covers the 7 days of creation as "units" and each one has a varying number of lessons within it. There is a ton of freedom to make it work for you. There are field trips, lots of nature study, tons of living books, videos and more. A lot of hands on stuff that I think will really help my kids to enjoy science and makes me excited to dig in with them! I have a science binder for each of them to collect all of their work and take with us when we go on nature studies, or field trips, and I will also use some great Usborne books to supplement and research further. I'm planning to really let the kids dig in, and if they're really into something, we will go with it and come up with different activities and ways to learn more about it. 
I also purchased the Nature Notebook PDF from The Good & The Beautiful, and have printed out some of the fall pages for that, which we will throw in there when we want to do them. That should be really fun, too.
Social Studies

I was really stumped on social studies, as well. I didn't want to pay hundreds of dollars for a boring curriculum, I didn't want to fully dig into a history curriculum yet, but I wanted to do something. I ended up just piecing things together and creating my own units for this year. Here are the units we ended up with, which will hopefully take us through the year: 
  • Me on the map
  • Past, present and future
  • Christmas around the world
  • Black history
  • Map skills
  • Landforms 
Most of the activities I am using came from somewhere on Pinterest, or Teachers Pay Teachers. I think this will be another really fun, exploratory subject for this year. Tons of books, exploring and just digging into what interests them within these units. 


I went back and forth on Bible curriculum for this year and decided if it ain't broke, don't fix it! We are using Bible Study Guide again this year. Even though my girls are ready for the level 1-2 books, I decided to use the 3-K again this year (unit 2). We all really liked how it was laid out last year and they retained so much from it.

So that's it for this year! I am getting anxious to get started and see how everything works out for us. I think it's going to be a really great year! 
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Monday, July 23, 2018

Omaha Trip 2018

Last month, we met my Colorado family in Omaha for a long weekend! 
My brother, his wife, my 2 nieces and my mom were all able to come out. We got an airbnb for Thursday-Sunday and set up camp for the weekend. 
We left Thursday afternoon after my husband got off work and made the 4 hour drive. Everyone was already there when we arrived, and it was almost bedtime, so the kids all reacquainted with their cousins and then it was off to bed. 

After the kids went to bed, my mom, SIL and I went to Walmart to try to find long sleeves for the kids because it was going to be COLD the next day and we were heading to the zoo! Crazy. I luckily found 2 light sweatshirts for the girls on clearance (pretty sure it was the only 2 long sleeved things in the entire store) and some capri leggings. They had NOTHING for boys, so we just brought them blankets. 
Friday morning, we got breakfast and headed for the zoo! Omaha Zoo is supposedly the best in the country. It is a great zoo! The last time we went the girls were 3 months and 1 1/2 so it had been awhile. 
We had such a fun day exploring the zoo with the family. The kids were at great ages for the zoo. I always forget those things are so much work for us as parents. Keeping track of all the kids and making sure everyone is safe. I feel like I'm doing constant mental head counts and my eyes are constantly darting around making sure we haven't lost a kid! But it was a ton of fun. We did all the typical stuff, saw just about all the animals, I think, and did a train ride. 

After the zoo, we found a Jason's Deli on the way home and I was SO happy. I worked there in high school and am still obsessed with it, but we have none close by. 

Saturday we spent playing around the house most of the morning. We got Krispy Kreme because we don't have it and when you're close you have to have it.

 The kids had a ton of fun playing in the yard and house together.
We also went and walked the BOB bridge and stood on Iowa & Nebraska at the same time.

That afternoon, when the little ones got up from naps, we headed to The Amazing Pizza Machine. It's like a Chuck E Cheese on steroids. The place was insane and so much fun. They have a full all you can eat buffet (pizza, pasta, salad, baked potato bar, nachos, tacos, slushies, desserts, etc.) They have the typical arcade games, but also have rides, go karts, bumper cars, and more. They have several themed dining rooms you can choose to eat in, and a play place for the kids. I am not even sure if we made it around the entire place and we were there for about 5 hours. 

Sunday we got up and got the house ready to check out, got everything packed up and headed out to find a park. We played at the park for just a little while until the Omaha Children's Museum opened. I had heard they had a temporary Ninja Turtles exhibit, so I knew we had to go. My kids are obsessed. 
The museum was awesome! So much fun stuff to explore, a little cafe, and of course the turtles exhibit, which was almost the entire upstairs. The kids had a ton of fun playing, we did  a little Ninja Turtle team challenge, had lunch, rode the carousel, did face painting, explored the exhibits, and just enjoyed our last few hours together. 

 Have you really ever seen anyone happier about life than Z at this exact moment?

We left around 3 or 4:00 to head back home. 
The weekend flew by and it was too short, but it was a lot of fun. Always so good to spend time with them and for the kids to see their cousins! Until next time. 

To see more of our family's travels, click my travel tab
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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Summer Day In The Life 2018

I love doing day in the life posts, and looking back at my last one, it was almost a year ago! It feels like I just did one, but this year I did several homeschool day in the life instagram stories, so maybe that's why it feels like it. I definitely need to document some of our days once the school year hits! (For past day in the life's click here!)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018
7:45 My first child is awake and my husband is getting ready to leave for work. We had family in town until yesterday and have been going to bed late and I couldn't get to sleep last night so we have a slow morning. We kind of lazy around in bed for awhile as the kids wake up. 
8:45 I finally get out of bed, put a show on for the kids in my room and hop into the shower. 
9:15 I am getting breakfast ready for the kids, helping the boys get dressed, etc. 
9:30 Breakfast! 
10:00 The kids are working on their morning chores (emptying the dishwasher, feeding the dog, brushing their teeth, making beds, etc.)

10:15 I sneak downstairs with my protein shake and start to work on some school prep for our upcoming year while the kids finish up their chores and then start playing (hide n seek).

10:40 Rush to get the girls ready for swim lessons. I am running behind due to having a discipline issue with one of my little ones, so I rush through pulling their hair back and getting sunscreen on them. 
11:00 Swim lessons for the girls

12:00 We are home and doing the crazy lunch time rush. Over the next hour I: 
  • fix lunch for the boys and get them eating (they need an early nap because they have speech this afternoon)
  • Get the girls in the shower 
  • Get swim towels hung up to dry
  • Wash the girls' hair
  • Switch the laundry over to the dryer
  • Get lunch for the girls and get them out of the shower
  • Make lunch for myself
  • Get the boys down for a nap
  • Eat
  • Load the breakfast dishes into the dishwasher
  • Clean up the kitchen from lunch

1:00 I need to place a couple of online orders (Tubby Todd and Vitacost) so I spend some time doing that
1:30 I get myself a little more ready-curl my hair quickly and such
Fold the laundry and get it put away 
Clean up a few things around the house
2:00 I run downstairs to grab what I had printed earlier for the school year and start working on getting science binders ready for the girls. I make a list of the few supplies we still need that I didn't get when we shopped last week, and get some stuff hole punched and put together. 
2:15 I have the girls get ready to leave for speech (grab their tablets and headphones, go to the bathroom, grab their snack and get their shoes on) while I wake the boys up. 
2:22 We are out the door (we live about 3 minutes away from speech, thankfully!) and I need to drop a package at the UPS store, which is right next to speech. 
2:30 Speech for the boys. They take turns going back with their therapist while the rest of us wait in the waiting room. I start on this post, the girls get tablet time, and my boys take turns playing with the toys in the waiting room.

3:30 We are done with speech and need to get groceries from Walmart pickup that I placed last night. 
3:45 Get to Walmart along with every other person who placed an order for that time frame.
4:00 Home and inside. I have the kids start picking up because we are hosting Life Group tonight, so we all do that around the house. 
4:40 My husband gets home, I am about to vacuum and realize I left the groceries in the van!
4:50 Doing a little work on the computer and getting ready to cook dinner. 
5:15 Dinner! Going easy with tacos for Taco Tuesday (which my husband ended up fixing)! (One of the very few meals all 4 of my kids will eat without complaint!)
5:45 Getting cleaned up from dinner, and finishing getting the house ready for Life Group
6:20 Life group people start arriving. We are hosting this month, so we have kids in the basement with a couple babysitters, and we are upstairs. Going through Psalm 23 together.
8:15 Finish up with Life group
8:20 Get the boys down for bed while the girls eat a snack and get themselves ready.
8:30 I get the girls down for bed, while my husband runs back to work to grab his computer. After I get the girls to bed, I take another quick shower because I feel gross from sitting outside at swim lessons earlier so I just rinse off. Then time to relax for the evening! 

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Monday, July 16, 2018

New House

6 months ago we moved into a new home. I realized recently that I had only really ever mentioned that in passing here on my blog. Well it is impossible to believe we have lived here for 6 months seems like a couple months at most. I thought I would give a little back story on our move, and then maybe share some room "tours" as I get things finished (I am the slowest decorator ever-you'd think we would be done after 6 months...)

The last home we lived in was supposed to be a 5 year home. But, adding 2 kids to the mix, we quickly outgrew it. I hate to say that we needed more space, because I know we had enough but it was very crammed. The kitchen was tiny and keeping enough food and cooking supplies on hand for 6 people was almost impossible in that small space. We only had 2 bedrooms upstairs, so the boys were down in the basement, which felt too far away if something were to happen. We were planning on staying our full 5 years because of the program that we built our house through. If we left before 5 years, we had to pay back a prorated amount, so it really wasn't on our radar to move yet. 5 years would have been next April (2019). 
I enjoy browsing homes on Zillow. Weird pastime, I know, but it was helpful to look at houses both for decor ideas and just to see what types of homes were in our area in our price range so we could start thinking about what we wanted in our next house. One day, I was browsing on Zillow and I came on this house and fell in love with it. Somehow, it had been on the market for almost a year and I had never come across it. It didn't even cross my mind to consider buying the house, but the layout was very interesting-unlike any I have seen in this area ever before, and I wanted to show my husband because we liked to bookmark certain layouts or things we liked in homes. The layout, we later found out, is called a "dropped foyer". You can see in the picture below, how only the foyer is dropped down just a little bit, making the whole house very open. I have had people say "oh, so it's a split level" when I try to describe it, but it's really not. I feel like the picture shows it better than I can explain it in words.

That evening I showed him, and he had also come home with some news about our current house/repayment situation that opened up a door for us. The house we were browsing was new construction that had been sitting empty since the builder finished it. We had some uncertainties that made us unsure it was even an option for us (like, we were under the impression there was an expensive HOA-later found out there's not) but we called the builder anyway and went to tour it a day or two later. We had driven by the same night we found it and the lot that it was on was incredible. A huge yard in town, and a very convenient location. My husband had just started a new job and this made it a lot closer for him, and is right down the road from where my kids do homeschool classes once a week, not to mention 3 minutes away from literally everything I could need to survive-Target, Walmart, movie theater, bank, doctor, Chick fil a, Caribou, Starbucks, a bunch of other restaurants and stores (it's a little dangerous, to be honest). 
So when we met with the builder to tour the house, one of the questions we asked was 'how much would it be to build this same house (with a few cosmetic changes to our liking) in a year or two?' Because this particular house had dropped in price significantly due to sitting on the market so long (they were really desperate to get rid of it by this point as they needed it sold to be able to buy more lots and build more houses!) The realization after talking to him was that it would be up to $40-50k more on a way smaller lot, with probably less finishes and upgrades.
We thought and prayed about it and decided to make a move, so we put in an offer contingent on our house selling. This means the house would be under contract, but we wouldn't set a closing date until our house was under contract, and they could still market and show the house. If they got another offer we had 48 hours to either remove the contingency and set a closing date, or back out. 

They accepted the offer right away and we needed to get our house ready to sell. There was a lot we hadn't done yet, thinking we had a couple years. Our realtor was out of town for a week, so we basically spent every waking hour that week moving a bunch of stuff to my in-laws, cleaning every surface and finishing a bunch of stuff (putting closet doors on, touching up paint, finishing trim in the basement, etc.) It was a looooong week. But we got it done, our realtor got back into town and we put our house up. 2 weeks before that we hadn't even been thinking of moving. We had to get so much stuff squared away with the bank, our realtor, etc. we thought there was no way it would all work out, but it all fell into place very quickly.
The day it went up on the market we had a showing within 2 hours and a few hours after that we had an offer. For $20K below the asking price and contingent on their house selling (wasn't on the market yet and they wanted to do sale by owner). Womp womp. For the first day on the market, we weren't ready to go that low yet. But we had hope that since it had gone that well the first day, we shouldn't have any trouble selling it. Unfortunately, we were listing right before the holidays hit, so we had showing after showing after showing after showing.....of mostly not serious buyers who were just "browsing". The serious buyers we did see it was either the wrong location, or not big enough mostly, but we heard the most random and weird complaints. Like one person said it was exactly 150 square feet too small. This was a single person. We had 6 people living there. I understand everyone's preferences and needs are different, but to have that specific of a square footage requirement just made me laugh. One person didn't like that we had a tree in our backyard because it could fall over and crush the house. Lol, ok. This went on for a couple months and it was so hard to keep the house clean and get 4 kids and a dog out of the house day after day after day. We decided to pull the contingency and set a closing date on our new house so that we could be out of the house and not have to deal with the showings anymore. We were set for January 2 to close on the new house. 

In December, things were crazy. We went to New York, it was Christmas and then I got really sick. It was one week before we were set to move and we hadn't packed a single box. I couldn't figure out how to have showings with boxes everywhere so we had planned on speed packing the last week and doing no showings that week. 
Exactly 3 days before we were set to close on the new house, and one week before moving, with zero boxes packed yet, we received a great offer on our house! It all worked out so perfectly. We were able to take those few days to get a ton of stuff packed, then close on the house and while the painters were there that week, I was able to get window coverings done, move some clothes and things over, have our appliances delivered, etc. It was also great because we had a few weeks before we had to officially be out of the old house, so we had time to get it cleared out and cleaned up, which meant we could just focus on getting moved and settled in for a week or two. 
Besides the fact that the price and the lot were right, the biggest reason we made a move on this house was because we had made a list at one time of all the things we wanted in our next house. We each added things to the list and put them into the categories of absolute must haves and would be nice to haves. Of that entire list, this house had every single thing except one of the "would be nice's". It is definitely not the perfect house-I would have chosen some different cosmetic things and wish the kids bedrooms were bigger- but it is pretty close to perfect for us!

 One of the biggest things we wanted in a house was space to entertain. Our first house was old and large and we hosted and even had people live with us. We both really enjoy hosting and at our previous house it was almost impossible with the size and layout of the home. We want our house to be a blessing to others and to be a place where people can gather and share life together. We really want it to be a place where everyone who steps foot inside feels at home and like they belong here. We have already been able to host so many gatherings, out of town family and friends, and do so much life here and that has been the best and most important part of moving here. 
Aside from that we love that it has a bigger kitchen (seriously so stinkin glad to have cabinet and counter space to cook for my family!), a huge yard for our kids and their friends to run and play in, a big basement for company to stay in (my whole family is out of state!), and a separate dining space (our last house had the table IN the kitchen which was the worst design ever). There are plenty of other little things that we could certainly live without but are really enjoying like main floor laundry and a master bath-those things are just the cherry on top of a really good thing. 

If you made it this far, thanks for reading! I am really looking forward to many more years of life with my precious family and friends in this place God has given us. 
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