Sunday, February 24, 2013

When You Think You Can't...Yes You Can!

That is not a play-up to the first campaign strategy of our now President. It is a thought that I'd like to share with some, remind others but leave with all of my fellow homeschooling Mommies out there.

When you think you can't, yes you can!

Over a month ago, I was working on Math with Madi-girl and she, as usual wanted to challenge herself. We were coming up with 3 equations to equal the number of the day, which happens to be that day's date. For instance, tomorrow will be the 25th of February so we will write on the board, three different equations that will give us the answer of 25. Very simple: you could do 26-1 or get the idea.

So this particular day, she wanted to come up with a multiplication equation for that day, I think it was the 26th or something. At any rate, having not covered multiplication in math yet, I figured she wouldn't get it right but I of course, I allowed her to try. When she realized she didn't know the answer (or equation) for the number...I said to her all you have to do is 26x1=26. She said, "oh."

Then in a moment of clarity, I said to her "when you see a multiplication problem, for instance 26x1, just read it as 26, one time. How much is it if you have 26 only once?" She said 26, oh, I get it!"  When you see 3 x 2, just think, 3, two times. I asked her, if you have 3, two times, how much do you have? She said 6! We did it over and over again with different multiplication problems and with the number of the day equation that she was attempting.

Now, we still have not covered multiplication facts in math but fast forward about a month or so down the road to's what happened:

Google Images
She's on her Nintendo dsi doing Brainage Math (for the first time) and I hear her over there saying, 9, one time. 2, four times. 7, two times. 5, eight times (she counted by 5 on her fingers to get this one but the gem here is that she knew how to get the answer), etc. She was getting problem after problem correct based on what I shared with her over a month ago. I could barely contain my elation.

Here's the thing, as homeschooling moms, we may sometimes feel intimidated by the task of teaching our children everything that they need to know for life. I mean, let's face it (again) this is no small feat. We are not only teaching them to behave, treat others right, share with your sibling(s), respect adults, mind your manners but add to that , reading, writing, math, history, spelling...we are taking on the whole kit and kaboodle! While at times this is exciting and exhilarating, the mere thought is just as often, exhausting.

My encouragement tonight though is to hang in there. After over hearing her get multiplication problems correct (on a timer, by the way) by using a technique that I gave her, one that I was never taught to use and had never even thought of or heard of before, proved to me that at the end of the day I AM my children's best, most capable, most interested, most effective teacher and so are YOU (for yours)! It's a fact. My experience doesn't make it a fact, it just is. You know your child better than anyone and God will anoint these moments that you have during the day and give you a moment of uncommon wisdom to share a note or thought or idea with your child(ren) that they will in turn, never forget. And that is teaching!

You are THAT teacher!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ten Ways to Connect with Your Kids in this Busy World

Is there ever enough time to get everything done? Most people would answer no to this question. I know my husband would. He works full time, is in school full time and maintains a web business. He's plenty busy and wishes there were more hours in a day.

I feel the same way on most days but there are days where I purpose to slow down to a near halt! I think it's important to take a day here or there just to rest and reconnect. But when you have children to raise, you can't effectively put them off until that day comes and before you know it hours, days and weeks could potentially go by without feeling that you've connected to your children at all. It can leave you wondering about the type of mother your are. You begin to question if you're focused on the right things, if your priorities are out of order. You know you need to produce an income or tend to house or cover school subjects daily but after all of that's done you're left wondering where could you possibly fit in the emotional connection that your child needs.

I've put together a list of ideas on how to make that emotional connection with your children on your busiest of days and how to schedule some time in to cash in big on "that loving feeling" of togetherness.

Random and consistent I love yous. This is something that my husband and I say everyday to each other and to our children. It doesn't matter how busy you are, there is ALWAYS time for those three little words. I love you. I may be doing the dishes and one of them is a the table painting or doing schoolwork and I'll just say it, right there on the spot, no lead-in or specific reason. I love you. You CAN NOT overdo it on this one so don't wait til bedtime, say it at breakfast, say it at lunch, say it at dinner, say it as they walk past you to the bathroom. Also use their name when you say it, their nickname even...say it at least three times a day. You wont even have to stop what you're doing to let your child know that you love them. Your child will know that you love them no matter how busy you get. They will be firm in this most basic of needs that they have.

Tight squeezy hugs. Now my kids are still young and are girls so they still allow me to hug them. In fact, boys this age will still appreciate a hug or two every now and then. I don't hug my children everyday but when I do, it's nice and tight and I linger. So take those rare moments that you have where you are just sitting and thinking about the next thing that you need to do to give a luscious hug that only you can give. My oldest calls it "mommy love". And because we don't get a chance to do it everyday, it's SUPER special and nice when we do have a moment to just sit there and hug each other.

 Let them help with a chore. There is an amazing amount of bonding that can happen when you invite them in on something that you are already doing. For instance, yesterday I was cleaning out the fridge and my 4 year old asked if she could help. Now ordinarily, I am NOT that mom who is patient and long suffering with little ones underfoot when I'm trying to get something big done like, cleaning out the refrigerator, but I jumped at the opportunity for the very reason that I am writing about, to spend time connecting. When I said yes, my 7 year old wanted in on the fun. And you know what? Not only did we connect, they actually did a great job and I literally "felt" their contribution to the job so that was a bonus for me! In the spirit of full disclosure, I did have to exercise some patience during this fun time of connecting. ::smile::

This one works for Daddies also. If you ever visit us, our girls may tell you all the things that they've "helped" daddy build or fix around the house. The list would sound something like this: the dining room table and chairs, their bunk beds, changing the dining room light bulbs, their bike tires, etc. etc. Of course, they will one day learn that holding a tool in hand does not equate to helping but those are special memories of spending time with daddy that they will always have.

Have a bedtime reading routine. While we don't get the chance to read together during the day every day, we definitely read together at night. This is the best time for us because we are so busy during the day. We do two stories in our house, one from a book and then one that we make up. Guess which one they love the most? The one that we make up. My husband does them mostly, they are affectionately called "Daddy Stories". Whenever I do them they are called...yep, "Mommy Stories". This is a wonderful bonding time just before they go to sleep. These kids remember stories and characters from these stories from months ago. Phillip and I will have forgotten and they'd say, "just like so and so from the Partying Penguins story." They remember these times better than we do...and...that's sort of the point...

Exercise together. One of the things on my to do list that keeps me busy is exercise. It can take a gigantic chunk of my time and there have been many days that I was left feeling great physically but not complete emotionally as it related to time with the kids. As a resul,t this one has worked for me. On the days where I can exercise at home, they are right there with me going along with the Leslie Sansone dvd. Usually my exercise routine keeps me out of the house for two hours sometimes more on weekends (which should be prime family time right?) so when I can fit in a day at the house, I let them join in and they LOVE it. It also doesn't hurt that they are getting great exercise right along with mommy. The four of us have even jogged around our neighborhood together (its a quarter mile jog) again though, they LOVE it!

Play games at dinner time. I started this one in our house a couple of years ago and the games were mostly educational, like the rhyming game. Someone would start the game with a word and we all would go around the table giving a different word that rhymed with the original word. Well, my 4 year old told me a few months ago that my games are boring and Daddy's games are fun because I (mommy) always want to work. Geesh! At any rate, they've come to expect and love a game at dinner time. I, at this point, could do without it, but for the sake of connecting with the kids in a busy world, I play.

HI-LO. There are many variations of this game. Some call it roses and thorns or peaks and valleys. We called ours mountains and valleys for the longest time but then it became a colossal waist of time because the kids were not really telling us what happened in their day. So now, if they've gone somewhere without Daddy or me, whenever I have a moment with them, I'll ask, "what was your most favorite part about so and so's birthday party?" After they tell me cake and icecream, I ask, "what was your least favorite part" and that's when I find out that some boy hit her and didn't say he was sorry or that they did something that they were not supposed to and Nanna had to get on to them, etc. So the classic game, or some variation of the game, High and Low is a great way to connect with your child after you've spent time apart.

Recognition and praise. Take two minutes of your time to recognize something that they've done. One day, I was listening to a video on the web and the girls came in with some My Little Pony stuff saying "free popcorn, get your free popcorn!" What did I do initially? I said, "give mommy just a few more minutes o.k?" And they gracefully turned to go out of the room, then I realized, I can pause this video, but this original, unadulterated moment, I can't. So I paused the video and got my free popcorn. It took all of 90 seconds to interact with them and recognize them in that moment. So when you can stop for a minute and a

Notes in a lunchbox. Not just for a spouse, also works for kids. I home school now but when our oldest was in public school, on the first day I tucked a little note in her lunchbox that said, "I love you and you're doing great!" She saved it and now it's in her keepsake box.

Set a specific night aside for family fun. We generally have a Friday Family Fun Night. During this time we do all the things you imagine, play games, put puzzles together, laugh, watch a movie, make a dessert, eat pizza, all of the things kids love. We've even completed a school project during this time. It's so much more fun when the whole family gets in on the project. You can have one night per week, every other Friday or once a month. Whatever works for you. Remember, its quality versus quantity.

A bonus tip:

Bless them. At night after the story book story and after the Mommy or Daddy story we take the time to bless our children according to the scriptures. We just speak great things over them that are found in the Bible. Some nights after I've finished blessing them, Chelsea has reached out and grabbed me for a hug. What I think is happening when she does this is a level of understanding and grattitude that manifests itself as a loving hug. I honestly think that in that moment, she "gets" it and feels my love for her in the wonderful things that she's hearing being spoken over her.

Things to remember:

The goal of connecting with your child is for you, but mostly for them. You don't want them to lie down at night having not gotten that "loving feeling" from at least one of you. You don't want them to grow up in a home with things but no love. How many adults have you known who've said, I lived in a house with my parents but I can't tell you one time that I felt their love. That's a tragic upbringing, in my opinion. Especially when there are very small ways that we can reach out to our kids to let them know that they are loved. Granted our world is busier than ever but our one unique job that no one else can do, is to be the loving biological parent to our children. Anyone can fill all of the other shoes we wear...but this is the one job that is unique to you or me and no one else can do it quite like us!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Dr. Ben Carson Gives Speech at 2013 National Prayer Breakfast

Here's the video...Dr. Ben Carson, Pediatric Neurosurgeon.

In this speech, Dr. Carson talks about all the things that are important to me and possibly all of  the "silent majority" of America. He talks about the importance of education, taxation, political correctness and our national debt and does it all respectfully right in front of the President. It is a phenomenal speech full of wisdom, truth and conviction.

It even fortified my reasons for homeschooling in a way.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Beautiful Bean Butterflies

Beautiful  Bean Butterflies
This week Madison learned mixed numbers. That girl really loves learning new things and that makes my job easier! We are still working in our Saxon 2 Math workbook, well...because we bought it and because the family that we share schooling with two days a week uses it and so its just easier to teach only one math to both girls for those days but I gotta tell you...for us...doing Saxon is like pulling teeth...OUR TEETH! I see the value in it, I do. It's a mastery curriculum and so it covers the ins and outs of every crack and crevice of 2nd grade math. If it doesn't, it certainly feels like it does. It does not match my teaching style nor Madison's learning style but it's a means to an end so that my friend and I can swop teaching responsibilities and in turn get 1 day off from teaching each week. Plus, at the end of the day, it reinforces our regular math program which is Abeka.

Here's Saxon, making us add 5+1...
Fruit for Fractions dividing her orange into fourths
I guess what's most irritating is the pace of Saxon. It feels soooo laborious and slow and rather easy; versus Abeka which, to us, feels rigorous and faster fits us better.

I kept Chelsea and her school friend, A, busy with beans this week. I first died them with food coloring and popped them in the oven to dry so that I did not have to send A home with pink and purple fingers. We used the only type of dry bean that I had in the pantry which were black eyed peas. I kept some of them white or grey or beige...whatever color those peas are. And used the only food coloring that I had on hand (I thought) which was red and purple. I later found blue and yellow. Imagine my disappointment when after the girls finished, I realized we could have made more colorful butterflies. At any rate, I would have taken a picture of them both, but I sent her home with her project before taking pictures. I drew an outline, used school glue and had them place the peas on the glue and voila; a very good occupier was born so that I could work with the older kids in Spelling, English and Math.

After they finished the butterflies, I had them sort the peas in this silicone cupcake mold and just in time for "the month of love." While I do approach each school day with a lesson plan/working idea, neither of these activities for the four year old girls were planned. I just kind of came up with them on the fly. The girls work so hard doing their math worksheets and phonics each day that I wanted them to have a day filled with hands-on activities (which four year olds love) and so this is what we did.

In the spirit of math though we also worked with geo-boards and geo-shapes and writing numbers.

A pretty run of the mill week for us but very successful! Stay tuned for our next Silly School Song - The 5 Senses, it's shaping up to be very "catchy".

Thank you for reading and check out the blogs that I'm linking up with this week. Collage Friday, WUH, Homeschool Creations!

Crazy Kid Creativity Pic of the Week:

Madison and Chelsea "made" these after getting ready for bed and said that they were the horses' night gowns. They made them from copy paper and designed them with markers.  If you think this is "nothing" check out the elephant costumes that they made a few months back.



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