Friday, June 7, 2013

Five Things for Friday, 57th Edition


The first week we moved to Iowa we had dinner with the Relief Society President and her family. Her youngest daughter took a liking to Rose and ended up giving Rose the stash of plastic dress up shoes she had out grown. Rose was thrilled. She has been begging for a pair of those shoes since her last birthday.  I could never bring myself to buy them. I remember having them when I was little and they were the most uncomfortable, impractical shoes ever. They never stayed on your feet and you had to walk in itty bitty steps to avoid falling over. Not to mention the loud, obnoxious noise they made ,"clip clip clop, clip, clip clop". 

If you don't know what I am talking about, consider yourself lucky. 

Anyway, Rose was thrilled to get the shoes and for the first few days wore them everywhere. After awhile the novelty wore off and I was hopeful she had forgotten about them. No such luck. Several Sundays ago, right before we were walking out the door to church, I heard Rose and Jon having a heated discussion. 

"Rose, you can't wear those shoes to church."

"Why, Dad? The big ladies wear their high heels to church." 

"Those aren't real shoes." 

"Yes, they are. I am wearing them." 

"Okay, we have to go. So you can put them in the bag and wear them after Sacrament for Primary." 

I didn't say anything about Jon's concession and silently laughed as Rose stuffed the hot orange and pink (straight from the 80's) plastic shoes into the diaper bag. 

Fast forward to the end of Sacrament meeting. Abe was acting like a wild banshee in the middle of a beautiful musical number. Finally I stood up to take him out of the chapel and as I was walking out  Rose ran up to me holding the plastic shoes. "Can I put them on now?" her little eyes asked. Not wanting to cause more of a scene than I was already doing I hastily waved my hand, "Yes, whatever."

A few minutes later I was sitting in the foyer with Abe. The musical number ended and I heard a loud, "clip clip, clop, clip clip clop" noise.  I peeked in and there was Rose walking all the way across the chapel towards the foyer in her plastic shoes. Beaming like a queen. 

Oh, dear. 

Later one of the sweet old ladies in our ward told me that she thought that we must have had visitors at church who were clapping for the end of the musical number. 

Nope, just Rose in her shoes. 

Despite all my threats about taking away her dessert and making her sit in the car during primary she still made the trek from the chapel to the foyer three more times.... just to hear her shoes make that noise. 

And I guess to make sure that the whole ward saw her fancy high heeled shoes. 

Trust me they did!


I had an a ultrasound this week and we got to take a peek at  Baby Sam (her  womb name). Everything looked healthy and good!   Jon really enjoyed not knowing the gender last time and so we didn't find out again this time.  But it was nice to get a peek at the baby and to make sure that everything is developing how it should.

They can take the most amazing pictures now with ultrasounds. They are so detailed! It was amazing to see this little baby's face.

Sometimes it boggles my mind to think that I have a little person with a face, heart, hands, hair and toes living inside of me. It is completely amazing, while at the same time being completely bizarre. It will be really sweet to meet this little person!


Several years ago on my family blog (which I have since abandoned) I shared the following post: 

Do you remember her from your childhood?

(well, depending on how old you are)

Elmyra Duff from Tiny Toon Adventures

The animal loving little girl who, when she could catch one, would squeeze a cat or dog to death and say things like:

"I'm gonna hug you and kiss you and love you forever "


"I love cats, I love kitties, squeeze them into itty bittys!"

Well I just happen to have a chicken loving and squeezing "Elmyra" at my house

Asher has really become quite talented at the art of chicken catching and when he catches one he doesn't want to let it go. He gets so excited that he finally has one (it usually takes him awhile to catch one) that he goes a bit crazy on the loving and squeezing. He also likes to carry them around and rock them like babies. The poor chicken in these pictures is the one who seems to gets caught the most by him. I think she just gets tired of running and gives up. I'm amazed that she has made it out of his grasp so many times alive and with... most... of her feathers.

She is a really patient chicken.

This chicken chasing fetish probably isn't great for our chicken's mental health, but it is really hard to keep him away from them or to get him to put them down once he has them. The other day I had to chase him around the backyard for 10 minutes before he would put one of his "chicken captives" down. I'm sure I looked like a lunatic chasing after a giggling toddler with a squawking chicken under his arm and yelling "Drop the chicken, do you hear me! Mommy said DROP THE CHICKEN!"

I'm glad our neighbors work during the day.

Oh, isn't he so cute? Asher was just about the same age as Abe is now in these pictures. Time goes by so fast.

But children really don't change all that much, sometimes...

Asher is still very much our "Elmyra" and I haven't been able to decide yet if our chickens love him or are terrified of him. For the first few weeks we had them in the chicken coop they would bolt to the furthest corner of the coop and huddle together in a trembling group whenever Asher would open the door. Yet, lately they seem to enjoy his presence a lot more. Maybe they really do love all the snuggling, petting, wagon rides, and attention Asher gives them. He spends a lot of time out there with them, and-- I am tentatively happy to report-- he is well on his way to teaching his little brother how to be a first class chicken catcher.


We have yet to get our riding lawn mower to work. Turns out that it had a lot of things wrong with it. Hence, the dirt cheap price. Go figure.

Our yard has about an acre and a half of grass to mow and with all the rain we have been getting our yard was beginning to look like a jungle.


Abe would walk in the grass and we would loose him.

I have never seen grass grow so tall, so fast, before! It took Jon a few days but he eventually fixed our push mower and took a whack at the grass. It looks much better now, but it is growing fast again!

Jon hasn't yet given up hope on trying to fix the riding mower, but I have my doubts.

Either way, these three boys have sure had a lot of fun working on it in the evenings. I don't know how much help the two small ones have been, but they sure love to be with their dad.

Abe's favorite place to play. I think he likes sorting through all of Jon's junk!


Iowa has a really great homeschool support network. Most of the school districts actually have a homeschool assistance program that organizes field trips, activities, classes and buys curriculum for homeschooling families. I have been so impressed with all the support there is here. It has been really nice to have someone hold my hand and walk me through the whole process of starting homeschooling.

I met with the director of the homeschool program here a few weeks ago and she helped me pick out some curriculum choices for Asher for Kindergarten.  Asher is a VERY visual learner and so I have tried to find activities and teaching approaches that would appeal to him more. Rose is not far behind Asher and so in most things (besides math and reading) she will do the same work as him.

So far this is what my plan looks like:

Reading: We are going to try out the Sing, Spell, Write, Read curriculum. As well as doing the Montessori Pink Reading Series. I also have a long book list of books to read a-loud together this year. 

Handwriting: Asher is already pretty good at writing, but I found these Draw Write Now books that have art lessons and handwriting practice combined. I am hoping he will really like them!

Math: We are going to try out the Horizons K curriculum. I also have lots of math manipulatives that I plan to use as visual aids. I would LOVE LOVE to have a full set of the Montessori Math beads, but they are $350 (at the cheapest) and so I got a set of base 10 blocks that I think will get the same idea across.

History: I don't have a whole lot planned here because mostly I want to focus on teaching my kids their family history. Ideally, I would love to get a book together that had pictures, facts and a story about some of their ancestors. But we will see if that comes together. They might just have to settle for hearing the stories and looking through photo albums. 

Geography: I am really excited for these activities. I have a Montessori Geography curriculum I got as a free download (though you can buy it here now) and am putting together continent boxes with objects, pictures, stories, activities, crafts, music, etc from each continent. I plan on spending several weeks studying each continent.  I also ordered a landforms lapbooking set to try out. I've never done lapbooks and so I thought I'd see how the kids like them.

Science: We are going to focus on studying animals this year.  Mostly I just plan on going on lots of nature walks with the kids and writing and drawing about what we see. I  have a good list of books to get from the library about different animals. I also ordered a frog hatchery kit, an owl pellet dissection kit, and bird identification supplies which should be a lot of fun.

Art: Asher is really interested in art, and really has a talent for it. That boy spends at least an hour or two every day just drawing pictures. We burn through a lot of paper around here. I was super impressed with the Artistic Pursuits courses and even though Asher is probably ready for Book 1 I chose to get the pre-school book 1) because the art supplies were cheaper and 2) then he and Rose can do the projects together. If it goes well then we will move on to the other books!

Religion and Character building: We are going to keep having our daily family devotional and continue doing my Mom's MTC lessons. They have been going really well for us and my kids look forward to them. The best part is that I can see that focusing EVERY day on a certain virtue really has had an impact on them. They remember things we have talked about and I can see the little wheels in their heads turn as they figure things out! 

That is my tentative plan. We are going to start our school early (probably July) because Baby Sam is due the start of September and I'd like to have a good routine and schedule set before I add another little one to mix. Also if we start early then I can take it easy for a few months after the baby comes and not feel bad.

That is the idea at least.

In all honesty I am a tad bit terrified. I feel like I am about to jump off the third platform at the swimming pool. I feel totally inadequate and overwhelmed.  I worry that my kids will be totally bored, that we will all hate each other by the end of every day, that nothing I plan will go well, and that I am crazy to even attempt this. Yet, there is still a part of me that has faith that I (we) can do this and that things might just work out. I know that this is the right path for our family right now, but that isn't really making it any less scary. I figure we will just take it one semester at a time and see how things go.

Still, any encouragement or suggestions for jumping into the first year of homeschooling (especially with a new baby and a toddler) would be highly appreciated!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend! 


  1. Although I'm really new to homeschooling so I probably don't know enough to really share yet, I have a small suggestion. It is REALLY hard to get through very much in a day when the kids are still little. If they can't read, write or do much of anything independently, you end up spending your whole day by their side trying to be patient while they learn every tiny little thing. I've had to take a step back (as probably most homeschoolers have had to do!) and focus mainly on, say, reading, writing and math. Then we maybe hit one other subject in a day. Now that my girls are getting to be better and better at reading they can do some work independently and it makes a HUGE difference! I wish I hadn't tried to do very many subjects this first year of our homeschool and just focused on reading, reading, reading and some writing. Once they can do those, you can just explain an assignment and let them sit and do the work. Seriously, before they are about 8 years old, they need SO much help with everything and I just couldn't help a 7 year old, 5 year old, 3 year old and newborn all at once all day long.
    Anyway, you've obviously done a lot of planning and prep, but don't feel bad if you can't get to everything. Once they read like pros you'll be amazed at how much more they can do!

    1. Holly, that sounds like very wise advice! I think my biggest fear is that they are going to be bored and so maybe I have over planned things. I am sure once we get going things will move around a lot. Right now I plan on focusing on religion, math and reading every day but then just do the other things every once in a while-- maybe try to do them each once a week or once every two weeks. But you are right. Sometimes less in more.

  2. This past school year was our sort-of unofficial beginning to homeschool. (My oldest should have been in K.) I didn't really plan any sort of curriculum, though. I just set a goal to have my oldest two reading by the end of the year. We were in a very similar situation as you are now, in that our #4 was born in early Sept. What happened is that I put off doing anything for months and months as we adjusted to the newest baby. In the end, I still didn't really start anything official, just made it a point to get early reader books from the library, but they pretty much taught themselves.
    We also talk about numbers here and there, but those haven't been my main focus.
    Anyway, I would suggest making a goal for yourself, something that you'll feel good about accomplishing, if nothing else really gets done. Don't put too much pressure on yourself, especially with that new baby coming. That's my favorite thing about homeschool, is you can do what works best for you, you can take it easy when you need to, and do the other stuff later.

    1. Not to sound judgemental or anything because everyone's situation is different; but, this isn't what's beautiful about home schooling, its what's wrong with it. Well intentioned parents over estimate their abilities/time and their child's education suffers because of it.

    2. Yes, that is a problem, if you're always taking it easy. But I was commenting on how flexible you can be when you home school. How, during times of illness, or after a baby is born, it is possible to ease up. How is the ability to be flexible not a great thing?

  3. Heather, I just thought I'd throw in my two cents. I'm not actually a mom yet, so I know I don't have that direct experience, but I was homeschooled up to college and I'm also about to graduate as a teacher. I just wanted to throw in some encouragement. Homeschooling made the biggest impact in my life and I'm so grateful my mother and father took on that challenge. Even though there will be days you feel like you didn't get anything done, even though you'll wonder if your kids are actually learning, even though it takes mondo mondo amounts of work, your sacrifice and hard consistent work will really make a difference in your children's lives both educationally and spiritually. I guarantee it.

    Also just wanted to say that I remember my mom using some of those things you mentioned in your curriculum plan. I especially loved the Draw Write Now series. I know you've already thought everything out, but you might also look into Wordly Wise (a vocab series) maybe for later and Saxon Math. Those were two of my favorite things we ever used. Also . . . there was some history thing my mom used where we could color the pictures of the explorers and make a timeline. I'll ask her what that was. You're so lucky to have so much support where you live! I know you're going to be a great homeschool mom!

    Oh yeah. And just from a teacher's view point. It's always better to have more planned out than you can actually get to. If you can just keep the mindset that it's ok if you don't get to everything and if you have your priorities set, everything will work out fine. That way if your kids move faster than you think they will, you always have stuff they can work on. Anyway, good luck! I can't wait till I'm to that point. Homeschooling is AWESOME!

  4. I did an online school with my oldest when she was in kindergarten and 1st grade and I had a very busy 4 year old, 2 year old and had a new baby in January of that first year. It was the hardest thing I have ever done but also the best thing (kinda like motherhood only more intense). The best advice I got was to write down why you are doing homeschooling before you start so that on days when you wonder what you were thinking you can go back and read why you are doing it. There were really good days where she learned lots and the little ones got along and there were really bad days where I yelled a lot and she didnt learn anything and the little ones were crazy and the house was a disaster. Last fall I sent my oldest two off to second grade and kindergarten, it was also a hard decision to make but it has made my daughter's and my relationship much better. It was good for me to learn that if I had to in the future I could totally bring them back home. Good luck to you!!

  5. Here is a resource I found recently:

  6. I started homeschooling 9 years ago, and I think you have a great set-up and a great plan! Remember that children are designed to learn and be willing to give them lots of time to explore. Trust them. They are amazing and will delight you. Don't compare it to public school because it is a completely different animal. Try to keep an eternal perspective and teach them to listen to and obey the Holy Ghost and He will teach them all of the things they need to learn.

  7. You may want to check out Math U See. That is a pretty great visual math program. :)

  8. Sing, Spell, Read, and Write is awesome! My daughter is 6 and she is reading incredibly well. Have fun! :)