Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tot Tray Activity Center Revealed!

So here are some photos of the new tot tray activity center and Holden enjoying some of the trays this morning.I put it right underneath the window in our school room.

Holden's initial reaction showed that he really liked what he saw!

The first activity he chose was this counting and fine motor skill tray called "Feed the Froggy" that was posted on my friend Stef's blog. He really likes this one! He first chooses a number card from the bowl and then he counts out that many flies and feeds them to the froggy (which is glued onto a cereal box and has a slit in its mouth for inserting the flies.

He especially likes it when I make gobbling sounds as he feeds the froggy the flies! LOL

Then when he saw me add his new Just Hammer Away activity, he chose that one next. He's had that one out a couple of times already today! It seems to be a big hit, even with his big sister.

His first creation was a house with a moon in the sky. He was still working on it here.

All in all, I'd call the new activity center a total success!

Oriental Trading Goodies

Our order from Oriental Trading should arrive today. I can't wait! Aside from the colorful trays I mentioned the other day, I also ordered this cool construction kit called Just Hammer Away for Holden to do as a tot tray activity. I think it will be a big hit 'cause he doesn't really have any good hammering activities right now. I think the older kids are going to like it, too, to be honest! I think I might reinforce the back of the cork board before I give it to him, as many of the reviewers suggested.

I was thrilled to see that Oriental Trading carried the bigger pack of Crayola Twistables Slick Stix with 12 colors. I've only been able to find the 5-pack of primary colors at Target here locally. They are awesome crayons for little ones, as they don't require a lot of pressure to color and really have rich, vibrant color. Holden isn't big on coloring in the first place, but he seems to enjoy these more than regular crayons, so we use them only for school. They have a lipstick consistency, much like the Colorix Silky Crayons, but more affordable.

Haylee could use some more practice with counting money, so I ordered these cool Double-Sided Math Money Cards for her.

And for Steve, I ordered this cool Scrap-Your-Own Flip Desk Calendar (which is on clearance) to make him for Christmas ('cause he's so hard to buy for). It's a perpetual calendar, so I thought he'd enjoy having some photos of the kids on it for his desk at work. I'm gonna use a spray adhesive to adhere background paper to it that goes with each month. I have a bunch of month-themed patterned paper that I got from a friend who designs for Karen Foster, and that will be perfect for this project.

I threw in an 80-cent box of crayons to get my order over $49 so I could use a free shipping +10% off coupon, so that made it an even better deal. The trays were $20 for 12, so that was the bulk of my order right there.

So I can't wait for our box to come! I'm anxious to get his tot activity center ready and post some pictures. What fun!

Steve cut both of the boys' hair last night...with clippers! Holden's mega-long bubble curls are all gone! Sniff, sniff. He looks so different this morning. I told Steve I'm so used to having my eyes drawn to his gorgeous hair that now I'm suddenly noticing his handsome face more!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Preparing a Tot School Activity Center

I've got so many cool tot school activities now for Holden, but they are all stored in drawers. That means they get used far less than they should be! I scored an awesome deal on the 9-cube organizer shelves by Martha Stewart Living at Home Depot over the weekend. Somebody posted on that they were on clearance at their store for $12 (reg. $46 each), and I called all over locally trying to find them on clearance at one of this area's 12 HD stores. I was told that markdowns are regional, and that it is not marked down in this region. Bummer. But the same store that took the time to explain that to me said that the manager took pity on me and was willing to sell me the shelves at that price if I would only pick them up that day! Yay! So I got two sets for $12 each! What a savings! I had to drive all the way out to the last exit before the toll that takes you to NC, but it was worth it. I was thrilled!

So Steve put a set together for me, and I got out some of Holden's cool activities. I ordered 2 sets of colorful plastic trays from Oriental Trading Company. They should arrive tomorrow. I'll be setting up the activities on the trays, which will fit perfectly to slide into the cubes of the shelves. Then Holden will be able to choose some fun tot tray activities to do from the shelves during his school time. Yay! I think he's going to love it. After the trays arrive tomorrow, I'll post pics of his activity center. I'm so excited to finally get this set up! I had the perfect spot to put them in our school room, too, and it's right next to a small table and chairs where he can sit to work on the activities.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The new school year!

Today is the first day of public school here in this area. I'm so happy to have my kids at home with me! We homeschool year-round, so my kids are actually wrapping up the first quarter of the school year this week...week 9. Things are going along pretty well so far. Holden's workboxes are working out just fine. If I don't get to do school with him for a couple of days, it's easy enough to catch up at the end of the week. He's staying on schedule, too. He often likes to go to his workboxes and pick out a tot tray activity or an art project to do. So some days, we just do that sort of thing. He's counting successfully to 11 now without help, so I'm happy with that. He's identifying more colors correctly, too. He definitely knows a circle, but not too much else for shapes, and we haven't really worked on letter identification at all. We have plenty of time for that yet since he is only 2.5. Although, I must admit that Hayden was already reciting the alphabet by shortly after he turned 2! But he had all of my attention, and he came by it naturally.

I have been filling Holden's workboxes each day, but since he only does 2 or 3 assignments a day and then activities for the rest of his school, I think I'm going to start filling them for the week since we tend to do his assignments in chunks anyway. Then I know as long as we finish his workboxes by the end of the week, we're good.

So here is to everyone's new school year! However you go about it, be it home, public, or private, the best of success to you and yours!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Great computer game for 2-4 year olds

I have all the software that my other kids used when they were little, but a lot of it doesn't run well on newer computers anymore. So I've been on a hunt for something newer for Holden to do on the computer. He is a big Elmo fan, so I was perusing Target for something Sesame Street. I spied a game with good potential, but it was $20. That was a bit steep for a 2-year old's game, so I decided to see if I could find it on ebay. Sure enough! I got it for under $5 shipped on ebay. Anyway, it turned out to be a FABULOUS game, and Holden absolutely adores it. It covers so many topics like color, number, letter, and shape identification, counting, and lots more. It contains video clips from classic Sesame Street episodes, too. It has about 6 different categories of games, and then multiple levels of games with each category. The child can spend as much time on one activity as they wish to before moving on to a progressively more difficult game in that category, or he can leave and go to another category of games at any time. I played it with Holden for about the first 2 times so he could learn how to move around within the game, and after that, he started going and playing it on his own! He absolutely loves it! It keeps his attention for a long time, and he's learning a lot by playing it. So I can highly recommend this game. Here it is:
Sesame Street Learn, Play & Grow

I just can't say enough great things about this game.

Monday, July 5, 2010

More Great Preschool Activities

I stopped in TJ Maxx the other day, and I found some really good stuff for Holden and Haylee! They have such great prices on educational items. Here are the awesome things I got there:

I got a set called Match It! Shape Shuffle for $5. It comes with 4 sets of heavy cardboard pattern blocks in 4 colors and 35 pattern cards. The whole set is very bright and colorful. This was definitely a good buy. He worked on it a little this morning and seemed to really like it. The cards get progressively harder. Initially, they just match all the shapes individually. Then the cards teach them how to put pattern blocks together to make bigger shapes. Then it moves on to pictures with the lines drawn. Then on to pictures without lines inside. I think this is the most affordable pattern block set I've seen. There were other Match It! sets in this series, but Holden wasn't ready for those yet. They include What Goes Together?, Money, Foods, Sequencing, Opposites, etc.

I also got Holden a Melissa & Doug Wooden Pets Cube Puzzle for $5 on clearance. I plan to keep this until Christmas or his birthday, as it's for age 3 and up and has 16 cubes per puzzle. It creates 6 different puzzle pictures by rotating the sides of the cubes.

I got Holden a great book for teaching colors called Lift-the-Flap First Colors by Sue Hendra on clearance for $3. This is for 1-2 year olds. It has beautiful illustrations in bright colors with big flaps to life. Each 2-page spread focuses on the color red, yellow, green, or blue, revealing things in that color. Then the last pages have flaps of each color, and inside each flap shows one of the items of that color and the color names.

Haylee always enjoyed the Mighty Mind set that came in the Sonlight PK 4/5 Core. I spotted the more advanced set for older kids called Super Mind and got it for a mere $10 on clearance. It's fairly challenging for her, designed for ages 5-9. There are 30 cards in it, so it should keep her occupied for quite a while. I put this in her workboxes as a fun box. There is an answer key included, which is helpful because these really are challenging sometimes! She had her 10 year old brother helping her, and they still had trouble with some of them!

These deals were so good that I'll definitely be keeping my eye on TJ Maxx in the future, as well as similar stores that I want to check out like Marshall's.

Happy Shopping!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

End of Week 1

Well, it's the end of Week 1 of our new school year. Holden and Haylee are finished, and Hayden has about 2/3 of his work done for today. It has gone pretty well! Haylee is such a voracious reader. She is doubling up on her reader schedule so she can do both the 2 Regular and 2 Advanced readers this year, and even that pace isn't enough for her! She loves having all her own textbooks this year, whereas some of the subjects had only a teacher's manual last year. She gets to do more of the reading herself this way, and she's loving it.

I spent some time yesterday cleaning out my whole school room. I purged some stuff we weren't using and blessed a struggling homeschool family with the books and materials who had posted asking for help with books on freecycle. I got everything organized and labeled, and it looks so much better in there! We can actually sit and use the table in there now. Haylee and I did our schoolwork in there last night and today, and it worked well to be separated a bit from Hayden, who gets distracted easily.

I got Holden some Crayola Twistables Slick Stix from Target in a 5-pack of primary colors for $2.99 this week. They are just like the Colorix silky crayons that Sonlight recommends for PK kids, only a bit cheaper. I think I can stock up on those at Toys R Us when they do their big Crayola promotions during back to school time.

Speaking of which, Target was already setting up their back to school supplies section this week! Seems like it comes out earlier and earlier every year. School just let out last Thursday, for goodness' sake, and supplies were being put out on Tuesday! LOL.

All in all, I think the first week has been a success.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

More Tot Goodies!

I hit the local homeschool bookstore and the thrift store again, and I came home with LOTS more goodies for Holden! Here is some of the cool stuff I found:

Discovery Toys Place & Trace for $2.

The Creative Activity Kit brand Totally Creepy Bugs set, new in box, for 99 cents. I wanted to use this with Easter Grass on a tot tray with pretend bugs and frogs buried in it. He got the sensory activity of digging through the grass and the fine motor skill of using the tweezers to transfer them to the bug box. He got to use the magnifying glass to help look for them, too. He really enjoyed this.

Creative Toys brand Shapes early learning game for $2. This involves two piece interlocking puzzle sets where one piece has a basic shape and the other piece has a photo of a real item that has that basic shape. I laid out four sets at a time on a tot tray, and Holden studied them and matched them up. He really enjoyed this, too, and kept asking for more! The other half of the set had an outline of a shape with only half of it filled in. The matching piece had the missing half of that shape, and they have to be matched up. This was a bit more advanced, so I will save that portion for later on down the road. I'd love to find more of these games. The back of the box says there are other themes like associations, colors, opposites, rhyming words, and silhouettes in this series of games. They all say ages 2-5.

Primary Concepts brand Frog Sorting set for $5. This was really cute. I used these frogs for the bug hunting activity I described above, but he also used the set as intended for sorting the frogs by color on the lily pads. Too cute! You can sort by color or pattern (some frogs have various patterns on their backs). For grades PK-1.

My First Puzzles brand Dinosaur puzzle set, brand new, for $4. This set has 4 different dinosaur puzzles, each with 4 pieces. They are irregularly shaped, so a little harder than a square puzzle. He enjoyed figuring these out, and the pictures had numbers, letters, colors, etc. in the pictures with the dinosaurs, so we had fun talking about what was on the pictures after they were assembled.

A great hardcover book called Counting Colors for $5. This is lots of fun! Each two-page spread has photos of various real items, all in one color theme. Around the edge of the page, it lists how many of each item you can find on the pages. So this can be used for color practice, vocabulary building with identifying objects, visual discrimation in spotting the items, and counting. It's an awesome book with brightly colored images. I plan to use only one color page at a time as we are working on a particular color. I love the "I Spy" aspect of it, too. Holden really enjoyed naming the objects and finding and counting them.

This cool Number Flipper early learning activity, brand new, for $5. The whole thing has a write & wipe surface for use with dry erase markers, so it can be practiced again and again. It has a number on each page along with a photo of the correct number of objects to go with it. It has the number in braille, and the number shown in sign language. It also has the numberal for tracing and also the number word for tracing. It goes from 1-20. Then it has number and counting activities at the end, like filling in the missing number in a series, counting the number of objects and circling the correct number, etc. This will get used for a good while. Haylee is sitting beside me right now using it to practice spelling the longer number words and to practice the sign language. Neat.

Disney Pooh Musical Hide & Seek Game for $5. You press Pooh's head, and he spins around and plays music. Each of the characters peeks up one at a time out of their honeypots. When they stop, you draw a character card and try to remember where that character was. If you get it right, you keep that character card. The first one to collect one of each character wins. I thought some variation of this game would be great memory practice for Holden. We played last night before bed, and he really loved finding and matching the characters to the cards. I had a hard time getting him to give up this game to go to bed!

So that's my haul for yesterday! I just love this particular DAV thrift store. It's really big and gets in tons of new merchandise every single day. You never know what you'll find in there! I got half there and half at the homeschool bookstore. But I definitely got some great values. He's got plenty of stuff to keep him occupied during school now. I just need to find a good way to organize everything that will keep it out of his reach unless I put it in his workboxes.

I haven't been able to find colorful paint trays to use for tot tray activities, but I remembered that I had some high sided dinner trays in the closet that can sit on portable stands like tv trays. So I took out one of those and have been using it on the floor or the table as a tot tray. That has worked well to keep parts and pieces contained while he's doing an activity.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Fine Motor Skills

Holden worked on some fun activities for building fine motor skills today. I gave him those flat-bottomed glass stones from the Dollar Tree in a bowl with a large plastic serving spoon to scoop them into another empty bowl. He did great with that and took to it right away.

Then I gave him some dry beans in a bowl with a smaller spoon and a bottle with a funnel in the top and had him scoop them into the funnel. He enjoyed that one, too.

I also used a 15% off shopping pass and a $10 coupon at Kohl's on a Melissa & Doug Wooden Tool Box set last night. I sat with him today and showed him how to use the tools and put the nuts and bolts together. He especially enjoyed hammering in the wooden nails. I loved that the pieces actually fit snugly and didn't just blow right through the holes like they do with so many plastic toddler toys that are essentially useless for any real learning to take place.

I'm on a hunt for some small plastic tongs that will be easy for him to squeeze and use for transferring pom-poms into ice cube trays. I think he'd like that, too.

I got some great ideas today from this website: It's designed for preschool teachers. There were so many great ideas there, all categorized by the type of learning that takes place. One thing I want to try is putting Easter grass in a box and hiding little plastic insects in it. Then give him tongs or tweezers and have him "discover" the insects and remove them into a bug box. Kinda neat. It's a sensory and fine motor activity rolled into one. I don't think I'll find Easter grass this time of year, but I could probably put some construction paper through the paper shredder and achieve the same results. I could make it really colorful that way, too.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fun Educational Tot Toys

I have been on a hunt for fun educational tot toys to use for Holden's "tot school." He is almost 2.5 now. I have had great success at finding things at the thrift store for a dollar or two each. Here are some of the things I found:
Lauri Toys Shape Sorter and Large Pegboard for a total of about $3. The pegboard set was complete, and the shape sorter set was missing a few pieces, which I can get from Patch company.
Discovery Toys Giant Pegboard for $2. It was missing only 1 piece, which I'm getting from a local representative for FREE. Never hurts to ask...she was very helpful!
Tallest Tree Stacking Blocks for $1. It was complete! It is neat...has 5 sides of learning on 3-dimensional cubes that stack in a set of 10. One shows the journey from forest floor to outer space. One is a poem about the Redwood tree to read. One has counting from 1 to 10 with forest animals. One has discovery of forest animals and plants. And one has learning about the world's tallest trees. Neat! ISBN is 1-883869-50-1 for anyone who might be interested.
Nick Jr. Go Diego Go Shapes & Colors Slide & Learn Interactive Flash Cards for $2. These are neat. Has 30 cards that slide open and show matching colors and shapes. This was complete, also. Holden loves Diego!
Enormous set of wooden pattern blocks in various sizes and colors for $2. It was enough to fill two tubs from Huggies wipes! I figured I can print off or make up my own patterns to use with them.

Then I went to ACMoore and used a 50% off coupon plus a $6 gift card he got for his birthday to get a $20 Melissa & Doug Lacing Beads set. It can be used in multiples ways for shapes, colors, counting, patterning, etc.

Then I went on Craigslist and got the nice Melissa & Doug Beginner Pattern Blocks set for $5. That was a deal! It was a complete set.

So we're all stocked up no on educational early learning toys, plus all those games I made myself. And I've got Teddy Mix & Match from Sonlight's PK 3/4 Core, plus I have some things I got at Moore Expressions: Discovery Toys Place & Trace for $3 and Peg-It Bears with Subtraction Fun Cards that I picked up there when Haylee was younger. And I have a nice set of colored counting bears and sorting cups from Wal-Mart that was also Haylee's.

So I should have a good supply of learning activities for Holden's workboxes to supplement his assignments from Sonlight PK 3/4 and Abeka Nursery for 2's.

I've been scoping out a couple of things from Lauri Toys like maybe the Primer Pak, but most especially the Early Learning Center Shapes & Colors. That looks REALLY cool. I found it cheapest at Amazon for about $29 HERE.

My A/C is broken, so our planned trip to Busch Gardens for today is out. It's being repaired as we speak. Gonna cost me about $1,000. Just spent $4,500 replacing the system at my rental property last month. When it rains, it pours. What can you do? We're in a roasting hot heat wave, so there's no way around it. The heat index hit 100 over the weekend with more to come.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Making Fun Tot Activities

Well, now that I've schedule out Holden's curriculum for the year and gotten his workboxes all set up and ready to go, I've spent the last couple of days searching blogs online for ideas on some fun activities to put into his workboxes in the coming weeks.

I made the coolest fine motor activity yesterday using an empty Lay's potato chip can (ran to Dollar Tree for that), a hole punch, some hole reinforcements that I colored with markers, and a pack of colorful pipe cleaners. I finished making it just in time to take it to the ball field with us while the other two kids had practice, and Holden really enjoyed pushing the pipe cleaners through the matching color holes in the lid of the can. Instructions for making it can be found HERE.

I also made a couple of fun color and shape matching games. I laminated them and put velcro dots on them so the pieces don't slide around when he's trying to match them up. He enjoyed those, too. Instructions can be found HERE.

Then today, I made a couple of TotBooks. I did one on Ocean Animals and one with a Disney Cars theme. I made custom covers for them so he would know what was inside. Instructions can be found HERE for a variety of themes.

I printed up some other fun things that I'll post later after I finish making them. I've got lots of fun in store!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I'm so very glad I blogged my thoughts out loud today about what to do with Holden over the new few years. It kind of all came together in my head after I put my thoughts out there.

I decided I really should have Holden starting K the year he would if he were in public school, because it's always best to register kids the way they would be for PS. I can always teach "up" in some subjects as needed. I tend to start my kids early on math and reading instruction anyway, so I don't want to over-challenge Holden by starting him even sooner.

So here's my plan:

2010-2011 (age 2.5 to start): 1st half of Sonlight Core PK 3/4 combined with Abeka Nursery
Curriculum for 2's.

2011-2012 (age 3.5 to start): 2nd half of Sonlight Core PK 3/4 combined with Abeka Nursery
Curriculum for 3's, including the optional Language Development program.

2012-2013 (age 4.5 to start): Sonlight Core PK 4/5, adding in K level math, phonics, and

2013-2014 (age 5.5 to start): Sonlight Core K, etc.

So that's my plan. With that in mind, I sat down and scheduled out the stuff the this new school year (Abeka for 2's and 1st half of SL PK 3/4), and I got it all done! It really came together once I worked it out in my head. SL PK 3/4 only comes with a parent guide that lists the stories/books and suggested activities, but no schedule. So I made my own schedule and listed the suggested activities that correspond to the read-alouds at the bottom of each weekly schedule page. It looks great, and it's very easy to follow! I'm really pleased with how it all worked out on paper.

Now my next task is to get Holden's workbox system set up. I have the actual drawer sets that match the other kids' sets, but I need to select a color and make and laminate a set of tags and a wall chart, and then add the velcro dots to them. It looks like he'll have 2-3 boxes a day this year, and sometimes 4 in the last few weeks of school. I think that sounds about right. Basically, he has some kind of story each day, either a song or a learning numbers page, and an art page or a craft. I think he'll have fun with it. He gets excited when I ask him if he wants to "do school," and he tells his dad about it when Steve comes home and asks him if he did school that day. I think it will give him some purposeful activities. Oh, and another activity I'll add in is the bi-weekly Scholastic classroom magazine "Clifford" for preschool. I almost forgot I ordered that! That will be fun, too. It's only 4 pages, and the photos and words are big. I remember how much Haylee enjoyed them.

So I'm feeling really good about my plans. I can't wait to start!

Off school this week, but still learning!

Technically, the kids are off school this week...their last break for we wrap up the last two weeks of school...but they're still learning!

We had lots of fun this morning. I am using a book called Early Learning Activities (ISBN 0785361871), which is a combination of 3 smaller books (Bright Start, Circle Time Activities, and Get Ready to Read), to do some fun learning things with Holden. I like the Bright Start section of the book, which breaks up learning activities by age for 2-, 3-, or 4-year olds. Today, we did the Alternative Art Canvas and Stop and Go games. For the art activity, I gave him a variety of differently textured surfaces to color on with crayons and watercolor paints to see how differently the colors and mediums would turn out on those different surfaces. We used constructions paper, a brown paper bag, a piece of cardboard, foil, waxed paper, and tissue. Holden really liked this activity and had lots of fun. During stop and go, he mostly watched me moving and freezing and laughed his butt off at me! LOL. It was worth it to hear the belly-giggling! I just love it when he laughs like that. Then I opened some bags of brightly colored pom-poms and gave him an empty compartment box and had him sort the colors for me. He did great with that and was mad when it was over!

I have a book from The Mailbox Magazine publishers called Science In A Box for grades 4-6. I selected the experiments on sudden surface changes and gathered the material in a clear plastic shoebox. Hayden and Haylee took it outside and erupted a volcano, complete with red "lava" out of an empty water bottle. They loved that! That experiment never gets old around here. The next part of the activity simulates the movement of the tectonic plates and how it affects houses and things on the earth's surface (using houses and hotels from Monopoly). We'll be doing that part after lunch!

Holden is also dabbling in Sonlight's Core PK 3/4 here and there. We read a few stories this morning from the 20th Century Treasury for Children and bopped to some songs from Wee Sing Nursery Rhyme Songs. He always enjoys that. I've scheduled out the books and songs in the free version of Homeschool Tracker since I prefer to have a schedule for all things school-related. The Core only comes with a parent guide that lists the readings and activities by quarter as a checklist type of thing. Since we're just dabbling in it right now (Holden just turned 2 after Christmas), I like that I can easily reschedule the activities in HST. I don't work on this with him every week, and often, I do it when the other kids are off school, so HST makes it easy to keep rolling the items forward on the schedule as needed and gives me a nice 1-page schedule I can print out for the week when we're ready to work on it again.

I haven't quite figured out how to handle school for Holden yet. In thinking ahead, I wonder when to start "real" school with him. The other kids started Sonlight Core PK 4/5 with K math, phonics, and reading when they were 3 yrs. and 10 mos. old. Their birthdays are only a couple of weeks apart, so timing-wise, it worked out the same for them both. Our school year runs June to June. Holden, however, has a winter birthday right after Christmas. So by public school requirements, he would be delayed in starting school until he was 5 yrs. 8 mos. old. So with late June as our starting point, he would be about 4 yrs. 6 mos. old when he started Core PK 4/5. That's about 8 months older than the other 2 kids were. I don't really want to start him at 3 yrs. 6 mos. unless he seems ready, but since they all start school at such an early age anyway, I can't imagine he'd be ready by then, but maybe he will be. The alternative is that he starts mid-way through the school year when he is 3 yrs. 10 mos. or maybe 4. That would put him in the middle of his school year when the other two are finishing theirs, but I'm sure it matters since we teach school year round anyway. I don't know. I guess I haven't worked it all out in my head just yet. It matters, though, because it affects what material I'm covering with him right now. I have SL Core PK 3/4 as well as Abeka Nursery Curriculum for both 2's and 3's, and also the Abeka Language Development course for preschool. I could really spread all that out and easily fill in the extra time with it, but I don't know if I want to do that. If I follow it as scheduled, and then he's not ready to move on, then I won't have anything to occupy him in between. So I really need to spend some time figuring it out. I guess I need to talk it over with Steve and get his thoughts on it, too, but he generally leaves all things school-related for me to decide and doesn't really have an opinion.

So anyway, that's where we're at. The kids have 2 weeks of school left before they move on to the next grade. Haylee will be starting 1st grade, and Hayden will be starting 6th grade. I'm debating whether or not to go ahead and set up Holden's workboxes. I think I might work on that this week. Then I'll have to be more purposeful with his activities, and that's probably better, because he's really getting to be distracting to the other two just playing and not having structured things to do during school time. He wants to play with THEM is the problem!

I'm almost done with my mass copying and setting up of binders for the new school year. I've already put all the new materials in the school cabinet. Yesterday, I stopped in at Ollie's Bargain Outlet in Hampton and picked up a great bargain...they had a Hooked on Spanish kit on the "oops" scratch and dent shelf on clearance. It was marked down to $3.75 and said it had missing items. The box was all crushed, and it was taped up all over it. I opened it up to see what was missing, but the packet inside was still sealed, and everything was in it. So that was a real find! It retails for $40 on the HOP website. It's for ages 4-6, so I'm going to let Haylee use it this year since she is starting Spanish. I'm also waiting for The Complete Book of Spanish for Grades 1-2 to arrive for Haylee to use over the next 2 years. It's a great big workbook of beginning Spanish vocabulary activities that Hayden did in 1st and 2nd grade, and he really liked it. It's very colorful. Once that comes in the mail, I can get it scheduled out for Haylee and then her schedule will be finished and I can print it out and be ready for our new school year. All of her other stuff is already ready to go.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Workbox Centers

I have been having lots of fun this week making Take It To Your Seat centers for the kids to use as workbox activities for the new school year (which we start at the end of June). I had Haylee (5) writing in a story journal every day this school year, just drawing a picture and writing a sentence about it. I decided to make it a little more interesting but still give her daily writing practice for 1st grade. I found the Take It To Your Seat Writing Centers on the Evan-Moor website. I looked at the Table of Contents and noted the titles of the 13 centers. Then I went to (where I have an annual subscription), searched on those titles, found all of them there, and printed them up. I got all of them assembled in 2 sittings. I didn't bother with laminating them, and I even printed them on a "fast" setting to save ink. I made extra copies of the worksheets inside the folders, and I bought a Sterlite hanging folder storage box to organize them in. There are 13 writing centers, and there are up to 12 different writing assignments in each folder. That should last her all school year. I think it will give her more variety and exposure to different types of writing, and it will make it more fun for her.

I also made up some math centers, vocabulary centers, and some science centers for her and put them in the box. She can use those for fun box activities. She was so excited to see all the new activities that she wanted to do them all right then! LOL. I let her do two of the science ones, and then I stopped her and put them away for the new school year.

After I realized how neat the writing centers were, I started thinking that Hayden (10) might really benefit from some for his grade level, also. His writing skills are terrible. I never made him do daily writing when he was younger, and I don't give him a lot of essays and things to write 'cause he just dreads it. I think I need to back up and give him smaller assignments that help him practice the basics and build his confidence with that this next school year before moving on to longer assignments, so I'm thinking this might be just the place to start for him this year. Evan-Moor has a book of writing centers for grades 4-6, and Hayden will be in 6th grade coming up, so I think I need to go and buy some more 2-pocket folders and make up a set for him, too. I've used up every folder I stockpiled last fall at Wal-Mart during back-to-school time, so I'm going to have to find some for a reasonable price somewhere. They are about 78 cents each at Wal-Mart right now! That's just crazy. I think the cheapest ones out of season are a 4-pack for $1 at Bottom Dollar. I might have to run to Dollar Tree and see what they have. It seems like they are starting to stock school supplies already. I bought a bunch of 3-ring binders there recently for $1 each.

Anyway, I can't say enough good things about I've printed off so many materials from there. My $60 for the year was well spent. I printed out two Never Bored Kids' Books for Haylee this week (over 250 pages) that would have cost $50 if I'd had to purchase hard copies of the books. I'd never have spent that. But I absolutely love all of the Evan Moor books. I will also be using a lot of the History Pockets this next year to go with their studies of ancient history. They'll be doing Core 1 and Core 6 from Sonlight.

I also printed up some neat Take It To Your Seat Early Learning Centers for Holden (2). There were only a couple that he could do right now, but he will grow into the rest soon enough. They are so cute...I put them in brown paper lunch bags and used cheap penny envelopes from the dollar store to hold the pieces inside the bags. I used picture labels on the envelopes and the bags. He was so excited to have his own "school" activities to do!

I'm amazed at how many centers I assembled in just a couple of days. They are all self-contained activities, too, so I won't have to sit beside her and explain what to do.

The only centers I laminate now are games...ones with lots of pieces that are to be played with 2 or more players. I figured those will get handled a lot more and used more often than the regular file folder activities, so I do laminate those. Many of the math games are that way.

Not laminating the others significantly cuts the cost of the centers and the time for assembly, too, and allows me to be able to make a whole lot more of them with little expense.

I just love Evan-Moor publications. There's such a variety of supplemental material available from them, and it's rare that I type in a topic that doesn't come up with SOMEthing. Haylee is always asking for extra worksheets and things, so I often will find whatever topic we're studying for science or math or whatever and print out practice sheets and such for her fun boxes.

I'm getting excited about our new school year! We have school next week, 1 week off, then school the following 2 weeks and we're done! Then we have 1 week off, and then we start our new school year at the end of June. I've got all of our new materials in the school cabinet already, and it's bursting at the seams! I've already packed away all but the last few books from this school year, so I have tubs sitting everywhere, waiting to be topped off and stored in the shed when we're done. The school cabinet will thin out once we finish up so I can put their new books into their workboxes. Most of the textbooks will stay in the workboxes all year, so the school cabinet will be less crowded then. I am busy making the last of my copies for the new school year, and then I'll be all ready to go. I just ordered Haylee's art book from the Abeka book display, so when that comes, I'll be able to finish up her schedule and get it printed out and put into her schedule binder. So I'm basically just tying up loose ends right now.

Shew! I'm tired. Time to get my apple crumble out of the oven and start getting the kiddies to bed.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hayden's 5th Grade CAT test scores

I got Hayden's 5th grade CAT test scores today. Here is the breakdown:

TOTAL BATTERY: 99th percentile, 9th stanine, grade equivalent 12.7

Vocabulary: 98th percentile, 9th stanine, grade equivalent Post-High-School
Comprehension: 89th percentile, 7th stanine, grade equivalent 10.3
Spelling: 89th percentile, 7th stanine, grade equivalent 8.9
Language Mechanics: 75th percentile, 6th stanine, grade equivalent 8.5
Language Expression: 83rd percentile, 7th stanine, grade equivalent 10.9

Mathematics Computation: 99th percentile, 9th stanine, grade equivalent Post-High-School
Math Concepts: 99th percentile, 9th stanine, grade equivalent Post-High-School

Study Skills: 93rd percentile, 8th stanine, grade equivalent 11.2

Science: 73rd percentile, 6th stanine, grade equivalent 7.9

Social Studies: 79th percentile, 7th stanine, grade equivalent 9.1

So I'm really thrilled with how well he did, and I'm so thankful that he took the test without a lot of anxiousness and anxiety this year. Great job, Hayden! Go Hayden, Go Hayden, Go Hayden!!!

Now just 5 more weeks of school, and he'll be ready to start 6th grade. Hooray! I can hardly believe my first baby will be in middle school. (sniff, sniff)

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Life sure is full right now! Hayden finished his CAT test this morning, and we got it mailed off at the post office. I'm anxious to see how he did this year. He didn't have any of his usual anxiety about taking the test, and he said he felt very confident in how he did, so I hope he is happy with the results. We should get them around this time next week. I have no doubt I'll be fine with however he does on it, but he usually has a fair amount of anxiety about it, so I hope he does as well as he hopes he will. He said he was glad we supplemented with Our Nation and Science Horizons, both public school textbooks, because he felt like the topics on the test were fresher in his mind by using those as supplemental reading. I'm glad. He was very non-chalant about the test-taking process this year, so that was good to see. I gave him the option of dropping the supplements next year, but he said he wanted to continue them 'cause he felt better about the test as a result. That's good. That's all I wanted for him, was to relieve that anxiety. He has always scored well, so it was really about taking his self-imposed pressure off by supplementing.

I'm waiting anxiously for news about my mom. She has not been well at all, literally wasting away at home. She is seeing her old doctor today, as we speak actually. So I'm hopeful that he can get her moving in the right direction again. They think her kidneys are failing, so we'll have to wait and see. She has had severe diarrhea for over a month straight and isn't eating. Now she is so weak that she doesn't get out of bed and is sleeping all the time. Prayers are welcomed and appreciated! She is 74 and had a stroke last Halloween. It's really been a struggle since then. She was rallying after months of therapy, but then her health began to decline pretty rapidly, and she just hasn't come back from it for whatever reason.

Now that the CAT test is behind us, we can sit back enjoy the rest of our spring break through the end of next week. That will be so nice! I have lots to do here at the house, though, catching up on household stuff.

I did a little scrapbooking this afternoon, and that was fun. I'm getting ready to take the kids to baseball practice, so I guess I'll be throwing a frozen pizza in the oven when we finally get home!

I have to say that the new Digiorno Pizza & Breadsticks combos are fabulous! I added some extra mozzarella to both when I made them last time, and it was sooooo good. The crust is soft and delicious, and the marinara sauce is wonderful. I'm so glad I got to host the House Party! It was fun, and I like trying new products.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Groupon Recommendation

Have you heard of Groupon? Several people in one of my coupon groups posted about it. It's available all over the country in major cities with more being added all the time. I signed up for the local Groupon group about a month ago, which had a message that deals would be starting soon, and the daily deals just started last week. It's the coolest thing! They find local merchants who will offer deep discounts in exchange for a minimum number of buys from the group. They negotiate the discount and post one deal daily to the group. They give all the details of the deal and indicate how many people have to agree to the purchase for it to go through. If you "buy" into the deal, then at the end of the day, Groupon lets you know if the deal went through, and if so, they go ahead and bill your credit card that you have on file. If they don't get the minimum number of participants, then they tell you that, too, and you are not charged. When a deal goes through, you get a confirmation email and a link to immediately print your discount voucher. I did one the very first day for a local frozen yogurt shop. I got $6 worth of frozen yogurt for $3, and my voucher is good for the next 6 months. You can buy as many of the deal as you want, but the deal disappears in 24 hours when a new daily deal is posted. I've seen deals on yoga, pottery classes, restaurants, and museum memberships, and all kinds of things. There's really something for everyone. And if you refer someone who buys their first deal, you get a referral credit in your account to use towards your next group buy. It's really neat! Here is my referral link if you want to sign up and check it out:

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Busy, busy!

I've been SOOO busy getting things prepared for next school year, which begins in late June for us. At the same time, I'm keeping us on schedule to finish up the last 7 weeks of this school year! Hooray! I need to start prepping Hayden with the Spectrum Test Prep so he'll be ready for his CAT test, which he'll be taking in just 2 short weeks! We'll be starting off our 2-week Spring Break with testing, and then the remainder of the days will be our break time. I can't wait! I've put on a few extra pounds the last couple of weeks for some odd reason, so I'm hoping to get out into the fresh air and get more active again. Winter was LOOOOONG this year!

We had a great time at Busch Gardens on Friday. The weather was just gorgeous. Although it was busy because of it being Spring Break for public school kids, the lines didn't take long to get through. The kids only waited about 15 minutes for each ride. Hayden took along a friend, so I had somebody to ride roller coasters with for a change! I got really sunburned on my arms, though. I knew as soon as we got out of the van that we would need sunblock, and then I realized I hadn't brought any. Bummer! I was at Harris Teeter yesterday getting pizzas and breadsticks for our DiGiorno House Party, and I spotted some Gold Bond Ultimate lotion with SPF 15 in it on sale, so I grabbed some of that and I figured I'd just keep it in the van for next time we're out in the sun like that.

Our DiGiorno Champions House Party was fun. We did it as a luncheon so it wouldn't take up the whole day. We had mostly people from church and one of our friends and her son. Everybody had a great time visiting, and we all loved the pizza and breadsticks. The cheesy breadsticks were surprisingly good, and the marinara dipping sauce was really delicious. I would definitely buy it again. It happens to be on sale at Harris Teeter right now for $6, and I had $4 coupons in the party kit to pass out to everyone, so that was cool.

I got my Sonlight order placed on April 1st, but I have not seen a shipping confirmation yet, so I'm assuming they are a bit overwhelmed with their initial onslaught of orders! I can hardly wait for "Box Day!" I'm really looking forward to changing things up with some new material.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Preparing for Next School Year

I went and paid off one of the vans yesterday, so we've got one less monthly payment now. I've already gotten my state and federal tax refunds, so now I'm planning my curriculum purchases for the upcoming school year, which for us, begins at the end of June.

For Hayden who will be going into 6th grade, here's what I've got planned:

Sonlight Core 6
Sonlight Bible 6
Sonlight Science 6
Saxon Math 8/7
Saxon Grammar & Writing 6
Houghton Mifflin Spelling & Vocabulary 8
Wordly Wise 3000 Book 7
Switched on Schoolhouse Elementary Spanish
McGraw Hill "Our World" (6th grade Social Studies we use as a supplement)
Silver Burdett Science Horizons 6 (we use this as a supplement)
Abeka Art C
Nine-Note Recorder Method for Alto
Science World Magazine

For Haylee who will be going into 1st grade, here's what I've got planned:

Sonlight Core 1 with Readers 2 Regular and Readers 2 Intermediate (at double pace)
Sonlight Science 1
Sonlight Bible 1
Silver Burdett English 1
Saxon Math 2
Saxon Phonics 2
A Reason for Handwriting - Transition
Wordly Wise A & B (at double pace)
Complete Book of Spanish for Grades 1-3 (1st half)
Harcourt Health & Fitness 1
Silver Burdett Science Horizons 1 (we use this as a supplement)
Houghton Mifflin Spelling & Vocabulary 2
Silver Burdett Music 1
Abeka Art Projects 1
Scholastic News 2

For Holden, who is now 2, I'm planning to continue taking our time working our way through Sonlight Core PK 3/4, plus adding in the Abeka Nursery Curriculum for 2's, which I've already purchased. He just turned 2 after Christmas, so we're just reading some of the stories in PK 3/4 and singing some of the songs right now. He's really eager to be read to right now, so I figured it's a good time to ease into his own special "school." It's so cute when Steve comes home and asks him if he's been busy doing school. And if you ask him "so, watchya been up to today?" he answers with "nuh-in much!" That kid cracks me up with his talking these days. He'll say just about anything. :)

I've been busy perusing the Sonlight website to try to figure out how Core 1 and Science 1 have changed since I last used them in 2005. It's nice that I only need to purchase the books that have been added and get that nice 50% discount on upgrading my teacher's guide. It looks like Core 1 mostly dropped some books and added a required resource, and Science 1 has changed quite a bit since they revamped all the science programs last year. I'm looking forward to the upgrade there. I have been busy ordering all the supplements (old PS textbooks) that we use online. I discovered I could print the activity book for her Harcourt Health & Fitness program for free, so that was good news (, and includes grades K-6). I also printed Hayden's workbook for free for his McGraw-Hill Social Studies program, too (, and includes grades 1-6). And if anyone is interested, you can also print off free workbooks from McGraw-Hill Language Arts (, and includes grades K-6 in 3 levels - remedial, regular, and advanced).

I was able to get the teacher's manuals and student textbooks I needed for just a few dollars each this year, so that was a relief.

Overall, I feel like I'm in a good place with my planning and preparations. I need to start making copies and scheduling out my supplements as I receive them. I model my schedule after the Sonlight schedule so it all flows together in my binder. I always schedule out everything we'll be using for the whole school year so there's little to no prep work once we're ready to start the new core. The copies, though...ugh! I dread the massive amounts of copies that are required. Sheesh. I've already started on some of it. It takes me a couple of months of doing it in my spare time to get it all ready. It sure makes my life easier during the school year, though, to have it all ready to go.

I'm so glad we were off school this week. I've been sick with what I fondly call "the plague." The kids have milder versions of it, but I've been totally wiped out with this thing for the last week straight. I am just starting to turn the corner in terms of getting the congestion loosened so I can blow/cough it out. Gotta love real Sudafed and Mucinex for working their magic!

The kids and I went on a field trip to the Virginia Symphony Orchestra's Young People's Concert. It was really nice. The kids were well behaved and really seemed to enjoy themselves. I was suprised that Holden started out so calm, but I guess he's not feeling all that well himself. We had front row seats, too!

I'm looking forward to my last VSO concert in April for the season, and I'm thankful I'll be renewing my season ticket for next season. It's like my respite away from the kids and the chores of home, and I feel so peaceful when I leave there. It's like my "Calgon, take me away!" moment. You know what I mean. :)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Not so bad...

Happy Valentine's Day! I paid the bills for January, and although we still had a whopper from the holidays, we made it through with some leftover, thanks to the overlapping severance and new payroll from Bay. We now have health insurance, though we don't have cards yet, so I had trouble utilizing it, but at least we're covered.

I'm getting ready to pay the February bills, and I'm proud to say I cut our credit card spending in half from what it was over the holidays! I'm pretty happy with that. I've spent most of my free time clipping coupons and shopping at a myriad of stores to get the best deals on groceries. It's exhausting, but it's got to be done!

I sent off our taxes last week. We should be getting back enough to pay off the blue van and get us down to only one van payment, order the kids' school curriculum for the new school year, and replenish what we had to use from savings last year. So that will give us a good starting point for trying to get a new budget going. I still have no idea what it will be like from month to month once we no longer have the excess in the account, but I'm feeling more confident that we will be okay...I just can't go anywhere so I don't spend anything! LOL.

I'm headed off to the symphony with a friend after church today. Aaaaaah. I have so enjoyed the symphony this season. I wasn't going to renew, but Steve says I should because it's the only time I get out to myself without the kids, and that's certainly true enough. If I renew by early March, I get to pay last year's rate, which would save some money, too, and I'll get to keep my same seats. My friend is going to buy the other seat with me so we can go together. That will be fun! Luckily, they offer a 6-month payment plan of about $17/month, so I'll probably pay that way.

I'm looking forward to the spring opening of Busch Gardens next month. We go the most in the spring on Fridays while other kids are still in school. It's so pleasant outside, and it's wonderful to be able to get on rides without a long wait. Thankfully, I renewed our passes in the fall for 2 years, although I opted for the monthly payment plan. There's no way out of it now!

But all in all, I think we'll be okay. We'll just have to see how it goes. I'm feeling a little less anxiety about it, though I'm sure there will still be some things that have to be cut out.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Aftermath

Well, all told, I heard we got about 9 inches of snow here. WOW! That's really something for this area. The kids' basketball games were canceled on Saturday. Church was canceled and so was the symphony performance on Sunday. Local schools are all closed today. It's a homeschool day for us, though! There's so much snow out there! It never got above freezing all weekend, so it's just sitting there. Today is a high of 38, though, so there's some melting action taking place now. We canceled basketball practices for tonight, too, because parking lots and a lot of local roads are still bad, at least in neighborhoods and parts of main roads.

So it was a pretty quiet weekend overall. I got some scrapbooking done (take a peek at my scrapbooking blog at I had a lot of fun with that yesterday, as I was working on a contest where I had to follow a sketch.

I need to upload photos from my camera, but I'll have to post some snow pictures. Crazy!

The upside of today being February 1st is that we are now officially covered by health insurance once again! Hooray!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Blizzard of 2010?!?

Got hubby's W-2 this week. Turns out the new salary is $20K less than last year! Ugh! We'll work it out, though.

We're supposedly in for a big snowstorm this weekend, starting around midnight tonight. Some forecasts say 1-3 inches tonight followed by more tomorrow for a total of 6-10 inches! That would really be something. The kids are so excited! Hayden already has his snowsuit on, and the snow isn't starting until around midnight! LOL. Now that's enthusiasm!

It seems every local weather station says something completely different, so I'm relying on Weatherbug and the National Weather Service. I guess time will tell. Apparently, there's a possibility we could get a layer of ice from sleet underneath the snow. It's anybody's guess! I have lots of stuff to go out for this weekend, though, so I will have to watch what happens. The kids have basketball and cheerleading on Saturday morning until lunchtime, we have church on Sunday morning, and I have a ticket for the symphony on Sunday afternoon!

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Job!

Steve starts his new job today. He's going back to work for Bay Electric where he worked before this. It's been 4.5 years since he worked there last, and they've been so gracious to invite us to their company picnic every summer since he left, so we've maintained a relationship with them all this time. Steve went and met with them 2 days after he lost his job, and they had an offer letter to him the next day. That was a relief! The downside is that now he makes at least $15K less than he made last year. That's a real bummer because it means a total lifestyle change for us. I'll have to find a way to cut back at least $1,250/month going forward. Not sure where to find that many cutbacks. I think this is going to be a really rough year for us. He's essentially making what he started out making 4.5 years ago, so it's a bit of a step backwards. He is a project manager there, as he was at this last employer for most of the his time there, but right now, Bay only has him working on the electrical side of projects, which is pretty limiting since he's been doing general construction management for so long now. But I think they will expand his responsibilities over time. His first project is a new site in Georgia, and he'll be flying down periodically on one of the company's private jets to oversee that project. That ought to be interesting! They also have a company apartment down there, so if he has to stay overnight for any reason, at least he won't have to mess with hotels.

He won't get to take any vacation this year, so no annual family vacation for us to look forward to in 2010. The kids were really disappointed about that, and so was I. And he only gets 1 week/year instead of 2. Also, the health insurance will cost us more than before because the company is smaller.

Sigh. It's a lot for me to take in. He did get a company car and a gas card, so although he has a long commute to Newport News, at least we won't be paying for gas. We have to pay taxes on the commuting mileage, though.

I think we're gonna use our tax refund this year to go ahead and pay off his van. We only had a little over a year left to pay on it anyway, and that will get rid of a payment of $233/month. That's a start, but there's still a long way to go to squeak by. We have another huge credit card bill this month from Christmas expenses, the dogs' annual checkup at the vet, and the lifetime subscription to TIVO, which I did because our 3-year contract was up, and it was before he lost his job. So we'll have to recover from the last of these big expenses and then figure out how we'll get by thereafter.

I went grocery shopping yesterday, and I'm already shopping differently. No more convenience packaged items. Instead of baby carrots and apple slices that are ready to eat, I got regular carrots and whole apples...stuff like that. I didn't buy as much as usual, and I shopped only from my grocery list and skipped all the other aisles. I didn't get the kids any snacks beyond a $1 bag of pretzel sticks and a 62-cent bag of marshmallows. They'll just have to get used to less variety.

So anyway, wish me luck trying to figure out a new budget. It's gonna be a challenge!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Bad news

We got some bad news on Tuesday. Steve lost his job. They gave us no notice or anything! They just created his new position 6 weeks ago, and I guess they decided they couldn't afford it after all. I think our health insurance ended the same day according to our benefits booklet, so that really stinks. He gave me the news by phone just as I was walking out from having my crown re-done again. I had bleeding problems again during the procedure and had to have an adrenaline injection into my gums to stop it. That wasn't fun! I felt like I had run a marathon. Anyway, it was all very surreal. I thought he was joking at first. In this economy, it's definitely not a good time to be looking for a job, especially in construction. He has such an impeccable reputation in his industry, though. Someone made him a job offer before he even got home. But he went yesterday (his birthday) to interview with his former employer from 4.5 years ago, and they offered him a job to start on the 18th. I think he's going to take it, although the salary is $15,000 less than he made last year! That will mean major lifestyle adjustments around here. That's a big owie, for sure. It's also on the other side of the water, so he'll be back to a long commute each day. Hopefully, they will give him a company car, like he had when he worked there before. That would help cut costs, too, by not having to pay for gas and wear and tear on a vehicle. He has been doing so much traveling lately, and it costs a lot. He had a vehicle allowance at his most recent job, but no direct reimbursement. I imagine we will need to get rid of one of our vans to get rid of a car payment, but we owe more on them than they are worth at this point. Not good. Sigh. We haven't been sleeping so well this week, and we're all sick with colds, too. I have a doctor's appointment next week that I can't miss, and it seems we have no health insurance now. Steve is gonna call the Benefits department today and see how to get COBRA coverage, but of course, that will be a big expense, too. I'm not sure how long the waiting period for insurance is with the new job, but I think it's at least 30 days.

Anyway, it's weird for us right now. Not sure what to do with ourselves. I know everything will work out in the end, though. At he won't be unemployed for long.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Holden's First Day of "School!"

Today was Holden's first day of "school!" I stayed up until 1 AM this morning trying to set up a schedule for Sonlight's PK 3/4 program. It comes with just a checklist of things to read and do, but I really wanted a schedule to hold me accountable and balance out the workload. I had tried to put it into a table the way I do the other kids' schedules, but because most of his stories are in treasuries, typing the long names out made it so it wouldn't fit in a traditional scheduling table. So I decided to download the free basic version of Homeschool Tracker and plug it into that to see if it would give me a decent printable schedule to use, and it worked out great! I loved how I didn't have to keep retyping the information...I could just select it from the drop-down menu of resources, and I didn't have to duplicate my efforts. Anyway, I had to do a little tweaking at first, but I stayed at it until I got the first trimester all entered in before I went to bed. Then I added some of the second trimester this morning and got it done all the way through June. So I went ahead and printed out this week's school schedule for him, and he and I sat down and did yesterday's and today's assignments and got all caught up.

I was surprised at how excited he was! He just turned two last week. I asked him if he wanted to sing some songs first, and he said yes and climbed up to the bar and sat beside me like Haylee does for school. It was so cute! I put the disc of Wee Sing Nursery Rhyme songs in my laptop, and we did a couple of them together. He clapped along and smiled and really enjoyed them! Then we read a couple of storybooks and a couple of bible stories. He was really interested in the Picture Book Classics. He really paid attention and pointed to things in the pictures and named them. I could tell he really enjoyed it! The book of bible stories was way beyond him and far too long to hold his interest. I might reschedule those for the end of the year when his vocabulary is a little more advanced, and I'll just substitute the Rhyme Bible Storybook for Toddlers to use right now. I think that's more his speed at this point, and it has very coloful illustrations and short rhyming text. I remember reading that to Hayden when he was this age.

So anyway, all in all, it was very successful! I think I'll do his school with him in the mornings when he is fresh, before I start school with Hayden and Haylee.

Hayden and Haylee are both sick with a nasty cold, and I have to get some serious dental work done this afternoon. I've had two crowns on the same tooth, and it fell out again last week. I think I'm gonna have to get an implant today. Not fun. Maybe they can try recementing this one again. I'm not sure what the problem was. They used a post to support it this last time, so it wasn't supposed to be able to fall out. The dentist says the base of the tooth may have cracked this time, in which case I'll have to do a partial denture or an implant. I just turned 38, so there's no way I'm getting a denture! I don't want a metal crown, either, because it shows when I smile. It's shameful how much money I've had to spend on this tooth already, between the root canal, the first crown, the recementation, the second crown, and now the implant alone will cost over $2,000. Sigh. Always something.