Rough Days

David is always bemoaning the fact that it’s still summer, and he wants winter. Or more preferably, fall when the pumpkins are ready (his birthday) and then winter…when the snow is ready. I’m telling you, it’s tough for him…getting through the rest of summer.

I mean look at him.

Putting on a brave face.


Finding ways to deal with the hardship of melted, not frozen water…

Sledding in the water, in stead of the snow.
I mean, sure you can ski in the summer on water, but he’s not big enough for that yet. Skiing on snow is about his favorite thing in the world.

I mean, it’s tough to be 4 these days.

You all feel so sorry for him, right? Me too.

Our First Week of Homeschooling

A shift in the weather and a nip in the air made this week feel even more like the first week of school. We didn’t start with all of the subjects this week, but we started with most. Next week we’ll add math and “home ec” as I’m calling it where Silje will start to learn basic crocheting first.

Our day starts with breakfast and the kids listen to Knut read from the book of Mark before he goes to work. Then the kids run upstairs to clean their rooms and get dressed. It’s never been easier to motivate them to do this! Now they know that when their rooms are clean and they are out of their p.j.s, they can start school.

Our first subject is Bible, and I’ve loved the “Leading Little Ones to God” book that we got from Sonlight. It’s the most in depth children’s devotional I’ve run across. It’s not a book about being nice or obeying your parents. It’s a book about God. This week our lessons have covered things like we can’t see God (because he’s a spirit, and because of his glory), but we can see him through his creation and works. The pictures in the book are very, we’ll say “vintage” but the content is wonderful and the kids sit very well for it.

Then Silje works on her memory verse and handwriting which is Psalm 1:1 this week. She’s supposed to memorize the first 6 verses of Psalms over the next 6 weeks, and I decided to combine this with handwriting. Let me just say, I’m amazed at her handwriting improvement this week. Simply amazed.

I impressed on her that she was writing God’s word, and when she writes the Scriptures, she should take extra care to do her best. She took those words to heart and is writing beautifully.

The first day, she made several mistakes, and I corrected her in where certain letters started on the lines, and such. She kept looking up at me in amazement and saying “I never knew that!” Neither she nor I was frustrated by her constant correcting the first day, but she always erased when something was wrong, let me write it, and then insisted on erasing what I wrote so the whole verse could be done in her hand. Every day she wrote the verse every other morning, she did so without mistake–not even one little eraser mark. We were able to do more reciting of the verse to take it more to memory.

Once I got Silje set up with her handwriting exercise, I work with David with his phonics. This has been his favorite subject, and he read his first story about a fat cat and fat rat who sat, sat, sat. I’ve been having things available for him to do throughout the morning, but I haven’t been requiring him to do any of it yet. I do encourage him, but I feel as a 4 year old, his primary job should still be active playing. His favorite activities are his phonics lesson, mazes (pre-writing worksheets) and puzzles. Lots and lots of puzzles!

The activities I have for him are mostly around encouraging him to use a marker or pencil or crayon more, as I would really like to see him write his name this year. His favorite by far, however, has been an extra pentagram puzzle with different animal shapes to form. He calls it his “magic puzzle” because it’s a puzzle that fits together several different ways.

Elias is a pretty independent player, and although he was crabby the first day due to still recovering from our trip, he usually plays with a bucket of toys I set out for him, although I have had to give in sometime during our school day, and put on a Vegi Tales for him to keep him happy while we finish up our last little bit. It’s only a 30 minute show, and he loves them.

Anyway, after Silje is done with her Bible memory/handwriting, we move onto grammar, or sometimes reading. I made a big adjustment this week because we got the first week’s worth of lessons done the first day. Seriously, I had put together this big grouping/sorting activity they wanted me to do with toys and food and clothes all piled up on our dining room table. The portion assigned for that day took us literally 1 minute and the kids would have looked at me like I had 3 heads if I had stopped there.

After we finished the first week in the first day, I once again looked over the curriculum, and decided to skip to week 5 for the rest of the week. Weeks 1-4 were very repetitious of this same sorting activity, with just switching out the items in the pile. It was a lot of work for me, and to be honest, the kids weren’t that into it. So on Tuesday we started week 5 and it has been going really well.

In grammar this week we learned our jingles/chants to go with nouns, verbs, and sentences. We read a story about the Sentence Kingdom, where all the words wanted to live. Words from all over the world would try to form together and go before the Sentence Council to see if they could follow the 3 rules of becoming a sentence. The words that passed the test got a thumbs up from the council, and much prestige, but the words that failed a test got a thumbs down and everyone taunted them by calling them a fragment, fragment, fragment. The words traveled to Nountown and Verbville to get more training on how to become a sentence, and soon, in the end, a little group of words passed the test. Silje was charmed by this all and giggled through the whole story. We got to do some kingdom-like crafts to go along with it, so I guess so far the grammar program is a hit.

For history and geography we’ve been studying differences in people groups. We’ve been all over our map studying about how there are over 6,000 languages, and studying peoples who have no Bible in their language. We learned about different types of money, flags, governments. We took out my old passport from when I was a teenager, and found the countries with stamps in my passport on the map. We learned about visas too, and how different countries have different sets of rules. It’s just little bits of information here and there that we’re reading in our books, but she’s really enjoying learning all of these little facts, and is always full of lots of questions!

We do spelling too. We started on a 2nd grade spelling list and she started this week with words with the short “a” sound. She got 100% (plus her extra credit word) on her spelling quiz on Friday, but she really studied it and was really nervous about it so I’m glad that I found a level where she can excel, but she still feels challenged.

After talking with several homeschooling families, I was told to expect about 2 hours worth of work for early elementary ages, and have so far found that to be pretty true. We still need to add in math and another elective, and we’re usually done in about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. If the kids don’t interrupt much, I still have time to get to town if needed, get in the garden if needed, etc. All of this can be done before lunch! Depending on the number of interruptions, either by the kids or because I really need to get something done quick, the day is done as early as 9:30 am, but took us to 11:30am another morning. My goal for this year is to always be done by noon. (This does not count electives which I have prepared for the kids to do while Elias takes his nap. Silje does her Chinese on the computer during nap time, and when Elias is sleeping is the easiest time to get science projects done too.)

So far, the most difficult challenge has been the kids whining when school stops for the day. That has to be a good sign.

It has made our day more orderly and easier altogether. So far the days are easier than when we weren’t homeschooling. I’m sure that will change at some point. For now, we have constructive, fun things for the kids to do that is sometimes independent, and sometimes needing me. We’re all together which has been good for dealing with fights and squabbles and behavior by nipping them in the bud without me having to come in to a situation that is out of hand. It’s been quite nice.

So far, homeschooling gets a thumbs up from me! Week 1! Done!

(I’ll have pictures of the kids working on their things for next Friday’s homeschool update. I promise!)

This is the Life

At the risk of completely jinxing myself, I just wanted to say that I love to wake up to a clean house. I woke up this morning and my house was clean. There are few greater joys.

I had a warm breakfast of cream of wheat (one of my favorite pregnancy breakfasts…I’m always short on iron when I’m pregnant). It’s especially good when the house is a bit chilly because we left the windows open upstairs all night, and it’s about getting too cold at night to do that. However, there’s something very fall-ish about waking up in a chilly house and having to put on socks before you head downstairs. It makes me think of back to school season and sharp #2 pencils, and brand new books that crack when you open them wide, cozy sweaters, and the comfort of routine returning after the adventures of summer.

I don’t know if it’s fall I love so much, or the change of seasons that you get up here. It’s like you don’t get much of a chance to get sick of the weather because it changes just when it should. Well, winter lasts a bit long, but not long enough if you ask David. He asks me every day now how much longer he’ll have to wait for the snow. He cried last spring when it melted. Like his father, his skis are calling his name too. It’s not fall yet, but you can start to feel it coming in the air.

We continued our new habit of Knut reading from the Bible while we all sit around the table eating breakfast before he goes to work. We talked about our assigned passage for the day, and then he got his boots on and headed out the door.

Now the kids are getting dressed and cleaning their rooms before we start school while Elias and I are playing with cars and he keeps getting hit with tickle bombs.

This is the life.

I wasn’t kidding

I know much of my family is waiting to find out how our first week of homeschooling is going. I’ll only say, awesome, and leave it at that for now. I’m very aware that many don’t need a daily update, and I simply don’t have the time for that, but I’m hoping to share our homeschooling highlights on Fridays, just for fun.

Just to show you, though, that I wasn’t kidding about our pumpkin vine, I thought I’d share some pictures:

Yes, that is our pie pumpkin vine in the middle of our garden. You see, 2 summers ago, I was thinking that I hated spending the money on pumpkins at Halloween time, but they were just so festive, and not in a demonic way. Just fun. So I decided to grow a jack-o-lantern pumpkin vine. That year we got a handful of pumpkins. 3 good ones, at least. So the next year we decided to do it again. However, we got 19 pumpkins. (I know I’ve written this all before, I’m just reviewing.) We couldn’t get rid of them all and we made some delicious pumpkin things with it, but many went bad.

These are not jack-o-lantern pumpkins, but pie pumpkins which are a bit smaller with a yummier meat to them, since we’re now addicted to all of those pumpkin recipes that we tried last year. If you can see, the far right of the garden is my asparagus plants which are done for the year. A bit to the left of that in the back are the 10 tomato plants that we’re harvesting now. We have “healthy kick” roma tomatoes with twice some of the vitamins of normal tomatoes, and “big boy” tomatoes which are huge now, but not red yet. Beating back the vine away from these tomato stalks have been a daily job. The vines have wrapped around, grown inside, (Knut found 2 pumpkins growing INSIDE of the tomato stalk one day) growing over, under, around…you name it. There was a cucumber vine that was much smaller that got swallowed up by this pumpkin vine. It’s under there somewhere.

This is the left side of the garden. The vine overtook the broccoli plants, which are fortunately done, but we haven’t been able to get them out yet. It has grown over the beets and the green beans so we have to beat them back there, too. If you notice the dead plants to the far left, that was our peas which have been done awhile, but we’ve been gone and haven’t had a chance to take those vines down yet. Basically, Knut and I walk around the perimeter with cutters and just cut the vine to save the other plants, but the vine is just back the next day, wrapped around some poor plant, and invading the grass around the garden as well.

Today when I was walking around the perimeter of the vine, trying to contain it, I counted over 20 larger green pie pumpkins. That’s just the perimeter. We’re going to blow away our record of 19 pumpkins last year. Like I said, there will be enough for everyone!

Just for fun, I’ll show you the jalepenos I picked from the garden this afternoon. This was a new crop for our garden this year, but I was hoping to try my hand at making salsa, so we planted 3 of these plants. Fortunately I found out these freeze really really well. I need to find a salsa recipe or 2 to try out, though. I’m guessing pretty soon.