Thursday, August 27, 2009

Managers of Their Homes

Another favorite tool that works especially well for large, homeschooling families is the Maxwell's Managers of Their Homes. At first glance it looks like just another home management book but it is so much more. It is packed full of all the tools you need to make your home run much more efficiently.

Managers of Their Homes (MOTH) not only gives you the tools you need to set up an effective family schedule but it is full of examples of how other families do it.

Basically, you learn to break down your day into 30 minute segments. Then you arrange those segments on the same schedule with all the other people in your house. Looking at everyone's schedule this way prevents conflicts like; your 7 year old trying to practice piano at the same time your 1 year old is napping. That is never a good combination around here!

After I had read the book and worked through the tools. Here is what the finished product looked like for us.
As you can see, there is a different color coded line for each person in the home. Even our baby has a schedule. The children love it because they can always see what they are supposed to be doing. Sometimes, they don't even need direction to move on to the next item on their schedule.
I believe the process took a little more time for me than for most because we really never have the same daily routine. We do the same thing almost every morning until about 10:00 and then everything is different every day until about 7:30 in the evening. So, instead of having just one chart to follow every day, we have a different chart poster for each day of the week. The best part is, when the schedule changes, you just move the pieces of your schedule around and you can still see how each change will effect everyone else.
The Maxwell's are coming to Knoxville for a conference the first weekend in October!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Super Noots

With four children, there will always be one or even two that simply will not eat anything that is not shaped like a chicken nugget or mac'n cheese. Our oldest daughter in particular would eat almost nothing except chicken nuggets. We tried everything to get her to eat some healthy food with absolutely no success, until now...

Super Noots has been a lifesaver for us! I think I saw SuperNoots for the first time at the local women's expo. I liked it then but wondered if we would really use it. A year later, when we were still not making any headway with Abby's eating habits, I decided to order and try the SuperNoots boards. They worked like a charm!

Basically, SuperNoots are dry erase boards with food group circles on them. As your children go through the day, they move their Noots into the circles. At the end of the day, if all circles are filled in, they get a prize. The SuperNoots board allows parents to reward their children for making healthy choices.

There is also one circle on the board with room for only one treat noot. So, when your child has moved his one treat Noot. The board says, he has no more treats for the day. Woohoo, the board is the bad guy, not mom!

As you can see, SuperNoots boards can be attached to other boards to accommodate all members of the family.
The starter pack also comes with a really cool dry erase shopping list that is made to hang on the buggy and a Snack Pack with snack options for your kids. The really cool part is that everything is color coded. Even if your child cannot read, they can look at thier board, see that they need two more brown (bread) Noots for the day and a green (veggie) Noot and flip through the snack pack and find a card with brown and green. When we bought the system, Lily Grace was only 3 and she was able to use it.

SuperNoots has also been very educational in that it has taught our children the difference in breads, protiens, fruits, milks and veggies.

We love SuperNoots!

Friday, August 14, 2009

My Fearless Boy

Not only does my oldest son ride BMX style bikes and do things that make his mom cringe, he is also a competitive gymnast. Here are the latest photos from his team party where they boys got to enjoy a rock climbing wall. Caleb was so proud to come home and tell me that he had climbed all the way to the top 11 times.

Here is a shot of the team.

This is Caleb on the way up the wall.
Look at that sweet baby face.

Caleb coming down the wall. Gosh, I am sure glad I wasn't there!

My Father's World

I know that the official "school year" is just about to start for most of our neighbors but we have been "doing school" for quite a while now. We just couldn't help ourselves! My kids have been so excited about school time ever since the new "box" arrived.
I went to an amazing homeschool conference and resource fair back in May in North Carolina. What an amazing experience. There were tons of homeschool families in the same place. It was absolutely heavenly! In the resource fair, you could find any kind of book, curriculum, teaching tool you can imagine. Even a few other things like this magnet I found for the back of my van :)

Anyway, the conference was more than a shopping excursion. There were more seminars than I could ever get to. I am so glad though that I popped into one seminar called "Keeping your Preschoolers Occupied during School Time" or something to that effect. This one was particularly appealing to me since last year I had even numbers; two preschoolers and two school age. In that seminar I was introduced to Lauri Toys. They are fun, appealing and educational all in one. At the same time, I was introduced to My Father's World.

Keep in mind that up to this point, we used one curriculum for everything. We used Abeka. Don't misunderstand me. Abeka is wonderful. It is strong in all areas and very aggressive. You will have plenty of worksheets, lots of teaching aids and a day full of work. It is just like "real school" at home. Looking back now, I know that is never what I truly wanted. Why should it really matter to my kids where they would spend hours sitting in a desk doing worksheet after worksheet. It mattered to me of course. I would never risk sending them to public school. At least if they were home, they were safe. Plus, the 1-1 student teacher ratio did cut the time in half. However, I still wasn't grasping all of the wonderful opportunities that homeschooling had to offer.

I spent about an hour at that conference in the MFW booth talking to one of the owners and learning why both I and my children would like this approach so much better. It was hands on. Instead of using worksheets, we would use real life activities to learn. There would still be a daily lesson plan for each day, a strong math component and a phonics based reading program but the best was yet to come. I learned what a real "Christ Centered" curriculum looked like. It was not just incorporating christian elements into each subject. Every aspect of the day grew out of the bible lesson for the day. Even the math and science were beautifully woven together into the bible lesson. This is what sold me. We pray that our children can see that Christ truly is the center of our home and family. This was another way to show them.

So far, we are loving it! We look forward to school time each day. I highly recommend My Father's World for anyone who wants Christ at the center of their homeschool.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Thoughts About Facebook

Now really, how many folks out there actually want to hear about every second of every day of every person they ever knew since highschool? Okay, yes, I am ranting a bit today. Seriously, I have tried to let the whole concept of Facebook grow on me but, it just isn't happening.

My husband has a facebook page that he uses to stay in contact with his youth kids and folks at church. Today, we were sitting in our office talking as he checked his facebook account and I could not help but notice all of the posts to his "wall". There were tons of them, from only a single day!

Now don't get me wrong. I can totally understand posting pictures to share and the occasional update of a noteworthy situation. This, however, was madness! The compulsion to post every feeling of every moment of the day just begs the question "Does anyone ever actually ask you how you feel?" Frankly, I can't believe that teenagers, with all of their insecurities would get caught up in such. Having to post the fact that you are bored and begging others to text you basically screams that no one is texting, calling or otherwise communicating with you. Then there is this business of when one posts on facebook, the post does not only show up on your own wall but on the wall of all of your "friends". They don't even have the option of not knowing how you feel that day and how many trips to the bathroom you make.

When you add all of this to the fact that most of the posts were not even coherent sentences...ugh...

Is it possible that some e-genius out there has figured out that people have this need to be needed and accepted? Has someone figured out that we all want to be the one with all the "friends"? Have they guessed that we all want to believe that everyone is just waiting to see what we are doing today? Could they be feeding our needs with empty synthetic relationships? Oh goodness, could someone be making money off of our feelings?

You may ask, how does all of this fit into the usual bent of my blog. Well, the truth is that someone does care about every second of every day of your life and mine. Every insignificant detail of our existence is beautiful to Him. In fact, He has numbered the very hairs of our heads. May we fill our voids and feed our needs with Jesus.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dad's Birthday Cake

Finally, pictures of the cake. It was a family effort. Abigail helped bake the cake and cover it in icing.

Lily Grace licked the spatula.
Caleb sketched the picture for the cake. (He said I didn't do a very good job of transferring the image.)
In the end, Daddy loved it!

You Know Kalli Ann...that Owen

I am so late in doing a blog tribute to my favorite little Owen girl. Our best friends, Brian and Brandi, had a beautiful baby girl in May. I have been saving pictures of her since before her birth :) First, here she is now..

Her first picture with her betrothed, our son Joshua :) (We are keeping our fingers crossed. It's hard to get good in-laws!)

Finally, her debut.
Our Lily Grace refers to each member of the Owens family individually as "you know Brian, that Owen". So here she is Kalli Ann...that latest Owen!