Mommahopper

A blog about one momma hopping through life. Tackling topics on faith, family, parenting, home life, homeschooling, foster care, adoption, and a little bit of this and that.

Early Morning Pondering 

It is day 5 of our Christmas break with 8 kids. 8 yup. We have 5 foster loves right now. 1,2 and 3 year old along with twin 10 year olds. The day has barely just begun. And I’m awake. More from a stuffy nose. And my brain losing the argument about needing to use the bathroom. Now I’m pondering this early morning. Cause I can’t sleep. Christmas is just in a few days. I’m pondering how we will effectively reach each child with the Christmas story. With the love that God sent down. What activities, stories and actions show Christ’s love to children who may not all know. 

I’m pondering all the things I have to do to make Christmas morning magical. I have 4 9/10 year olds who still believe in Santa. Chances are this is the last year. 

I’m pondering that this is the first year with so many foster kids. Which means there will be Mommas waking up Christmas morning without their babies to open gifts. That is sad to me. I wish I could hug them and tell them not to stop working toward getting their babies back. 

I’m pondering that we still have cookies to decorate and hair cuts to get and kids still need to shop and wrap gifts.  But I know it’s ok if they don’t happen. 

I’m pondering how much I still have to wrap even though some elves have helped me a lot! 

I’m pondering that there is no late Christmas Eve service. Even though we could drive 30 minutes to one. Our kids do best in familiar grounds. But it is something I grew up with and my kids loved. To be in the sacuary so early Christmas morning. It is one of the few days I love letting my kids stay up late for. 

I’m pondering I’ve got Christmas dinner to make! And excited that Jeremy and crew is coming. Everyone is. We don’t see him enough. 

I’m pondering Mary. And what she was thinking riding on a donkey pregnant. Her preparations where very different than mine. She had one baby to worry about. And was she worried? What did she bring? They were on a journey. A journey that we all take every year. A journey to that place where Christ becomes flesh. 

This early morning pondering lead me to get up and enjoy the stillness of morning with a cup of coffee. Soon feet and chatter will fill the house. And we will spend our day singing Christmas songs, decorating cookies, sending kiddos on visits with their families and cleaning for Christmas. 

It’s been a while since I’ve shared any pictures here. Enjoy! 

My New Year’s Goal

Here it is, just a few days into 2016. 

And here are my New Year’s Goals. 

Goals for this year:

Live joyfully and not in survival mode. 

Purge and simplify 

Focus on the areas of life that excite me and back away from the areas that stress me

Be more present and aware

Enjoy the sunshine more

Write and read often

Find God’s grace in every moment 

Then share that grace in any way possible

Every aspect of life I plan to focus on these goals.  I think from that much more will come!! 
Happy New Year!! 

  

Our Math This Year: Math-U-See

OurmaththisyearI am on my 8th year of teaching with Math-U-See. And so far this year has been my easiest! Last year was my hardest. But that is true for just about everything.

I have three in Math-U-See. Beta, Gamma, and Pre-Alegbra. And so far they all say their math is easy this year. Last year they complained the whole year how hard it was. I don’t know what changed?

How we Math-U-See.

On Monday everyone watches our favorite teacher. That would not be me! It works best for them to watch the video. They are visual learners. And having the online lesson instead of relying on keeping the DVD in the same spot has been WONDERFUL!! I can have them all watching their lessons at the same time -two on the iPads and one of the computer! Although my oldest doesn’t do his math at the same time as the younger ones. The only thing I hope Math-U-See will work on is an app for these digital online lessons, so the kids can get to them instead me having to log into my account on the iPad. They also do two of the lesson sheets on Monday.11862958_10204610974770546_424085121_o
Robby, my 8th grader this year, does one sheet- if he gets 100% he may take the test. If he gets a 100% he moves to the next lesson.
Tuesday-Thursday my two other kids do two sheets. Unless I see the sheets are stressing Isaiah out, then he does one. AnnieQ finished one lesson-all sheets in 2 days. It was easy for her (besides getting stuck on a word problem that went something like this: there are 10 oranges in each bag. How many bags do you need for 50 oranges? She finally did get it- I had her draw it. She just didn’t know why some one would want so many oranges!!)

Friday is to be test day. I typically don’t do test because my style of grading is they have to keep correcting their mistakes. By Thursday the sheets they do are correct the first time. If they are not, then I pull more practice sheets from their Worksheet generator on line. I also use the test sheets too.  But by then they know how to do the lesson.

11259771_10204691216416537_1498742017_oOne area that my kids do not do well with is memorizing facts. AnnieQ is in 4th grade, but doing 3rd grade level math. I did that on purpose cause 1st grade she screamed with every lesson. Every one.  So I stopped math. All together. And restarted the next year. Last year she was still counting on her hands. We still struggled. But still had concepts down.  I used online drills both from Math-U-See and MathBoard. And something happened this year. She knows them. She is not counting on her fingers. I have to remind myself that my kids have early childhood trauma. Their brains are still growing and connecting differently than other children. This has made learning a little harder for them. And homeschooling challenging for me. While AnnieQ may be 4th grade her brain is functioning at a 2nd-3rd grader level. But you met her and she will wow you with her personality!! 

But I am seeing them move faster now. So as we head toward multiplication I feel that this was the year for her to learn them unlike if she was in public school and she would have had to learn them in 3rd grade. She has a much stronger base going forward now. We have conquered 0,1,2’s so far!! 

Isaiah is doing much better this year too! Last year he had a hard time with just addition of 0’s and 1’s. Imagine my frustration!! But he is memorizing the facts, even listening to AnnieQ’s lesson’s and understanding them!!

What’s New this Year?

Last year I bought the Math-U-See App. It was a great addition to our program. AnnieQ has sensory issues and the feel of the blocks got to her. I got the wooden organizer which helped her. But now she doesn’t even have to feel them! Isaiah likes the blocks, but also like the app. Robby has not needed them yet this year, he does a lot in his brain. But it is coming. I have three sets of the Algebra blocks…. I am not sure how that happened. But he has used them before and when I taught Algebra 5 years ago we used them then.11884208_10204610827006852_926965581_o

I love the digital packs they have now!! We always lost the DVD’s. No matter how much I had it organized-that DVD disappeared. I am thinking sometimes, the kids made them disappear!! LOL But now- no excuses!! And I love all the extra sheets that are there to download, and the fun songs are there to listen too! Worth checking it out!

I had a friends 9 years ago say if you are going to homeschool you have to look at Math-U-See. I watched the intro DVD and then ordered for my first year homeschooling our son. I have taught since then I think 18 math classes over the years. Some years I have not taught or we have taken a break. But we love Math-U-See.  

And having to do 3rd grade public school math homework now with one of our foster loves I appreciate Math-U-See more!! 

Coffee and Wisdom: Who are you Mocking?

Now if two words belonged together it would be coffee and wisdom.  It is wise that I drink coffee everyday.  Two times a day is even better.  But this early morning hour the wisdom isn’t about coffee itself.  The coffee is just accompany the wisdom.

I have been reading through Proverbs in the morning before getting my family up.  For me this is not always easy as I am not a morning person.  School has started two weeks ago for our little public schooler and our homeschoolers will start today.  I have a child that is having difficulties sleeping and in turn I get less sleep too.  But that is a whole other story to write about.

Wisdom and coffee.   I read Proverbs 9 this morning.  Go ahead pull it out and read it if you would like.  What I love about Proverbs is all the nuggets of wisdom and advice given to the reader.  What I pulled from this mornings reading- vs 7 -12- is who you give advice and correction too.  Who are you handing down wisdom to? And who are you mocking?

Have you every tried to corrected someone who was mocking you or making fun of something.  Or who had a different view point than you?  What happened?  Chances are they came back not nicely.  And sometimes you are standing there stunned.  Like what just happened?  It is easy to get caught up in the firestorm of someone who is not living in a way that mocks what you believe.

I think these verse are advising us not to spend time on those who mock us.  They are warning us we will get hurt if you go down that road. 

But when you share your wisdom and views with other that are wise.  An open discussion can occur with a better chance to become wiser.

This goes both ways though.  Vs. 12  “If you are wise, your wisdom will help you. If you mock, you alone will be held responsible.”

Have I mocked others.  Yes. Many times and that road never goes well.

I pondered on that thought a bit this morning as I drank my coffee.  

How am I going to be wise today?  How am I going to gain wisdom.  And how am I not going to mock others. Where am I going to put my wisdom at?  Where am I not going to invest my time at?

Coffee and Wisdom.

Proverbs 9:7-12

Touched by a Child’s View of Parents Going on Date

Written back in May.

Last night my three little ones got to enjoy parents night out at our local Little Gym. Which meant that Dan and I got some alone time to spend talking over dinner at O’Charlies and walking the mall. These times are needed to just reconnect with the each other.

As I got the kids out of the car last night Lulu- our foster child- said to me “I’m calling the police on you two.” I was like “what??” “You two spend too much time alone. That can’t be right.” I smile and told her it’s a good thing that mommy and daddy spend time alone. Makes us a better mommy and daddy.

She thought of it for a minute and said “you’re a better mommy and daddy when you play games with us after dinner.” And I told her I didn’t disagree. She is still learning about marriage and about having a mommy and daddy. Her view is valid to me. We had been so busy with end of school and church activities that even though we have been with the kids a LOT these last couple of weeks- it wasn’t the same in her eyes as just us sitting down not running around. Kind of like a family date.

So we will continue to teach our kids that dates are still important and we will continue to teach our kids why we go on dates.  We also will be touched by her innocent views on what we are doing on our dates and what we do as a family.

To Desk or Not to Desk-That is the Question!

I have been wondering.  Should I set up a separate desk for each of my kids this year?  Their own space to spread out and learn. A place for them to keep their things at all times.  A place that they are responsible for.

Or should we continue with the kitchen table.  Where there is plenty of space to spread out and be together. We can share resources but then they must be put away every day so we can eat at the table.

Or do I just get a fold out table and just use that. Not as big as the kitchen table, but same concept.  But if they touch each other I will never hear the end of it!

Having one in public school and having evening homework, I am seeing how having a study area with a desk set up for her would be good, since the kitchen table is getting ready for dinner.  I have something that may just work for that, but again the question is where best to put it!

As my homeschooled kids are getting older I am really seeing the benefit of them having their own area.  I just don’t know how to accomplish that in the area that I have.  I tried having Robby separate in the front office a few years ago, it was exciting for about 3 weeks and then he just ended up by us for school at the kitchen table.  So there went that idea.

So if I could find smaller table like desk it may work. And still use the kitchen table for our joint lessons, history & art.  I wonder if I could make some? On to  Pinterest for awesome ideas!

As I have torn apart the school area for get ready for our fresh start Monday morning, I am still debating: to desk or not to desk.  And what will be the best learning environment for my three kiddos.

 

Just cause I am 44

I am wrapping up my 44th birthday.  Where does time go?  This means my 15th year anniversary is just around the corner on the 5th.  We will have been parents almost 14 years, parenting over 25 children. 2 granddaughters. I am in my 8th year of homeschooling.  3 kids this year.

August always seems to bring about newest.  Like January in a way.  A time to reevaluate what and where you want to go and how to get there.  A time to see where school is leading you.  A time to see where you are in your personal goals. A time to change things up.

Like the song in Annie-last year was just plain awful.  It was a hard year.  I don’t anticipate that this year will be any easier, but I am ready for the challenges which will help it not be awful!

While our homeschooling beginning is still weeks away, our little lulu will start public school here this Monday which means I have been getting her all ready!  So we will be homeschooling, public school one, and toddlerhood.  These are challenges we can handle.

As I look on this year of 44, I don’t feel old.  Not quite young.  But just about right.  Almost just where I need to be.   So focusing on me, and hubby, and kids and school, and house, not to mention any other out side jobs and adventures we have in store-I am ready for them.

Bring it on 44!  I am ready!

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10 Things Every Homeschool Mom Needs and Wants

10 Things that every hs mom

  1. Acknowledgment that teaching her children is a full-time job. I think there are some days that people ask “what do you do all day?”  I sigh and just say “stay at home mom.”  BUT I am not a stay at home mom.  I am a homeschooling mom.  And a homeschooling mom is a full-time job.  There are lessons to prepare, lessons to be taught, children to deal with, lessons to be graded.  Constantly evaluating what the children need to do better.  Are we using the right curriculum? There are field trips.  This is a full-time job.  And by the time my husband gets home most days I have not even thought about dinner.  I am sitting in a state of exhaustion.  Like I am sure most who are teaching in home or at a school building are feeling.  It is a full-time job. And I have determined that I will just start saying I am an educator instead of a stay at home mom.
  2. Permission to have bad days. For a long time I felt I had to live up to all the other “perfect” homeschooling families out there that have the perfect life and schedules.  Yes I woke up.  Nobody was perfect.  And I needed to know that homeschooling was going to have bad days.  Really really bad days.  And it was fine to have really bad days.
  3.  Permission to have a bad year. But what if those days seemed to repeat themselves and it felt like the whole year was bad?  Like having three very hands on children who needed you all the time if work was given to them.  Or complained about everything given to them.  What if you felt like you were failing your kids.  Or you started comparing them to the standards of public schools?  I needed to know that even in any school year homeschooled or not, there are just bad years for kids and teachers.  My kids just picked the same year.  And I have already mapped out a plan for next year to help us move along better.  At lease that is the goal.  Next year will be better!!
  4. Help from husband in keeping the house clean and together.  Every homeschool mom cannot do it all.  They just can’t.  I feel it is either teaching and caring for the kids, or a clean house.  So a clean house has to be a team effort. Or a plan to get help.  While kids can help some with chores, a mother works all day teaching and caring for her kids, just like a husband works all day.  Especially in the bad years-when by dinner the mom is just mumbling cause it was that hard of a day!
  5. Time alone outside of the house.  Moms make sure you are taking time to yourself.  Go get your hair done.  Go drink Starbucks.   Go shopping.  If this means that your husband spends hours with the kids or you get a daytime babysitter-it will be worth your time!
  6. Time alone inside of the house.  When you are always in house with your kids, you don’t realize how important it is to be home alone.  Encourage dad to take the kids on outings so you can get 3-4 hours home alone.  To do what you want to do.  Sometimes I may put on a movie channel and clean during commercials.  Or just sleep sounds good some days.  The kids are stuck home with me all week, they love time with daddy!
  7. Planning time. Also as with just 6, you need to block a day with no kids to do planning for homeschooling.  A day to focus on everything is so helpful and when kids are not around it is easier.  In fact with everyone gone it is the easiest!
  8. Time with your spouse! This is so important!  Because all day a homeschool mom has been talked to by kids.  Touched by kids.  Everything by kids.  She is craving time to be talk to and touched by her husband.  Mark out date nights on the calendar.  Spend time walking in the park holding hands.  Husbands don’t forget the homeschool momma, she has worked hard and needs TLC too!! And wives don’t forget your hubby!  He too has worked hard!  Keeping this part active and alive.  Just spending time talking after the kids go to bed is very helpful!!
  9. Adult conversation time.  Remember homeschool momma are touched and talked to all day by little ones.  We love this.  We choose this.  But we also love our adult world with adult conversations!  I was at court the other day for a foster love.  We had to wait about and hour and a half for a 10 minute court case.  I joked to one of the lawyers that it was nice to have a bit of adult conversation while we were all waiting.  He totally understood!  Make sure you are involved in activities with other homeschool families!
  10. Knowledge that next year will be better! Just that.  Regardless if it was a good year of bad, next year will be better!  So if it is a bad year, make due and get into summer.  Make plans for a better year.  Many factors in life we cannot control, but have a positive out look will help us get to were we need to be.

Our Homeschool Day: Mid Year

Much has changed since we began last August.  Much has not.  I thought I would touch base with how we are handling homeschooling, public school and babies now.

Last October we said good-bye to our sweet Squeakers and hello to our dear Lulu.  Lulu is in 2nd grade and attends our local public school.  She has an amazing teacher and is doing well there this year.  But these changes did bring about changes to our schedule.  We also started caring for a sweet Gerber Cutie baby boy at the beginning of the year.  We are a full house of 5 at home plus grand baby Haddie who comes most days.

So here is a semi typical day in our house:

6-6:15a.m. I get up and get myself ready (This has been my biggest change since Lulu has come.)

6:30-7:10 a.m. I get Lulu up and ready for school.  I walk her to the bus stop and by 7:15 I am back in the house.

7:15a.m. Haddie Arrives

8:00a.m. Breakfast

9-11:30a.m. Schooling (babies have play time and one has nap time): My kids are so hands on right now that I have to sit with each one.  So I am rotation who I am working with.  Sometime I can get two working at the same time, but till we hit an independent stage again, this is hard.  Exhausting.

11:30a.m. Free Time

12:00p.m Lunch

1:00p.m. Quiet Time (mom’s time)

2:00p.m. Rotate Reading Computer & iPads (30 minutes)  (Will also continue another schooling work that needs to be done.)

3:00p.m. Outside/free time (Lulu comes home)

4:00p.m. planned activities

Dinner and Bedtime (Robby and AnnieQ will also do some of their schooling at night-time.  It works out better for us and them)

We also do weekly dance, music lessons, confirmation, church activities, and visits with DHR in our schedule.  With in all this time, I weave in a lot of time for me to read and do some extra work.  We have about 6 weeks left in most of our school work because we have not taken any major breaks this year.  So after the kids scale down I will focus on key elements they need to work on and give them more time for freedom to explore and grow on their own.

As far as a school area this year, it just didn’t happen.  And you know what, it is working without one.  I really stressed about it at the beginning of the year.  And while yes, I could be more organized with the schooling stuff (I have a missing math book right now!!).  But we are working through everything we need and every where is our learning area! Doing what fits our family is the key.  Next year that may look totally different!

Click to see our Spring Schedule.  Remember this is only a guild line for our day.

Where Am I Hiding?

Most days, when I finally see that glimmer of hope, I slowly quickly make my way to my bathroom.  That is my hiding spot in my house.   That is where no one expect for toddling babies may enter.  That is my zone.  A place where I can regain a moment of getting me back and enter back into the trenches of being a mom.  Some days it is easy and other days it is down right hard.

Where else can you find me these days?  You can find me at our church, Ascension Lutheran church.  I am a DCE by degree (Director of Christian Education) and ministry flows through my blood as much as being a mom does.  You can also find me at the DHR building with various appointments and meetings. And soon I will be teaching my second round of GPS classes for prospective adoptive and foster parents.  You can also find me at various other places with 6 kids in tow.  6 kids.  And every now and then you will find me in Target with those six kids.  Most of the time you will find me alone.

But lets face it, with 6 kids, most of the time I am at home, teaching, cooking, cleaning, and keeping our lives organized.  In trying to keep our lives organized, in keeping my life organized I am using Passion Planner this year. I just got mine a week and a half ago and love it!  I still keep our iCalendar up to date, but Passion Planner is more.  I am still working on how to tweak it just for me and my needs…I still have a few more ideas.

Where else am I hiding? I am online quite a bit.  You can find me on Facebook or Twitter .  I have a small addiction to Pinterest. I love my Instagram account.   I tried Snapchat-yeah no.  I also wander over to Google+ also-still learning about the great hangout features!

But the place I am hiding the most, is in the presence of God. In Him I can just be.

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