Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sarah's day in a life (with a 10, 8, 6, 4 and 2-year-old)

When I was first researching homeschooling, I spent hours upon hours just trying to figure out what the heck I was supposed to do each day. Nothing helped more than blog posts about what someone's typical homeschooling day was really like. There were so many styles and variations and choices.

And, at the end of it all, I realized, I can do whatever I want. There is no right or wrong as long as you have the goal of helping your chil(ren) to live, learn, and grow in mind.

I adore the "day in a life" posts over at Simple Homeschool, so I thought I'd give you a glimpse into a typical day for us.

Please keep in mind that I have a 10-, 8-, 6-, 4- and 2-year-old. My day could look insanely different from or remarkably similar to yours.

7:00 The 2-year-old climbs out of his crib, toddles down the hall and into bed with me. For the next half hour or so, I am poked in the eye, squeezed on the cheeks and generally climbed all over as he so sweetly coaxes me out of my warm nest to go downstairs and get this day started already!

7:30 The two of us wander downstairs, me sleepy-eyed and him full of energy and not quite able to understand why I'm shushing his million decibel voice while everyone else is still snug in their beds. I get him set with a yogurt then set about making my coffee.

8:00 I can hear the three big boys awake in their room, playing with Legos of course. Sunshine, my 4-year-old lone lady, hops down the steps full of bubbling energy and telling me how much she has missed me throughout the night and couldn't wait to kiss me this morning. She kisses her baby brother and joins him for some yogurt. I fry myself two eggs and top them with some hummus to scarf down while I check in with the world of email, facebook and the blogosphere.

8:30 I call the big boys (10, 8, & 6) down from Lego play, that could really last all day if I let it, to have some breakfast and get our day started. They ask for bread with jelly and apple slices. I pour milk for them and then pass out their multivitamins. I remember my coffee, which has gotten cold. Oh well. Down the hatch.

9:00 I send the oldest four off for their usual morning routine of, "Make your beds, get dressed and brush your teeth." If I feel like I need a little more time, I ask them to clean up their rooms as well. But this morning I'm in a hurry to get school underway, so I give them a twenty minute time slot to complete their usual tasks. I dress the 2-year-old and glance at our chore chart on the refrigerator to remind the 10-year-old that it's his turn to clear the table after breakfast.

The rest of our morning is a blur. Each of the three big boys know what they need to do for school. They take turns on the desktop and laptop completing their Teaching Textbooks lessons for the day, IXL games, and the 10-year-old works with me on his Classical Conversations Essentials work. In between turns on the computer, they get comfy on the couch, at the kitchen table or sprawled on the floor to do a page or two from their Handwriting Without Tears workbooks and to copy that week's Classical Conversations Foundations memory work onto these nifty worksheets.

My boys are very independent workers/learners and need little help from me other than they occasional reminder to say focused. While they work I usually do a few things around the house that need doing, like wash dishes, fold laundry or sweep a pound or two of dog hair off of the floor. Ah, the joys of having a huge indoor German Shepherd.

The 2- and 4-year-olds spend their mornings playing together. They are as close as big sister and little brother can possibly be and enjoy building with blocks, playing restaurant and "camping" in the pop-up tent and tunnel that occupy our dining room instead of a table and chairs.

Around 11:00, everyone is dismissed to the basement playroom to go nuts for awhile until I can get lunch on the table... or, you know, sit on the couch for thirty minutes of quiet reading and then worry about lunch. Today we have Nutella on tortillas, peach slices and glasses of cherry kefir. These "Nut-tillas" (a name I just came up with right this very second) are a new creation (we were out of bread) and the kids are thrilled with them.

After lunch, I head up to put the 2-year-old down for a nap while instructing the others to do their after lunch chores like clearing the table, cleaning up the school and family rooms, and emptying the dishwasher before getting back to any unfinished schoolwork.

The afternoon is a semi-quiet whirlwind of wrapping up work, independent reading and playing for the kids and calling Mr. Ordinary to see how his day is going (and to hear another adult voice), figuring out what we'll have for dinner, basic straightening up, and fiddling around on facebook for me.

Before I know it, the little man is up from his nap. I pick an educational show from Netflix for the kids to watch and Mr. Ordinary walks in the door. He's practically tackled with kisses and hugs. Oh, and the kids say hi, too. ;) The kids are free to pick silly shows like Phineas and Ferb or Ninjago to watch while Mr. Ordinary and I head upstairs for our daily "Parent Meeting." We lock the door and lay down in our quiet room to discuss our days and unwind a bit before he heads off to walk to the dog. (Here's a glimpse into one of my favorite parent meetings ever.)

This evening involves a fire in the fireplace, some chicken and quinoa for dinner, and some card games before it's time for the little to get ready for bed.

8:00 Mr. Ordinary tucks everyone in, after an impromptu wrestling session in the boys' room of course, and then joins me on the couch where we watch some TV, eat some ice cream and he rubs my feet. We eventually turn in around 10:30.

I hope you enojoyed a sneak peek into our lives! I'd love to answer any questions you have and to hear about your days. Hop on into the comments and leave me a note. :)

Monday, December 30, 2013

We Only Spent $50 Per Kid This Christmas... And They Were Happy! Success!

You read that right. Fifty bucks. When Mr. Ordinary and I began talking Christmas business a month or so back, he came up with the  (what I thought was insane at the time) idea of spending just $50 per child for Christmas.

Now, we've never been over-the-top Santas here at the Ordinary House, but I think our typical budget has been about $75 per child. So this wasn't the easiest of feats. But we did it! And it was kind of fun! Here's how and why:

  • We really listened to what the kids wanted. We try our best to steer clear of commercialism, so we don't do letters to Santa or bring the topic of all that their little hearts desire all that much. But it's Christmas, so catalogs come and the topic does come up from time to time. So this year we super-duper paid attention.

  • I made a chart. Across the top were the categories Want, Need, Wear, & Read. And then I crossed off read and replaced it with Smaller Want because, honestly, we don't need any more books in this house and I like the library better than buying books anyway. Down the first column went their names and then we filled the thing in with ideas over dinner on date night.

  • I knew to make the budget work I'd have to watch sales like a hawk. Enter the wonders of Bargain Briana and Money Saving Mom. They did the bargain hunting for me and I just clicked their convenient little links. Thanks, girls!
So, what did we get? Well, I'll tell ya!

Big Boy (10) got...
  • a real deal kids bow and arrow set ($20, Meijer)
  • a snowboard ($15, Menards)
  • a long-sleeved, camo shirt with a hood ($8, Target)
  • a Transformers spin-brush ($5, Target)
Monkey (8) got...
  • a remote control Mudslinger Jeep (regularly $40, but I found it for $15 one day on Target's website! SCORE!)
  • a Z-Curve bow that he'd been eyeing ($15, Menards)
  • a long-sleeved, camo t-shirt ($8, Target)
  • a Transformers spin-brush ($5, Target)
Future (6) got...
  • an Imaginext T-Rex huge dinosaur toy thing he's been eyeing (usually $40, on sale for $23, Amazon)
  • a military set with planes and guys and stuff ($10, Target)
  • a long-sleeved shirt with a motorcycle on it because I couldn't find another camo shirt to save my life ($6, Target)
  • a Transformers spin-brush ($5, Target)
Sunshine (4) got...
  • a Melissa & Doug fold-n-go dollhouse (scored on sale for only $25, Amazon)
  • a doctor's kit, because she wants to be a "hospitiler" ($14, Target)
  • a sweater dress with a cute fawn on it ($9, Crazy8 <---love li="" place="" that="">
  • a princess spin-brush ($5, Target)
Little Man (2) got...
  • a Tonka bulldozer ($16, Menards)
  • a bike helmet because he has a thing for helmets right now ($20, Target)
  • a flannel shirt because baby lumberjacks are adorable ($8, Target)
  • an ABC spin-brush ($5, Target)
For stockings, I happened to have a gift card to Barnes and Noble that I hadn't used so I picked up some little scratch-off style hangman books for the 3 big boys, a set of colored pencils made out of actual fat twigs ("Santa" slipped a few pencils in each stocking) for $5 and some blank journals for another $5 at Home Goods.

Grand total: $247! Woo hoo!

I was nervous about the limited budget, but we made it work and the kids were absolutely thrilled Christmas morning.

How about you? Do you use a budget at Christmas or do you just go nuts?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Last Minute GIfts For Your Homeschool Wife

*Quick not: Congrats to Farmwife for winning our first "What Did The Dog Eat Today?" game! She correctly guessed that he ate a Christmas ornament filled with glitter. I tell ya, it was like walking into a winter wonderland coated with a nice layer of dog saliva. Merry Christmas!

So it's a few days until Christmas and you still need to pick up something(s) for your hard-working, self-sacrificing, angel of a homeschooling wife. Here are some ideas I am just sure she (I) would love!

1. Dry erase markers. Homeschooling wives (I) go through these things like crazy. Go nuts and get all kinds of colors and tips and throw in a bottle of whiteboard cleaner and a new eraser or two if you're feeling a little crazy.

2. 2014 Planner. Your wife (I) plans and schedules and organizes your children's education day after day. Why not give her something pretty to write it all down in?

3. These mugs. Mom (I) gets coffee/tea/cocoa. The kids learn a little grammar. Win-win, right? (If you're really running late, grab a couple of shapies and a white mug and make your own!)

4. A gift card to her favorite teacher store. $50 bucks and free run of a store full of workbooks and manipulatives and  posters and art supplies and educational games? She (I) will be in heaven.

5. A "Teacher's Lounge" goodie basket. Put some of her (my) favorite candy bars, magazines, nail polish, scented lotion, and other little goodies together so she can take mini-escapes throughout her (my) busy days.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Let's Play "What Did The Dog Eat Today?"

You know, he used to be a good pup. But suddenly, like most people as they get old, this dog of ours has turned into a grumpy butt that doesn't really care what anyone thinks about him anymore.

This is evidenced by his new hobby of eating all the things.

I've got lemons, friends. But I'm determined to make some lemonade. Let's turn this mess into a fun game, okie dokie?

I'll give you some choices. You comment with a guess. And somebody wins a $5 Starbucks card. You sip a latte while I scoop up globs of my belongings covered in dog slobber. Fair trade, right? I'll share the answer and draw a winner on Friday.

So, what did the dog eat today?

Was it:
A. a poopy diaper
B. a glitter-filled Christmas ornament
C. a fresh loaf of bread that was cooling on the counter
D. one of the Ordinary Kids

Good luck!