Tonight I stood in line on Temple Square for over 2 hours to ask to be admitted into the Priesthood Session of General Conference. It was rainy and windy and hailing and cold and worth every second. I walked ahead of the group as a line leader and saw the Temple and the gates that they had closed on us. As the entire group passed by me I was overwhelmed with hope and strength, I could feel the arms of the women that went before wrapped around me, keeping me warm and protecting my heart, I joined the back of the line, sweeping the group and standing between them and the protesters as we walked onto Temple Square and into the standby line for priesthood session. I stood in that line for over 2 hours, patiently and reverently thinking and pondering and praying. I see my religion and my faith as one of the greatest gifts that I can give you. I can teach you to have faith in things not seen, I can lead by example when I tell you of your divine nature. I can teach you to open the lines of communication between you, your Heavenly Father AND Heavenly Mother. These are things that I can do to show you MY faith, my religion. It is who I am and I want you to understand that part of me. My Heart belongs to them. While I do theach and show you these things now, I also see our church and I see the inequality, I see that you aren't taught the same things as the boys. I see that you aren't given the same opportunity as them and I see that the church isn't teaching about the amazing, faithful female prophets, and role models that have gone before. They aren't teaching you about YOU, they're theaching you about men. I stood in that line for you, my amazing, divine daughter. It was you who were on my heart and in my mind. I have faith that things will be different for you and for YOUR daughter. You will learn about your mother in heaven and nurture that relationship just as you do with your Savior. You will be able to teach your daughter and her peers about women prophets and priestesses. Someday, you will be able to serve along side your male counterparts as equals. You will be welcome here and there will be a place for YOU. When I got to the front of the line, an incredibly nice woman told me that no, this session was just for the men and boys, regardless of priesthood but tonight I am filled with peace and an amazing overwhelming feeling of peace. It will come The Lord knows our pleas and He is preparing a way.
I love you and miss you and wish you could have been here with me tonight. Love for eternity, Mommy
This weekend we decided to be a little spontaneous and head to Florida to visit the cousins for a quick spring break. It was so fun to watch my adorable nieces and nephews in their rodeo, it was a blast to spend time talking and giggling and playing games. We got to go kayaking and have a little adventure and it's killing me how fast they are growing up! I love that we live close enough for these type of visits and I wish they happened more often. These little hearts are soo good and good for me. They are great examples to my kids, they are talented and loving and helpful. These little hearts heal me. I only wish we could have stayed longer.
You are a joy! I know it's only been two short years since you joined our family but we couldn't imagine our lives without you. You filled a hole that we didn't even know we had. You completed us and we have all been happier since the day you were born.
Your "Bear" lives to make you smile, you chase him around and beg for his snuggles. He is the first to love you up and play with you. You two have become best friends, our little forest critters, that hate to be seperated. When you broke your arm a few weeks ago the only thing you cried out for was 'My Bear', your world could not be put right until you could be snuggling with him in the teepee again. "La-Lie" and you have a bond that can not be re-created. When she looks are you I see a twinkle in her eye that won't be replaced until she becomes a mother. She is always there for you, ready to help and you're always calling her to come love on, hug or help you. You love it when she includes you in her singing or dancing, you are always bringing books to her and begging to be read to. "E-ann" and you are buddies. If he happens to sit still for even one minute you're there tackling him or pulling him to come play "Lell-Lows" (Legos) with you. You love to make him giggle and he loves to chase you and make you giggle. You're a perfect pair. Daddy and I have a love-hate relationship with mornings. While we may want to sleep in more and catch a couple extra zzz's, we love hearing your pitter-patter in the mornings as you run down that hall and climb into bed with us. We love the soft pats you give us, the wet kisses and the quick cuddles that you squeeze in before you're determined to play with us, and wake us up. You then will poke and tackle and 'tickle' to get us up and giggling in the morning. It's adorable and we wouldn't have it any other way.
We've seen you go from baby to toddler since you broke your arm. We can see it hurting you, we see it making you uncomfortable and aching but you don't cry of complain about it. We see it making your everyday activities and games harder but you don't get mad, you get determined. It' so fun to see you struggle with something and just when we're ready to get up and help- you push us away and masterfully climb the stool, or play on the scooter. You're a go-getter and you don't let anything get in your way. You have learned out how to communicate more then ever and your personality comes out in buckets, daily. You've told us your favorite animal is the fox. You beg to watch "The Fox and The Hound" constantly, you try to pull up "What does the Fox say" on all the ipad/phones whenever they're left unattended. You can't sleep without you stuffed fox that you named "pow-pow" and you LOVE snuggling in your "Pee-Pee" and "Ning-Ning" (teepee and Fox sleeping bag). You love to sing and dance with you siblings. You're a daddy's boy and clap for joy every time you hear him coming up the stairs but when it comes to snuggles nothing beats burrowing in with your night-night into Mommy's neck. You might be getting older but, you'll always be my baby.
Women's equality is something that everyone thinks about, at every age. I intentionally, haven't talked to my kids about my feminist beliefs or views, thinking they were too little (apparently I was wrong) I found this in my 8 year old daughters journal entry the day after I told her I was going out of town for conference.
I stay in the church because I believe and I have faith in the expanding role of women in the church. As she goes through Primary, Young Women's and Relief Society I hope there will be a place for her to be the amazing person that she always has been.
This lesson talks about Unity and balance. We learned about Mandalas and researched the Rose Windows of Notre Dame. We talked about Native American sand painting and Mandala's in different cultures. I had the kids look up videos on YouTube about different cultures and art and we pulled up all our previous art work and talked about which ones had unity and which ones were the most balanced.
For our Art Assignment I had them create Mandala's of their own. We also talked about planning the emotions of a finished piece before you even start creating it. I wanted them thinking ahead about color, emotion, pattern and texture, using the previous lessons in their work. You can download the lesson here- Download Art13unity. As I often do, I let them choose which medium they wanted to use. Lorali stretched herself and tried chalk but overall I've noticed they gravitate to what they're most comfortable with, they don't tend to get out of their comfort zones. In the future I'm preparing a couple lessons using new mediums and other lessons will be getting comfortable with previously introduced mediums. I'm really looking forward to the next couple lessons that are planned so we may be doing a couple a week for a bit.
Be sure to check back soon though, next lesson is going to be a blast- Surrealism!
I think the biggest thing I've learned in my first two years homeschooling is that it is an ever changing process. Our space is constantly evolving, our cirriculum is tweeked and our schedule is never consistant, all because our kids are growing. The difference between when I first started to now is that I currently don't fight the natural flow of things. This is part of the process. It's actually turning into the best part about homeschooling. I can adjust to the specific needs of each child and since they are constantly changing and learning and growing- I need to too!
In an effort to document where we're at right now I thought I'd share with you the different curriculums and resources that we have use this year. At this point we're 3/4 of the way through the year and I am already starting to think about next year- knowing what I'm keeping from this year and what I'm letting go of. I knew that being a beginner homeschooler I'd need something to give me direction but, I've learned this year to let go a little of the pressure of fitting in their individual learning into a textbook. This is just what we do- as of now and I an guarantee that it will be changing in the future.
Our basic schedule is simple.
MOST DAYS- 7:45-8:30 Morning Wake up - we're all up by 7:45 and if anyone gets up before the others they can quietly play or read until the rest of the house gets moving. They have to get dressed before they eat breakfast (otherwise the temptation for PJ day is too great.... for all of us!) and they need to get hair/teeth brushed and morning chorse done so that they're ready to start the school day around 8:30.
8:30-9:30 Daily Drills. We start the day off with Handwriting, Scripture Reading and then Math. If it's a good day we can get all this done in an hour.... if Math turns tricky it can take us all morning to get it done but I've found we have to do it first or else I've lost the patience to even attempt it by lunch.
9:30-Noon Thematic Learning - This is where we do our reading, our history and geography. We sometimes go to our backyard classroom space, we sometimes get to watch documentaries but mostly it's going through the next page in our workbooks.
12:00-1 Lunch - I usually am done with my portion of direct involvement at this point. I make lunch, I read with Owen and the older kids finish up their morning work or start on Piano practice/independent work.
1 - until done Independent Work - This is when the kids do their reading and their computer learning. If they've been on task all morning they can usually get everything done by 1:30 but it often gets to 3ish when they're finishing up.
Once a week we have an INDEPENDENT DAY or READ-A-THON DAY This is Mommy's day to be a MOM instead of a teacher. I clean my house, I get to quilt, we may plan a field trip but the intent is to give them more independence. They do their morning work then read to eachother or by themselves, they work on their book reports or they'll do computer/iPad learning and if they're able to do that quietly/independently (without arguing or distractions-ha!) until noon they can play games the rest of the day.
SCIENCE- I use Apologia Exploring Creation for Science. That being said, I will be the first to tell you I am not a 'creationist'. I teach evolution and the scientific method and tell them to use their science to back their beliefs not the other way around. So this program is very religious and in some parts, sugar coated BUT this series has a lot of good. I try to teach my kids the religious teachings of the bible but I also bring facts and science into the discussion and we talk a lot about stories being symbolic vs. factual. Last year a good friend recommended it and we did Anatomy and Physiology and the kids loved it. They liked the activites, worksheets and diagrams and I really liked how in depth it was. I can use the same lessons and programs for my toddler/kindergartner as I do with the 4th graders by using different workbooks. So this year I let them decide together what topic they wanted to do and they opted for Zooology 1; Fly Creatures. This one is not as engaging and the whole creation thing is over the top in this one compared to Anatomy- overtaking a couple lessons. That being said there were some amazing lessons and activities and it was relativly easy to pull in what I wanted and to skip what I didn't think was pertanent. The kids learned all about nuances of birds and feathers and color and flight... again, more in depth then they would have in other programs I've looked into and they have a new love/fascination of birds so it was an overall win. They would call their aunt in Florida to take pictures of birds she has living on her ranch. They would go to the park and grab my camera to capture it so they could look it up at home later. All year they collected feather they found to study and become obsessed with paper airplanes and flight. I have all the books in this series so next year we'll probably do another one (the kids have their eyes on Zoology 2- Ocean Life). but, as the years go on and they get more advnced (ie; high school) I doubt I'll continue to use it but, it's perfect for us now (under 7th-8th graders) We don't do this science every day- but when we need a break from regualr schedules we'll switch it up and pull it out for a week and do an entire unit. It's the perfect, non-stress, no prep, yet still in depth curriculum and it gets the kids outside observing nature more, which I need reminding to do.
HISTORY, READING, GEOGRAPHY?SCIENCE/ART- I use Geography Matters - Paths of Exploration- Volume 1 for English/Reading/Geography. This type of all inclusive/thematic learning Ethan did when he was in his private school and he LOVED it. Ethan's best friend also did this program a year before us and they loved it at their house. Since we are planning a big family trip to Washington DC and Wiliamsburg,Jamestown this year we thought it'd be perfect to have them become little experts on it before we go. This program is great for an 'everything' approach. I like that the books/literature they're reading goes with the geography they're learning and the vocabulary/spelling words are in the books they're reading. I like the science/art activites it puts in that relate directly with the lessons and I love, LOVE how it makes the kids look things up and come up with their own answers to things. Owen does a littler version of what the big kids are learning, making lapbooks, I print our coloring sheets and we learn letters of words instead of spelling. This teaches them how to learn and HOW to think... not nessicarily WHAT to think so it works for all ages. It has picture books for Owen, my Kindergartener, along with early readers that are on topic, it has intermediate novels that are set around the location/time period but the one thing I wish it has was better biographies by more historians. It's a sugar coated version of history- and while I think it's important to learn about Columbu through the eyes of a Kindergartener- It's also important to realize the evil he did, the problems he created and the pain he caused... because if we can't learn from the people that went before us we're doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. But, realizing the flaw in the lessons is easy to overcome by having the kids do a little research/watch a few documentaries or reading an extra biography. I have them compare/contrast the legends w/ the facts and then we talk about what we can learn. Since this programs includes everything (except Math) you could do it- and nothing else BUT since I suppliment it with LOTS of extra reading, and I add on a more comprehesive art program and we do extra Science and we do computer programs our time is stretched thin and we probably won't get through the entire program this school year. But it's written for 1st-5th graders so we're going to use the second half of this unit next year as well. It's been a blast and even I have learned soo much. We've talked about Columbus, Jamestown, Pilgrams w/ book 1 and next year will be Daniel Boone, Lewis & Clark and the westard movement in book 2. It's very organic in it's timeline and fits perfectly with our upcoming travel plans. (driving across country). I'm really looking forward to use everything they've learned in this program and see it come to life through our traveling.
*when I say I suppliment this one it's w/ reading and documentaries. I have the kids read an extra biography per unit that they compare/contrast and then teach/share with the other kids what they learned. Then I have each child read one classic book a month and do a report on it. When we do classic books, I try to get stories set in the same time period they're studying or the same location (Robin Hood when we talk about pilgrams/sepratists).
MATH- This is the hardest subject in our house and causes the most tears. The kids do Harcourt Math daily for now w/ Kahn Academy lessons but I think I'm going to switch to an online self-taught program for next year because I can't be the bad guy anymore so, if you have any suggestions, let me know!
HANDWRITING- There was never a question about what we'd use here. Handwriting without Tears is my handwriting curriculum and it is the BEST. Owen uses the early stuff, and the older kids have now graduated to Cursive Without Tears but every level is amazing. They alos have an app that you can use on iPads and other handheld devices that helps to switch things up a little.
ART- This is the 1 area that I know I'm doing right and giving my kids way more then they would get in public school. I came up with my own lessons that include art history, classic art, principles of art and exposing them to lots of mediums/styles and artists. They love doing it and they are begining to apprieciate art and see the world through different eyes. I love that! You can see my lessons and get the free downloads HERE.
APPS and COMPUTER PROGRAMS- Everyday after the kids do their regular lessons and daily reading they have 30 minutes of learning games they can play before they're allowed to do any other video games/tv time. We use ABCMouse and Teach Me Kindergarten for Owen and Cameron. Teach Me 3rd/4th grade for Lorali/Ethan. It's the most used app at my house, I like it for reviews/drills and giving me the reassurance that I've covered everything they would be getting in public school. On the computer they also do Typing Tournament to introduce typing to them but up until now this has been an extra-non focused on skill. Next year Ethan and Lorali will be doing this daily- just as often as math drills. We do games like Stack The States, almost every puzzle app or e-books on the iPads as well.
So there you have it. This year's work- we've been busy and we're frantically trying to get to our goal point before I have to have a surgery that will slow us up but, it's been a fun year and the progress that the kids have made is amazing. Most days I love homeschooling but, I'm always open for tips on how to make it better. Thanks for stopping in.
I have a lot of family and friends that have been talking to me about this issue lately and I'd like to encourage you all to go to the April 5th Action Event in SLC. I promise that whatever questions or concerns you have with it will be addressed. If you are not comfortable going to the Priesthood Session that is okay. I am still encouraging you to go, come to City Creek Park beforehand. You will see and feel first hand the love these men and women, our Brothers and Sisters, have for Our Savior. You will witness their dedication to the gospel and weather you agree with them or not, you will understand these amazing sisters better. You will not leave disappointed but you will leave with more compassion. We can learn how to be better visiting teachers, better neighbors and friends. While everyone isn't always going to agree it is important to recognize our similarities so that we can discuss our differences in a productive, heathy way. It is going to be an amazing experience for everyone there.
Todays art lesson took up most of the day because they were so into it but, it was worth it! We focused on Pattern and Texture.
We talked about Pablo Picasso using patter in many of his paintings to imply movement and direction. We looked at a lot of his work and each of the kids had to point out the patterns they saw in his work.
Then we looked up Vincent Van Gogh and his work talking about real vs. implied texture. We looked at a lot of his work esp. The Starry Night. I had the kids research different kinds of art work like metal work, wood sculpture and tile art.
We went through the house and looked at art we have on the walls, looking for pattern and texture in every piece. Then we talked about different textures/patterns and how to create that in 2 dimensional art. When they were all questioning, "You mean, we have real live art at our house?" I realized that we might need to do this part of the exercise more often.
I had the kids each come up with simple lines and patterns that would display different items and it was amazing to see their creativity. I demonstrated a 'brick' pattern and they went way beyond my simplicity.
The art assignment I had them do two pieces. The first, smaller piece was to have actual texture and pattern. Then they were to glue that textured art into the center of a second sheet of paper and on the edges/border of it continue the art lines using pattern and creating one cohesive art. I showed Ethan how to create texture with card stock and then cover it with tin-foil for a unifying effect but the other kids liked it so much they added tinfoil to their work as well, even though that isn't what they had planned on in the beginning. It is a tricky balancing act to try to have then learn new techniques and have them create individual works of art but they all had fun doing it so it's really an overall win.
To download this weeks lesson click here-Download Art12texture-pattern. Be sure to check back next week- We're learning about Unity in art and doing Mandala's.