24 June 2020

Including Dad in the Homeschool Day - Enter to Win Amazing Books from Sonlight!

I don't know how it works in your family, but sometimes, in mine, we realize that dad is a little bit out of touch with what's going on inside the homeschool.

Wait, what grade are the kids in? Which curriculum do we use? Who's Charlotte Mason? What's a living book? Where did all the snacks go? Why are the remains of science experiments strewn throughout the kitchen? Is the subjunctive mood a real thing, or did you just make that up?

This lack of connection is not intentional!

Dad is very pro-homeschooling, and wants to be involved, but he has a full day going on at work, and we have a full day of learning going on at home, and sometimes it can be hard to find the places where these two days intersect.

Even if dad isn't the primary homeschooling parent, it's worth taking the time to find a way to get him involved.

When dad feels like he knows what's going on in the homeschool, he's more likely to understand the educational needs of your kids, to be able to help during times when mom needs a little extra back-up, and to take more ownership of the homeschooling journey.

You don't want dad to be brushing off homeschooling as simply something that you and your kids do while he's away at work. Homeschool will be most effective when the whole family is not only on board with the concept of homeschooling, but actually involved in the day-to-day details of homeschooling.

Dad Needs to Feel Welcome In His Family's Homeschool

My top suggestion for getting Dad involved in the homeschool day is to find a topic that he can personally connect with, and ask him to get involved in leading your kids on a learning journey on that topic.

This is the same sort of concept behind "interest-led learning" which some homeschool families use for their children. They use a natural connection that the child has with a certain topic as a jumping off point to take them on a learning journey. If my son has a love for elephants, I can use that as a starting point and build a unit study around elephants, including literature, math, learning activities, geography, and eventually start branching off into other topics. Before your child even realizes it, they've made enough connections with previously unknown topics that you now have other potential passions and interests that you can explore in future studies.

You can use exactly the same idea to get the parent who has historically not been very involved with the homeschool to get 'hooked' on the homeschool life.

Obviously, the exact topic is going to look different for different dads. Sitting down and having a discussion about what sort of topic he would be interested in teaching is a good conversation for mom and dad to have.

Once a topic has been chosen, if dad has not been involved in homeschooling before, it will probably help if mom points him in the direction of a couple of great resources to get started with, and then lets him take it from there. If you have truly chosen a topic that he personally connects to and gets excited about, the rest should come easily.

Dedicate and protect a space in the schedule where Dad can take the lead in teaching this subject, and see what might blossom as a result of getting him involved!

What This Looks Like in Our Homeschool:

In my own family, I realized that a topic that would be a natural connection for my husband would be a study of Central and South America.

My husband's family is from Mexico, and my husband works as a Spanish teacher. He's spent a good deal of his life studying the Spanish language and the cultures of Central and South America, as well as teaching them at his work. Why not bring his work home...but in a way that is actually fun!

Textbooks and maps and memorization of countries and capitals have their role in education...but so do stories! This collection of stories from Sonlight begin to capture the imaginations of both parents and children as they can spend evenings reading together reading stories, building a shared memory of these books that they have read. The stories are memorable, but what's amazing is that they spur even more investigations, and more learning, as my husband has the opportunity to look up more information on the regions and events that take place in the books, and to find video footage of the natural wonders in these countries. 

It's important to me that 'storytime' is not something that happens with "mom" alone. I believe that when children see that both mom and dad are truly "together" on this topic, that both parents value and participate in books and educational activities, that children will grow up to value a culture of investigating the world around them, and seeking to be learners at all times.

This particular set of books includes fiction and non-fiction, at a variety of levels, so you can pick and choose which reads suit your own family at your current stage of life and learning. It includes stories from long, long ago, and stories of people who lived in the 20th century, as well. It even has a coloring book, perfect for little hands who would like to stay busy while dad reads about the Mayan civilization.

Would you like to win this collection of fiction and non-fiction books to begin your own exploration of Central and South America? Whether this particular topic is a topic that either Dad or Mom connects with more than the other, it's a fantastic region of the world to begin exploring with your children, and this set of books from Sonlight is a great way to get started. You can have hours of reading material to dive into--for free! Would you like to win this exact set of books for your homeschool library?

Simply follow this link learn more about the giveaway: Sonlight's A Literature-Based Introduction to Central and South America

Your can enter to win this set of books right by clicking HERE to go to the giveaway widget.

How does Dad get involved in your homeschool? What methods have you found that truly work for your family? 
04 June 2020

Six Months with Baby

And just like that, half a year flew by. But we always say that, don't you?

My Glen, you are going to have some very interesting moments in history recorded in your baby book.

Size: At his six month appointment, he weighed in under 15 lbs, and I can't say he's just "long and lean" either because while his weight has hovered around 5th-3rd percentile, his height is usually 1st percentile or below. He is a tiny little thing, and that is so cute and different after my extra-chunky Cyrus. The few people who have seen him think he's about the size of a 3-4 month old, that's the general impression he gives, and I have friends with 3 and 4 month olds right now who are heavier and taller than him. It's been fun having a tiny baby! He's in 4-6 month clothes although pants are still 0-3 month pants.

Eating: I started feeding him baby food the day he turned six months. It took him a little extra time to get really solid head and neck control so I didn't want to start early. He has since turned into a solid food monster and loves solid food more than milk, I think...we shall see if this chunks him up any. He actually really likes scrambled egg and banana, both foods that Cyrus utterly rejected.

We took a video of some of his first foods:

As you can tell, he hates avocado. Which I don't mind, because that means I don't have to share my avocado.

Sleeping: He is not a great sleeper. Cyrus woke up about 3 times a night to eat until he was weaned, but he never played at night nor just stayed awake crying. This one has night when he'll do both. But last night, he only woke up twice to eat, and there were no 2-hour midnight parties, so I'm calling that a win. Let's work toward more nights like that.

Milestones: He got his first two teeth since he his six months. He army crawls at high speeds across vast distances.

Which is hilarious, because since he's so little, he looks like a 3 month old crawling all over the place. He loves playing with toys, especially Cyrus's toys, not the baby toys. He thinks his brother is the funniest thing in the world, and big brother loves to oblige his entertaiment needs by jumping up and down so that baby will laugh at him. So far, he's not a big fan of daily storytime, he just wants to be on the move. He will put any piece of hair on the floor in his mouth, so he requires a very clean environment, haha!

So grateful for six months with Glenn!

01 May 2020

Highlights of Quarantine

I lean heavily on the side of not needing to find a way to call bad things "good."

The pandemic and related consequences are, in so very many ways, bad.

This has been a sad season.

But there have been little highlights. Our family has been intentionally "planning" little events to look forward to in the middle of the season of life when all the normal routines aren't possible (i.e. going for walks, playing at the playground, swimming, etc) and when all the big travel plans we were looking forward to got canceled.

We had a "family movie night" where we pulled the whole mattress off our bed, put it in the living room, and cuddled on the mattress while watching a movie on Angel's laptop. We've made some kitchen experiments and had chocolate fondue for lunch one day, just because.

I have been so, so grateful that if we have to stay home, that it is with two energetic little boys. There has not been the slightest chance of boredom for me, while I have missed our little friends and our normal routines and opportunities to see others, we have stayed busy from morning till night with fun in the house. We have definitely tried out new things inside the home in the name of variety. ha!

As you might expect, Angel is working from home, teaching his classes via Zoom, and doing all his teacher work online. Thankfully their school had been preparing for this eventuality so they were pretty well prepared and I think it has gone fairly smoothly. Cyrus even joined in on one of the Zoom PE classes--ha!

I have been taking The Bible Project's Intro to the Hebrew Bible  class online--if you need something to keep your mind active, I highly recommend this course. The Bible Project does such a good job of teaching the way the Bible should be read and understood, and their new courses and "classroom" project is something I am very excited about! It's a pretty hefty course, 29 sessions...I'm somewhere about 24 sessions in, so nearly done!

Be forewarned, most of the photos in this post are just pictures of Glenn.

Because this is the face I see right next to my the morning, and also in the middle of the night His crib is right up against my bed like this, haha!

Someone kindly delivered some produce to our house...which included okra and eggplant, two veggies I had never cooked before. I made roasted eggplant soup and deep fried okra and both were delicious.

This probably counts as "quarantine crazy"...but this was a snack I gave Cyrus the other day. Angel has been doing the grocery shopping alone and sometime buys weird things like a can of whipped cream...I asked him what the whipped cream was for and he said "Pancakes." But, not having either the ingredients or inclination to make pancakes, I used some whipped cream for a silly sensory play/snack for Cyrus. Yep, quarantine crazy.

Some of our groceries arrived in a big cardboard box, so we made a fridge to add on to Cyrus's Ikea kitchen, which he's been playing with on a daily basis since Christmas. 

This is an outtake from Glenn's 5 month photo session, Cyrus always has to get in on the photoshoots, too.

For the first time of any Easters that I can remember, we got Easter chocolates and mini "Easter baskets" (brown paper bags). Now you can tell we're going a bit crazy with quarantine. We've been having our own mini-family-church services, and Angel and I have been having fun choosing songs, mostly because we choose the 90s-era worship songs we grew up with that you hardly hear in real church services anymore.

With Angel being home, he plays crazy games with the boys (moms and dads play very differently, I think). "Baby chases Cyrus" has been a popular game lately, so we had to get it on video for the memories!

I do lots of fun activities with Cyrus, who loves storytime, coloring, play-doh, and duplos...but he doesn't end up in photos as much because...I don't know if you've ever seen a two year old...but they move really, really fast. Even indoors. He's actually handled not going anywhere much better than expected. But I know he misses old "normal" things like going grocery shopping with Angel and seeing his friends every day and everything we used to do. We shall see what happens next.
20 April 2020

The Angel Made Me Do It

If you've been reading this blog for a length of time, you may know that I tend to find my husband very amusing in his tendency toward the odd. He still surprises me with his ideas after more than a decade together, and this is one of the things I love about him.

I do tend to squash some of his weirder ideas and plans with a dose of reality, although I try to make them happen when possible, because life is made more interesting by a good dose of different once in a while. 

He told me this weekend, "How about you shave my head?"

I said, "No. I married you because you had good hair, there's no reason for you to be bald!"

He said, "Yes! It's quarantine, I don't have to go to work, this is the only time to do it!"

I said, "You literally have zoom calls everyday, and everyone can still see your head. What does not having to go to work have to do with it?"

He said, "It's fine! Come on." 

I still said no.

Then I woke up the next day and said, if we filmed the haircut and made a video out of it, I would do it. But I still kind of regretted it. And I still hey, my life would be much more boring if it weren't for all the random spice my Angel adds to it.

Do watch the video to see Cyrus's reaction to Angel's bald head, along with the chagrin that is obvious on my face as we got close to the end of the haircut. Is it safe to say we've been quarantined slightly too long? 

Hang tight in there, and if anyone in your family just wants to shave their head to do something different this quarantine...say yes. Maybe.
26 March 2020

Staying Home - A Song Parody about Being Quarantined


How are you?

The Movement Control Order that we're living with right now just got extended until April 14. I think the extension was both discouraging in some ways and also entirely expected. Everybody is in a state of uncertainty, truly not knowing what will happen next as we race to slow the spread of the virus.

This isn't a fun time for anyone on the planet, but I was reminded recently by a friend of J. R. R. Tolkien's words in Fellowship of the Ring:

"I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

Funny how the words from these 'old' writers keep coming back and ringing true in different seasons of life. 

What I've decided to do with the time given me is to keep on being creative. Using my talent with words, taking care of my family, keeping my ears and eyes open for those in need, and praying.

This is a heavy time, but I think the human response to extreme heaviness often involves humor. That's why we've seen so many coronavirus memes, and the like. This is my contribution to the humor needed in this season...and also a bit of a "stay home" PSA. I hope you enjoy our newest parody music video--it's been a while!

Vocals by my talented sister, Lizzy!

Lyrics to "Six Feet Away":

I'm staying six feet away
Staying home to save the day
No viruses on me
I'm staying six feet away

Call me, baby, if you need some bread
I just wanna sanitizE
Come on, come on, come on
Washed my hands for you, don't take a chance

No matter where you go
You have to be alone!

I'm staying six feet away
Staying home to save the day
No viruses on me
I'm staying six feet away

No matter where you go
You have to be alone!

Stay inside with me and don't be scared
Covid-19 is outside
Come on, come on, come on
You and me cannot go anywhere
For now we can stay here for a while
Even though it might be a long, long while

No you cannot go,
Unless you go alone!

I'm staying six feet away
Staying home to save the day
No viruses on me
I'm staying six feet away

And we seem weak, the virus strong
We're gonna keep fightin' on
I know you worry, but it won't be long, darlin',
And when you feel like hope is gone, 
Just stay inside your home!

I'm staying six feet away
Staying home to save the day
No viruses on me
I'm staying six feet away
I'm staying six feet away
Staying home to save the day
No viruses on me
I'm staying six feet away