Saturday, August 29, 2009

Our Homeschooling Schedule

I was babysitting my friend's daughter, Arianna, so she got in on homeschooling that day too!

I'm not using a particular curriculum for homeschooling. Ali is only 41/2 and though she is very bright, I didn't feel she was ready for a full-fledged Kindergarten program this year. So, I decided that we will work hard at mastering letters and sounds and basic reading and save the additional Kindergarten subjects for next year, unless she happens to want to fly along at a rapid pace! At some point I may use a curriculum package but not in the first couple of years. Jer enjoys doing the activities too and I just give him easier assignments or help him with the crafts.

My mom is a teacher at a Christian school and has scads of teaching stuff/curriculum from 25 years of teaching Sunday School, homeschooling, loving children's books, etc. Other homeschooling moms who have older kids have given me lots of workbooks and things. Our church uses Funshine Express curriculum for the little kids and each week there is a cute craft project to do and enough materials for about 20 children. Because there are usually less than 20 in the class, the "extras" are unused so a gal at church who sorts through them gave me a ton of these little preschool Bible craft projects, materials are all included! Super easy for me! After a month or two of reviewing letter sounds and learning to write all of the letters we will work through the book "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons."

The schedule below is my "Ideal Homeschooling Day." I know, of course,that life is unpredictable and life with littles includes Dr. visits, last minute field trips, sickness, emergency errands, etc. that can cause this schedule to shuffle around. But this is what we're striving for this week as we begin and this is what will be my goal for this school year:

6:30 Wake up and give Justus his bottle/sippy of milk

6:45 Do planning for the day/devotions while Justus goes back to bed or plays quietly

7:15 Daddy and kids wake up for breakfast

7:30-8:30 Kids get dressed, Mommy showers, everyone picks up the house, makes beds, cleans up breakfast, etc.

8:30-9:30 Homeschooling

Prayer and verses from the Bible

Review what we learned yesterday

Look at the chore chart on the kitchen wall and talking about daily chores/expectations

Go over the alphabet and number charts on the kitchen wall

Color a preschool work-sheet or do a craft

Texture play like rice/beans/cornmeal/shaving cream/paints/playdough, etc.

Read a few stories together

Work on the Bible passage we are memorizing as a family (we're wrapping up 1 Cor. 13 which we've worked on all summer)

Mommy starts working on the dishes while kids are coloring

*Justus is back to taking morning naps (yahoo!) after a couple months of refusing them so he is sleeping during this school time)*

9:30-Recess/Play time

Mommy quickly checks e-mail/facebook, cleans up morning school stuff, preps lunch, switches laundry, handles a phone call, etc. while kids play outside or with toys

10:00-Morning snack

10:30-Kids can choose to either play with a play set from the closet, play a game with Mommy (Alphabet Lotto, Memory, Go Fish, etc.) or do some more coloring worksheets

Perhaps a walk on the riverwalk next to our home could be squeezed in here

11:30 Mommy starts prepping lunch, kids play or do chores (they are assigned extra chores when they are naughty)

12:00 Daddy comes home for lunch and plays with the kids afterwards while Mommy cleans up

1:00 I read aloud from The Little House on the Prairie series (we're almost done with Book Two). Boys go down for nap and Ali either lays on the couch or does her Day-of-the-Week activity box and looks at books. Mommy blogs, reads, catches up on bills, does dishes, switches laundry, etc. Did I mention chocolate! *Naptime is Mommy's chance to sneak in a piece of dark chocolate, a microwaved s'more, or a mug of hot cocoa*

3:00 Boys wake up and everyone has a snack


Mommy starts prepping dinner

Playdate, errand, or walk often occurs in late afternoon

While Mommy finishes dinner prep kids can watch a short movie or do a tracing/coloring worksheet at the table

5:30ish--Daddy comes home, we all have supper, then kids wrestle with Daddy

7:00-Kids get ready for bed, Daddy reads a Bible story and prayer, Mommy reads chapter aloud from the Bible and we pray for folks out of our Christmas Card stack

Obviously there is a lot I left out of my day on this barebones schedule! Like rescuing Justus from certain death numerous times, cleaning up the toddler's catastrophes, wiping poopy bottoms, reminding Jer to go potty, sweeping endless crumbs, etc. But this will give you an idea what our day looks like. Because my kids are so little, homeschooling is very flexible, and very easy. There isn't much, if any, prep work or grading and if they are tired and cranky we can keep school shorter and if they are eager to do more, we can work on extra projects.

Fridays are going to be "Fun Days." Ali is taking her first ballet class ever for her Phy Ed. and it's on Friday mornings. We may also swim on Fridays once a month, and on the days we don't swim we will do a playdate, go to the Children's museum, or do a nature thing like a hike, go to the Pumpkin Patch, or throw rocks into the nearby river. Other extras we may try, one at a time: winter swimming lessons, community rec soccer in the spring, weekly library story time.

I don't feel that a kid has to be schooled before they are 5 or 6 and I do believe they need lots of time to just play and explore. But I've also noticed a couple of things about homeschooling:

#1. Having a plan and doing learning activities with my kids makes life go smoother.

When I concentrate on teaching my kids in a set routine they fight less, we have more fun together, and I'm less distracted when I consider my primary job to be teaching them. The more you have to do, the more you tend to get done! Maybe this is why "Lazy Saturday mornings" seem to culminate in a house that looks like a disaster-area and cranky, fighting kids?

#2. Homeschooling tots/preschoolers is EXCELLENT practice and discipline for me in my journey as a homeschooling mom.

Starting with a morning chore routine and an hour of preschool activities today can lay a strong foundation for our family's schedule and discipline tomorrow as we get into habits that we can build upon year after year as the kids begin to study more subjects, and I am teaching multiple grade levels at once. If you are hoping to homeschool eventually, I'd encourage you to prepare for that today, even if that child is just a tiny infant, by growing in your homemaking skills. This is one reason I have been working on getting my Master Meals List done, have gotten all the kid's clothing sorted and organized this summer, have de-cluttered, and have asked my hubby for a dishwasher. Each step you take towards learning to run a home more efficiently will serve you in homeschooling.
One of my goals for this year is to get plugged into the homeschool group in our town and meet some other homeschoolers. I'm also hoping that we can go to the WY state homeschooling conference in May next year as a family.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Ali: "Mom, why are you so happy?"
Me: "Because Mrs. Shiloh bought me something at a yard sale today...."
Ali: (Puzzled look)
Me: ".....MONEY SAVING MOM'S yard sale!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
I know it's a little bit "schoolgirlish" to bounce around the house suppressing squeals, but Crystal is my favorite blogger, and has been for a few years since I discovered blogging, and I OWE a ton of thanks to her for teaching me couponing, frugal tips, and also encouraging me in my role as a Christian wife and mother. Someday if we visit our friends in Kansas, I hope to meet her! But until then, it's exciting enough that one of my best friends got to meet her and bought me something at her yard sale!!! *And how weird is it that both Crystal and Shiloh gave birth to their third kids on the same day!!!*
(My friend Shiloh is back home in Kansas house-hunting for a few days since they are moving to that area in a month. Their house sold to the first people that looked at it here---have I mentioned how hard it is to find anything remotely affordable here? I wanted to buy their house but my hubby wants to be a bit more financially secure before we take that step, which is wise! The Blasdels house was a REALLY good deal! And since housing is so cheap in Kansas they won't have to buy a fixer-upper this time around!)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Odds and Ends

We started homeschooling this week! The kids are loving it and so is Mommy. Find out why in a coming-soon post!

Our landlord informed us that they will be re-doing the foundation of our house while we are living in it! This means for a month or more our home will be four feet off the ground. I'm not sure how it's all going to work but he assures me we will still have water, power, and gas available for us and that we will get a discount on the rent.

I finally finished the book When I Don't Desire God, How to Fight For Joy. I usually finish books in a few days but this one was DEEP (typical Piper) and hard to read in large quantities. I read it throughout the spring and summer and feel that it was exactly what I needed and that each chapter applied perfectly to exactly what I was going through at that particular time. It's a book I will no doubt want to reference throughout a lifetime. For many, many reasons 2009 has been the hardest year of our lives (we'll go into that more when I do an end-of-the-year-recap) and this book was a tremendous help to me and I highly recommend it.

Summer is drawing to a close! I counted up the number of events we attended this summer (picnics, potlucks, church events, family suppers, bridal showers, weddings, birthday parties, etc.) and came up with 51!!! No wonder homeschooling seems like a breeze since we're just staying home more now! Most summers aren't like this but this summer nearly every one of my remaining single friends got married and we knew people graduating and had lots of family events too. It has been a fun and busy summer, filled with lots of fun and fellowship, and we're grateful that we have so many wonderful people in our lives. Eventually I'll post some fun pics from our family camping trips and MN vacation.

Birthday Pics

Alathia's first birthday

Jeremiah's first birthday

Justus' first birthday

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Space Savers and Room Organization

We have one kid's room in our home and it's pretty small. How do we maximize this space for our little ones?

We took the sliding doors off of the closet and put them in the storage shed since one was always falling off and the kids were always banging them around. This made the room feel more spacious and allowed us to fit more into the closet and access it easier.My in-laws brought out a bunk bed set in May that belonged to my husband so Ali moved into the top bunk and Jer eventually will sleep on the bottom and Justus will take his crib. Justus currently sleeps in our room in a Pack n' Play.This changing table has gotten more use as a clothing or blanket shelf than as an actual changing table since I change diapers on the living room floor. I have clean blankets on the top shelf, the kid's underwear tubs on the middle shelf, along with doll clothes, and To-Grow-Into bins for Alathia and Jeremiah on the bottom shelf. Underneath the shelf there is space to store extra packages of diapers.I love the hanging shoe caddy (a yard sale buy) and the basket bins (also a yard sale buy). They keep things easier to find than the plastic tub we were formerly using for Jer's clothing, and yet I don't have to open drawers to put laundry away.We used to have a small dresser here instead of this wire shelving unit. The small dresser held odds and ends, clothes-to-grow into, infant stuff, etc. My brother was giving this shelf unit away and I gladly snatched it up! This holds double what the dresser held, and is easily accessible.
Ali stores her non-hanging clothes here now and is responsible for putting the clean clothes away on the appropriate shelf. I store pull-ups, wipes, extra duckie blankies, and Justus' really warm clothing on this shelf as well.

MoneySavingMom, aka Crystal, once mentioned activity tubs on her blog that her mom had made for her. I copied this great idea and made some for my daughter, who doesn't take naps fall-spring. I also keep toy sets and activities up here out of the kids' reach. We often pull down an activity when they are getting cranky or bored and then when they are done with it, they can choose a different one and put the other one back. Keeping half of the toys out of the kids' reach makes them more exciting for them and helps keep clutter and toy mess down in the house. This freebie from my friend Shiloh is so handy for keeping all of the kids' socks/belts/tights, baby shoes etc. organized and accessible behind their bedroom door. I keep their devotional book and all of our Christmas cards in here (we pray for 2 families a night) so I can reach over and grab them from the rocking chair during bedtime family devotions. I have learned that if things are NOT accessible I will not use them so my goal in my homemaking and organizing is to have easy access to the things we use frequently!
I didn't take pics of the toy box or rocking glider which are in the bedroom but they somehow fit in there with all of the other stuff. Under the crib and under the bottom bunk there is a lot of space for storage. I have some extra toliet paper and a kid's tent stored under there but not much else since they like to hide under the beds for fun! But if we didn't have a storage shed out back this space would be utelized for outgrown and growing-into clothing.
Justus' clothing is in a shallow plastic tub under our living room couch. I grab diapers and wipes (also under the couch) and change him there on the floor and have the clothes handy. If I need fancier clothes, I get them out of the closet in the kid's room.
As always, keeping clutter to a minimum helps maximize a small space. When I did my "Pioneer Living" experiment I discovered that life was wonderful with only 5 toys and 5-10 outfits per kid. Since that experiment the toys and clothes seem to have multiplied once again (how do they do that?) but I continue to try to take loads to the shed, rotate the toys, and only hang on to the outfits that fit the kids well, are durable, and look nice, keeping the amount they own to a minimum.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Family Pictures

Our friend Jesse is a freelance photographer. He did family photos for us a week ago at the local museum (where there are lots of old buildings that make for neat backgrounds). I love them!

This is one I plan to frame for our living room.

Also plan to frame this one.

I also plan to frame this one!

Yay hurray!

Wow, all it takes is a little bit of mystery and the comments just come rollin' in!

The majority of you guessed correctly!!!! It's a portable/convertible Maytag dishwasher!!!

(Although I have to say, a surger, kitchen aid, grain mill, or Canon Rebel would have been good guesses too!)

I have to say an ENORMOUS thanks to Momma Bear who kind of got the ball rolling for us because after reading a post of mine here a couple of months ago where I was lamenting about dirty dishes and no dishwasher, she sent me a note saying she'd like to help in that area, even though this isn't a life or death need, but rather a wish. At first I thought she might have a dishwasher to sell at a decent price, but instead she declared she wanted to send us some money for the dishwasher. It was humbling to accept, knowing that her family is as big as ours and lives off of one income too (I'm pretty sure) but she insisted and it was such a generous blessing to us. My dad also decided to chip in a little as payment for all of the work I do to maintain his website for his business. We searched all over online, picked out the model we were going to buy, and had planned to buy it the end of this month so we wouldn't have to take any savings out to pay for it. But then my husband got sent on a work trip to the biggest town in Wyoming (population 50,000) and he found it at Home Depot for over $100 less than in our county. It included free shipping to anywhere in the state, so he went ahead and bought it a week earlier and it should arrive on our doorstep in a couple of weeks!
Thank you Momma Bear and Jason!!!!

I'm so excited I'm willing to give up whatever space necessary in our small kitchen to have this at my disposal! I've been waiting 21 years to have one! Ever since my Mom forced the "Dish Nights" upon us at age 6, I have disliked doing dishes. When I went to college, my folks finally bought a dishwasher so I never got a chance to use theirs. Even though we've moved like 4 or 5 times in our married life, we have never had a rental with a dishwasher. With each child that joins our family, I'm feeling more overwhelmed by the endless stream of sippy cups, bottles, silverware, little bowls, etc. that need to be washed. I don't mind large pots and pans and do them right away but always have a sink full of silverware/popsicle tops/sippy cups which I "put off." So, even if a dishwasher doesn't have room for everything, it will have room for the little stuff that I hate washing! And I will feel good knowing that everything is very sanitized. As it is, I take a LONG time to do dishes since things have to be super clean, and rinsed extra to get off any soap residue. Other people I have seen can do dishes at lightning speed, but not me! I want them to be company-ready and very, very clean! A dishwasher will help immensely with that!
I'm looking for suggestions on what kind of dishwasher soap you all use! Preferrably something that's non-toxic and better for the environment, but I'm open to hearing your opinions on anything. I know you can make your own, has anyone tried this with success?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Doing Mental Cartwheels!

Okay, I was wrong, the dream came true today
because my hubby found a major good deal when he was in the
"big city" of Casper on a work errand
....but it will take 2-3 weeks to arrive....
Can anyone guess what my husband bought for me?

Thursday, August 20, 2009



Monday, August 17, 2009

Every Now and Then

Josiah, Michael, and Jesse with Ileia and Carrie
Youth group photo scavenger hunt (photo with folks in uniform)

At a Beach-Themed bachelorette party for a friend from church

Shiloh, Amy, and I were on the winning team for the wedding relay and received crowns as prizes.

Every now and then you find yourselves friends with folks who are really special. Friends who will do just about anything for you and who are like family. You may have many differences but share the most important things in common. Every now and then you find a family where the Dads are great pals, the Moms are great friends, and the kids are practically like siblings because they hang out so much. You can empathize with, encourage, and help one another when the tough times come.

But life is ever-changing, and every now and then people move.

It is with utmost sadness that we will say goodbye to our friends Jesse, Shiloh, Carsen, Kennedy, and Havily, who are moving back to their home state of Kansas in 6 weeks. Jesse got a job as a youth pastor at a church just an hour from where both of their families live, and God opened all of the doors for them to make this move after 7 years here. It is hard for us to be happy for them because the hole their absence will leave in our family is so large. But we know God is faithful and He's brought many new friends into our lives in the last year, perhaps in preparation for this. We hope to stay in touch with them in spite of the physical distance between us.
Just because I know it will give them a laugh, I want to dedicate the song "Friends are Friends Forever" to the Blasdel family! It may be an over-played and old song, but the message remains true.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Justus!!!!

Justus came home from the hospital before he was even a full day old! He was such a healthy baby! 8#1 oz. and 20 inches long.

As a tiny baby, he had the pouty lip thing down pat!

A present from Grandpa and Grandma

It seemed as though he was unhappy to get the tiniest pumpkin when we went to the Pumpkin Patch

10 months old and enjoying his fourth piece of watermelon on July 3rd

Rushing headlong into the cold lake. He loves lakes and cold water but hates warm baths!

Playing with the hammer that was Daddy's when he was a baby

Justy was a great traveler on our long drive to MN!

Trying out his first cupcake ever at his early first birthday party with King Jo's folks in MN (a few weeks early!)

Justus is literally a very happy camper!!! There's nothing like playing in the dirt all day!

I can't wait to be big and drive one these like my brother!

Happy Birthday to the little man who lights up our world with endless smiles! Sometimes I call you "Jolly Justy" because you are so happy and easy-going! You are the sunshine of our family, and, I suspect, the Little-Clown-to-be of our family. I have a feeling you will also be the snowboarder/BMX biker/mountain climber who keeps Daddy on his toes! My favorite things are hearing you say "Mama" when you reach out to me, hearing you try to sing along with music, seeing your delight when I pull out your favorite story "It's Bathtime for Baby" (which doesn't make sense since you've always hated baths!), watching you bounce up and down and get hyper and excited when you want to be tickled, seeing you run a truck along the floor making vroom noises, listening to you giggle crazily as Ali chases you or Daddy tickles you, and snuggling with you when you are tired. We are so blessed to have you in our lives! You have been such an easy-to-please baby and you take life as it comes. Just the other day when we were camping and your backpack/chair turned over and caused you to face-plant into a plate of green beans on the rock in front of you, you hardly cried at all and just grinned at us with green bean juice all over your face. I love that you embrace life as though it were an adventure and love to explore and yet that you still take time to lean your head into mine and give your Mama "hugs" often. There is only One who is great enough to get the glory and thanks for your life, and that's God. I'm praising Him today for the treasure named Justus He gave us. We love you as much as big as the mountains and as deep as the sea Justy/Combustus/Babyham/Jaberham/Baby J/Booster/Justicus/Jumper!!!

Baby Stats:

Standing alone and cruising, but not quite walking!
Weight: 18.5#
Height: 28 and 3/4 inches
Teeth: Two bottom
Hair: Dark blonde

Eyes: Sometimes look green, sometimes blue, sometimes brown. Not totally sure yet what his eyecolor is!
First words: Dada (9 months), Mama (9 months), Ba-ba (bottle) and Bye-Bye (10-11 months), Hi Dai-Dai (Dai is Grammy's dog, 11 months), Baby, uh-oh (11 months), trying to learn stick and truck by saying "ck" (12 months), says sock "gock" (12 months)
Note: Lots of bumps and bruises, and even a bloody nose, recently as he cruises around and falls a lot!

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