Monday, August 22, 2016

Preschool At Home

We decided long before we had kids that we would homeschool.

I was homeschooled from 3rd grade on and really saw the benefits of it.

Also, we think the public school system sucks, and they teach a worldview contrary to our Christian worldview.

We also didn't like the idea of our children spending so much of their lives being influenced by other people and other kids.

We want to be the main influence in their lives.

So theory met practice today when I started preschool with Alice.

The first thing I looked at when planning preschool was Montessori.

I liked a lot of the Montessori principles but it really isn't a good fit for homeschooling, at least not for us.

Then I started reading some Charlotte Mason stuff and LOVE it.

I wont try and explain it here, but her theory of education fits very well with our views and with homeschooling.

Now I can't say that Alice's preschool is very "Charlotte Mason" since I put most of it together before reading any Mason but oh well.

I made a list of preschool goals for Alice like knowing the sounds of all the letters and understanding concepts like rhyming and the calendar and planned her "curriculum" around those goals.

I plan on doing about 45 minutes a day of "school".

There are always lots of opportunities during real life for her to learn and I don't think its necessary to do lots of formal schooling at this age.

So I decided the best way to start a fun school routine would be a "circle time" board.

This is what ours looks like.

We start with singing "Good Morning God".

Then I am teaching her the Lord's Prayer.

Then we go over the things on the board.

What month, what day of the week, what day of the month etc.

Also we do what season and what the weather is.

Then I have a list of fun songs like "If you're happy and you know it" or "Where is thumbkin?" and we do 2 of them.

We have a weekly memory verse that we will work on.

I also have started printing and laminating famous works of art (you can get them free from the MET website) that I will display on the board as sort of "art appreciation" if you will.

Then we have the letter of the week.

I have this tool storage cabinet that I got from Amazon and following an idea I saw from another blog designated each drawer to a different letter and put things that start with that letter in it.  Some of the drawers are much easier to fill then others obviously.  Not a lot of things start with X.  But I found a lot of little things around the house to put in most of them.

Here is my B drawer.

Alice has been very excited to get into these and we took out the A drawer today.

I let her take out each thing one-by-one and talked about how it starts with the A sound.

I laminated a tracing sheet for each of the letters so she can practice writing.

I printed out various worksheet/activities that cover letters, numbers, counting, sorting etc.

Thankfully there are tons of free print outs online.

Today I just picked out a couple things I thought she would find fun like a Dot-it find the letter "A", a color sorting game and some practice cutting.

Then we were done and went to the park.

All day I have heard her saying the 3 sounds that "A" makes.

So the first day was a success!

I expect it to evolve and change some as I find what works best for her but I am glad we have had a good start!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Big Sister School



That's right, Wolfe cub #3 is on the way!

We are SO excited!

It took 2 years to get pregnant with Alice, 6 months to get pregnant with Jane and with this one.. very first cycle since Jane was born and our first try!

I can't believe how blessed I am.

Six years ago we were facing the knowledge that we may never have (biological) children and now we are having our 3rd!

God has been so good.

I got to surprise Stephen with the news.  He had been at a conference for a few days and when he left I was sure I was not pregnant.  I didn't have any symptoms and, really, with my record, it wasn't going to happen on the 1st try.

But while he was gone I started getting some hints that I might be pregnant and I took a test and much to my surprise and joy it was positive!

I ran out and bought Jane a shirt that says "Big Sister" (the one in the pictures that is unfortunately super hard to read).

When Stephen came home that evening I put the shirt on Jane and said "Stephen, what do you think of Jane's new shirt?"  Now I know Stephen well and knowing that he is not a very outwardly emotional person I had very low expectations in terms of what his response would be.  I was surprised therefore when Stephen responded with extreme surprise, disbelief and excitement.  It was a sweet moment.

This happened the day before we left for California.

So when we visited my parents we did the same thing.  Put Jane in the "Big Sister" shirt and asked "What do you think of Jane's new shirt?"  My mom's response was priceless.

She looked confused and said "Is it a hand-me-down?"

Me: "Nope."

Then the light bulb went off and they were so excited.

Then we did it to Stephen's family which was a lot of fun too.

Everyone was super excited but Stephen's dad took the longest to get it and then said "Oh, Stephen knocked you up again!" and then said the same thing as my mom, "I thought it was a hand-me-down."

In their defense it is too big on her, the smallest size was a 2T.

Jane will be 1 month shy of 2 years old when the baby is born.

It would be fun to have a boy for a change but I kinda want it to be another girl  :)

I love my sweet girls, and I think 3 girls and then 2 boys would be perfect.

But whatever God gives us will be best!

A Week in Carmel

We recently spent a week in California visiting Stephen's family.

We spent most of the trip in a beautiful house in Carmel, just 2 blocks from the beach.

The house belongs to my brother-in-law's family.

Before we headed to Carmel we did a quick run to Napa.

We saw Stephen's Grandma.

Then spent a few hours with my parents.

The next day we spent a couple hours at the pool in Brentwood.

Alice liked it but Jane did not like the cold water.

Then we drove to Carmel, about 2.5 hours.

I vaguely recall having gone to Carmel once as a kid but I didn't remember anything about it.

So when we drove down the main street and then through the neighborhood of houses I about died from the cuteness.

Such a cute place filled with houses that look like they are from a storybook.

I loved it.

When the cousins arrived, the first thing Alice wanted to do is dance with her ballerina cousin Avila.

She had been talking about it for days.

The two of them were pretty inseparable during the trip.

It was kinda chilly the whole time we were there.  It was in the 60s.

But that didn't stop us from enjoying the beach that was just 2 blocks away.

Avila pretty much "babysat" Jane for a lot of the trip.  It was great.

We celebrated Grandma Patti's birthday one night.

She is always a favorite reader :)

The whole week was really laid back and relaxing.  We mostly just hung out at the house or the beach or walked around looking at houses.

Our one big outing was to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

I had been a few times as a kid and always loved it and was really excited for Alice to experience it.

Unfortunately, it turned out to be a pretty bad day for Alice.

Lately she has been more emotional and meltdowns have become more frequent and then add on traveling, missed naps and LOTS of stimulus and it accumulated into a day of meltdowns.

The entire time at the aquarium was an emotional roller coaster.

She would be running around happy and excited one minute and then completely meltdown over the tiniest thing (for example, putting a sticker on her shirt).

It was bad.

But the aquarium was still really cool.

An up moment on the roller coaster.

The Edwards.  Such a cute family, right?!

I hear the Jaws music, do you?  :)

The whole time Alice was looking for Dory and Nemo and was very excited when we found them.

Jane loved this one that was just her height and just stared at it for forever.

When we got back to the house, daddy and Alice took a much needed nap.

One of the days, when the girls were napping, Stephen and I walked around the main street of Carmel.

We came across a store dedicated to Alice in Wonderland.

And just around the corner was this Jane Austen store:

It was a funny coincidence (Alice was named after Alice in Wonderland and Jane was named after Jane Austen, in case you didn't know :)

More beach fun.

Jane LOVED playing in the sand but she did NOT like the cold water.

Caught this cute picture where Alice ran up to hold Papa's hand while on a walk.

He really won her over with his magic light-up finger trick.

She thought it was amazing.

Hanging out with Papa Grande.

Hanging out with Grandma.

Jane fast asleep during a walk with Nana.  She was her usual easy going self the whole trip.

Tide pool explorers.

We came across an artist painting and the girls were fascinated.

Auntie Michelle entertaining the kids with home videos.  She was in her element with 6 little ones around her :)

It was a really great trip.  I hope we get to do it again!