Monday, December 30, 2013

The best gift you can give a child is a sibling!

This Christmas I took this sweet picture of my two oldest together under the Christmas tree and was reminded of what a blessing it has been to watch them grow up together. It really is true that the best gift you can give a child is a sibling as these pictures show. They are as different in personality as night and day but they are so happy together!


I can't believe how quickly the years have flown by!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

December in Review

Our December flew by - here are some pictures from the last month.
St. Lucy day - Miriam was up extra early to bring donuts to her brothers.
William shows off one of the cookies he decorated.
We had a wonderful visit with Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Deacon Ray
We decorated our Christmas tree :-)

Winter snow - enjoying the sledding hill. 

Twas the night before Christmas...
 And we went to "Midnight Mass" at 9pm

Miriam had a special "star" hair-do

O Come Let us Adore Him!

Christ our Lord is born!
Christmas morning stockings filled by St. Nicholas!
Christmas Day gifts!
Everyone enjoys their new bean bag chairs!
Wearing their "super" new costumes!
A special gift from William to Dad

Dad got a new shield for his collection :-)
On Christmas day we were blessed to the day with Phil's family including Phil's grandpa who we got to tell how much we loved him which was a blessing because passed away yesterday on December 27th surrounded by his four daughters.  We will miss him very much!  Eternal rest grant unto Richard Steinegger, O Lord, and perpetual light shine upon him.  May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed. Rest in peace.  Amen.   (I unfortunately did not have my camera handy for the family gathering but there were some great family pictures taken and hopefully I'll get copies :-)
Luke playing Mass with new vestments from Aunt Jenny!
Snowman fun!
We are enjoying these beautiful days of the Christmas Octave together as a family and wish you and yours all the blessings of this Holy Season!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Our Curriculum this year - Languange Arts

This year for Language Arts, we have 4 separate components: Handwriting, Phonics, Oral Reading (both that the children read to me from simple readers and that they listen to good literature that I read aloud to them), and the Riggs Program (which includes memorizing phonograms, spelling rules and spelling words).  Since reading and writing are foundational skills to master for learning and neither of my children are proficient yet, working toward independent reading and writing is one of our primary goals for the year.  For this reason, we begin and end our school day with Language arts.

After our opening Calendar activities, we begin with Handwriting. We chose to use Handwriting without Tears for William last year and I was really happy with the program so we continued with the 2nd grade book this year.  I also ordered the kindergarten text for Miriam.  She is speeding through the text so next year, and maybe even later this year, I'll be exploring other options for her.  We ordered the wood blocks and letter cards for Luke and he is doing great as well.  He loves their wet, dry try chalk board practice and does amazingly well at writing his letters for a three year old. 

I help Luke and Miriam learn to form their letter of the Day while William works on his writing. Then Miriam works in their Phonics book (MCP Book A), while William reads to me and then works in his Phonics book.  I chose MCP phonics simply because I was already familiar with it from when I taught kindergarten.  I find it helpful to reinforce phonics practice with William since he really struggles in this area and the book has a variety of fun activities to practice phonics.  I bought one for Miriam because she enjoys doing the pages.  There are other options out there but I feel this is a helpful resource though neither of my children can complete the activities without help at this time.

This is a video of William reading last year - he's reading much better now but I haven't video taped him lately ;-)

At some point, I listen to Miriam read a "Bob book" and read with Luke as well.  William and Miriam are working their way through the Bob books, Luke just has to do everything that his siblings do :-).  We originally would check these simple readers out of our Library and the kids enjoyed them well enough that I decided to order them for daily reading practice.  I really like that the books are phonetic readers that gradually build in difficulty and both children have enjoyed mastering the various books.

In the afternoon, we have a story time where I read aloud to them.  Right now we are reading The Swiss Family Robinson (Illustrated Family Classics).  There are many suggested books that tie in with our curriculum and I use the Well Trained Mind and Laura Berquist's books to choose read alouds throughout the year.  I also often just go through and request books online from our library so it's quick and easy to pick them up when we go to the library.  We finish the day with a phonogram/spelling lesson from the Riggs Writing and Spelling Road to Reading Program.  I use this program because I was trained in it as a kindergarten teacher and find it a very helpful tool for teaching reading and phonics and English grammar/spelling rules.  It does take a bit of time to learn how to teach this method so it may not be the best fit for many homeschoolers, but if you really want a strong foundation in Language arts it's worth looking into.  However, if you just want to teach your child to read, there are plenty of other highly recommended user-friendly programs out there. 

We work on the Riggs at the end of our school day because it is nap time so the house is quieter for William's sake. William's most challenging subject is Phonics. He is a very strong visual/spacial learner and has no problem memorizing words and the isolated phonograms but it is very hard for him to blend sounds together to decode a new word and to break a word into sounds. To avoid as much frustration as possible for him, we have focused more on learning words (whole language) while still plugging away at the phonics and we are making headway but he is just beginning to gain proficiency in reading.  Miriam, a strong auditory learner, is well advanced for her just beginning kindergarten stage and does quite well with Phonics and reading the simple "Bob books.".

Sunday, September 29, 2013

September Family Update 2013

The summer has passed by and fall is here.  We have much to be thankful for as we'll be spending the winter in a new, permanent home!  For all of you who have been penciling in our many temporary addresses, now you can write this one in ink :-)  This week is moving week.  We formally close on the house Monday morning and then we'll spend the week packing, moving, de-cluttering (again;-), cleaning and getting ready for the big move on Saturday, October 5th. 

The Summer passed by quickly and the we're already 3 weeks in to our new School year.  The kids have been working hard on their school work and I've been keeping busy with homeschooling, caring for the kids, keeping things running smoothly at home and packing.  I can't tell you how excited I am to be moving to a "permanent" home again where we'll be staying for longer than a few months!  Below are some pictures from the last days of summer and beginning of Fall as well as a quick update about our family!

Phil's been really enjoying his work with the diocese in the Office of the New Evangelization working with young adults and spending time at the many different parishes who have asked him to come give a presentation from his "Menu" of options.  He's organized some great events already and is really enjoying the many and varied aspects of his job that allows him to work to his strengths.

We went to a fun "Family Reunion Day" sponsored by the Diocese and the kids all got a turn in the boat with Dad.

Even Thomas had a turn in the boat :-)
Miriam models her new swimsuit Aunt Jenny and I made for her at a trip to White Sands beach on Lake MI :-)

We are excited that William has already begun preparations to receive his 2nd & 3rd Sacraments.  He is enrolled in the CREDO (religious education) program at our new parish and is working hard to get ready to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation (December 7th) and make his 1st Communion (May 4th).  He is a diligent and steady worker in school but his favorite activity is still spending time outside and riding his bike.  We are very excited to have a safe place for him to ride and a yard for him to play in again.  He's also joined a local "Blue Knights group" and is excited to attend his second meeting this week.  Below is a picture of him picking apples at a local orchard.

Miriam has really begun to be quite independent and has been helping out a lot more around the house.  I'm really grateful for her help and she loves taking care of her baby brother Thomas.  She is really enjoying having more formal schoolwork as a kindergartener and has been racing ahead in her workbooks.  She's definitely an eager learner and has already picked up a lot by watching what her brother has been learning!  She's also in Little Flowers this year and had her first meeting with 16 other young ladies.  What a blessing!

Miriam carries her art project, blue sash and badges for Little Flowers
Luke soaks up everything his older two siblings are learning and amazes us with his 3 year-old perspective.  He loves writing his letters and doing his schoolwork :-)  While we were doing the walk-through on Friday he slipped at our new home and landed on his arm.  Four hours later he was really complaining of pain in his elbow and was in tears so Thomas and Luke and I went to the local emergency room and Luke now has a splint on his arm.  Luckily nothing is broken, and while he still says it hurts occasionally, he seems to be able to use his arm just fine. I kept the two kid entertained by letting them take pictures and movies in the hospital room. 

Thomas, is keeping us all on our toes as he is quick to follow the others around and quick to get into mischief.  He loves to be outside and it will be so nice not to be so close to the street and to have some grass for him to walk around on!

Thomas is following in his siblings' footsteps and loves to read :-)

Two families and 11 kids = a ton of fun for Max's 3rd birthday! (2 not pictured - Thomas Lawson & the newest Bacon in the womb:-)

We were blessed to celebrate our godson's 3rd birthday at the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary
We are grateful for the many blessings God has showered upon us and continue to marvel at His plan and seek to cooperate with it (and hopefully not get in His way:-).

Calendar Activities

Each morning we always begin our school day together with a Prayer, Pledge, Saint of the Day reading and then Calendar Activities. For our first two years, I had the Calendar Activities posted on the wall and the second year I read about and added a Calendar notebook to our routine.

This year, due to our temporary circumstances, we are just using our Calendar binders. Each child has a Binder with a Calendar page where they mark the day's date.  I also call it a "quiet work" binder because I intend to put activities they can work on quietly and independently in the binder while I'm working with another child.

William also has a page to write the date so he can get practice with writing the full date and "code date."

William and Miriam then "Make the Date" with money. I printed and laminated the coins from here (scroll down the page).

They then write (or put a sticker on) the number of days in school,

mark the day with tally marks and check and graph the weather.

I also added a Liturgical calendar page to encourage them to look at the color at Mass. I love that the Calendar Binder is an easy way to practice necessary skills on a daily basis and the kids enjoy this predictable and somewhat independent activity.