Coffee is my lover in the morning. So until our lips meet, mommy is off the clock. I can't hear you, I can't see you and I can't comprehend you, until I have my coffee!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Mommy Awareness

While being a mom, there is a level of awareness with me. At the end of the day, I look at the clock telling me is midnight, and I'm like, "What the heck?! Where did the day go?! I didn't get this done, did I give my kids enough attention? Did I teach them well enough today? did they eat healthy? Did I ever eat anything besides coffee?" then I realize it's too late for bath time, rush my kids to brush their teeth & then send them to bed with a kiss and a hug. then I lay down & feel completely guilty for not giving them more of myself throughout the day.

Anyone else? Am I alone here? I feel like I'm going on fast forward & I don't know if I got anything accomplished. When the kids are asleep and I'm in bed, this is when my mind is clear and I am fully aware that the hourglass has run out. My mind then races, almost in panic mode, realizing that I wanted this day to count. I want each day to teach something that sticks. Something they will use or remember when they are adults. Or create memories or traditions they will use with their children. But oftentimes, the reality is, that most days are just small steps in the right direction. Not every day has to be a big event. I have to let go of this supermom mentality. If I pick up Doublestuff Oreos instead of making homemade cookies at the end of a busy dance day, that's OK! Because tomorrow I will make something homemade, delicious, and hopefully healthy. The point is, we can't be 100% all of the time. No one said you have to! Do what you have to do, do your best, kiss your kids goodnight, and by God's grace, tomorrow will be another day.

I hope I am raising amazingly successful adults, but I won't know that for many years. What I do know now is, I have 4 amazing children, and they are everything I want them to be.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Our Workboxes

So if you've looked around the web for workboxes for your homeschool, you've seen lots of plastic boxes right? They come from Ikea, Walmart, wherever. The idea is the same, you have several bins that pull out, with an assignment in each drawer. Here is a common picture of the workbox system:
Looks awesome right?! The child pulls out an assignment starting at #1 and continues on until they are done. Wonderful system by Sue Patrick. So, I started researching Amazon, Walmart, Hobby lobby, every place I could to find the cheapest bins, as they were at least $35. $35 x 4, was way more than I wanted to spend. So I started looking on Pinterest and Google to find workbox alternatives. Then I found an idea where they used shoe boxes to hold their assignments. Again, I didn't have the space for this many boxes, plus the rack it needed to be contained within, times four. So when I came upon this blog, my lightbulb turned on! It was brilliant! Just the answer I was looking for. It was inexpensive, easy to collect the materials, and can still use the Sue Patrick workbox method. Instead of working vertically, it works horizontally. 
So, I went out and bought 24 boxes of cereal, the giant size, as to be sure all our books fit into the box. Boy did I get many looks and comments! haha "Your kids must like cereal!" "Wow!" "You gonna eat all of that?" Living near the Duggar family, I assume many of them probably thought I had 15 children or something. But no, it was just for a little homeschooling family. ;)

Then, I took the kids to pick out their own scrapbooking paper to put on their workboxes. I thought this would be much more fun, help attach them to their schoolwork, and promote individuality. They really took this seriously and chose the paper that fit their personalities. I love looking at their shelves and nodding my head, Yes. This is totally her, or yes, he really does like sweets.
So many cute prints at Hobby Lobby! It was so fun watching them choose their own prints!

Once they chose their prints, I bought 2 containers of Modge Podge. We went home and there I constructed these magnificent workboxes.
I had to cut the tops down a little to fit them in our bookcase. Then, I wrapped the scrapbook paper around the cereal box, and used a foam wide paint brush to apply modge podge all over the entire box. This helps the paper seal to the box and soften, as well. Once this dried, I used a packing tape dispenser to wrap tape all around the middle of the box and the bottom of the box, so this protects the scrapbooking paper and also helps it be more sturdy for the books that will be put in and taken out of the box. Now you're done and you let it dry. It doesn't take very long. I proceeded to find some workbox numbers to attach on the boxes. They are often called, workbox tags, and you can find them in all different kinds of characters. I chose some by what characters my kids like. Izayah got Transformers, Skyler got Phineas and Ferb, Alexi got Disney Princesses. I laminated the tags, then used square Velcro tabs to attach to the front of the boxes. Once the student completes the assignment inside the box, they take off the Velcro number and put it in the box. This signifies that the assignment is complete to the student, and the teacher.

If you have ANY questions, please please ask me below in the comment section! I was so blessed by this idea, that I would love to help you in any way that I can! Here is the finished product.

My kids absolutely love their boxes and this method. My 3 year old has claimed 4 of her older sister's boxes as her own, because she wants to have workboxes like her siblings! It's adorable. She loves to school and gets so tickled when she finds work in her boxes. She takes the whole box into the front room, pulls out the assignment, and gets to work! Usually she has a coloring page, Toddler Bible, busy bag activity, math, etc, that she works on while the older kids do their Heart of Dakota curriculum. I will do another post of what's in each box, to help you out! :)
Remember, don't stress if you can't do what that blogger is doing, or that other family is doing, because it may look fabulous, but it doesn't mean it's going to work out for your family. Find a way to fit it to your budget, your personality, or your ideals. That's one of the many perks of homeschooling, we do what we want to! {wink}

Back Into the Homeschool Grind

Today we started back at homeschooling. I loaded their workboxes late last night. (A post on our workboxes coming soon!) I  went to bed, preparing myself emotionally that they were going to be grumpy kids in the morning and dragging their feet on their first day back at school in months. Boy did those awesome kids prove me wrong! I wake up, and find that all of the 3 older kids were awake. The boys were doing chores, which they do in order to play a video game. I said, "You know we are doing school today right? No video games until it's all done." This is our rule. They said, yeah  like they remembered. Okay, great. The girls then run into the homeschool/dining room and check their workboxes. Alexi graciously gave Kaydee 4 of her boxes last night so that Kaydee could feel like a big kid. Big, proud smile inserted here. The girls grab one box, bring it into the front room floor and prepare to work on their given assignment. WHAT?! This was before either of them had eaten any breakfast, mind you. I was feeling like this may be a great start to the day! Hooray! Then, the boys asked where they start. I told them, and Izayah sits at the dining table and reads, Skyler bounces from the front room, to sitting in the hallway reading. (I love the beauty of homeschooling. There are no required seating. You sit and learn where YOU feel comfortable! This is vital to Skyler especially. He is a wiggly boy that doesn't appreciate someone telling him to stay in a chair for hours on end.) I continue to help the girls as needed, and I get them some cereal to eat while they read. As the hour goes on, everyone stays on task, the house is quiet, and there is a happiness in my heart knowing that my children are happily, I said happily, learning! They were done with all but 2 subjects after just 1 hour! I was shocked. We've never been done that fast.

What a great day back at homeschooling! God was with each of us. I just know it. He gave me patience, He led the children to learn, and He guided their hands as they worked. Not once during our homeschooling journey have I ever regretted this decision. Honest! Not once have I wished I could send them back to public school. Sure, I've had those days where I wondered if I am doing enough, am I teaching them the right things, could I add more subjects in? That's because deciding to homeschool was something I didn't want to fail at. So I prayed and prayed, asked friends about it, researched, and talked to the kids about it. I still went back and forth on it, because I didn't go to college. How was I going to raise and teach all my children to be intellectuals that go into the world and find successful careers? One night I went to bed and said, "Okay God. It's all in your hands. Help me come up with the answer." I went to sleep. When I woke up, I promise, I had this sense of awareness and confidence. I KNEW that God wanted me to homeschool my children. Not only did I know the answer, but I felt confident about it. Now my kids don't even want to go back to public school. I absolutely love homeschooling, and I know it's the right thing for us to do. My kids are thriving and learning, what could be better then seeing this in action? It's the best.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My Children, My Blessings

So since my last post, Skyler and Alexi both fell ill with the stomach virus. By the grace of God, that was where it stopped. I know have to steam clean my carpets due to some..ahem..accidents. (yuck!)
Anyways, tomorrow is my last day of work, until we come back in the new year. I'm going to miss my sweet babies, but I am excited to get to work on homeschooling my kids. We haven't done any schoolwork if a few months. But my smart kiddos will pick up quickly and I will make sure we get caught up. :)

I have so much fun watching my girls dance. It makes working well worth it. I would do anything to encourage their love of dance. I always wanted to dance as a young lady, but my hard-working mom worked 2 or 3 jobs just to pay the bills and feed us 3 kids, so dance wasn't an option. But it's fine, I am who I am. Now, I just do my best to give my girls what they want, as long as they work for it as well. I remember telling Alexi how there was a no crying rule if she made the competitive team. That was during the summer, and here it is December, and she has never cried at dance class!! If you know my dramatic, diva daughter, you won't believe this, but seriously though, it's TRUE! She cried an ocean at home, don't let it fool ya, but she is working hard at dance, and I couldn't be more proud! Bring on competition season!!!!! No wait, I'm really not ready! Shh! I play a good game....

The kids are doing great though. Izayah is 12, his voice is starting to change, he has acne, and he is taller than me now! Everytime I look at him, I just can't believe my first-born son is 12 year old and approaching his teens years! P.S. I'm getting OLD! I will be 30 next month-30! Gulp!
Skyler is 9 years old right now. He has a short fuse, and gets easily offended. But he has a big heart and he loves to hug his mama still, which I LOVE! He is doing so well homeschooling. It really suits him much better to be around a person that gets him. He is allowed to read in bed, upside-down, whatever-as long as he is reading, I don't care!
Alexi is 7 years old. She is kind, funny, and smart. She's doing well at homeschooling. She seems to really pick up on math easily! She did NOT get that from me. She has made some sweet friends this year through dance. It warms my heart to see her so happy! 
Kaydee is 3 year old and I can't imagine our house without her presence. She is the entertainer. She cracks us up! She is a sweet, sour, dramatic little girl. She will give you a big hug, walk away and then scream at you to get her some chips in a bowl. haha  She loves her some Doritos chips! Kaydee still sleeps with me at night. She is such a cuddler. I call her my "Snuggle Bunny". She has to fall asleep with my arm over her and she has to be cuddled up right next to me. It's precious in every way, and much to the displeasure of my husband, I am in no hurry to move her out. I know this is my last baby, and I want her to stay as young as possible. Because these kids of mine grow in a blink of the eye. It breaks my heart, but makes me excited to see them grow up, all at the same time. It's hard to be a mom; but I wouldn't change any of the impatient moments, stomach bugs, temper tantrums, bloody noses, or moments when my child approaches me and asks me what this particular curse word means. (God help me!) I am blessed each day I wake up with my 4 children. They are the best things I have ever done. I am so lucky to be their mom. It's the best.thing.ever.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Expectations are Meaningless

Don't expect, don't plan, and don't assume, when you're a Mom. Heck, as a human being.  Life changes spontaneously. I had a great day at work, Kaydee had a fun day at church school (as she calls it). We come home, get Alexi ready for dance class, go to the dance studio and do our normal routine. Alexi goes to class, Kaydee plays, I stone a costume, all is well. So how was I to know what laid ahead of us? I don't. you don't get a crystal ball in life. You just walk one foot ahead of the other and hope you don't get hit by a bus. There are no guarantees in life. So when we got home, Kaydee fell asleep as I'm making dinner. Two hours later, I'm laying in bed watching tv and I hear, "Kaydee go tell Mommy you threw up!" I jump out of bed and go to the hallway to see Kaydee crying and covered in orange vomit! I clean her up at the toilet and tell her to finish throwing up. She had thrown up all over our giant bean bag and down the hallway! Now, there is something so heartbreaking about seeing your child vomit uncontrollably. I just prayed she would stop and I could take it from her. But my poor baby continued to vomit all night. It's now midnight and we are still awake. She is resting now and watching a movie on my phone. I just feel so bad for her. She was vomiting in the tub and saying, "I don't wanna throw up!!" It was so, so sad!

I had plans tomorrow. I wanted to take the kids to the library to get new books. Kaydee absolutely loves going to the library. I have Tuesday and Wednesday off, but now we will have to stay home so not to infect others. I have dance commitments to abide by. But sometimes you don't control what happens tomorrow or today. You take what you get and make due with it. You make it the best you can. So instead of all of my expectations for tomorrow, I will instead snuggle with my baby girl, help the kids get some schoolwork done, clean a little, and hopefully not become ill myself. I just thank God that we all woke up today. We are not all so blessed. A little stomach flu, that I can handle.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Pardon My Silence

I apologize for not writing, but you see, I don't know who reads this, or if anyone cares. Then I started thinking about how nice it would be to look back and remember the silly things my kids said, or what adventures we got ourselves into on a specific date. So, here I am again, attempting to write this blog. Lord knows I can't keep a photo album or journal about my kids, so I should be recording it all now, before they all go off to college. Then I can look back to this blog and cry about my little bitty babies. So, where to start?

Let's start by saying my kids love being homeschooled! Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus! It wasn't as hard as I expected and I love it more then I could ever comprehend. There is nothing better than watching your children grow and learn. You get to see that light bulb moment at the very time that it is being turned on. It's exciting to then hear them speak about something they learned later on. One example is, one day, Izayah was using a measuring cup to create a recipe to make a clay tablet for a Social studies assignment. I showed him how to measure, we completed the assignment. The end? No. A week later, I asked Izayah to look and see how much milk we had left, because I was writing a grocery list. He responds. "We have 1/4 left." I don't know if my jaw actually dropped or not, but I was shocked! I mean, yes I teach them, but to actually hear that they have retained the lessons,  and are using them in real life situations, is thrilling! This is what it's about people!

Needless to say, the kids are thriving and learning each day. Michael, my husband, then had to take time of work because of a severe bulging disc. I was then determined to go back into the workforce and help with the bills. Luckily, the child care center at my church was hiring. I work there in the mother's day out program, which I absolutely LOVE! I have the best co-workers, parents, and children there! It's an amazing place to work. We're always joking about how you can't wear mascara to work because you will cry almost daily. haha! God's spirit and love just surrounds that place. So once I took the job, I asked my kids if they wanted to return to public school since I will be at work, and they all yelled, "NO!" They did not want to return to school, and we decided as a family that homeschooling was working well for us. Even my husband, who was very skeptical about homeschooling in the beginning, was now on board! #GodThing So, they have been taking it very easy until my husband was able to have surgery and go back to work. This was a very hard time for us and struggled to pay bills. I have been so blessed as to have amazing people in my life to help me along the way. My friends, church family and family, have helped us in so many ways. They have been a huge blessing to us! I am looking forward to getting back into the grind of homeschooling now. I have been dropping hours of work, so that we can begin picking it back up again.

Life is up and down and all around, but without my faith, my family, and friends, I don't know how I would have gotten through these last few months. I have cried so so much. But things are better now, God made sure of it. It could have been worse we had enough food to eat, we had a house over our heads, and my children are healthy and happy. What more do we need?

*Stay tuned for more. I will try to update more often. It feels so good for my soul. I love to write. I need to come here and pour my heart out to you. Thanks for listening. Feel free to comment.

Love and Coffee,

Monday, September 30, 2013

We are homeschooling this year!

I am so proud to exclaim that we are homeschooling this year! It took many prayers, advice from supportive friends, and straight-up courage to proceed with something that has always been in the back of my head. I thought, how can I teach my kids? I don't have a degree in education.. But this year, during the summer months, God planted this seed into my heart. He told me that it IS possible. I can do this!

One Instance of Why I Wanted to Homeschool

In the previous public school year, my son Skyler had many problems with trips to the office. Once, I happened to be visiting my Kindergartner for lunch. I'm looking around for Skyler, who eats at the same time..I can't find him. Finally, I see him coming to lunch much later than the other kids. He comes into the cafeteria with a very sad face. I tried to mouth the words, "What's wrong?" But he just looked down and shook his head. I knew he must have gotten in trouble for something. I watch him grab his lunch tray and walk into the office. He is then instructed by an office staff member to sit at a table located right outside of the principal's office. This is outside of the office and sitting near the cafeteria where everyone can see that you are in trouble. Humiliating right?! I was sadden by this. I wanted to know what was wrong, but I tried to maintain by distance, and just watch what was happening. He struggled with something that he needed opened, looked around, raised his hand, yet no one came to help him. I could have cried right then, but I controlled my emotions and said goodbye to my daughter, who's lunch hour was over. Then I walked over to my son, which was on my way out of the school. I asked him what happened. He shook his head, like he was embarrassed, or perhaps, too afraid to tell me. I encouraged him to tell me, and that I wouldn't be mad. I just wanted to know why he was sitting all alone. He told me, with tears in his eyes, "I got in trouble for flushing a paper towel in the toilet." I'm sorry, but I scoffed here, as I thought this was a silly reason to reprimand my child, take him away from class, make him late for lunch, and have to sit outside of the principal's office. This broke my heart. I could not keep it in anymore. I cried. I hugged him tight and told him that I loved him, and I would see him later. Yes, I wanted to take him home right then. Yes, I also wanted to stomp into that office and demand answers, but I also wanted my son to learn from this, and try to make better decisions on his own. I can't rescue him from every situation. I have to let him make a mistake and fall from it. I know why they did it. Because it could cost the school a lot of money, if that paper towel had clogged the toilet. Why did Skyler do it? Because another boy was doing it. We talked about this later that night and I told him why they got upset with him. I told him that I did not want to see him sitting out there again, because it is sad to Mommy, and it is not good for him to miss his schoolwork.

This was just the icing on the cake, for many other instances that had happened during that school year. He just seems misunderstood at school. He is a wiggly, bouncy, affectionate, precocious, curious boy. But it's okay, Mama gets him 100%. Here at home, he can read his book laying upside-down in his chair. He can wiggle his legs while he works on the computer. If he wants to do math on the dry erase board, instead of his paper-that is OKAY! Why? Because, we homeschool. And there is no one on Earth who knows my children better than I do. Therefore, there is no one who cares about their future, more than I do.