Journaling With My Boy

Several months ago, I came across Mamma Jenn’s post about Mamma and Me journals.  In her post she states she got the idea of journaling back and forth with her daughter from Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler.   She, of course got the idea from another blogger at The Homeschool Post.  I think I can stop there but the point is all had a great idea, and the moment I saw it, I knew it was something I wanted to do.  I just needed to wait till the right time to begin.

Well, last week I realized I just couldn’t stand to wait any longer.  BroBro has become quite efficient with his reading fluency and has been doing quite well with the required summaries during his lessons.  So even though I knew details would be lacking right now, I figured this would be a perfect time to start.  I figure the increased detail in his writings would be something neat to see years down the road.

I am so glad, I went ahead and started.  We’ve been doing our own Mommy & Me  journal for about a week now and it has been such a neat thing to see.  Below are 7 reasons why I think this will be something worth keeping around for awhile.

Mommy & Me Journal

1.  A real-world reason to read

BroBro reads quite well and when asked (or required) to read, he is able to do so quite fluently.  Reading is not, however, on his list of must-dos when he is given free time to do with as his wishes.  While reading is required in his homeschool curriculum and additional reading is requested by me throughout the week, I have found that I don’t want to push the issue too much for fear that he will become resentful of reading and will fail to ever truly enjoy it.  Yet, when a personal note is written specifically for him, there naturally is very little complaining and much more, “Did you write me a new note, Mom?”.   Note also that I have chosen to deliberately not write “down to his level” either.  I have intentionally used the words that have popped in my head when I was writing and have found that he has stepped up to the challenge.  He has sounded out the words and used the context and figured out just about all of what I have written.  What a great way to practice his reading skills.

2.  A real-world reason to write

With BroBro’s reading increasing, I have recently considered starting him on some very simple writing composition tasks.  I have kept putting it off though because I have been so reluctant to add additional tasks to our finally smooth homeschooling mornings.  Our back and forth journaling gives BroBro the chance to start those written dialogues and compositions without the pressure of a lesson expectation.  Right now, his sentences are short and his details are limited but I know that will quickly change as he becomes more comfortable with the process and see’s the writing that is being modeled in my notes to him.

3.  Building a relationshipDSC_0581

He is a boy and I am a girl and quite frankly there are some days that I just don’t get him.  He is loud, rambunctious, silly, and completely full of potty talk.  There so are so many days that I just shake my head, look at my husband, and question, “Is that normal?”.    I am confident, though that it goes both ways.  I am sure I am a complete puzzle to him sometimes too.  Journaling will hopefully help us understand each other just a little bit more and continue to increase the relationship we already have.

4.  Opportunity to voice things that might not be said otherwise

I know that this will be even more important as he gets older but why not start now.   As a 5 year old, BroBro is unable to put all that goes on in his head into verbal words right now and of course has even more trouble putting those thoughts into written words.  I hope, though, that by starting this written dialogue early that there will be a trust that will be built and will continue to grow and when the important time comes he will feel comfortable talking to me in person and even in note if so desired.

5.  Opportunity to practice loving gestures (….you are welcome future wife)  

As a little special surprise, after writing out a note the other day I put the notebook in his underwear drawer.  This would be a place where I knew (well, at least I sure hoped) he would find it the next day.  It was so funny to hear him the following morning, calling from upstairs, “Mom, why did you put the notebook in my unnnnderwearrrr drawer?”  He wasn’t quite sure about it but he loved it.  The next day, even though he read and wrote his note to me while sitting in the kitchen were I was working, I noticed that he didn’t hand me the notebook like he had in the past.  He disappeared.  Moments later he made a point of telling me that I needed to make sure I checked my “3rd drawer” before I went to bed that night.   This is big.  The importance of doing those small things for the other person is something that we have been trying to teach BroBro and not something he is often willing to pursue.  So, while he was only imitating what it was that I had done for him, I realized that this was a great way for him to learn how to play out those sweet and loving gestures.

6.  A chance to pass on wisdom

When I write in our Mommy and Me journal, I have BroBro’s complete attention.  It is a time to puff his little boy ego and let him know all of the reasons why I love him, emphasizing his talents, his strengths, and his accomplishments.  In addition, it’s an opportunity to tell him a little bit more about myself, a funny thing that happened to me when I was young myself or even how I handle certain situations.  Today I  jotted down a specific bible verse that was pertinent to a situation he was currently experiencing.  Full attention gives opportunity for full learning.

7.  Having Fun

DSC_0580Who knows where all of this will eventually lead but my goal is to keep it personal and keep it fun.  I might use our Mommy and Me journal to start a treasure hunt or tell a joke.  I might even use it throw out some interesting facts or even questions….ones that he just might have to find the answer to on his own just to prove that Mommy wasn’t able to throw a stump.  The possibilities are endless.

Our Mommy and Me Journal has been lots of fun.  I hope it is something that BroBro will continue to look forward to doing.  I am sure that years down the road these notebooks will also serve as great memories of his reading, writing, and life journeys.  How fun they will be to read then too.

Angry Birds Party

Well, since I am starting to think about my oldest’s 6th birthday I figured it might be time to finish my post on his 5th birthday party.  Better late than never I guess.

Angry Birds Party

Happy Birthday

When my oldest turned 5 and it came time to plan a party there was a toss up.  It was going to be either Star Wars or Angry Birds.

We ended up choosing Angry Birds; I figured Star Wars wasn’t going to go anywhere and I knew that I could pull together some fun and easy-to-put-together activities for Angry Birds.  It turned out to be a real success.

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Ok, so there was a little bit of an identity crisis and a combining of the two but what can you do when you are an Angry Bird, Star Wars lovin’ kid?

Thanks to Sherry K. Designs,  and her free Angry Bird Printable Birthday Kit creating an invitation and adding little touches of Angry Bird themed images to the games and items in the goodie bag was a snap.

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Games and Activities:  

Life Size Angry Bird game – My husband was responsible for building the sling shot and after testing out several different prototypes as well as several different types of balls we finally figured out which configuration would work best.  The kids had a good time knocking over the boxes both with the balls and with their own bodies.

angry birds game

Angry Birds Game

Bowling:  I created a bowling game by collecting some bottles, adding water with a touch of green food coloring and placing Angry Bird clipart on the front.  The kids used a red ball to knock over the pigs. 

Angry Bird Bowling

Cup Stack:  Also a simple game to pull together.  I stacked cups and the kids used a sling shot I found at Walmart to see how many they could knock over at once.

Angry bird cups

Tattoos:  What party isn’t a party without some fun tattoos?  I found these great tattoos at Target and enlisted some of the girls in the application process.  They had a blast and everyone was decked out with Angry Bird Tattoos.

Angry bird tattoos

tattoos again

tattoos 2

Party Favors:  With the free printable balloon faces found at Party Planning with the Party Animal I created fun, colorful gift bags.  Each bag included a bird whistle, Angry Bird stickers, an Angry Bird coloring page, and an Angry Bird notebook.

Angry birds party favors

Cake and Cupcakes:  One of my favorite aspects of the party was the Angry Bird cake and cupcakes.  I have no artistic bone in my body, not a single one, so the thought of decorating any kind of cake or cupcake is beyond overwhelming.  However after coming across Moments with Montano’s beautifully done Angry Bird cake I knew that I just had to give it a try.  Her cake looked easy enough for even me to do and boy did it look good.  Thank you Melysa for your encouragement!

Angry Bird Cake

Angry Bird Cake and cupcakes

With some Angry Bird cupcake toppers, also from Party Planning with the Party Animal, the whole thing came together.  Happy 5th Birthday BroBro.  I look forward to seeing what we come up with on your 6th.  Will it be Star Wars?

Big tip for birthday parties:  Find a friend to take the pictures.  Thank you so much Brooke, for carrying your camera around that day so I could enjoy the day and not have to worry about making sure I was getting some memorial pictures.

Jericho and Legos

Legos!  They seem to be a favorite for boys of all ages.  That would be why we have a nice blue box of them sitting on our shelf in the school-slash-playroom.  I envisioned hours of non-stop fun building and pretending as structures real and made-up were created and torn apart, over and over again.

Can you tell by my use of the word “envisioned” that that is not exactly the case.  Don’t get me wrong.  There is nothing more fun then opening a brand new box of legos with all of the pieces neatly packaged and a nice book of directions to create the next contraption but once that fun is over and the contraption has begun to fall apart then the legos are dumped in the big blue box and once again placed on the shelf…until Mom want’s to take a stab at it.

Yesterday that all changed…at least for the day.  Our homeschool curriculum focused on the story of Jericho yesterday and for the fun of it I found this very boyish-Star Wars-lovin’-Lego video.

It may not be completely accurate (kinda doubt they used a train to march around the city or blasters to take down the bad guys) but it sure did get the attention of one 5-year old boy in this house.  The story of David and Goliath has always been one of his favorites but the story of Jericho may have just taking on a new meaning.

By lunchtime we were creating a wall of Jericho ourselves, complete with our very own Star Wars characters.  Note the appropriate positioning of the “good & bad guys”.  It was an important reminder for me of what things I can use and do to grab the attention of my active 5-year old boy.  Watch out Lego Land, here we come.

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Thankful Turkeys

For the last couple of years we have come up with a way to display our thankfulness throughout the month of November.  Two years ago is was a tree with leaves that listed all of the things the kids were thankful for.  Last year it was a tree again – but this time a Dora Tree.

The free printable for the Dora tree can be found on the Nick Jr. website.  

This year we chose to do a turkey.

I helped the kids trace their shoe to make the turkey body.  We added the turkey feet, face, and google eyes (because google eyes make everything that much more cute) and started writing down our thanks.  I wanted this to be a project that would last all month long so we wrote a feather of thankfulness each day but this could just as easily be used as a family project on Thanksgiving day.  What a special way to count down the days to the Thanksgiving holiday.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

A Thanksgiving Feast

Last week our small (but quickly growing) homeschool group got together for a “Thanksgiving Feast”.  The kids in our group range in age from 8 months to 7 years.  If you include the little guys (who will be moving and ‘trying’ to participate before we know it) there are 11 boys and 4 girls.  We typically get together once a month for crafts and games but we thought November might be a good time to add an additional fun time.  We decided to keep it pretty simple.  All the kids dressed in Pilgrim or Indian costumes.

We gathered in a circle and each said what they were thankful for and then we ate.

Our menu included such things as turkey shaped sandwiches, sweet potato fries, grapes, pumpkin muffins, and acorn created deserts.  Once the meal was over the kids created Thanksgiving cards for the residents at at local nursing home.  I bet this is a tradition that they will be asking to be repeated year after year.  Thanks you Jamie, for suggesting such a fun activity and opening up your home for the feast.

Movie Maker

When I taught 3rd grade I loved intergrading technology into my lessons.  It was always a sure-fire way to get them interested in the lesson and eager to participate.  I was able to maintain the focus of close to 25 students and the final products were always amazing.

I must admit, I have be a bit lax about also incorporating technology into our homeschool lessons.  I pulled the old tricks out of the bag several weeks ago, however.  I got brave by handing over the digital point and shoot camera and the rest is history.  We have a true photographer and eager movie maker on our hands.

The lesson was about parallel and perpendicular lines. What better way to learn these than to go on a scavenger hunt and find them.  With a few quick pointers on the camera BroBro was off, snapping away at every line that he discovered.  He even got creative asked his sister to hold her arms a specific way so that he could get a good picture of parallel lines.

After the pictures had been captured, I uploaded them to my computer and printed a contact sheet.  This way BroBro could sort out the pictures into the correct stacks.  We glued them to a story board and wrote the caption for each.

Once the pictures were in order in iMoive, BroBro and I sat down together so he could narrate.  We had so much fun.  I loved the way his voice is heard on the movie.  This will be something to cherish.

View BroBro’s video on YouTube.

(Try not to pay too much attention to the youngest in the background – apparently he wanted to be heard too)  😉

I AM still here….I think

I know, I know…I keep disappearing.  Who knew, things are just plan crazy around here.  My to-do list is longer than any notebook created to house it and my ability to accomplish any noticeable amount of it during what should be the kid’s 2-hour rest/nap time seems to be nonexistent.  We’ll get there though.  Being back into the routine of school is helpful and new systems are being implemented.

So far our set routine for school has been pretty successful.  Well, that is as long as everyone cooperates!  This means Pretty Girl keeps herself occupied with the loads of “school toys only” stuff I have compiled, Littlest Man sleeps through the 2-hour stretch it takes us to get through school, and BroBro is efficient in what school work he is given.  Anybody else see the problem I see?  Yep, that very seldom happens!  (insert a good belly laugh here)  So in all honesty, our school routine sometimes works but it is always a work in progress.

All jokes aside, I think maybe, just maybe our house is just most often a crazy mad house and there are days I wonder what in this world am I doing by attempting to teach and parent at the same time.  It sure doesn’t take me long, however to remember exactly why I am doing it.  Teaching and parenting is hard enough done together but even more difficult done apart.  So craziness it will be and routines we will revise, and new systems we will implement.  The day’s craziness always ends in the beauty of these three precious kids.

Just look at those sweet faces!  Craziness, you ask?  Yes, craziness!

See, thing number 1,907,976 on list, DONE – “publish a blog post” – Ok, it’s just a mamma’s heart and may be a bit boring but it is done…better stuff to come.  🙂

Linking up with “One Beautiful Thing