Monday, August 24, 2015

Tot School 8-24-15 (16 Months)

Today was Little Brother's first "official" day of Tot School!

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Basically, I spent about 45 minutes engaged in some intentional playtime with Little Brother this morning while Big Brother was completing some of his independent work.

I am using ABeka's Nursery Arts & Crafts book as somewhat of a "spine" and adding in simple activities as we go along.

Little Brother will be 16 months old at the end of this week.

For the next month, our theme will be the color Red. As soon as Little Brother heard me say "red" this morning, he immediately did the ASL sign for RED. I had not actively taught him this sign, but he seems to have picked it up from when Big Brother and I were signing colors during our Morning Memory Hour over the past few weeks. Little people don't miss much, folks! :)

So we pulled out the first sheet in his ABeka book which had a nice big, simple picture of a red crayon for him to color. He has a set of Jumbo Crayola crayons that are just perfect for his chubby little hands. We sat down together at his little table, I gave him the red jumbo crayon to use, and he colored to his little heart's content. All the while I repeated the word "Red" and the ASL several times.

We placed his artwork proudly on the fridge for Daddy to see when he gets home! :)

Next, to go along with our Red theme, we read the book Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown. I pointed out the red barn on the cover and then I read the book while Little Brother practiced making animal sounds.

We also read Goodnight Moon by the same author. We paid special attention to the red balloon in the book today.

Then we went back to the little table for some playtime! I found a red fire truck and a red fire helmet for him to explore. The truck had red lights that would flash at the push of a button, and he found that very amusing for a while.

Then I pulled out his basket of scrap construction paper (one of his favorite things right now!). We found a sheet of red paper and just took turns ripping it up. He loved it!

Last I got out a small can of red Play-Doh for him. He liked squeezing the Play-Doh and tearing off pieces. I rolled into a ball for him and let him press it flat. He mostly seemed to enjoy playing with the little can and lid.

And that was our version of Tot School for today! :) Otherwise Little Brother has been free to play and toddle around all day (except for an hour nap). He is a busy little person right now for sure! So much to explore and so little time!

I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into my toddler son's "school" time today! What kinds of activities have your children enjoyed at his age? Leave a comment!

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Friday, August 21, 2015

More Service Projects for Children & Families!

Since my last post about service projects, we have come up with some other projects and ideas. Some are things we have done or are doing. Some are things we hope to do at some point!

I wanted to share these with you!

Color a Smile

We found out about Color a Smile this week, and we are excited to get started!

Color a Smile accepts cheerfully colored pictures and drawings and sends them to active U.S. military serving overseas, homebound senior citizens, and nursing home residents who need a smile!

As moms I think we really take for granted all our children's artwork and the cute little things they draw that we display on our refridgerators. There are lonely people out there who would love to have some of these sweet works of art to let them know that someone is thinking of them.

Anyone of any age or ability can volunteer to color. Their website has tons of nice printable coloring and free art pages to choose from. I really love the idea behind this organization, and I love the fact that even my toddler can be a "volunteer!"

This is Little Brother's artwork from this morning. I think this will definitely bring someone a smile, don't you? :)

Thank Your Mail Carrier

This was an idea I had seen several places around the web, and it is so simple to do!

Big Brother made a nice Thank You card that said "Have a nice day!" inside. He also drew a sweet little picture of the mail truck and a mailbox. Then we gathered up a few pieces of candy and put them in a small ziplock baggie. We placed the card and candy in a larger ziplock and attached an index card to the front that read "To: Mail Carrier From: The * Family."

Big Brother took the little "surprise" out to our mailbox and put up the flag. He was really excited!

Mail carriers have tough jobs, and they make sure our mail gets through to us come what may! I hope our mail carrier was blessed to receive our little "Thank you" gift.

Homemade Toys for the Animal Shelter

Big Brother is a huge animal lover. He really has a tender heart for all kinds of animals. He talks about becoming a vet when he grows up, so we shall see! At this point we are unable to have any pets at our home (we rent), but he loves playing with my parents' new beagle puppy! We worked together and made the toy pictured above for their dog, and the little fellow loved it! Now Big Brother wants to make more and donate them to the animal shelter.

We made this toy from strips cut from some of Big Brother's old Tshirts. It was super easy! Just cut 9 long strips, knot them together at the top, braid the strands, and knot the bottom. Instant rope toy! You can get detailed instructions with pictures here.

Get Friends Involved!

We are planning an "Art From the Heart" Day as a service project to do with friends in our homeschool group. Not only will we enjoy some fellowship while doing fun art projects, but we will be supporting several worthy causes at the same time!

We are getting together to make cards for Cards for Hospitalized Kids & Operation Christmas Child. We will also be coloring pictures to donate to Color a Smile. We are asking each family to bring a donation (some type of art supplies) with them to be assembled into Art Kits for the children at University of Kentucky Children's Hospital. I am really looking forward to serving with our friends this way!

Some other projects we have looked into and are considering include:

Sending letters and/or care packages to soldiers through Adopt a U.S. Soldier or Any Soldier.

Donating baby items to our local pregnancy resource center.

Donating our used shoes to the needy through Soles4Souls or some similar organization.

I have started a Family Service Project board on Pinterest! Make sure you follow me there to get more great ideas!!!

We are really working on learning about acts of kindness and service in our homeschool right now! How do you incorporate these kinds of service into your family or homeschool? I would love to hear your ideas!

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Service Projects for Children & Families

Love is an action word!

Jesus taught us to love, and He lived His life on earth as an example to us of what it means to be a servant. As a Christian parent, I believe it is important to teach our children to love and serve others.

Here are a few ideas for service projects that are great for families and children!

Operation Christmas Child

A ministry of Samaritan's Purse, Operation Christmas Child is a simple way to bring hope to hurting children around the world.

Our family participates each year, and it has been a real blessing! This project is super fun and simple! Just grab a shoe box, fill it with gifts, and drop it off at a local drop-off center during National Collection Week in November! Be sure you check out the website for guidelines and this year's dates/locations.

This can be really fun as your children help to choose gifts for the child who will receive the shoe box. They can also make a card or write a letter to place in the shoe box. And the most important thing to include with your shoe box gift? PRAYER!

If you REALLY want to make an imapact, you could organize a shoe box packing party with your church, homeschool group, or friends! Everyone brings shoeboxes, small gifts, wrapping paper, etc. and has fun working together filling and praying over the shoe boxes! We have done these packing parties before and had pizza and games.

Cards for Hospitalized Kids

This is something new to us! I just found this organization over the weekend, and we got so excited that we started making cards this morning!

Cards for Hospitalized Kids accepts homemade cards and distributes them to children in hospitals all over the United States.

Be sure you check out their website for card making rules and the mailing address.

We plan to make a few cards each day and send them in once a month. Big Brother is really excited to be able to bring joy to sick and injured children this way! While we are asked not to include religious messages or Scripture on the cards, he is praying over each card we make asking the Lord to help the child who will receive it.

I also like the idea of having a Card- Making Party! Invite friends for some fellowship while making cards for hospitalized children! Just have some simple snacks and provide lots of paper and art supplies. I think this would be especially fun for a Christmas party!

Rest Home Visits

When I was growing up, my brother and I, along with some friends, made monthly trips to a local rest home to sing and pray with residents. They looked so forward to our visits each month! We have also enjoyed Christmas caroling at several local rest homes. Sometimes we would just walk the halls singing and visiting different rooms. Sometimes we would also bring simple snacks and gifts. Most of the residents LOVED this! For many of them, it is a treat just to get to see children and young people. This would be a great way for us to teach our children to put love in action!

These are just a few simple ideas. Do you have more? I would love to hear your ideas for family friendly service projects!! Please leave a comment!

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Sale on ABeka Book Kits!

This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission from each sale. This does not affect your cost at all. Thank you!

I love to find good deals! Today I wanted to share this one with all of you!

From now through August 18th, CBD has many ABeka Book kits on sale up to 15% off!

Just click here to take advantage of this special offer!

My brother and I both grew up loving our ABeka history and science! Today, those are also Big Brother's favorites! He absolutely treasures his ABeka history and science books!

I used the ABeka K4 program to teach Big Brother to read. They have a great phonics program that I would highly recommend to anyone!

If you are looking for a Christian based curriculum that is highly respected for its solid academics, give ABeka a try!

This sale ends on August 18th. Be sure to check it out!

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Joy Cometh in the Morning

For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Psalm 30:5

It has been a while since I have shared any kind of devotion-type post or really shared anything personal from my heart. Today I felt impressed to share.

This past weekend I was very troubled and burdened. I am not going to go into details, but there is something I have been praying about for a very long time now. Little by little, I was starting to loose hope that this prayer would ever be truly answered.

Saturday night, I was weeping. Hopelessness and defeat were all I could feel. I felt so small and weak, and I was unable to carry this burden any longer.

I told my husband I couldn't sleep and went to the living room. I knelt down at the couch and poured out my heart to the Lord. My husband came to see where I had gone, and when he saw me praying he quietly left me to be alone with the Lord.

I had gotten myself all upset and worked up. I wept and told the Lord everything. I told the Lord I did not know what to do.

Now I did not necessarily hear what you would call an audible voice with my ears. There was no lightning or thunder. But a definite, clear thought came into my mind at that moment that told me exactly what I needed to do. It was as though the Lord spoke Psalm 30:5 to me right at that moment and then said, "What you need to do right now is go back to your room, go to sleep, and trust Me that there will be joy in the morning."

It was just me and the Lord there. I made the choice in that moment to claim His promise and to take Him at His precious Word. I told the Lord that was exactly what I was going to do. And then I thanked Him for whatever it was He was going to do to bring me joy in the morning.

So I went back to the bedroom much more peacefully than I had left it a few minutes earlier. I had this song rolling over in my heart as I went on to a peaceful sleep. Somehow I just knew there would be joy in the morning.

The next morning was Sunday. Somehow I was the last one to wake up and get out of bed. I immediately remembered the burden and my tearful meeting with the Lord during the night.

Would the Lord's promise be true? Or was it just wishful thinking on my part?

The first thing I saw when I stepped out of the bedroom let me know the answer.

It wasn't anything huge. There was no earthquake, no parting sea, and no flashing neon sign from God saying "Here's My answer!"

No, it was only something very simple that I just happened to walk out of the bedroom at the right time to notice.

Was it the full final answer to the prayer I had prayed for so long?! No, it wasn't. But it was definitely out of the ordinary, and it was unmistakeably a huge step in that direction!

And that same voice only I could hear in my heart of hearts seemed to say, "See there. While you were sleeping, I was working."

It nearly brought me to tears...but this time tears of joy! I quietly thanked the Lord and went on to get the family ready for church.

I am still waiting to see the full work the Lord is going to do. But I can have joy and hope in my heart to go on now.

Folks, I do not know who reads this blog. I have no idea what burdens and trials you may be facing right now. I do not know the answer to your personal problems and questions. But I do know this:

You can claim God's promises!

You can take His Word to the bank!

Even when you cannot see what He is doing, you can trust that He is working all things out for your good and His glory!

Yes we may cry. Yes we struggle. Yes we face things in life that we can do nothing to fix on our own.

But the good news is that God is there with us through it all! He can fix it! He can dry our tears and restore our joy!!

And He does it to remind us of that blessed someday when all our trials will be over, every burden will be lifted.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21:4

Thank you for reading this personal testimony from my heart today. Has the Lord ever answered prayer for you or met with you in some special way? I would really love to hear about it!

Friday, August 7, 2015

How to Motivate Your Homeschooler

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We are finishing up our first week back to homeschool for the year! We have accomplished a LOT this first week, and I have been so proud of how Big Brother has been able to stay on task and stay motivated with his 3rd grade schoolwork.

This does NOT come easily for him. Not only is he a 7 year old boy, but he also has some pretty noticable struggles with things like attention, concentration, impulse control, working memory, sensory processing, and such. He is a very smart, capable boy; he just has a totally different personality and learning style than I do! I have spent a great amount of time in prayer since we started homeschooling in preschool that the Lord would help me to teach him. Every step along the way, the Lord has been faithful to lead me to just what we needed.

When Big Brother started struggling with schoolwork in 1st grade while I was pregnant with Little Brother, I discovered the workbox system. It seriously saved our lives! We have tweaked it along the way to work for us. This year I wanted to encourage him to take more responsibility for his work and to learn to better manage his time.

I briefly mentioned our new motivational system in my last post. To keep Big Brother on task for 3rd grade, we are still using our workboxes along with a detailed schedule, a simple homemade assignment book, stickers, and a timer. I wanted to do a more detailed post on how our little system works in case some of you may be looking for ways to keep your own children motivated to do their schoolwork (or chores, etc.).

First of all, I have been trying to find ways lately to help Big Brother begin to realize the natural consequences for his actions. He needs to realize that making good choices brings him desirable consequenses while making poor choices brings undesirable ones. Often these kinds of consequences occur naturally and logically, and therefore they are very effective for teaching our children lasting life lessons.

So how does that apply to our homeschool?

Well, there is something Big Brother loves to do. He loves to watch DVDs. We do not have any kind of cable TV in our home, but we do have a DVD player with some family friendly and educational DVDs. He mostly loves old Western kid's shows like Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, and Gene Autry. If we did not place limits on his screentime, Big Brother would spend hours and hours watching his DVDs.

Last year, we made a rule that he was only allowed to watch anything on weekends (Friday night through Sunday). Even then he was only allowed screentime if he had good behavior during the week, had completed all his school work, and had no attitude probelems. BUT he still struggled with that system. If it was, say, Monday morning and he was dawdling with his school work; telling him he had already lost his screen time priveleges for the coming weekend was not extremely effective. The consequence for his actions was too far away. And to him, the thought of having to do every single thing just right all week long to get his reward seemed overwhelmingly impossible; so why try? And often we would go ahead and allow him to watch something even if his conduct during the week had been less than ideal, thus further weakening the effectiveness. There were no specific limits on how long screentime could last, and we often had battles over when to turn it off. It was obvious this was not working.

So after some thought and much prayer, we settled on our current system. And it is working amazingly well so far!

Here are the details:

I created this simple assignment sheet for Big Brother to use for his keeping up with his schoolwork each day. We keep these sheets in a simple 3 ring binder that stays in his desk. All of his assignments are written out in the same order they are arranged in his workboxes for the day.

We have created a detailed daily schedule using our Love My Schedule set. It is clearly placed on our fridge, and typed copies of the schedule for each day are placed in Big Brother's assignment binder as well. Each subject or activity is given a certain reasonable amount of time to be completed. There is also a designated time for "homework."

I purchased a small, cheap digital timer at Walmart for keeping track of his time. I also have a simple set of school-themed reward stickers from Dollar Tree.

So for a normal Spelling assignment, Big Brother is allotted 15 minutes. This should be plenty of time. Before starting the assignment, we set his timer for 15 minutes and place it on the desk beside him. I am available if he has a question, but normally he does his Spelling very independently. If he works diligently (without daydreaming or dawdling) and finishes the assignment before the timer beeps, he chooses a small sticker and places it in the "Done" column beside his spelling assignment in his assignment book. The textbook, notebook, or whatever he was working on gets placed in a plastic drawer beside his desk for me to review or grade. The workbox the assignment came out of remains empty so he can physically see at a glance how much work he has left at any time during the day.

Each sticker placed on an assignment earns him 5 minutes of screentime for that evening. No more waiting all week long for his reward/consequence!

If he chooses to waste his time in some way and the assignment is not finished at the end of his allotted time, he does not receive a sticker (nor earn 5 minutes of screentime) for that assignment. It gets placed back in the workbox it came from to be completed during homework time that afternoon. He then goes on to the next subject or activity with the eager hope that this time he might earn a sticker.

Homework time occurs after the school day should already be over. Thus it cuts into Big Brother's free time (a natural consequence of making poor use of his time earlier in the day.) When a homework assignment is completed, he simply places a checkmark in the "Done" column. The books are then placed in the drawer with his other assignments. When all workboxes are empty, school time is over.

After school and any homework has been completed, we count up Big Brother's stickers for the day. Then if his laundry chores are done for the day, he gets a bonus 10 minutes of screentime.

Right now the most time he can earn for one day is an hour. A couple days this week he has earned the whole hour, but on other days he got 55 minutes. We use the timer again to make sure he gets his full reward but does not go overboard. The limits are clearly set. He knows when the timer goes off, so does the DVD. So far he has been very agreeable to this. He seems to see and appreciate the fairness of it all.

There are several reasons I feel this system is working:

- The reward is something he really wants and is willing to work to earn. Watching DVDs is a big deal to Big Brother! You know your child, and you know what that one "thing" is that would motivate him or her. Use it to your child's advantage! Watching DVDs might not seem very novel to your child, but perhaps he or she would really enjoy getting to play computer games, talking on the phone, or texting friends for a certain amount of time as a special privelege.

- His goals are clearly defined and reachable. He knows exactly what he has to do in order to earn his screentime. And goals are broken down into managable chunks. No more stressing about having to get it right all week long. All he has to worry about is the current assignment. Every assignment carries the hope of earning a little privelege. So if one time deadline is not met, he still has a shot at meeting the next one!

- The ball is in his court. He quickly realizes that I am actually making up to an hour of daily screentime available to him. How much (if any) of that privelege he gets to enjoy is up to him and the choices he makes. He has a sense of being in control of what happens.

- He's happier because we actually have time to get to all his favorite subjects and activities during the school day! The timer helps to keep the day moving along. No more spending "forever" on an assignment he does not want to do or that is a struggle for him then not having time to do the fun things. When the timer goes off, the assignment is put away and we move on. Also by the time homework time comes along, he is looking at the assignment with fresh eyes. Knowing that freetime or a more enjoyable activity is coming up next really helps him get it in gear!

- There is a huge sense of accomplishment by the end of the day. There is nothing quite as motivating as knowing you have accomplished something and worked hard to earn something that is valuable to you. Getting to choose each little sticker is a little celebration of another job well done! By the end of the day, he can see that he truly has a lot to be proud of!! His confidence soars because he knows he can do it!

He is learning so many valuable lessons with this system. Being able to manage his time wisely, focussing on one task at a time, taking responsibility for his own choices, and feeling confident in his abilities will all serve him well as he grows into manhood.

I highly recommend the book Motivate Your Child for more great advice and practical parenting tips related to this topic!

Click here to download My Assignment Sheet!. For only 10¢ you can download once and print/copy as many as you need. The cost simply helps me to be able to create more helpful printables for you! :)

Have you found this post helpful! Do you have a similar system at your house for motivating your children to do schoolwork, chores, music practice, etc.? I would love to hear about it! Please feel free to comment!

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Monday, August 3, 2015

First Day of Homeschool 2015

Today was our first day of school for the 2015-2016 school year! Big Brother is now officially a 3rd grader! Little Brother is officially...a very busy toddler! ;)

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Here is a run down of our day from start to finish:

5:30 a.m. - I am up to nurse Little Brother. By 6 he and I are back in dreamland. Daddy is already gone to work.

7:00 - Big Brother and I get up and get dressed for the day while Little Brother catches a few more Z's.

7:15 - Big Brother puts in his first load of laundry.

7:20 - Breakfast

7:30 - We both grab our Bibles and have our own quiet time with the Lord. I am reading Song of Solomon right now with my Good Morning Girls Group, and Big Brother is currently reading some of Jesus' Parables. Today is the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37.

7:45 - Exercise! This is something I am trying to include early in our day. I am trying to lose weight right now, and Big Brother needs some movement to aid his concentration. Today we spend almost 15 minutes doing some simple aerobics. Then Big Brother switches out the laundry quickly before school.

8:00 - SCHOOL TIME! We start our school day with prayer followed by what we call "Memory Hour." This is a new addition to our schedule this year, and Big Brother loves it! During this hour I introduce some important facts from each subject that he will be studying this week. We repeat these over several times and practice them with fun games. I introduce the Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) as the hymn we are learning right now, and we sing it a few times. We start learning the first couple lines from a poem called "Little by Little" with hand motions. We are learning the Books of the Bible starting with the Books of Moses (we are singing them and using hand motions). We are currently memorizing Psalm 139:14 & Psalm 33:12 as they go along with what we are studying in science and history respectively. We also do the first exercise in our Oral Language Exercises book and learn some new words in both Spanish and ASL. Everything during this hour is done aloud (no writing), and we include as many games, songs, and motions as possible to help the information stick.

Sometime during this hour Little Brother wakes up and gets a quick diaper change and some breakfast. :)

9:00 - Big Brother starts working on a page in his cursive book. He works diligently but does not finish before his timer beeps. It gets put back in the workbox to be done as homework.

(Note: We have started a new motivational system this year to try to help Big Brother stay on task. He has his own timer and assignment book. He gets a certain amount of time to finish each assignment. If he beats the timer, he gets to place a sticker in his assignment book beside that assignment. If the timer goes off and he is not finished, he does not get a sticker and the assignment must be finished during homework time. For each sticker he earns 5 minutes of screen time for the day. He also earns an extra 10 minutes for completing his laundry chore for the day. Today, cursive was the only assignment that was left for homework. Big Brother earned 55 minutes to spend watching DVDs.)

9:15 - Big Brother begins his spelling lesson for the week by typing his word list on his laptop. I need to get some dishes done, so I give Little Brother a tray, a muffin pan, and a handful of cottonballs. He spends a good while transferring the cottonballs from the tray to the muffin tins and back again.

9:35 - Big Brother starts the first lesson in his 3rd Grade Rod & Staff Bible Reader. The story picks up where his 2nd Grade reader left off at the death of King Saul. He reads part of the story to himself and part of it aloud to Little Brother who has climbed up into his lap while I am finishing up the dishes. :)

10:00 - Little Brother is no longer interested in the cottonballs, so we put them away and I give him a plastic box full of Play-Doh cans. He plays with the cans of Play-Doh while Big Brother and I go over his English lesson. While Big Brother completes the written part of his assignment, Little Brother and I look at a farm picture book together.

10:30 - Break time. Big Brother does another laundry switch-a-roo then we all grab a snack. I check my emails and quickly sweep the kitchen.

10:45 - Now is Big Brother's independent reading time. He has 30 minutes to spend reading a book that interests him. Today he reads the first 2 chapters of Missionary Stories from Around the World. He enjoys reading about Nate Saint and Jim Elliot who were martyred in the 1950's in South America. While he is reading, Little Brother plays with several plastic balls and fits thim into the muffin pan.

11:15 - Big Brother reads a few pages in his science textbook, and I quiz him orally over what he has read. He is learning about the nervous system. He is fascinated to learn that the right side of his brain controls the left side of his body and vice versa.

12:00 noon - Lunch! I heat up leftover pizza for all of us, and Big Brother and I continue discussing what he learned in science. After eating his pizza, Little Brother is ready to nap. I let him nurse a little, then I put him in his crib and turn on a CD. Soon he is napping, and he sleeps until school is over.

Meanwhile, Big Brother finishes eating, cleans up the table, finishes up his laundry chores, and plays in his room for a few minutes.

12:30 p.m. - Big Brother and I sit down together to do a history lesson. This is Big Brother's favorite subject. Today we learn about timelines and begin reading about the life of Christopher Columbus. Big Brother is making a history notebook this year, so he cuts out a picture of Columbus I had found online and pastes it onto the timeline in his notebook. We spend some time finding important continents and countries in his Children's Atlas of God's World as we read. When the reading assignment is done, I give him a quick oral quiz just to double check his comprehension. He still has some time leftover, so he spends it browsing his new history textbook.

1:15 - This is Big Brother's piano practice time. Today he works on some simple finger exercises, Doxology, and Ode to Joy. While he plays, I straighten up the living room and prepare materials for his math lesson.

1:30 - We learned late in the school year last year that Big Brother somehow does better if we save math for the end of the school day. He is excited to see a textbook and notebook instead of math workbooks this year. We start off math class with a 2 minute flashcard drill of 0-10 addition facts. Big Brother does great! He has definitely not lost his math skills over the summer. I take a few minutes to show him how to set up his notebook page and how to copy down the problems from his textbook lesson. Then I assign him 1 1/2 pages in his textbook to complete. He works diligently and finishes with time to spare. I call out the answers and he scores his work. No mistakes today! :)

2:30 - This is homework time today. Big Brother finishes his cursive workbook page from earlier. I give him a few pointers on how to write the cursive "b." He finishes the page quickly, and school is officially over for the day!

2:45 - Big Brother decides he is ready for his screen time now, so we set his timer for 55 minutes. I watch a short Chip & Dale cartoon with him. Then I leave him to enjoy his reward while I take time to mark off today's assignments and reload his workboxes for tomorrow.

3:30 - Daddy is home!! About this time Little Brother wakes up and is very glad to see his daddy!! My husband has offered to grill steaks for supper this evening to celebrate our first day back to school. I am very thankful since I am pretty tired after our full day. He gets the grill fired up while I set the table, make quick salads, wash some fruit, and let Little Brother go ahead and start eating some chopped up cucumbers.

4:15 - Suppertime! Yummy! :) Big Brother enjoys telling Daddy about his day.

4:45 - I clean up the dishes and sweep the kitchen while Daddy tends to Little Brother's dirty diaper. (Have I ever mentioned that I have an exceptionally awesome husband?) Big Brother is now dressed in his cowboy attire and ready to play! He and Little Brother spend the next good while romping about the living room. I love my noisy, messy boys! :)

6:45 - We start getting shoes on to go outside for a while. Meanwhile Daddy cuts up a watermelon and puts the pieces in the fridge for later. (Little Brother sneaks a few bites.)

7:00 - We all head outside for some fun and exercise. Tonight we just walk up and down our street several times. Then both boys enjoy roaming around and playing in the backyard.

8:15 - I come in for a shower. Daddy and the boys stay out little longer.

8:40 - The guys come in and we enjoy some watermelon together. Then the guys take turns getting cleaned up and we all start getting ready for bed.

10:00 p.m. - We finally have everyone clean and in bed! We like to be in bed ealier than this, but that doesn't always happen. I take a few minutes to finish up this post and read some emails and news before I go on to sleep.

This has been a great first day of school! I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into our lives today! I am still looking for ways to keep Little Brother busy while I work with Big Brother. Any suggestions for me?? Please feel free to leave your ideas for keeping a 1 1/2 year old boy busy in the comments section!

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