My Beamish Brood

My Beamish Brood

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Family Photos 2017

I don't know why it took me until three years ago to start getting our family's photos professionally taken, but if I had known how much joy it would bring me, I would have started long before! My dear friend Jess, owner of Jessica Shurts Photography, is an unbelievably talented photographer who seems able to effortlessly capture the personality of our family every time she lifts her camera. When I take photos of my children, I don't feel like they ever do justice to how I see my children when I look at them. But when I look at these pictures, I see my children with all of the silliness, enthusiasm, and joy that I want to remember about them when they are grown. (And Paul and I look o.k. too, I might add...)

I have nothing much to say about these pictures, except that they make my heart so happy to look at, I just couldn't wait until Christmas to share them with all of you! 

(and also, just look at Blaise's expression in every photo. I dare you not to laugh out loud!)


Monday, November 6, 2017

School Snapshot

As promised, perhaps more for my sake than for yours, I am back to give you a snapshot of an average school day in our little one-room school house. We are into November now, so I can say with some confidence that I have finally stumbled upon the recipe for success in our homeschool days, at least as far as consistency is concerned. I'll be honest, there are some years where I was much more creative with my lesson planning (ahem, threekidsago, cough, cough) but I have never managed to hold to a schedule as well as I have so far this year. 

When I say the word "schedule", I mean it in the loosest possible sense. There is very little that happens at an allotted time during our days, but I have learned to take activities that need to get done and pin them to something that will always happen no matter what. And that usually means food. So this year, our days look something like this:

6:00 Mom awake, morning prayers, drink coffee by myself
6:30-7:30 Everyone else wakes up slowly, eats a bowl of cereal or lays on the couch reading. Their only task is to get dressed by 8:30.
8:30 Real breakfast is served (YES I'm cooking breakfast every day! This is new!)
   Monday is oatmeal
   Tuesday is pancakes
   Wednesday is eggs
   Thursday is cereal (we have a church class in the morning so we need to get out the door)
   Friday is yogurt and granola
9:00 I play our school song (This year it is Multiplied by needtobreathe- just try listening to this song without dancing!) while we clean up the school table from all of the mad crafting that inevitably went on the day before. I've found that I just can't make sure the school table is clean at the end of the day, so I've enlisted the kids to do it for me! I mean, with me... hey, it was their mess anyways!
   Then we begin with prayer, followed by our subjects that everyone learns together (history or science). Then the girls are excused... but they don't usually leave... and we do some math or English. 

It is unbelievable how much has changed in my motivation to do school each day, simply by making sure breakfast is served at 8:30 (or, let's be honest, 8:45 or even 9:00) and then we transition directly to school from the breakfast table. The kids don't have time to get engrossed in other activities, I don't have time to get distracted by dishes or laundry; we drop everything and go to school! Just like normal people! 

After this, the kids are free to do what they want until lunch time. Sometimes I serve a snack, sometimes I read a story, sometimes the kids scatter instantly to every corner of the house. I call them back around noon for lunch, which I usually eat while I'm preparing it. We all sit down at the table and if Blaise is in a good mood, I read a chapter from our current Boys Book Club book while they eat. If it doesn't work out at lunch, I read it during afternoon snack. 

After lunch, I have my ideal schedule and my actual schedule. Ideally, one of the kids would read a story to Edith while I clean up lunch, then I would put her and Blaise to bed and the rest of us would have D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything And Read) time for about 20 minutes. This has happened in reality about twice. Children are notoriously bad at following my plans for their nap schedule, believe it or not. When it does work out, it's dreamy. But when it doesn't, we roll with it.

Following D.E.A.R. time... or C.T.K.W.E.E.D.W.T.W. Time (That's "Clean The Kitchen While Everyone Else Does What They Want" Time), the three big kids usually do our afternoon assignment lists. The trick to making assignments more palatable is to either A. Have a child like Audrey who would like nothing better than to practice her handwriting and math all afternoon or B. Put something they enjoy (i.e. something on the computer) at the end of the list. 

Max's current list looks like this:

-Math Worksheet
-Handwriting Worksheet
-Read 1 Chapter of assigned book, find one word you don't know
-Practice Taekwondo
-Practice Piano
-Duolingo (online Spanish class)

Lucian's list:

-Math Worksheet
-Handwriting Worksheet
-Grammar Lesson
-Read 1 Chapter of assigned book
-Practice Taekwondo
-Practice Piano
-Typing Lessons 

Audrey's list:

-Handwriting Worksheet
-Reading Lesson
-Math Worksheet (sometimes)
-Practice Piano
-Starfall Phonics (online)

Once their lists are completed, they are free to do whatever they like for the rest of the afternoon. Often we have afternoon snack and storytime together, sometimes we play board games together, occasionally we do an art project, but most days the kids entertain themselves with all sorts of creative pursuits that don't take any guidance from me. 

We have dinner when their Daddy gets home, and then the kids have chores to complete before they are free to do what they want after dinner. We usually start winding down around 7:30 with prayers and stories, and then on a normal day the kids are in bed by 8:00. 

Looking at our daily schedule all laid out like this, it actually looks like we accomplish a lot each day! One of my biggest fears as a homeschooling mom is that I am going to fail my kids by not teaching them what they need to know. While other kids go to school for 7 hours a day, we never "do school" for more than three hours, four days a week. But we accomplish a lot in a little time, and we make a point to make learning a way of life. It might not always look like school, but those little brains are growing all the time. I can't wait to see what they become some day!

Late night flash cards with Dad

Audrey loves choosing the letter of the day!

Making apple pancakes... while Edith falls asleep at the table 
Learning doesn't have to happen in a classroom

Sometimes we light things on fire in school...

Learning from a sibling

Lucian is very self motivated in his piano practicing

Outdoor D.E.A.R. Time with the neighbor girls

Our Book Nook

And yes, we do schoolwork at the table sometimes

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Blaise's First Year Blazes By

Oh my poor fifth born! It's November and I haven't yet posted about your FIRST BIRTHDAY!! 

I promise you, my dear Blaiser, that you are loved just as much as your siblings! We dote on you, we adore you... I just have less time to write about it is all. Please don't be mad. 

On September 6, 2017, Blaise Lawrence Yantes turned one year old! He was the first of my children to walk before their first birthday, and he hasn't stopped moving since. He is a sports lover; he was throwing and bouncing balls before he took his first step. He pushes a hockey stick around in front of him wherever he goes, and he is learning to kick a soccer ball. There's not a sport in existence he won't try. 

The other main love of his life is fruit! So instead of opting for a store-bought, thickly frosted, artificially dyed sugar bomb like I did for Edith's first birthday, I went the way of fruit and cream on angel food... mmmmm, his tastes are much more similar to mine. Blaise devoured the fruit, but it took him awhile to discover how amazing the cake was. Once he did, there was no stopping him!

Then it was time to open presents. Realizing this was Blaise's first gift opening experience, his siblings graciously offered to help him with his wrapping paper. It took him awhile to get beyond the fun, brightly colored, crinkly paper, but he was pleasantly surprised to discover what the bags held! He got a couple of puzzles, a book (appropriately titled "Ball"), and... his very favorite...

A brand new playground bouncy ball! 


I have a feeling we may start finding this ball in his bed one of these days. Who needs stuffed animals when you have a green alien bouncy ball?

Blaise, my little man, I hope you know how much you are loved! Every morning you have four siblings (and two parents) who just can't wait to see you! You are a joy to be around, you keep us in stitches with your antics. You aren't about to let yourself be forgotten; you have discovered your vocal chords and you intend to use them. But even though you're a bit loud, and a bit of a bruiser, often your big siblings would rather be beat up on by you than hugged by me. You are their little treasure, and mine too. I love watching you grow, I love your mischievous grin, I love your independent spirit, and I love your snuggles. Thanks for being YOU, Mr. Blaise!