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CH. 5 First Day of Homeschool Co op

This week was another busy one. We started out our week by making a crazy one day trip to St. Louis and back. So twelve hours on the road altogether. But we survived and it was fun. 

Us at the Botanical Gardens


We got back home and back to homeschooling and gymnastics in the evening. 


Elli and I got to go just the two of us to speech therapy this week and she was thrilled to have some girl time with me. Afterwards we got some cake pops as a special treat. Zack and I have been talking about how we really need to start having regular dates with each kid individually. It means so much to them and we need to have more deep and meaningful talks with them to learn about their precious little hearts and minds. 

cake pops!


Friday was super exciting – it was our first day of homeschool co op! Elli is in 2nd grade, Aubi is in kindergarten, and Isaac is in preschool. I’m very excited our this new adventure and the kids are having a blast! So far, this has been an amazing experience. 

first day of co op


Elli chose social studies, earth science, and incredible edibles. Aubi chose PE, earth science, and incredible edibles. 

Overall this was a great week. I said that I was going to work on a permanent daily schedule buuuut that didn’t happen. This week is the week. I’m just sure of it. 

Week 35 of my 52 Week Project


Our busyness is exhausting sometimes but I truly love it. I love getting to spend all my time with my family, teaching them and learning with them.

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Friday Musings – CH.4

Wow, was this a busy week! I wanted to record videos of the girls reading buuuuut here I am and it’s already Friday evening and I still haven’t wrote this week’s Musings. I will record those…soonish. So without further ado:
 1. Firstly, school is going great. Elli is doing great with her reading and math. Aubi is reading above her age level and is able to learn concepts so quickly. Isaac is learning shapes, colors, and animals. Ollie is learning how to open and close doors and all sorts of other wonderful mischief-making skills. This week was also our first week back to speech for Elli.


 2. This week I did something completely out of my comfort zone, but something I should have been doing for years: I shared the gospel this week with a couple of men that came to the door. I did a terrible job and am truly embarrassed (seriously haha), but God is greater than my abilities and I’m determined to face my fears of sharing the gospel with everyone. People don’t save people, God saves people and I have faith that God can soften even the hardest of hearts despite my own shortcomings. 

 3. Some cuteness from our week: Isaac’s new obsession is a book on fighter planes. We have to read it several times a day and he’s takes it with him everywhere we go. To be fair, you never know when a book like that will come in handy. Better to be prepared. And, though you may not believe me, I seriously don’t mind reading it a billion times. It’s an extensive book with tons of interesting facts. Not only does it go into the parts of a fighter plane and the different types, it also goes into the history and tells stories of famous pilots. Basically, I am now a leading expert on fighter planes. Not to brag or anything. 


 4. Also, I got to photograph a friend and her little boy last weekend and it was amazing. Photography has been an amazing creative outlet for me – it seriously makes me so happy. Here are a couple of my personal favorites from the session. 


I’m sure I’m forgetting tons of wonderful things that happened this week. Actually I know I am. Hopefully I will get better at the soon. I am really enjoying this though. If anything, this will be a wonderful keepsake for my kids someday. Or an embarrassing splotch. One or the other. 

CH.3 Adventure at The Fort

This past weekend we got to go on an adventure with Zack to The Fort in Fort Smith, AR. The history there is amazing. It’s one of our favorite places to explore. You can tour the building, there are beautiful walkways and a park right on the river.


I love those relaxing, carefree days of adventure with the family. They are the best. 

We also went to gymnastics where I unknowingly went with my pants inside out. We went to church and learned about church history which was very informative and interesting. 

One of the most exciting parts of the week was signing up for co op and classes. The girls each get three classes. Elli chose social studies, earth science, and incredible edibles. Aubi chose PE, earth science, and incredible edibles. Isaac will be with the preschool class and Ollie will be with me except for the hour that I’ll be assisting in the preschool room. 

I found out that they will also be having pictures taken like school pictures. How cute is that?!

Taylor kid updates- 

The girls are doing great with school. Aubrey’s reading her sight words and mathing like a pro. Elli is progressing and doing great too – her favorite subject is American history. 

Ollie is a wild little thing. He has a tremendous amount of energy. He’s not quite as snuggly as Aubi and Isaac were but he is very generous with his kisses, at least where momma is concerned. 

And Isaac has been telling me he loves me all the time and you really cannot hear that too much. Every time makes my heart leap for joy. 

Tomorrow we are going back to the tea shop to have a tea party with our pastor’s wife and daughter. The girls have been wanting to go with them for weeks and the excitement in the house is brimming over. 

This week I’ve been doing some Fall cleaning. Fall cleaning is for those who are extra cleanly and all the moms who missed the mark on Spring cleaning. I fall into the latter category. Slowly but surely order is coming to our household again. 

Hello, order! Goodbye, chaos!

Maybe a routine will be next?! I hope so!

Friday Musings- Ch.2 First Week of School

Week 1 of the new school year is almost over and it’s been a great start to our new school routine. It hardly went smoothly and almost nothing happened the way I planned, but as Shakespeare said “expectation is the root of all heartache” and I definitely did not expect anything to go as planned. 


 Hey! Will you look at that?! Not even a little heartache in the Taylor home! That Shakespeare must really know what he’s talking about. 


So now, with week one coming to a close, my goal for next week is to keep working towards being and doing better and learning more and more each week. One of the most amazing parts of this journey is how much I’m learning right there with them – how to be more organized, which learning systems are best, what their individual learning styles are, how much coffee I can drink before I explode…important stuff. 

If I can teach my kids one thing it would be a love of learning. I want them to never stop looking for answers to all those burning questions bouncing around inside their heads. For us, homeschool isn’t a place or an activity we do during the day. Homeschool is a way of thinking and approaching life. It’s to see every opportunity as a learning opportunity and a chance to expand our thoughts, skills, and knowledge and I want this to never end for any of them.


School curriculum and thoughts:

This was our first week using Reading Eggs and Math Seeds and, so far, it’s been amazing. The girls cannot get enough. All day long they are begging for more and having a blast. The apps had them do placement tests to see where they needed to be and both of them placed a little bit behind where they actually are but it was because they weren’t listening or following directions. But, I thought that them doing a review isn’t a bad thing and also learning how to better follow directions. Plus, they are speeding through it and are almost caught up already in just a week. The problems are very similar to our horizons curriculum we used last year. I sit right there with them to help and guide them but they are better able to work solo than they were before and that’s great for us since we have two very demanding toddlers in our home and sometimes disaster strikes and I have to dash away at a moment’s notice. 

The absolute BEST thing about these homeschool apps is that it is strengthening their love for learning. They realize they’re learning but then they don’t either. Yes, I realize that I make no sense. I like being mysterious. They’re having so much fun playing their school games that they don’t realize how much they’re learning. 

Another daily routine we do is reading books together and playing math games using dominoes and dice. 

Oh! And before I forget, on Monday we went to our homeschool group’s “Not Back to School” party. We met so many new amazing people and I’m looking forward to meeting more. Next week we will attend our first co op! Eek! I’m really looking forward to going to co op every Friday!

Livi

Friday Musings- Ch.1 New School Year

I’m starting a new series on my blog called Friday Musings. But since you read the title, you already knew that, didn’t you? Maybe, just maybe I will be able to keep up with a weekly family update every Friday. I have kept up with my 52 week challenge so I’m hopeful. So, here’s the first installment:

This week we are preparing for a new homeschool year. Elli is going into 2nd grade and Aubi is starting kindergarten. We actually never stopped doing school over the summer and Aubi has been doing kindergarten for the last two months at least, but next week we will “officially” begin the school year. I don’t like to stop because I am not as productive when I get out of a routine and it is SO hard for me to start everything all at once. I do much better if we keep some small routine going and then start just a couple new things. 

Next week I will be doing my very mom-best to establish a daily school routine for the girls. Right now we have daily goals that we attempt to reach everyday but there is zero routine. Everything just gets done when it gets done. Part of that is because of the boys. They are 2.5 and 14 months and are so unpredictable and needy. I read homeschool mom blogs all the time with these awesome moms with like six or seven kids who have these amazing school schedules and they accomplish so much during the day. Like, I cannot figure these super moms out. They are amazing…or fibbing. I’m not sure haha. They do inspire me to try harder so that’s nice. 


Last year I bought math and language arts workbooks that were part of a homeschool curriculum called Horizons. They were ok but probably not the best for Elli’s learning style. So I’ve been trying to find something else for us. I wonder if I will be like this every year – trying all new things because I wasn’t completely satisfied with the year before. It’ll be interesting seeing how much I will continue growing as a homeschool mom. If you count preK this is my fourth year homeschooling and I’ve never done the same thing twice. I learn more and more about Elli and her learning style each year and I become better equipped to help her learn the way that’s best for her. 


So, last year we did horizons and this year I am trying out an app/website called Reading Eggs and Math Seeds. We’re trying them out this week and so far I am really liking it. Since it’s an app it allows the girls to continue working on their assignments without me if the boys need me. With the workbooks I had to sit with Elli the entire time and it was very time consuming. With reading eggs and math seeds they feel like they’re playing a game, and it emails me progress reports every step of the way so I can see exactly what they are learning if I have to step away for a moment. I really like this. We’ll see what becomes of it but so far I am very happy with it as a math and language arts tool. 

​​We are also using something called Schoolhouse Teachers which is a website filled with different curriculums and lesson plans created by homeschool moms and teachers. There is a huge array of different choices of subjects, levels, and styles. We have been using this for our extra subjects such as science, social studies, and bible lessons. It’s only $13 a month for unlimited access to all their curriculum and community. 
One more new thing that we are doing this year is that we joined a homeschool group in our area. The homeschool group will provide support, encouragement, and new friends. And soon we will join the fall semester co op that is affiliated with the group. The co op meets every Friday for three straight hours. In those three hours your children can attend three different classes. The girls went with me to orientation on Monday night and had a blast. They could not stop talking about how excited they were the next day. I’m very anxious to see where this year takes us. A lot of new adventures and firsts! 


I worry constantly that I’m not doing enough for my kids academically. I put a lot of pressure on myself but I also feel the pressure from those around me who think I’m a looney fruitcake who wants my children to be socially inept little weirdos. I mean, who doesn’t want that? I’m terrified of failing my kids and I want what’s best for them. I pray that this homeschool year is our best year yet and that we conquer many milestones and have a joyful time together. I pray that I do my very best to teach and instruct them and help them to love learning for their entire lives. 

I’m excited for this new year! 

5 Tips for Naming Your Baby

I have named a lot of children in my day, four to be exact, so I’m kind of a baby naming expert AND my husband and I have argued about every one of those names, so you see, I know what a dilemma choosing your child’s name can be.

Naming your child is one of the hardest decisions you will ever make. I’ve created a list of five tips that are sure to make you and your child the talk of the town. If you have a tip that I didn’t name, be sure to send it to me!


1. ALWAYS go for the alliteration. ALWAYS. Alliterations are an absolutely amazing alternative. (What?! Did you just see that alliteration?! Ahhhhhh yeah! *air punch* *another air punch* hashtag winning.) Alliterations are easy enough.

Examples: Tilly Tammy Taylor. Trevor Todd Taylor. Tiberius Tyrannosaurus Taylor. I could go on, but you see the pattern.

Your children will forever thank you for giving them an alliteration name.


2. Do you have a favorite book or movie? A favorite character? Name your child after them! Examples: Frodo Taylor, Rapunzel Taylor, Severus Taylor, The Doctor Taylor, Charmander Taylor, Spider-Man Taylor. Wow! There are so many awesome choices in this category. AND this rule is a sure-fire way to make you the cool, trendy parent. EVERYONE will love you!


3. Or maybe you want to go in different direction altogether. Rules one and two might have you standing out a bit more than you’re comfortable with. Maybe you’re a blend in with the crowd sort of person. Nothing wrong with that! The answer to this is simple: just google “Most Popular Names of (insert year)” and pick the number one name. That’s it! If you’re super adventurous you might even try out #2, or #3! But, seriously, don’t go too crazy, you wild animal you. Example: according to this the top boy and girl names for 2016 are Liam and Emma. So a fun way to play with that would be to put both names together and get something truly unique. In this case you get Liamma. I pronounce that as llama. You may pronounce however you’d like.


4. Use your child’s initials to spell something awesome. Ex: Zoey Isabel Taylor- ZIT, Rupert Oswald Taylor- ROT. Both adorable names! If you go this route you must make sure to monogram EVERYTHING or else you went to a lot of effort for nothing.


5. Go with a unique spelling. This will be especially helpful if you are going with #3 above. If your child has a common name the best thing to help them be differentiated from the other five Liam’s and Emma’s in their class is to give them an alternative spelling. I’ve seen a lot of people adding an extra letter here and there or using “y” interchangeably for “i” and “e”, but I have another idea that will set your child apart – use numbers in place of letters. Use 3 instead of “e” and 1 instead of “i” and, voilà, now you have 3mma and L1am. You’re welcome.

The amount of wisdom found in just this article alone is astounding. I really hope that this will help you on your baby naming journey.

Love Livi

PS did you follow any of these rules? I’d love to know!

An Embarrassing Tale

What’s the most cringe-inducing, most embarrassing moment your kids pulled on you over the weekend? Was it a tantrum? Was it something disgusting they did? Would you like to hear our story? It just might make you feel better about your own moment. It’s not a long one, don’t worry.

STORY TIME:

I’m telling our pastor and his family (who we love like our own) about how the girls were asking me some big, whopping theological questions that I was having a hard time answering. Things like “If God is all-powerful why didn’t he stop Adam from eating the apple?” and other tough questions that I am not well-equipped on answering. 

I know, I know. I know what you must be thinking! My kids are so mature and, dare I say, sophisticated? Can’t you just imagine us sitting around discussing theology over tea and cucumber sandwiches? That’s probably exactly what happens. Probably.  


(Side Note: our pastor loves teasing our kids and they love the attention and love to tease him back but they also love to say inappropriate things. That’s a baaaad combination.)

So, he asks the girls if they have any questions for him about free will and sin. Without missing a single beat Aubi yells at him in a fit of giggles, “I’ve got a question about your butt!”


The girls roar with laughter and pound the table with their fists, while I bury my face in my hands and try to telekinetically transport myself anywhere else. Anywhere. “I’ve got a question about your butt.” She really did say that. Whyyyyy, though? Because she’s five and butts are hilarious. 

Now you know the truth about the Taylors and our sophisticated fanciness. Butt jokes. That’s where we are – butt jokes. 

So, yep. That happened. And no one was offended or anything. He has kids and understands, but that doesn’t make me any less mortified! 

Share your stories with me! What’s an embarrassing thing your child has said or done?

Livi