Monday, September 29, 2014

Glosser Chronicles: Summertime Review

Well, if you follow my blog at all, you know that I've taken the last three months off from my monthly reviews to soak up the summer with my husband & kids while we adjust to being a family of six! Then last month we started our new school year, so my last few posts centered around homeschool. I hope you enjoyed the peek into our family's education! If you missed it, you can catch up here.

But now the summer months are over and autumn's official beginning has taken its place. While we transition to a new season, it sounds like a good time to reflect back on the past few months and thank God for the many blessings He so richly bestowed on us this summer! Sit back, relax, and prepare for a multitude of photos as you ride along down Nostalgia Lane with me.

I have to begin this photo series with the biggest event our summer: the addition of our sixth family member (seventh if you believe in dog-children)! Madelyn Chara Glosser was born to us Tuesday, June 17th. And our world will forever be changed for the better.
(I posted a blurb about her on Facebook, which I will share below.)

Pictured here visiting her Great-Grandpa George
for the first time. (He is my paternal grandfather, 
whose wife Madelyn was named after.) 

The newest member of our family joined us on Tuesday, June 17, 2014, at 11:20pm. Weighing in at 7lbs, 13oz, and measuring 20in long, she's the second largest baby of our four. Labor & delivery was THE BEST experience we've ever had thanks to, literally, my team of helpers. My husband, mom, and 3 sisters (one joining us via Facetime in Reno, NV) were my incredible support team who I am intensely thankful for. In fact, my midwife wants to hire them to be at all her births! :) 

The Name:
She gets her namesake from my paternal grandmother, one of the most breathtakingly beautiful women of God I have ever ever had the pleasure to know. She has been an inspiration to me in many areas of my life and a pillar to my spiritual walk. Her death when I was in sixth grade was a pivotal time for me and a driving force that finally sent me running to the loving arms of Jesus. I pray that our little Madelyn will love the Lord & serve Him all the days of her life as my Grandma Madelyn did.
A note about her middle name, Chara, (pronouced kar'-uh): The Greek word chara means "joy" and is from my personal devotions in the days following the hard news that she was transverse & then breech in my eighth month of pregnancy. The Lord led me to John 16 & Luke 11 where I was encouraged in the Spirit to simply remember to ASK. I was worried and frustrated and had completely neglected asking my most gracious heavenly Father for a good outcome & a healthy baby! Now I know that God's will is perfect, but, as I so often do, I had placed my own will above His. I had to surrender to Him and take comfort in the fact that He gives GOOD gifts to His children! It only when I had surrendered my will that His Holy Spirit brought me such amazing peace and comfort... and gave us our baby's middle name: Chara (John 16:24). Madelyn is a beauty and a blessing! And I can honestly testify that our joy is indeed full.

June is insanity at our house. No joke. You know the definition of insanity, right? It's "doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results." Well, apparently, that's our approach to family planning, because all but ONE of our kids was born in June. Oh, and it's also the month of my birthday... aaand our wedding anniversary. So yeah. Kind of busy. It wasn't on purpose, but it certainly would appear to be "something utterly foolish or unreasonable."

But you know what? June is a big party! We get to celebrate the precious lives of three of the most amazing people this world has ever known AND the union of a certain super handsome, unbelievably gifted, agape loving man to this certain goofy, giggly girl. And I get to blow out candles and eat cake. We may be utterly exhausted come July 1st, but who can complain? June rocks!

Berry picking and nature centers were top picks for summer fun this year. I am so thankful we have such a fantastic U-pick farm not-too-far from home! We had PERFECT weather (for the first time ever?!) so we spent the morning out there and loaded up on blueberries... that will hopefully last us through the winter. My husband's been begging (politely) for a blueberry pie ever since!
We also enjoyed a splendid day at a nature center near our home where we learned about local habitats and wildlife. We'll definitely be revisiting soon! 

We followed up our nature exploration with a picnic lunch and some "beach" time just down the road from the nature center. (In Iowa, that means lakeshore.) The kids LOVE anything involving dirt, so the majority of the afternoon was spent digging in the sand. :) However, I do have one little fish that enjoys the water very much, so she spent a lot of time going back and forth getting the best of both worlds.

My grandpa lives on a farm down in southern Iowa, so when harvest time came my dad drove down, picked some sweet corn, and carted it back here for us. Yep, my grandpa still farms -- at the ripe age of 86 & still going strong!
Even though this year with the new baby wasn't a great time for corn-picking, I tried to involved them in the shucking process. (You can imagine how well that went.) Actually, my oldest did very well & persevered even when she thought she'd had enough! That may have had something to do with the quarters I promised for every bag she shucked... Shhh!! There's a place for bribery in parenting, I tell you.
I have so many great memories of times spent growing up down on the farm. I hope to impart the same sweet fondness of the country to my kids!

Mmmm. Some Sunday mornings we like to do Dunkin'. Because they're donuts, people. And we're donut people.

Some of my favorite highlights of the entire summer were spent with our families. Have I mentioned how incredibly blessed we are to have both sets of grandparents and {most} aunts & uncles within a short driving distance? Much leisure time was spent with them: popping by Dairy Queen on a whim some hot summer evening for a frozen treat and chasing bubbles, snuggled up on the couch reading a good book, family night dinners with games & great conversation. It's absolutely wonderful.
But I would be remiss not to mention the fantastic time we spent with our far-away-family! My older sister and her family (including my only niece and nephew) came to Des Moines to spend over a week with us. We had a blast soaking up every ounce of time we could with them before bidding adieu. We miss them every day but are thankful for the delightful memories created this summer!

This summer was one of frosty heat. Ok, mostly heat. So we cooled off the way many families do... in the water! With so many littles and no swimmers (yet), we don't do the public pool much, but we do enjoy our share of backyard water play! 
And as a special treat, we attended the Frozen festivities at Barnes & Noble one evening. It was a pajama story time, complete with make-your-own snowflakes & face paint!

OUTDOORS! That's why we love the summer. So much to be done in the midst of God's glorious creation! We drink it up 'til we're full to the brim with summer goodness, and it lasts us through the frigid winter long enough to soak up the spring rains.

Oh... how did this get in here? And who are these weirdos? ;) Eh, this is just how we do.

I had the joy of passing down a summer tradition to my family this year. Snookies is one of those community landmarks and one of my favorite places to dip my finger (and tongue, as it were) in summer's sweetness. I used to frequent it with my besties in the "good ol' days," and now I hope to do the same with my kiddos!

My summer could never be complete without at least one trip to the Iowa State Fair. It is for sure one of the best summer pastimes! I think it improves every year, too. They have a magnificent team working year-round to make certain that "Nothing Compares." I think they've nailed it!
This year's visit actually corresponded with our first day of school and, not-so-coincidentally, the Fair's Homeschool Day! The kids explored and discovered many different things about Iowa culture, including agriculture, sustainability, leisure activities, and the arts. There were many many hands-on opportunities, and the girls even milked a cow!

August just wouldn't be August without Dows Corn Days. I've been going since I was a little (and I mean little!) girl. It's a simple farming community sweet corn and watermelon smorgasbord, but it excites me every year and I'm so glad I can pass on the tradition!

Well, I hope you've enjoyed the trip down Memory Lane with me! Truthfully, August & September have hit me like a ton of bricks as we've been dealing with what seems like difficulty after hardship after grueling challenge. So I needed this more than anyone. It has been both refreshing and encouraging to review what Good Things God has given us, and my soul feels uplifted! This was just the boost I needed. Thank you, Jesus!

"Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning." 
-- James 1:16-17 (NKJV)

What did you do this summer? Have you taken a moment to thank the Lord for the Good Things He's given you?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Get Organized! Using Workboxes for your Homeschool

We've been using workboxes in our homeschool for two years, and they've been extremely helpful in keeping me organized and helping us stay on task through the homeschool day. They have also been useful to promote independent learning with my first-grader this year (which enables me to spend more time with the three littler ones)!

I LOVE this system and I've received a few questions about it, so I wanted to share with you all how we use them in our homeschool. I'm a visual learner and I know there are more of you out there like me, but sometimes photos just aren't thorough enough for me. I benefit greatly from someone walking me through something and showing me how to do it or at least how they do it so I have a better idea of where to start. For this reason, I put together a video tutorial! Now, this is my first video ever, so please be gracious. It's far from perfect. :) However, if you bear with me, I hope you will have a better understanding of Sue Patrick's system and maybe even walk away with some ideas of how to make it work for your family. I broke it up into two videos so you wouldn't get too bored. ;)

In the first video, I share with you exactly what is "The Workbox System." It's mostly informational, but very important if you want to give workboxes a try. After I talk about Sue Patrick & her work a bit, I show you our workbox carts and introduce how they work.

In part two, I walk you through how I set up for each day the night before and get our workboxes ready to go!

Here are some links for things I mentioned in the videos (some are affiliate links):

Sue Patrick's Workbox System: A User's Guide
Ten Drawer Cart
Calendar Notebook
Elementary Daily Learning Notebook
Velcro dots
Task Cards
Subject TRIO

If you would like access to my own subject/activity cards, shoot me a comment and I'd be happy to share my link! I'm also happy to answer any questions you may have.

For more information on this system, or to order Sue Patrick's ebook, go here.

To look at my other homeschool posts, look here:
Our Curriculum, 2014-2015
Tour Our Homeschool Room
First Day of School, 2014-2015
Our Typical Homeschool Day

Have fun discovering this new way to organize your homeschool days!

Do you use workboxes in your homeschool? Have you modified them at all to fit your family? Share in the comments below!