Our 7 O'Clock Bedtime

Thursday, March 7, 2019
 Early to bed means early to the park!

Maybe it’s the time of year, maybe it’s just me, but whatever it is I’ve been called to change things up.

My children have always gone to bed late because part of our family culture was that they visit with their dad when he comes home from work. He arrives home later in the evening which meant the kids were staying up at least until 10 sometimes even 10:30. Because we homeschool this has never been a problem. The kids sleep in as long as they need and rest times are part of our everyday routine. They’ve never lacked sleep so I’ve never been concerned.

This week I decided to commit to a 7 o’clock bedtime. It’s been fantastic! We are only four days into it but it’s going to stick around for a good long while. Simply because I feel like I am a better parent. The days waiting for their daddy to come home were so, so long – worth it but long. Now that my youngest is two my pregnant or postpartum days are behind me. We are in a new stage and what better time to revamp our family rhythm.

Having that set bedtime, and early at that, allows me to better plan our day. Nap time for my youngest has to be at a certain time. Noon seems to be the best. Before our 7o’clock bedtime he would have his nap anywhere between noon and two. That works fine for a late bedtime. But, now, having these clear markers in our day really helps me plan around them. This is still new and we are still building that structure but it is giving me a sense of peace and calm that I was missing.

In a sense, I question myself in why didn’t I implement this sooner! But, I do remember throughout these early years, I tried. There were times I remember trying but it never stuck and it never worked. Perhaps pregnancies and postpartum drove my strong need for family connection in the late evenings. Now we connect as a family in the mornings before my husband goes to work. The kids are up early and they won’t really let him sleep in. Fortunately, it’s a sacrifice he’s willing to make. And, after all, who doesn’t want to start their day with wrestling and playing dinosaurs?  

A New Set-Up

Monday, March 4, 2019
Sum Swamp with my first grader. 

My pre-k daughter doing some unprompted free play sorting.

I’ve been trying to get a solid routine down for what feels like years now. I see other homeschoolers that seem to have a plan in place and I try, try, and try again to get my own. Well, last week everything that I thought was working just seemed to unravel at the seams. We took a few days off from homeschooling while I wrapped my head around the best way to move forward.

We’ve been working with a language arts and math curriculum for my first grader that I like. But, last week it just wasn’t cutting it anymore. I think my first grader was getting bored with it – bored as in painfully bored. I don’t blame him because I, myself, get bored without variety.  So, what I did was this:

I put together two different boxes –one for language arts and one for math.  Each box has a few different games and workbooks (or anything fun relating to the subject). The ideas is he picks one game and can choose which 2-3 pages of workbook per subject he wants to do for the day. Working with the games and the workbooks of his choosing gets those subjects covered for the day, mostly.

Today was the first day I implemented our new set up and I’m very pleased. We started our day by playing games - Mindo with my pre-k daughter and Sum Swamp with my first grade son. I gave my toddler a scale and some dominos and he was content with that for quite a while. After we finished Sum Swamp we effortlessly moved into our math workbook. We took a break for snack and then came back to do our language arts. I continued with the curriculum I’ve been using because I really do have such great results with it. My son breezed through it so we moved on to finish our academic day with Rory’s Story Cubes.  

Other highlights of the day included me attempting to sew a trivet or basket with some yarn my son finger knit this morning and spending some time knitting while my children wrestled in the backyard. It was a media-free day and kids were in bed by 7:00. Success! J

**As I was helping my son with his pajamas I handed him his shirt and pants, he says, “SH-irt – S H like we read today and P for pants.” I acknowledged and praised him for his observation and applying what he has learned. It made my homeschooling mama heart happy and also was a really nice way to ease into our nighttime routine. 

Grade One Watercolor Painting

Monday, February 4, 2019

Towards the end of December and beginning of January I made the decision that I wanted to use up all of the homeschool material we have on hand. I don’t want anything new brought in until our old stuff is used up. I have kits, workbooks, materials, and some curriculums that are all in that must use before moving on list. I guess you could call this my use what you have challenge for homeschool.  

This week’s use what I have was the Waldorfish Grade One Watercolor Painting Curriculum. We started this curriculum in September. We started off with a fairly good consistency with the lessons but somewhere through the months we let it slip out of our days. Today I tried to revive it.

I love this curriculum. I wanted to include Waldorf watercolor painting in our homeschool but I had no idea how to teach it. This curriculum gave me every tool to teach me to teach grade one watercolor. Truly, everything about it is fantastic: the instructional videos, the color stories to tell the children (in my case read to the children), and the helpful tips were all perfect.

Now, fitting it into our homeschool days has been a challenge, hence why it slipped off our weekly lesson list. Wet-on-wet watercolor painting and the way I was teaching it took some prep work that I just wasn’t eager to do. This is because I feel so stretched and busy in all other areas of my life. Toddler in the house – need I say more?

I brought out the curriculum again today and picking up where we left off decided that we’ve had enough for this year. Perhaps next year we will return to it or perhaps even move on to grade two but for now, it’s better for everyone if watercolor ceases to be a “lesson” and comes out when requested for free time painting. I’m glad I have this curriculum on hand for when we do decided to do watercolor lessons again.

Self-Care Priorities

Thursday, January 31, 2019

I’ve been mothering for almost seven years and a wife for almost nine. Self-care wasn’t even on my radar in my early years of marriage. However, it became an urgent need during my pregnancy and postpartum years. Now that I’ve made it through the last of my postpartum years my self-care needs have changed.

When my first child was born I didn’t think much about self-care. I was busy basking in the magic of newborn bliss and all that it entails. When my second child was born I started to feel a nudge to make time for self-care. For me, that was simply taking time off and away from the family. When I got a few hours away to run errands I considered that my self-care. As my oldest child grew out of toddlerhood and my youngest grew into it I began a Waldorf Teacher Training which was another form of self-care. It allowed me a significant amount of time away from the family on a weekend day while furthering my education. Shortly after I began the training I found out that I was pregnant with our third child. I abruptly stopped the training and focused on my family. Self-care at this time began to take the form of indulging in used book sales, thrifting, and nesting into our family bedroom alone to read or watch TV and knit. These simple ways of filling my cup in the last few years have served me well. I’ve felt rejuvenated, sane, and ready to take on a new day. Until…

I realized I was missing out on the best and most crucial part of self-care. I was ignoring my physical health. I didn’t realize that my emotional health was directly tied to my physical health. Of course I knew this as a general rule but it took an epiphany for me to really bring it into focus. Well, maybe not so much an epiphany but a day where I was feeling really off and not-well. After some prayer I began to see where I needed to pay attention in my self-care.

Each month I suffer through extreme PMS, frequent abdominal pain, mood swings in the form of a really short temper, constant fatigue, and I’ve been overweight. This is how I feel most of the time. How awful! Until now I’ve just lived with it and swept all of these issues under the rug. But, I realized my health is affecting all of us. The children are learning from me and my husband has to live with me. Is this the me I want for them? No. I can do better.

In slow but steady steps I’m making my way to a healthier me. My protocol is simply lots of water, a better diet, and natural movement exercise. Lucky for me my husband is 110% on board. He’s thrilled that we have dusted off our juicer and I’m willing to eat more veggies. I still need to take my time to run errands, knit alone, and continue Waldorf Teacher Training but those things alone no longer fill my self-care cup. It’s time to prioritize a healthier life-style.

Water Falling from the Sky

Friday, January 18, 2019
We woke up Monday morning to the gentle sound of rain. The forecast predicted four days of bliss. It is so rare that we get rain for more than a few hours at a time, maybe a day at most, that I decided to devote our week to celebrate...
 water falling from the sky.  

Collecting and Measuring Rain Water

Shortly after breakfast Monday morning we put out a bowl to collect and measure the rainwater. Eight hours later I went out and brought the bowl back inside. Time to measure! We collected almost two inches of rain water in that eight hour time frame. We imagined how much more rain water we could catch if we left the bowl out longer. My son (S6) thought a smaller bowl would have been better so that it could have filled to the top.

Reference Books

The two reference books I had on hand were The Usborne Children’s Encyclopedia (an older version I found at a library sale) and The Berenstain Bears’ Big Book of Science and Nature. The pages referencing rain and the water cycle were quick introductory reads. We read what the difference between a drizzle, a shower, and a downpour is and how rain is the same water over and over again. 

Rain in a Jar

This rain in a jar experiment was something we have done in the past. It is a fun and visual way to understand how clouds become too heavy and need to release their weight in the form of rain, sleet, hail, or snow. In this case, rain. The photo is pretty self-explanatory but a quick explanation of what we did is this; took a glass of water, placed a “cloud” of shaving cream on top, took some food coloring and slowly let the drops fall in until it broke the barrier and fell into the water. 

Educational Media 

The Youtube channel Crash Course Kids has a video on the water cycle. We watched it and did the experiment they suggested at the end. The experiment was taking a glass of hot water, cover with plastic wrap, and place ice on top. Condensation is formed in the glass and water droplets fall back into the water. Similar to how rain falls back to the earth in the water cycle. It took a little while for the condensation to form so I began tidying up the kitchen. I asked my son (S6) if he could see any droplets fall and he said, “No, but it’s falling outside!”  We were having a lovely downpour as we were doing this experiment. 

Backyard Play

Our backyard play in the rain didn’t go at all like I imagined it would. So it goes! I was enthusiastic about playing in the rain reassuring them that it wouldn’t be for too long. They were resistant to it from the moment I first mentioned it. It was very cold, dark, and wet out. They were good sports about it though and went out with me. We were out for less than five minutes then we all hurried inside to watch the rain from the window which was much better. 

Nature Play

A few years ago before my last child was born I took my older two children to a local marsh the day after a good rain. I remember the puddles at this marsh being spectacular for running and jumping in. I deemed that would be the place we would return to when it rains. We went back to the marsh this week on a rainy day and just like before the puddles were fantastic. They are big and fun. There are smaller puddles too but my children had the most fun in the big ones. We sloshed around for a little while before we decided that being at home warm, dry, and cozy sounded like the best place in the world to be.

Picture Books

The two picture books in the photo above were fantastic! I checked them out at the library and I'm so glad I came across them. The Snowflake a Water Cycle Story is such a lovely picture book which shows the journey a drop of water makes throughout the year. What on Earth? Water was equally lovely with all of the experiments offered as well as plenty of information about any water study you would want to do.

Stories, Verses, and Fingerplays

A Rainy Day by Lucy Fitch Perkins found on The Baldwin Online Children's Literature Project 

The Water Nixie by Grimm's

The Rain and Rain Clouds from A Child's Seasonal Treasury 

The Itsy Bitsy Spider (classic fingerplay)


I had the children draw their own version of the water cycle with Mr. Rainy Raindrop as the main character. My son (S6) drew an entertaining picture of Mr. Rainy Raindrop coming down the mountain, flowing into the river and then down a waterfall. Mr. Drop then proceeded to go through underground pipes into a house where a little boy drank a cup of water and then pee'd Mr. Rainy Raindrop out. The little boy had the chicken pox and was also on his way to a monkey themed party. I thought I would save the picture for our personal collection but wanted to share the written version here. My daughter's (S4) Mr. Rainy Raindrop ended up being a picture of what she loves to draw the most - our family.

Field Trip - Natural History Museum

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Last week was homeschool day at The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. They offer free homeschool days and also free tickets to their pavilions if you get there early enough to snag a ticket which is exactly what we did. We went to their spider pavilion which is one I’ve wanted to go to so I was happy to finally see this exhibit. I knew we would be seeing the spider pavilion so the night before we went we read some of the spider books I have on hand. We all enjoyed the books and learning a little bit about spiders. And it certainly was a treat to see them up close moving about in their webs!

I was impressed at how well the museum offered their homeschool day. There were different stations featuring different topics for the children to interact with knowledgeable staff, touch and explore what was being displayed, and just really make the museum come alive. Very, very well done and most importantly the stations helped make my children excited for natural history.

One of my favorite activities to do with the kids is to go on field trips. This one was so much fun and I was reminded of just how much is out there to explore and how lucky we are to get to do so. I am going to try and plan more field trips for the future and I can’t wait!

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