Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Quarter 1 Update: Homeschool Year 2018-19

We use Sonlight curriculum for many of our subjects so typically, our homeschool year is roughly 36 weeks long. This means, every 9 weeks we finish one quarter of school. I’m excited to say that we have officially finished our first quarter of school!! Honestly, I am very excited about the progress we have already made in our school year. Our original plan for our move to Hong Kong had us not even starting school until November or December.

I am thankful that God changed our plans, so our entire family was able to come straight to Hong Kong in August with my husband. Just one week after our move, we started school. We decided to start school right away, so that our family could begin to get back into some kind of regular routine. We’ve had hard days or days when we took a break from school. However, overall school has provided the structure needed for our family to begin to call Hong Kong home.

In case you are curious, I've included my original 2018-19 Homeschool Curriculum Choices for my girls. Overall, we haven't made any major curriculum changes yet and all of the curriculum choices we made are working for each individual child. I will be sure to let you know if we make any major changes as our school year continues.

One the  biggest changes to our school year, has been that I have 5 kids and two of them are just 4 months old. As a result, our daily homeschool structure has to be very flexible right now. We don't have a rigid daily schedule to follow, because I would get overwhelmed if I wasn't able to stick to it like I planned. We have an overall rhythm to our day, but I have to remain flexible and be willing to change things up incase the babies get fussy.

I am so thankful for my big girls and their willingness to go with the flow. They're diligent to work on school when we have some quiet moments throughout the day and most of the time finish school before I expected them to get done. I am so proud of them!!


2018-19 Homeschool Curriculum Choices
This year, I have a child in 1st Grade, a child in Kindergarten, and a child in Preschool. I will start by sharing the subjects that everyone is going to work on together.

Bible, Memory Verse, History, Read-Alouds: Sonlight. This year, we are using Sonlight’s Core B – World History I. We have used Sonlight for the past few years and it really works for our family. We specifically picked this curriculum, because we knew it would be best for us if/when we moved overseas. You see Sonlight mails you a box with all the books you need for the whole year. This is great, especially now that we live in Hong Kong and don’t have the same resources that we did in the States. I have everything I need for the whole year and don’t have to worry about not being able to find a particular book. If you would like to read more about our journey with Sonlight click the link to read my blog post, “Finding Flexibility with Sonlight“.

Science: Exploring Creation with Astronomy (2nd Edition). We used Apologia’s Exploring Creation curriculum last year and really enjoyed it! There was no question about what we would use this year for science. My husband also purchased the complete science kit, so I would have all the resources necessary to complete our activities/experiments in Hong Kong. Initially, I was against this, because I didn’t want to spend money on something like this. However, I’m thankful for my husband’s wisdom. This kit has been a lifesaver! I’ve been able to do school even though we just moved. I don’t have to spend time tracking down our scissors, because there is already a pair in the kit.

I’m sure I say this every year, but how do we have a 1st grader!? When we were making our curriculum choices for our 2018-19 school year, Olivia could read some things. However, reading hadn’t come together for her yet and we didn’t want to force her to read if she wasn’t ready. We decided to let Olivia do things at her own pace. As a result, we purchased Sonlight’s Language Arts Grade 1 program, but by the time that curriculum arrived something clicked and our daughter, who started reading everything she could get her hands on. As a result, we struggled to know which curriculum would be best for her upcoming school year. Thankfully, Sonlight has a test kids can take online, which helped us know what level language arts program to buy for Olivia. We exchanged our grade 1 language arts for grade 2 and it’s been the perfect fit!!
Language Arts: Sonlight Language Arts 2
Handwriting: Handwriting without Tears: My Printing Book
Phonics: Explode the Code 4, 5, 6
Math: Math-U-See Beta
Vocabulary: Wordly Wise A

How can Sophie already be in Kindergarten!! Sophie is a hands-on learner and she remembers things much better when she gets to use a manipulative to help cement different concepts into her brain. For this reason, we are switching from A Reason for Handwriting back to Handwriting without Tears. I think the manipulatives that go along with this program will help both of my girls to have a better understanding of how each letter and humber written.
Language Arts: Sing, Spell, Read, & Write “Off We Go” & “Raceway Book”
Handwriting: Handwriting without Tears: Letters & Number for Me
Phonics: Explode the Code 1, 2, 3
Math: Math-U-See Alpha

Matilda is 2 1/2 years old, but already she wants to be involved in our school day. She has a strong desire to have her own things to “work” on, so that she can do school right along with the big girls. Though her learning will be more informal, I am planning to use ABC Jesus Loves Me, Playing Skillfully, and Sonlight Preschool Readers for Matilda this next year. Our focus will be to learn more through playing, fun activities, and great books. I’ve used these curriculums with my other girls and we loved them, so I hope Matilda enjoys these as well.
Letters, numbers, shapes, and more: ABC Jesus Loves Me
Learning through play and fun activities: Playing Skillfully
Reading great books: Sonlight Preschool Readers

This year, we ordered most of our homeschool curriculum online from Sonlight and Rainbow Resource Center. Rainbow Resource is great, because any orders over $50.00 qualify for free shipping.

Monday, November 26, 2018

What is Blogmas?

It’s safe to say, Christmas is my favorite holiday!! 

This year on my blog, I decided to host Blogmas. It’s going to be a fun way to countdown to Christmas. That’s right, all month long I’m going to be talking about Christmas. You may have heard of Vlogmas where Youtubers film their life between December 1st and Christmas Day. For me, Blogmas will consist of 25 Christmas-themed blog posts from December 1st thru Christmas Day.

I'm so excited, because it is just around the corner!!

Living in Hong Kong, means that right now, I am far away from my family. Honestly, I miss them so much. I've gotten to spend a lot of Christmas holidays with them and it is hard for me to think about how I won't get to see them at all this year. We normally have Christmas cookie parties, gift exchanges, and delicious food. Inevitably, someone always ends up getting sick with the stomach bug and we spend the rest of our time together cleaning and sanitizing everything in sight!! Being sick is not my idea of a fun group activity, but at least we all get to spend time together.  

Even though I can’t be with my family this Christmas, I thought Blogmas would be a fun way to celebrate this holiday season. I have already started planning some of my blog posts and can't wait to share them with you. I have had so many ideas that it will be hard to narrow it down to only 25 posts. 

Are you doing Blogmas? What are some of the ways your family counts down to Christmas?

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!!

"Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!" 
- 1 Chronicles 16:34 ESV

We hope that you are your family have a very Happy Thanksgiving!! 
Sending all our love to you from Hong Kong. 
Praying that you will take time to remember each blessing that the Lord has poured out on you this year. 

Sending our love,
Jon, Jen, Olivia, Sophie, Matilda, Evelyn, and Zoey

P.S. Don't let Thanksgiving completely derail you from your healthy living goals. It's just one day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Our First Trip to Macau

Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge

Less than three months ago, our family moved to Hong Kong. It's hard to believe that we have already lived here for almost 90 days!! Time has flown by as so much has happened in such a short period of time.

Currently, me and the girls are just on the generic visitors visa, which everyone gets when they come to Hong Kong and allows us to be guests for 90 days. Before we get approved for another 90 days, we all have to leave the country and come back again.

To our delight, the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge just opened!! This new bridge connects Hong Kong, Macau, and Zhuhai, China. As a result of the grand opening of the new bridge, discounts are being offered on the bus that takes you to the bus station. Then at the bus station, you can purchase tickets for the shuttle bus to Macau or Zhuhai. As a result, of all the excitement our town has been overrun with visitors who want to ride the new bridge. Despite the chaos and all of people, these discounts have been to our advantage and allowed us to travel out of the country for a much cheaper price than if we flew or took a ferry.

After weighing all of our options, we decided the easiest as cheapest way for our family to get to Macau would be by bus on the new bridge. Our plan was to leave Hong Kong, travel by bus to Macau, and then come back to Hong Kong. As a result, me and the girls would be allowed to stay in Hong Kong for another 90 days. We are praying that during the next 90 days, our more permanent visas will be approved so we don't have to do this again.

Last Monday, on Jon's day off, we took a day off from school and went on a family adventure!! We chose to go during the week and prayed that the buses wouldn’t be quite as crazy. Everyone got up early and left right after we finished eating breakfast. We all headed to Tung Chung and then on to the bus station. At the bus station we bought tickets for the shuttle bus to Macau and were on our way.

Thankfully, Jon was right and the lines weren't nearly as crazy as they had been the previous week or two. In addition, we were privileged to be able to sit in the front row on the 2nd floor of the double decker bus. This was the perfect way to ride on the new bridge. However, our girls were so funny, because all they wanted to do were read books or watch a movie. Sophie spent most of our trip sharing her seat with a Chinese woman who cam up to the front to take some videos and pictures of the new bridge.

Honestly, we had not planned to do very much in Macau, because we didn't know how long of all this would take. I was surprised that from our house, it took just two hours to get to Macau. Now that we know what we're doing, I can’t wait until we can go back to Macau and explore a little bit more. However, on our first trip we just stayed at the bus station, ate our sack lunch, and stretched our legs before getting back on the shuttle bus to come home to Hong Kong.

We had such a fun time and I’m so glad we were able to go to Macau together.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Janet’s Chicken and Dressing

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,” - Philippians 1:3 ESV

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is only a few days away!! After our big move and with Jon in training, our Thanksgiving plans are super low-key. However, this is a BIG Thanksgiving for us. It will be our first Thanksgiving in Hong Kong. It will also be the twins first Thanksgiving. That’s right, our first Thanksgiving as a family of 7!!

We’ve been doing lots of fun things in preparation for Thanksgiving. In our homeschool, we’ve done several Thanksgiving projects. We made a Thanksgiving banner, painted Thanksgiving pictures, and we’re working on thankful books soon Thanksgiving we can share what we are thankful for this year. I also found some Thanksgiving and fall books at the Hong Kong Library that we have been reading.

One of the biggest decisions that I have to make this year will be what we are going to have for our Thanksgiving meal. I’m always looking for delicious recipes to make over the holidays. I can't tell you how many hours I spend scrolling through Pinterest for the perfect recipe.

Are you looking for a delicious new recipe to try for Thanksgiving? Look no further!! 

We lived in Texas for 11 years, in that time I was introduced to some of the most delicious food. One of my favorite dishes is chicken and dressing. However, I never learned how to make it before we left Texas. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of other good foods that I learned how to make like corn casserole, BBQ ribs, canned peaches, homemade jam, chicken spaghetti, breakfast casserole, and more.

Just not chicken and dressing.

To my delight, my precious friend, Janet White made a YouTube video to share her amazing ‘Chicken and Dressing’ recipe with the world!! I’m so excited, because all I have to do is follow Janet’s step by step instructions and to know how to make your very own chicken and dressing at home.

Trust me this recipe will not disappoint!!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Hong Kong Q & A: Weather, Safety, and the People

Incase you did not know, Instagram is my favorite social media platform. You can follow me at @JenNewsham, where I post pictures and stories daily. Just a few weeks ago, on my stories, I asked people what they would like to know about our life in Hong Kong. 

I received so many incredible questions!! 

Needless to say, it’s going to take a few blog posts to answer all of your questions. In addition, if you have more questions about our life in Hong Kong, please leave a comment below and I will try my best to answer your questions as I have time.

Currently, the weather in Hong Kong is BEAUTIFUL!! 

It is fall and this is the nicest time of year for Hong Kong. The rainy season has passed, so most days we enjoy the blue sky and weather in the high 70s. It’s humid, but nothing like it will be once the weather starts to creep up again. During the summer, Hong Kong is very hot and humid, a lot like Houston, TX. We’re trying to enjoy this weather while we have it, because it won’t last long.  

The Chinese people that we have encountered in Hong Kong have been very kind. When we’re out and about out family causes quite a spectacle. People get so excited to see the twins and can’t believe that we have a total of 5 girls. Most people in Hong Kong aren’t used to seeing large families. 

Just yesterday while I was waiting for Jon to finish shopping, a group of older Chinese ladies walked by me and the twins. At first, they only noticed Zoey. However, as I turned the stroller towards them, they caught a glimpse of Evelyn and realized that they were twins. Instantly, they were overjoyed at the sight of two babies. Unfortunately, they talked to me in Cantonese and I couldn’t understand them. 

Even though I can’t speak Cantonese, I’m a Mommy and I speak baby, which is an international language. That’s right, just from their body language I could tell they were so excited about the babies. They hung around for a while going on about the twins. Thankfully, a Chinese man walked by who did speak English and he was kind enough to translate for us. He was just as excited about the babies as the ladies. I was so thankful for his kindness.

That’s just one example of how we have been blessed by the kindness of the Chinese people since we moved to Hong Kong.  

The short answer is yes, we feel very safe. Before moving to Hong Kong, I did some research online, which said that Hong Kong is one of the safest place to live in the world. That was nice to hear, but I’ve still tried to take that with a grain of salt. We do our best to take precautions for possible pickpockets and make sure to have the girls hold hands when we’re in a very crowded place. Overall, we have felt very safe. 

Honestly, I told Jon that I have been more afraid of the bugs, rats, and geckos, which are more likely to get in my house.  

It's been fun to be able to answer your questions. Like I said before, please leave me a comment or send me an email with an addition questions about our life in Hong Kong.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

November 2018 Homeschool Favorites

This month, I want to share with you my November 2018 Homeschool Favorites, the book edition. As I have said before, our family loves books. I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite books with you. Please look below to see what we’re loving this month.

The Beginner's Bible: Timeless Children's Stories

This year, as part of Olivia's homeschool curriculum, she is reading through "The Beginner's Bible: Timeless Children's Stories" by, Zondervan. We have a lot of children's Bibles, so I was not sure if Olivia would like reading this one. However, I have been pleasantly surprised by her love for this Bible. Even after we've finished our lessons for the day, Olivia still sits down to read more stories from this Bible. I am so thankful to Sonlight for having this Bible as part of their curriculum.


Geronimo Stilton #10: All Because of a Cup of Coffee

If you watch my Instastories, then you have already seen me post about this book. Last week, when we went downtown for Matilda's birthday, we borrowed "Geronimo Stilton: All Because of a Cup of Coffee" by, Geronimo Stilton from the Hong Kong library. The girls have enjoyed this book so much and we haven't been able to put it down. It's a fun story for all ages. It is also an easy chapter book for new readers. We're excited to go back to the library to find more Geronimo Stilton books.


Noah's Ark

As a part of Sonilght's preschool curriculum, they recommend reading "Noah's Ark" illustrated by, Peter Spier. We purchased this book back when Olivia was a in preschool. It's hard to believe that we're pulling it out to read again with Matilda, who is now in preschool. This book doesn't have any words, but is filled with beautiful illustrations that tell the story of Noah's Ark. You can tell your children the story or let them help you as they see what's happening on each page. This book is truly beautiful.


The Berenstain Bears’ Big Book of Science and Nature

I might sound like a broken record, when I tell you that this is book in Sonlight's PreK curriculum. However, Sonlight has some of the BEST book recommendations, so even if you aren't going to use their entire curriculum it is worth it to take a look at their book lists. That being said,  "The Berenstain Bears’ Big Book of Science and Nature" by, Stan and Jan Berenstain is such a wonderful book!! It teaches children about science and nature in fun ways that only Stan and Jan Berenstain could do. This is another book that my family could read over and over again, because it is so good.


Mommy Favorites:
Cookies! A Cookie Lover's Collection

"Cookies! A Cookie Lover's Collection" by, Janice Cauley is my favorite cookbook of ALL TIME. It was published back in the 90's, which was when my Mom bought it and added it to her cookbook collection. My family enjoys baking together and I remember making lots of desserts from this cookbook. Every time I see this book, I am overwhelmed with joyful memories of being with my family when I was a kid.

When it came time for my Mom to pass this book along, we were shocked when my Mom gave it to my youngest sister, without even asking the rest of us if we wanted it.


We were up in arms at the thought of not having our own cookie cookbook to enjoy. As a result of my Mom's decision, my husband went online and bought this book for me, so that I could have my very own copy. I truly have the best husband in the world!!

This book is so important to me, that it's one of only two cookbooks that we brought to Hong Kong. I couldn't bare the thought of leaving it storage or giving it away.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Matilda turns 3!!

Last week, we had such a fun time celebrating Matilda's birthday. We're so thankful, because even Jon got to be home with us on her birthday.

We kicked off Matilda's birthday by watching old videos from when she was a baby! We got so excited that we spent a lot of time snuggling in our bed as we watched most of the videos on Jon’s phone. Then, we headed downstairs for breakfast. Auntie Hannah sent us some Dyno-Bites, so we opened that cereal and had some on this special occasion.

Matilda loves to ride the bus!! She really wanted to ride the bus on her birthday, so we decided to take the bus all the way downtown to the Hong Kong Library. As we walked to the bus terminus, Olivia sang, “make way for the birthday girl!!” It was wonderful!! Honestly, I think whenever it is someone’s birthday you can hire someone like Olivia to announce the presence of the said birthday girl or boy.

We all got on the E11A bus and rode it downtown. The design on the seat covers remind Matilda of sprinkles. So, she was very excited to get to ride “The Sprinkle Bus” all the way to the library.

We spent several hours at the library and everyone got to pick out one book to bring home. AT the library, they had a whole floor of just children’s books. They have Chinese and English books. Matilda's favorite book was one with Chinese poems in it. She won’t put it down, so that what we checked out for her to read.

After the library we ate lunch at McDonald’s, which is currently Matilda's favorite. Then we headed to the MTR station to come home. On the way, we found a rainbow birthday cake for Matilda. They even gave us candles and a birthday sign. This was such a blessing, because I don’t have an oven to bake in. God provided just what we needed!

 Once we got home, we at dinner and then invited our friends over for cake and games. We sang Happy Birthday and discovered that the inside of your cake had different colors too. How fun!! Right before bedtime, while I was helping Matilda put on her pajamas, she told me that she wanted me to call her “Birthday Girl”, every day for the rest of her life.

Matilda is so cute!!

I feel like I blinked and Matilda are already three. She is smart and willing to help no matter what needs to get done. She has graciously taken on the role as big sister, loving the babies so well. Matilda love to sing, dance, and have fun. I couldn’t imagine life without you, Matilda Kate.

Click the link below to read

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Homeschool Project: Building LEGO Pyramids

For our 2018-19 school year, we are currently going through Sonlight's Core B: World History 1 for our Bible, memory verses, history, and read-alouds. The past few years, we have used Sonlight and it has been such a great fit for our family. We specifically picked this curriculum, because we knew it would be best for us if/when we moved overseas. You see Sonlight mails you a box with all the books you need for the whole year. This is great, especially now that we live in Hong Kong and don’t have the same resources that we did in the States. I have everything I need for the whole year and don’t have to worry about not being able to find a particular book.

We're already on week 7 of our curriculum and one of the books that we are currently reading is called, "The Usborne Book of World History" by, Anne Millard. Earlier this week, we read pages 20-21 which talks about "Building the Pyramids". This was an interesting section and even I learned something new, like it took 20 years to build a pyramid. That's a long time!!

As a result, I really wanted to take time to build a pyramid with my girls. After talking with my husband, he agreed to help me with this project. His idea was to build a pyramid out of LEGOs, because our girls really love playing and building with them. When I looked on Pinterest, I discovered that lots of people build LEGO pyramids. In addition, there are YouTube videos that teach you how to build your own LEGO pyramids as well. How fun!

On Monday, after we finished our daily schoolwork, we read this section about "Building the Pryramids" again to refresh our memories. Then my husband taught us (even me) how to build our own LEGO pyramids. At first the girls were disappointed that they couldn't build whatever they want, but it didn't take long for them to change their minds and create wonderful LEGO pyramids. Even after completing their pyramids, they continued to play with the LEGOs until dinnertime.

I'm so thankful for my husband's great idea!! It was a memorable project and I am glad we all got to do together.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...