Friday, October 23, 2015

Sam is EIGHT

My sweet and sincere Sam is eight. His birthday was at the beginning of the school year, so his blog post also got lost in the shuffle. My Sam is such a people person. He loves being with people all. the. time. In fact, when his older brother wants a little alone time to read, Sam gets frustrated because he can't understand it. While Sam does finally enjoy reading, he would much rather be doing something active with someone else. This boy is highly competitive and although he is doing better, he can be a bit of a sore loser. (Something his not very competitive mama struggles to understand!) He aims to please people and hates to disappoint anyone. (Please note how many ties there are in his interview) However, he is entering the age of thinking he knows better than everyone else, so we are beginning to butt heads more than we used to. Thankfully, he is very empathetic, and when I explain to him how his tone makes others feel, he quickly looks shocked and is genuinely sorry. Sam loves spending time with his siblings, and this school year he has become a great playmate to Will and Maggie when Jon and I need to work on school. Needless to say, the younger ones love when their big brother plays with them! Sam says he doesn't know what he wants to be when he grows up, and honestly, I think that is great. I think it's safe to say he has a little time to figure that out! :)

~What is your name? Sam, or the Goose
~And how old are you? 8
~How does being 8 make you feel? Good
~What do you want to learn this year? How to keep my backpack clean (said with a laugh, but then he clarified that he is serious)
~What was the best thing about being 7? being on the swim team
~How did you celebrate your birthday? Had friends over, had pool birthday party, ate Chick-fil-A, and went to the Newport Aquarium with Dad
~What was your favorite gift that you received? Nerf gun from Noah
~What is your favorite color? green
~What is your favorite food? "ham, pizza or brownies--it's a tie! Wait, cancel that, it's Grandma's chocolate cake!"
~Who is your favorite person? "God! I have a lot of friends, so it's hard to choose, but God created me after all!"
~What grade are you in? 3rd
~What is your favorite thing to do at school? math
~What is your favorite game to play? Minecraft or Super Smash Bros
~What do you like to do with Daddy? Pillow mazes
~What do you like to do with Mommy? make cookies and brownies
~What do you like to do with Jon? play legos
~What do you like to do with Will? fight him with our plastic weapons
~What do you like to do with Maggie? "EVERYTHING she wants to do! It's true! She's so cute!"
~What’s your favorite thing to do with the whole family? go to the zoo or watch a movie
~What’s your favorite store? Target
~What’s your favorite place to eat? Chick-fil-A ties with Bob Evans
~What’s your favorite book? Life of Fred-Dogs, it's really funny!
~What’s your favorite song? Indescribable by Chris Tomlin
~What’s your favorite thing in the Bible right now? 1 Kings. I think it's interesting to learn about all the kings. One of my favorite stories is Noah and the ark.
~What do you want to be when you grow up? I have no idea...

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Decade of Jon

Jon turned 10 way back in August, but life gets busy and the blog takes the back burner. This boy has grown and matured so much over the past year or so. It has truly blessed me to see him learn to think of others more and to control his temper more. While he still has his moments--don't we all?--Jon is a great kid, and I really enjoy getting to spend my days with him. Speaking of spending our days together, it has been wonderful to see how he has grown as a student, too. He used to HATE math. While he was never terrible at it, he would grumble and complain and it was not a fun part of our day. He has finally come to accept that he will be doing math and has realized that a good attitude helps tremendously. He's also realized that he's pretty good at it, so if he puts his head down and does the work he can breeze right through and get it done somewhat quickly and move onto the next thing. Jon loves science. I would not be at all surprised if he goes on to become an engineer or some sort of scientist. But let's not get too ahead of ourselves, the kid is just turning 10. Jon has a quirky sense of humor and is learning about the right time to be silly and the right time to be quiet. He still enjoys riding his bike, playing in the tree house out back with the neighbors. being on the swim team and is just starting guitar lessons. 

He has asked a few times when we were going to do his birthday interview and I kept putting him off. But alas, the time has come. The interview has taken place. Here are his answers for all to see: 

~What is your name? Jeff, I mean Fred. (silly boy, his name is Jon)
~And how old are you? 10
~Does being 10 make you feel? not much different
~What do you want to learn this year? how to play guitar
~What was the best thing about being 9? getting the Coach's Award for swim team and church camp
~How did you celebrate your birthday? Did cool things with the neighbors, had a birthday party at the pool, and went the museum Center with Dad
~What was your favorite gift that you received? money or legos
~What is your favorite color? Red
~What is your favorite food? Ravioli
~Who is your favorite person? Sam
~What grade are you in? Fifth
~What is your favorite thing to do at school? Reading
~What is your favorite game to play? Mario Bros on the Wii
~What do you like to do with Daddy? Have him chase us around the house
~What do you like to do with Mommy? Snuggle on the couch and read or watch a movie/show
~What do you like to do with Sam? Play video games or play outside with him and the neighbors
~What do you like to do with Will? Wrestle with and chase him
~What do you like to do with Maggie? Play pretend with her and be silly with her to make her laugh
~What’s your favorite thing to do with the whole family? Family Wii night
~What’s your favorite store? Target
~What’s your favorite place to eat? Tie between Marcos and Olive Garden
~What’s your favorite book? The Great Brain
~What’s your favorite song? Indescribable by Chris Tomlin
~What’s your favorite Bible verse or story? John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
~What do you want to be when you grow up? An inventor or scientist
I love this kid!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

All You Need Is Love...

Since summer and all it's fun is now officially over. (Boo!) I keep meaning to blog about my incredibly awesome and perfect homeschool plan for this year, but then I realize that I am so far from having it figured out--STILL, after 5 years of homeschooling. So instead, you are going to get a little bit of information about our curricula and "my plan" for the year, but a lot more about what I'm hoping to accomplish personally and as a mom.

This summer, I kept thinking, "I need to get things organized for our school year." And then I would sit down and do a few things and feel like I hit a wall, like I couldn't go on. I could not get into a rhythm or figure out the best way to do things. Don't misunderstand, the teacher in me ordered all of our curricula last spring. It wasn't that I didn't know what we were going to be doing, it was the how. The flow, the methods, the schedules, they just weren't coming together. And to be honest, it's still a work in progress.

This school year brings us a fifth grader (yikes!! I used to teach fifth graders, how do I have one?!?!) a third grader, a pre-Kindergartner, and an almost 3 year old. I could juggle 30 sixth graders, or 24 fifth graders, but each year that my own kids get older, I feel even less confident of my ability to juggle teaching them all well.

However, God is always faithful. Every year I have had something that has caused me to be fearful about homeschooling. Whether its been pregnancy, or a toddler giving up their morning nap, adding a commitment outside of the home, etc...I have been nervous of trying to find the new balance every single year. This year is really no different. And just like previous years, we are slowly finding our rhythms and working things out. It's still not quite as smooth as I would like, and the house is certainly not as clean as Pete would like--hee, hee! But we are making some great progress.
My Hobby Lobby find that now hangs front and center in our school room   
The biggest game changer has been my focus and attitude. The educator in me gets so caught up in the academics and routines, that sometimes I forget why we do this. It's so much more than the books we study, it the heart, the character not only of my kids, but my own heart. I kept coming back to LOVE. I need to model love to my kids. I need to help them figure out how to love each other better. I need to point them back to the best example of love--Jesus Christ. It's really all about love. Remembering that has really helped me to breath more freely.

A few other things that are making the year go smoother than I had anticipated:
~Jon is getting more independent in many areas of his work. This is huge!
~Sam continues to be one of the easiest kids I've ever taught--he is such a people pleaser, which is something that concerns me from time to time, but when it comes to school, it is a huge, I mean HUGE, blessing!
~Will is absolutely LOVING "doing school." He changes the calendar in our school room without me each day and often starts his workbook pages without me, too! It's been a lot more fun and a lot less fighting with him than I had been expecting!
~Miss Elisabeth. What or who is that? Our family's favorite babysitter/mom's helper! Elisabeth started babysitting for us once a week three years ago. Last year she started coming three times a week for just between 2-3 hours each time. She plays with Maggie and Will while I get some solid teaching time in with the older two boys. It is priceless. And thankfully, my tutoring at CC on Tuesdays pays me almost exactly what I pay her. How's that for perfect? She is going off to college next fall, so I am already beginning to mourn. She will be sorely missed.

If you made it this far, that's impressive. So what are we actually doing here?
Well, here's a quick run down for each kiddo:

Jon, Fifth Grade
Math: Saxon
Reading: literature based, novels that coincide with our history and/or science studies.
Spelling: Spelling Workout
Geography: Memoria Press Level 1
History: Classical Conversations (CC) and Veritas Press-Ancient World--Old Testament, Egypt, Greek and Roman History
Science: CC earth science and astronomy
English Grammar: Classical Conversations Essentials of English Language
Writing: Institute for Excellence in Writing
and more

Sam, Third Grade
Math: Saxon
Reading: literature based, novels that coincide with our history and/or science studies.
Spelling: Spelling Workout
Geography: Memoria Press Level 1
History: CC and Veritas Press-Ancient World (see above)
Science: CC earth science and astronomy
English Grammar: Shurley English
Phonics: Explode the Code
and more

Will, Pre-K

Math: Pre-K workbook
Letters: Handwriting Without Tears, Get Ready for School
Phonics: Get Ready for the Code A
Will also attends Classical Conversations (CC) with us this year and is learning about ancient history, earth science and astronomy, and much more. He LOVES it.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Summer Fun

These crazies...they sure add some spice to my life!
Our summer was packed full of the typical summer goodness: pools, parks, picnics, summer camp, VBS, hanging out with friends, trips to the zoo and swim team. Like many, we had a summer bucket list and I'm happy to say that we completed most of it. We did not make it over to the Loveland bike trail yet, but I am hoping to do that on a lovely fall Saturday. Doesn't that sound nice? Honestly, most of the best fun was had doing the simple things that were close to home--hanging out with our neighbors, trips to our neighborhood pool, visiting with cousins and friends, etc... Here's a pictorial walk through of the highlights our summer:
It's the simple things...
We had the privilege of having my two nephews and niece stay with us for a few days in June. Nerf wars were held, Wii was played, there was swimming and playing in the treehouse. The days flew by and the kids truly loved spending time together! Such a blessing!
They loved cousin time! 
We are so thankful to be members of a pool that is less than a mile from our house. All three boys took swim lessons, and Jon and Sam were on the swim team. Will has more or less learned to swim and Maggie loves to leisurely float, which is miles from the top step where she hung out all of last summer! All of us made new friends and reconnected with old ones this summer. The pool is definitely one of the highlights of our summer!
Miss Maggie, the bathing beauty at our neighborhood pool
Many nights were spent eating pizza at the pool :)
Swim team brothers
The younger half, not quite ready to participate in the swim meets, snacked instead. ;)
So proud of Jon, who received the Coach's Award for his age group on the swim team.
We got zoo passes in the winter, and plan to use them more and more this fall. We did take one trip as a family last month. It was fun to hear the kids talk about their favorite animals and tell us why they love them.
Our four crazy animals at the zoo 
Pete and I got to sneak in a few date nights this summer. Several double dates, and one night we snuck away and went to a Reds game together. This guy is so much fun. I'm so thankful that I get to do life with him.
Reds game with my favorite guy
Other highlights of the summer were more about the company than the events, park days with friends, hanging out with friends at their houses or ours, and of course the times just hanging out with our neighbors, who have become friends, here on the cul de sac. 
Park day with friends
Fun with our favorite Markie girls!
One of our zucchini from our garden!
Silly girl at the library
We have so much fun with our neighbors! 
Snacks and a turtle with our friends, what could be better?
Maggie just adores sweet Emily
One of many trips to Target

I won't pretend there weren't moments of chaos or summer colds or strep throat, or even that everything was sun-kissed and sweet. When you get rid of the usual routines, order, and normal bedtimes, you end up with a little more arguing, a little more laziness, and in general a lack of direction and least we did! I am glad to be reflecting on the lazy, hazy summer days because now our days have more structure and purpose and order. I could still use a maid and a cook, but I am really enjoying our school days. All that said, summer will always be my favorite season! 

Feeling Bloggy

I haven't blogged in ages for a myriad of reasons, but I am feeling the itch and have several posts ruminating. So be on the lookout for the following:

Summer Fun Wrap Up

My Firstborn Turns Ten

School Plans and Goals

and maybe one about my some personal ups and downs...maybe...

Plus, we have another birthday next week, so there will be a post entitled Sam the Great Turns Eight

A couple friends who we don't get to visit often said they were missing the updates they could find here. That was all the encouragement I needed to squeeze in some writing time-the laundry can wait, right?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Some Firsts for Our Girl

Maggie's hair has been growing out quite a bit. It wasn't too long, but the ends were dry and getting easily tangled, which led to frustrating hair combing/brushing. The boys needed hair cuts, so I decided if they could fit Maggie in, I would let them cut her hair a little bit, too. It wasn't drastic, they just took a little over an inch off the back and then trimmed all around. She sat stiff as a board and as serious as can be while watching Doc McStuffins in the Barbie car as Amy cut her hair. It was funny how stoic she was throughout the whole thing. The lollipop afterwards did make her a little excited. :)
a glimpse of how long it had gotten (best picture I could find, apparently I don't take a lot of pictures of the back of my daughter's head!)

Miss Maggie is quite the busy little thing. She runs and jumps and walks down the stairs "all by self" and basically does anything she can to keep up with the big brothers. Unfortunately for her, this means that she falls, stumbles, trips and bangs quite often. This past week, she somehow hit her eye on a chair and has her first shiner. Yep, my two year old girl has a little bit of a black eye. It was swelling immediately, so I put the Boo-Boo Stick on it and it didn't get too awfully swollen or ugly. Now it looks like she has a little eye make-up on one eye!

It hasn't slowed her down one bit!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Burnt Blankies and Random Rashes

I've been a little quiet over here lately on the blogging front. Life has been rushing ahead at it's usual breakneck speed, so I haven't had a chance to sit down and write about it. Here's just a taste of what's been going on in our crazy house!

A few days ago, I was changing Maggie's diaper after her nap and I hear Will say, "Oh, no!" He runs into Maggie's room, in his typical dramatic style, and says, "Mom! My bluey! My bluey is stuck on the big lights! I was just trying to drop it down and it got stuck!" As I finished changing Maggie, a terrible smell wafts into the room. Something was burning. I rush out and find Will's precious blankie, named Bluey, because each of his older brothers has a blue stuffed animal with that name, melting and smoking on the chandelier. Thankfully, I could reach it and managed to peel it away without an actual fire breaking out. Unfortunately, Bluey was burned through in a couple places, and the whole ordeal scared my sweet four year old boy to the point that he was shaking and crying. It was so sad.

The good news is that he has rebounded well. We have always had a back-up Bluey, but since Will could tell them apart, he has always preferred the one that got torched, saying that the back-up looks mean, something about it's smile-he's such a funny kid! I went to Amazon, hoping that if I could order a new one the replacement might have a happy smile, like the original. Sadly, they no longer make the lovey that we have, but the newer version is close, so Will was excited to get it. Now my little guy sleeps with the back-up Bluey and his new "cute little Bluey."

The day that the new Bluey arrived, so did a rash. Saturday, after making a trip to Costco and to the library with the kids, I undressed Maggie for the bath and discovered that her arms were covered with a hive-like rash!

A few moments later I notice that Will's arms look very similar to Maggie's. Yikes. Just like that our two week streak of everyone going to church together on Sunday came to a screeching halt!

Sunday morning, Maggie's rash had spread to her legs and face. Monday morning, Jon got out of the shower and started calling for me. He had something similar on his arms and legs. Before lunch, Sam had it on his face.

Since we had friends who had recently had strep and two of the kids complained of sore throats, I took them in to the doctor on Tuesday.

The strep tests came back negative and the doctor declared it a viral rash. As of today, the boys are almost completely clear of their rashes, and Maggie just has some traces on her legs and face. I thought last winter with the boys thumb infections was weird, but this one might top it...maybe.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Year, Old Goals, New Resolve

I keep seeing posts about new resolutions and goals, and while they are great, I feel like speaking up because my goals aren't new. The year is new. My resolve is new. My goals are the same. Maybe that sounds better, same goals rather than old.

I love marking the passing of time and reflecting on where we were last year at this time or 5 years ago or a decade ago. However, the start of a new year did not change my goals. It did not change my hopes or dreams. It just makes me realize that time is continuing to pass. I can either get more serious about accomplishing those goals, or I should probably change them. I'm not changing mine, but I am reminding myself of some ways to help accomplish them.

So while the goals remain the same: Love God, Love Family, Love Others (there's a mouthful), there are a few things that I want to try to remember this year.

Be gentle, with others and with myself. Frustrations come, and it's easy to get angry and harsh. That harshness never accomplishes good.

Be kind, with others and with myself. This quote says it all, "Be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

Be gracious, with others and with myself. I once heard grace defined as kindness undeserved. Others may not deserve my kindness, and sometimes I might not deserve it, but grace...oh, grace. I'm so thankful for it. Even when I have done nothing to deserve kindness or mercy, grace.

Forgive, others and myself. As one who has been forgiven, I can say it is a powerful thing. Sometimes we are slowest to forgive ourselves. If you're holding onto something and beating yourself up over it, maybe it's time to let it go. Ultimate forgiveness comes from God and brings freedom, joy and peace. If that's something you want to know more about, please ask me. But even those of us who know the forgiveness that Jesus brings are still guilty from time to time of holding onto hurt, anger and bitterness. Whether it is something petty, like a child giving attitude or something larger and deeper, anger is a poison and brings only death. Forgiveness brings life.

These are words I need to remember this year.

"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and if one has complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." Colossians 3:12-14