Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Home Sweet Homeschool

We are back from a week away at camp. Catching up on school and mountains of laundry.

Journal time, patterns in math, sentence structure, rhyming.... oh dear Lord the rhyming!
Why is that what takes up most of our time? She really will never be a poet.

Patterns are her thing. She loves it and she breezes through it.
Tommy is keeping up with her pretty well. He watches all the same videos and does all her computer games too. Hopefully it will be that much easier when he starts next fall.

Some of us are working harder than others however....

When I can't get him involved in something away from the table he sits with us and colors.
Begging me often to draw him a "choo too twain."

Finally the other day I thought I had him playing quietly in his room.
I was wrong... he was in his sisters room... 

with a crayon he had pilfered from the pile.

Let's look on the bright side.
He obviously has an artistic flair and he learned how to use a magic eraser.

More about camping soon!

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bella Ballerina

                         Here is Aunt Julie doing Bella's hair for her first Ballet and Tap class!
Mommy cannot do it all... least of all hair styling.
That is and always has been Julie's department.

The other thing I can't do is keep a calendar correctly.
I thought dance started Tuesday. I called to verify the time and found out we had missed out first class which was supposed to be Monday. 
Bad Mommy.....
thankfully we were able to make it up today on Wednesday!

Nana complimenting her on her outfit.

And her baby fine hair miraculously tamed into a bun.

                       This is the child who has nearly worn out her "12 Dancing Princesses" dvd....
along with her brothers patience for all things Barbie.

                            I didn't take pictures in class because I didn't want to be "that mom".
Also Aunt Kristin will be coming to her recital in a few months with her superior skills and camera!
I can't wait!!!

She had an absolute blast tonight...
during ballet she was serious and graceful. So very happy every time she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. In tap she was bubble and excitable getting caught up in the music and fun steps.
We had a great time. I loved getting to watch her step out and try something new.

When we got back to Nana's her Aunt Julie said, "So you are a ballerina now?"

And she said, "Yep... but you can still call me Bella."

Friday, September 9, 2011

Six Month Old Baby Blues

Homeschooling is hard work.... I think I took babyhood for granted the first few go rounds.
With my newly minted title of teacher I am soaking up the precious days and hours with the one who just knows me as Mommy.

Somehow while I have been focusing on the pressing issues of curriculum, ballet classes starting next week, and potty training I blinked and she turned six months old.

How is it that when I was nine month's pregnant and she came nearly two weeks late time crawled and ever since her first beautiful cries it has flown.

I look at her here now and I think back to those time before she was born.... 
and before I was even pregnant when Bella prayed often for a baby sister.

Her prayers met with God's grace and here is Vivian, so precious now to us all.

A little about Vivi at six months...
she is the happiest baby ever.

She is the worst napper this last month...
all my babies seem to go through this at six months, anyone else?

She loves to hold the plastic baby wipe bag and crinkle it and she figured out how to pull them out a few days ago too!

She can roll over to her tummy, she has one tooth on the bottom.

She just started baby food this week.

She has no desire to sit up or crawl or hold her own bottle.... just like her big sis!
And all of that is just fine and dandy with me.

Her arrival is being anxiously awaited by her big sister in the "girl room".
Still working out the logistics of that with our tiny bedrooms!

She makes her brothers and Father all stop the horseplay and rough housing at a moments notice if she needs them.... which is no small feat. 

She is very patient when Tommy is the one to give her a bottle. He loves to do it but he gets easily distracted and the nipple ends up in her nose a few times.

She really is the only reason I believe that Daniel may someday turn into a productive member of society, he loves her in a way that brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.

She rarely cries so when she does he gasps, 
"Bibian Grace cry MAMA! HELP HELP! SHHSHH Bibi... it otay!!!"

Then he sings to her to the tune of
"Winnie the Pooh"
"Bibian Grace, Bibian Grace... don't you cry Grace, don't you cry Grace! La la la la la la!"

Everything goes faster these days. Every baby grows faster than the last.
I remember as a child days that felt like eternity
As a teenager summers were years! I would be eighteen forever.
Now the years are more like weeks, the precious moments are slipping by.
Bittersweet... no matter how hard we grip them they go.
We seem to go from Yesterday to Tomorrow and somehow skip over today.

"Babies Don't Keep" 

I hope that my child,

looking back on today
Will remember a mother

who had time to play;
Because children grow up 

while you're not looking,
There are years ahead 

for cleaning and cooking.
So, quiet now cobwebs, 

dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby,

and babies don't keep

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Reason Number 742 Why Dad is More Fun Than Mom....

He lets them get in the kitchen with him and he doesn't yell like I do... on this night they made pizza.

It was a big hit! And only three points for a piece for me!

Speaking of Weight Watchers... I finally got through my plateau!
I have been stuck at the same weight pretty much for three weeks... so this week I got serious.
I only used ten weekly points and I cut out my usual ice cream bars entirely. I knew I wasn't doing myself any favors by eating sweets in the evening. So I decided to starve my bad habit and it worked!

I lost 4.8 pounds this week! I finally got past my 20 pounds down mark and it feels great! Just over 6 pounds to go to my 10% off goal! Feeling ready to go for it now.

Don't worry... I am fairly sure he didn't drool on it. And if he did we cooked the germs off right?

I don't know why I didn't think to get a picture of the finished product... probably because we were too busy eating it! But this last one is better in my humble opinion... here they are patiently and lovingly waiting for the fruits of their labor... I love them...

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Homeschool.... What???

I have been thinking about what kind of school my kids would go too since shortly after the plus sign appeared for the first time.

Public, Private, Christian, Catholic...

I am a planner in case you didn't know.

Anyway our choices for our kids education involved many things.... as all good decisions should.

I am writing this NOT to persuade anyone to choose homeschool... if its not for you that would be disastrous. I am trying to give an honest answer to the question I have been asked over and over recently... why are you homeschooling???

The reason we first considered homeschooling was because my husband was homeschooled.
He enjoyed it, and saw it as probably the best option in his opinion...
he met with resistance to say the least.
I didn't get it.

The new Mommy in me liked the idea of "never having to let them go". 
Obviously that is a warped and emotionally unhealthy reason to homeschool but its true.
I have to admit that while other Mommy's cried seeing there little ones get on the bus last week I was feeling totally at peace with our choice.... then later in the day I cry as I thought of the fact that nap time would be SO quiet without the five year old....

It all even's out in the end doesn't it?

The first concern I had was her becoming an un-socialized weirdo.
Seriously... we all know one don't we? The homeschooler gone horribly wrong.
Sure they are a genius but they don't know how to hold a conversation.

But really... wasn't there at least one of those sort of kids in your class at school too.
And what happened to them? Well in my school they were told loudly, rudely and daily that they were different. And different is bad.

All I can say to that is I hope that in this choice we will find a balance. 
She will certainly spend more time with adults than most of her peers... 
and honestly I think that will be better in many ways.
I would rather she emulate her Aunts and Uncles, her cousins, her teachers at church and ballet than to see her trying her best to please the "cool girls" at school.

I know her, she would climb the social ladder or die trying.
That's not trying to be mean, its just her personality. And I think homeschool will afford her more time and space to find out her worth and who she is without a lot of influence from the masses.

Another example is with Tommy I think it will help him hold onto his sweetness a little more.
It's just HIS personality. He is sensitive... all boy, rowdy and loud... but a little more emotional than society tends to like in our men folk. I don't want to see that scared out of him at a young age.
He too (just like anyone I think) could benefit from more time to grow away from constant peer pressure.

My next logical question was more agonizing... could I do this?
Could I handle being solely responsible for her day to day education?

I researched.... I looked at curriculum.
I examined my many personality flaws... of which the most glaring is procrastination.

Obviously I can handle teaching kindergarten and mostly the primary years.
My biggest concern was starting out with accountability and a system that was very structured.

Kindergarten doesn't seem like a big deal academically... but I wanted to get off to a good start.
I wanted to be checked by someone else for the first few years to get us into good daily habits which is what led us to Pa Cyber for this year. 

I really think we will eventually switch to a more traditional homeschool style because it will afford even more flexibility for them to go at their own pace and focus on strengths and interests...
but for now we are loving the little lincoln program and are considering taking it through to third grade.

But what about later? High School? I am absolutely horrible at math... what if one of them excels and I cannot keep up? This is a likely scenario considering their Dad is a math whiz.

The short answer is we aren't going to worry about that now.
Maybe Dad will have to take over for just that subject.
Maybe we will have to pay for a tutor.... we'll see!

Do not worry about tomorrow... for today has enough worries of its own.

I am kind of going to gloss over the fact that we are Christian's and lots of Christian's homeschool to keep their kids from bad influences.
I think that's fine. As I said before I want them to be socialized by a variety of people...
not just mainly their peer groups. 
It sort of seems like the blind leading the blind to me when you expect a group of children of all the same age to teach each other how to socialize.

But really... our Pastor's family actually sites their Christianity as the REASON they send their kids to public school. To be a witness, a good influence, to learn how to be righteous in the midst of people who are not. I know many great kids who are homeschooled, and I know quite a few public school kids who are just as serious about their faith... do they have to "try" harder? Maybe. But I am sure that is part of what make them stand firm in their faith.

There are pro's and con's to everything.
Part of our decision was logic and part was feeling... we felt this was the way for us.
That truly became the deciding factor. Just gut instinct about our kids and our family.

Not really much different than other parents decisions to co-sleep in some way, 
or breastfeed, 
or use a sling, 
or potty train a certain way and time, 
or take away the binky at one year... or wait till three.

I see us homeschooling for the long haul but I am trying to keep myself open to whatever God may have for them, and be aware of their individual needs.
What works for one may not work for another, I am sure they will have lots of different ways of learning between the four of them.

I want more than anything for them to have a great education, lots of opportunities to find out what they love and to learn to use it for the good of other and for God's glory... however we get their is fine by me, and this is what we have chosen for now....

PJ's and crayons at the kitchen table....

Word Wall in the entry way...

Our monthly Calendar by the kitchen door...

With a magnet for EVERYTHING....

Post-it notes everywhere.... in case you forget what a stove is....

and last but not least, us.. together, growing, learning.

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Bella's First Day of School

I took these about and hour ago... and now I am sitting next to my Kindergartener at our kitchen table as we take the first steps into homeschooling.

We have already got three days under our belts but today is our first offical day.
We are following the Little Lincoln program through pa cyber.
We heard different things about cyber school... mostly that it was too time consuming.

This is probably true of the upper grade levels but this program (which goes through fourth grade) seems to be very flexible. We can make our school work last three hours if we do all the extra's the book includes. Or it can take as little as one hour if we are in a hurry.

So far we enjoy the online portion a lot. They sent her a laptop of her own to keep as long as she is enrolled.... she thought that was just about the most amazing thing ever!
To keep her from getting a big head about "her" computer we have been calling it the school computer and letting Tommy play some games on it too.

The best part of the online portion is that she has teachers for each subject and there are four video's a day. It makes it really easy for me because I don't have to explain everything to her. She watches her science video for example and then I just reiterate and guide her through her book work.
I feel like for us it helps us to stay on track and cover more ground than traditional homeschooling would because I can often start her on something and then leave the table for a few minutes to take care of the little ones.

I should say the best part overall is the extra time we have as family.
The flexibility in our schedule (which is especially valuable considering her Dad's crazy schedule.).
The fact that every time she learns something new I get to watch her eyes light up and her confidence soar... so far that alone makes it well worth the effort.

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