Wednesday, October 29, 2014

From Dad's Lens

Genna's still innocent and sweet!

Drewy's helping me make dairy free banana bread for Judah.

Judah's cuddling with Daddy while I was out.

Buzz Lightyear with his Superman hairdo.  His sisters gave him the hairdo after his shower.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What else have we been doing?

I've been torturing Hannah by doing her hair one day a week.  She was miserable, but when she came back from AHG, she admitted that a lot of girls had commented on how pretty her hair was.

Judah's been on the BRAT diet for almost three weeks due to a serious case of diarrhea.  TMI, I know.  I can't figure out why this would happen suddenly and tick around for so very long!  Sometimes it is more than five times a day and never less than four.  The biggest issue is when I don't catch it right away and he gets a major rash that is hard to get a handle on.  I am starting to worry that I may have to give up dairy in my diet too.

The weather has been really beautiful with a few chilly days here and there.  We need to get all the outside time in that we can!  Judah loves it outside and screams when I have to bring him in.

It must be said, that very soon after I posted that Judah was still not walking everywhere, he kind of started to walk everywhere.  He still falls a lot, but usually pops right back up and keeps walking.  Oh, he is adorable!  

This funny guy brought me an "I spy" book the other day and pointed to the eye on the front cover.  He said, "Loot, Mom!  It's an eye with no body.  It's so freaty."  Translation:   Look Mom!  It's an eye with no body.  It's so freaky.  I love how he still can't say the sound k, but, hopefully, he gets it someday before he has to have speech therapy.

Superman started recognizing and remembering the name of the letter S now.  He's known for a while that it stands for Superman, but just recently started remembering what the letter is called.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Teaching From Rest: How we are changing the way we homeschool this year

So, this is a big thing with Catholic homeschoolers right now, teaching from rest.  Sarah Mackenzie over at Amongst Lovely Things wrote a book called Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakable Peace.  I bought it and read it at the beginning of the summer, and I immediately thought, "This is our problem!"  We've been focusing too much on getting things checked off on our list and on breadth, AKA "doing it all," and we have neglected the fun in learning, the flexibility in homeschooling, and the depth that I truly desire for the children's education.  We missed the boat!  So missed the boat.  I couldn't even see the boat anymore.  What boat?

Oh yeah, the one where I teach my kids how to learn and enjoy doing it.

So I scrapped my entire organizational system for their assignments.  It was hard.  I loved having every assignment written out for every day because the kids could easily do their independent work without asking me what needed to be done.  I loved it because it was all done at the end of August and I only had to worry about some supplies for experiments and library books during the school year.  I loved it because it showed me how much we were getting accomplished every day, all year long.    I loved it because it was a pretty list, and I love lists!

But it just wasn't working.  Yes, we got it all done even though I never once remembered to allow for snow days or sick days or even holidays, for crying out loud!  That meant we did double time when one of those things happened.  And they always do with a  family of three school aged kids and two little disrupters.  The biggest problem was that the girls started to really not like school.  It was all about getting it done so they could move on to the thing they really wanted to do.  We finished the 42 weeks of history in 36 weeks, but did they master it?  Probably not.  Did they get to dig into a part of history they found interesting?  Ain't nobody got time for dat!

What I did not want in changing this schedule and the entire way we did things is to scrap all preparations on my part and have to prepare the night before.  I still love lists and organization.  So I kept the lists, but changed them.

I no longer wrote a week schedule that looked like this, with every date planned down to the tee, so that we could do a field trip or take a snow day with the rest of the neighborhood kids.

Instead I have a weekly checklist that looks like this, with the number of times I aim for them to do each subject marked with boxes to check off as they do them or we do them together on whatever day they choose.  (I left off History, Science, and Religion which I will explain later.)  If there is a missed day of school, we just put a line through one column so there is no catch up.

Then I made lists of assignments for each subject.  Here is an example from math.  I listed everything, even when I wanted them to practice multiplication facts.  This way when they know they need to do math, they can check to see if it is independent work and get started if it is, or save it for when I'm available to help.

Another change I made was not trying to do all 42 weeks of history or the entire science book.  Basically, I decided finishing the texts was no longer a goal of mine.  This was super hard since I am a perfectionist, especially when it comes to homeschooling (and cake decorating.)  How could I skip over the Opium wars in history or studying torque and electromagnetism in Physics?  The answer is simply this.  They are in the first, third, and fourth grades.  They can get to that later.  They are never going to remember it all anyway even if I squeeze it all in now.  I had to have Brian's help with this hurdle.  He went through both history and science texts and marked out the things he felt were not important enough to squeeze in now.  For history, I compromised a little with still reading over the chapters that he marked out, but not going further into them by making outlines, map work, and taking tests over them like I have them do for the more important chapters.  We have less to cover and, therefore, can slow it down and enjoy the ride a lot more.

Finally, and the portion that still needs tweaking, is the addition of Morning Time with a looping system.  Morning Time is time when I am reading and or teaching them all together.  Looping is rotating which books or subjects we do during Morning Time each day.  I don't do history on Monday and Wednesdays.  Now I do it whenever it comes up in the loop.  I try to do our Morning Offering prayer, a part of their memory work, and a short religion lesson before starting the loop.  My loop looks something like this right now, but I am planning to alter it a bit.

Religion Reading
Religion Reading
Physics Reading
Physics Experiment
(and repeat)

I want to add in poetry and Shakespeare, but we are not quite having enough time yet.  This is recommended to be the first thing in your morning, but it is too hard with Drew and Judah right now to do it then.  We've been aiming to start soon after I get Judah down for his morning nap and Drew settled for his hour of Room Time, but even that is hard since by then the kids are all working on independent work.  It is sometimes easier to pull one out and do math or grammar with him/her than to make them all stop what they are doing.

How is it actually going?  It took us a couple of weeks to get the new system going, and there were many days when I wanted to scrap the whole thing.  The only thing that kept me from doing that was the amount of time it takes me to set up the weekly sheets that we used to use.  We started school late as it was, and I did not have time to go back and rework all my checklists into my previous table format.

Just this last week, though, Genna said, "I like this new way of doing school.  Can we do it this way next year too?"  Yay!  Isaac and Hannah quickly concurred.  I didn't even realize that we had made so much progress in the way of attitudes towards school.  At the beginning, they were not as excited about the change as I was they didn't understand that I really would just let them finish their math assignment up the next day if it took them more than an hour to do.  They had become very task oriented with a "must check it off my list" mindset with which I am so plagued.

So the attitudes are better, but am I teaching from rest with an unshakable peace?  Ummm, no.  Just today, I had my old habits creep up on me, and I think maybe demons were whispering in my ear that I must get Isaac to understand borrowing today or I am failing as a homeschooler.  Why can't he work on it again tomorrow or tonight when his dad gets home with a fresh perspective and a lot more patience than me?  Why can't I call it quits when he's had enough?  I can, and I should have.  Hopefully, I am getting there though.

Grant me peace, Lord.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Drew's Three Year Check Up

Drew weighed 35 lbs and was 37 1/2 inches.  He's not going to be as tall as Isaac.  That was Isaac's height on our wall chart at 2 years and 3 months old.  He was an excellent patient, and he got a by on shots this year.  Next year's the biggie for shots.

We got these adorable Mass clothes at a thrift shop for an amazing deal.  I could just eat him up!

Drew has been having a hard time coming off of the vacation high that he had been on for too long.  The first week back he was good, but then things went downhill.  He actually was moved back into the crib for a few days because he started pitching a fit at bedtime.  We started a sticker chart for my reward motivated child and we seem to be back on track in that area for now.

He is also having a hard time understanding how God is watching over him if he can't see him.  That's another first for our family.  Never had any three year olds question that.  Plus, I've never had any kids argue with me over answers to questions like that.  He's gonna be a leader one day.  That is certain.  I just hope it's the right kind of leader.  I'm praying for this guy's faith, let me tell ya.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Homemades still isn't walking everywhere

Judah is still not walking steadily.  He tries to walk a lot, but he falls after anywhere from two to twelve steps, roughly.

He is saying a couple more words, but I can't remember them.  He says, "Cheese" when we are taking a picture of him.  He has said, "Hi Momma" and "Hi Dadda" multiple times.

The little boys watching the plumbers work.

The most unusual thing he does is get very upset when Brian or I are holding another child.  He tries to push them out of our laps and screams at them.  Umm, not fun!   I have no idea why he would do this since this has never happened with any of my babies before.

Monday, October 13, 2014

My Pumpkins with their Pumpkins

Drew with his Spiderman Pumpkin, carved and cleaned out by Mommy

 Pumpkin carving used to be something I loved to do and looked forward to the day when I would be able to do it with my children.  I thought it would be all fun and a little bit messy.  We would all sit at the table and I would patiently help each of the children with their own pumpkin.  Well, then I had kids and realized that these kinds of crafty projects with a bunch of young children is actually full of me saying, "Hold on a minute," and, "You have to wait your turn," until even I don't believe I'm actually going to get around to helping them.  We start this at 4pm and guess what I am having to do simultaneously?  If you said, "Cook dinner," you'd be right.  If you said, "Nurse the baby," you'd also be right.

So you can see how this wasn't what I pictured ten years ago when I was carving a pumpkin for my front door step alone.  Drew immediately decided it was too dirty in that pumpkin to help pull seeds and pulp out.  Surprise!  Surprise!  (My tough as nails son who falls out of windows and down a flight of stairs with barely a cry cannot stand dirt on his hands or clothes.)  Hannah wanted help in designing her pumpkin carving, but didn't like any of my ideas.  Genna knew just what she wanted, but drew the picture way too small to actually carve it.  Isaac needed help carving.  Drew also needed me to just do the whole thing since he is not allowed to tough sharp things.  Judah was just hungry and wanted attention, because did I mention he is my only jealous of my or Brian's attention child?

Genna did a Eucharistic pumpkin.

Brian was out of town and so that added an element of craziness to the whole thing, but, as you can see, the pumpkins got carved in the end.  We almost made it with no injuries, but at the last moment Genna was using my linoleum cutter to write her name and slashed her arm with it.  It took a very neat little piece out of her arm, but nothing a little band-aid wouldn't fix.  She is one of my two tough ones, so she handled it calmly.

Hannah made stripes.

Isaac made Mary's heart, pierced by a sword.

This was on Wednesday, and as I write this on Sunday the pumpkins have already been banished to the front porch due to mold.  The squirrels will probably eat them soon.  

Thursday, October 9, 2014

OBX: Part 2

This is that deck on top of the three story house that I mentioned not being my favorite.

I'm having heart palpitations just looking at this picture my husband took with his phone.   So here is the kid who not too long ago fell out a window!!!!  If it had been up to me, none of the kids would have been aloud up there, but especially not this guy.  I am so scared of heights!   My husband and I don't quite see eye to eye on all that safety stuff.  :)
The kids were never bored despite the rainy day with all the stuff to do around the house.  We played lots of games, read lots of books, and watched a couple of movies.  One night the dads took the big kids out looking for crabs.  They all wore glow sticks so they didn't lose anyone.

One day we walked down to get ice cream for the kids.  We found a used book store and some sand dunes to explore.  Other than that and the beach, we mostly stayed around the house.  That's my kind of vacation right now with a toddler that needs such close supervision and two naps a day.

Another dad photo, at least they weren't on the very top this time.

Drew was always thoroughly worn out for his naps and bedtime.  I put him to sleep in our bed and moved him when the big boys were all asleep.  Our vacation wouldn't have been nearly as sweet with him staying up super late every night.

I did not get a lot of sleep on this trip.  When the kids all got to bed, the real vacation began for us adults.  We finally got to sit back and enjoy the hot tub, play cards, listen to music, and have some wine.  Let's just say, there weren't many nights when I was in bed before 2:30am.  Funny enough, my well-rested children were wide awake at 7am every morning.  So that left me with less sleep than is normally required for nice mommy.  However, because we were not taxing ourselves too much during the day I was functioning pretty well.  And then we got home and I had a million things to do and couldn't get to bed early enough to catch up on my sleep.  Nice mom has to work really hard to show up every morning at breakfast now.  I really need some catch up sleep!

Judah and my godson:  What a handsome set of boys!

Judah trying to prove to us that he really does know how to use the remote, and, therefore, we should not keep taking it away!

Most of the kids, minus one cold three year old and a couple of sleeping toddlers

The epic water fight in which the dads win while the moms cook.

These pool shots were taken from the balcony of the third floor.
Turned on a movie the night before we left so we could pack without having stuff drug back out of our bags constantly.  Worked like a charm!
It was quite a rough week coming back from this.  We dove right into school and activities since we've been vacationing way too long already.  We are trying out a new system that needs some tweeking, but I am hopeful it will in the end lead to a more peaceful school year with kids who love to learn and read instead of kids who want to "get school over with" so they can read and play.  More on that later.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

OBX Part 1:The trip started off with a bang!

The Saturday that we were leaving for the beaches of North Carolina (the Outer Banks) the kids had German school, Isaac had a t-ball game, and Brian just had to go hunting.  So he started off in a great mood because he killed himself a buck.

We stopped to spend Saturday night with the family that was going to the beach with us.  Our godson is two months younger than Judah and has been walking for a while now.  The minute we put Judah on the ground with Ned, he took around five or more steps from me to his dad.  Up until then it had only been three steps, at most.  He just needed someone his own size to show him how it's done.  He's still not walking everywhere, but he tries to walk before falling and crawling almost all the time.  He's up to ten-ish steps without falling now.

We went to Mass together the next morning and headed out around lunchtime.  We stopped at the famous Weeping Radish restaurant and brewery (it's always a brewery!)  Brian really wants me to join in his love for beer tasting hobby, but I really don't like bitter stuff.  I am a sweet kind of girl.  However, this place had a hefeweizen that I liked.

I think Hannah was in the bathroom and missed out on this picture.  I wish Isaac had been in the bathroom instead because he kind of ruined the picture.  He was in one of his pouty moods.  He gets this way sometimes, and really Brian and I are at a loss at how to handle it other than our ignore it tactic.  The strangest things will ruin his mood at the seemingly most fun times.  He did this at Sea World too, which how can you even be miserable at Sea World?  This time it was the smell of the place that was grossing him out.  The restaurant makes their own sausages.  Maybe it was that or maybe it was the sauerkraut.  I did smell something when we walked in, but he pouted long after my brain had blocked out the smell.  Once we got a table and he got to coloring and being silly with his friends he was fine, but "What the heck, man!"  Way to put a damper on things when we were all trying to have fun.

These two champs were excellent even after Mass and a long drive.  They sat in their highchairs and had a grand old time.
The beach house was an amazing three story house with wrap around decks and was only one row of houses off the beach.  It was plenty big for our two families with a total of nine kids.  It had a game room on the first floor with a pool table, an air hockey table, and a ping pong table too. The second floor had four of the bedrooms, but one of them was a suite divided off by a sliding door.  The babies each got their own space that way.  Each of the couples got their own room, and then there was a "boy room" with two bunk beds in it.  The three year olds were on the bottom bunks and the older boys got the tops.  Off the second floor were decks with a hot tub and a life size chess set.  The third floor held the kitchen, dinning and living areas, and another bedroom that served as the "girl room" for the three girls.  There was also a pool and a deck on top of the house (not my favorite part of the house!)

The weather was not great for a good portion of the trip, but only one day was rainy.  Lots of days of cloudy skies.  We still tried to get to the beach as often as possible in the mornings.  It was a very short walk to the beach, and the beaches were not crowded at all.

The Go-pod bought me major freedom on the beach.  He was able to eat lunch in there and hang out a while so I wasn't having to watch him try to eat sand and shells the whole time. 

Drew asked me to build him Batman and Robin in the sand.  The ocean was a little too rough for him to hang out there.

Somebody LOVED the beach!

One of the days I spent a lot of time chasing him into the ocean, but the rest of the time he was pretty content withe sand.

A few times during afternoon naps, I got some kid free time on the beach.

See the clouds.  Not perfect weather.