Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Summer fun... At the cabin

We recently had the chance to spend a nice weekend with my inlaws at their lake cabin. They actually took the boys on Thursday and we met them up their late Friday. It was a nice little break and always helpful to have my mother-in-law around to give me a hand with the boys. She bathed them, changed diapers, cooked and even slept with Judah (gotta love a full nights sleep!). So here are some pics from that fun trip!

The crazy tadpole man! He caught tadpoles EVERY chance he got! Which, for this little guy who like to have his hands washed, was pretty darn impressive!

Eve this guy got in on the tadpole action!

A little Grammy Hair Styling!

The book he is reading is called "Who Pooped in the Park"- fairly appropriate if you ask me!

Rhythm & Grammy

Our little fisherman!

And the other one!

The Handsome Carpenter!

We all love that chair!

Lincoln Logs!


The first day fishing with Pappy!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Summer fun... At the pool

We have had so many fun time this summer and now that we are at the end, and I am getting back into my blogging groove, it is time that I get caught up on posting some of our favorite photos! So, this first catch-up post will give you some pics of a fun day at my parent's pool (ok, the pool at their apartment, but can we just pretend it's theirs'?) and my aunt and uncle's pool. The other boy you will be seeing in the lower pics is my cousin, J, who the boys positively adore! Enjoy!

Doesn't he look old in this shot?! A total glimpse of the future!

And at the aunt and uncle's...

A rare picture of my brother and I, sorry for whoever's finger is in the bottom of the pic! I'll edit it when I get a chance, I'm just happy to be posting!

My boys have had so much fun being in the water this summer! Hopefully they will get even more chances next summer and Rhythm will officially get out of that swim ring, although he did make some wonderful strides towards it this summer with his swim lessons! Look for more summer updates soon!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Week 1 Tot School- I just never expected...

Tot School

For months I have considered in bewilderment what to do with my very mischievous 2 year old while we embarked on our first "official" year of homeschooling. There is not a day that goes by that I don't find him into something. Whether it is pouring an entire new gallon bottle of laundry detergent (bought desperately in the first place because I had just run out of my homemade stuff) all over my tiny laundry room floor (even under the machines), emptying a bottle of shampoo into my bedroom carpet (took "shampooing the carpets" to a whole new level for me), taking apart a brand new toy, or covering his face in super glue (this one actually happened when I wasn't at home, so I can't take all the credit there), our dear Lion Cub just never takes a break from finding new (or old) things to get into.

Many days, it utterly exhausts me.

So, as you can imagine, the prospect of having him not be either into something or a constant distraction while I worked on school with Rhythm felt daunting. Whatever would I do with him?!

Well, our first day of school rolled around this week and I had a loose plan of what I would try with him- some montesorri-inspired Tot School activities from 1+1+1=1. Right after calendar time, which we included him in, and Bible, which he pretended to draw along with, I broke out some button and a painting tray from Michaels for him to sort colors into.

And he sat there.

And he did it.

For 10 whole minutes he sat happily sort colors, mostly correctly (also to my surprise). It was bizarre.

So, as he began to lose interest I quickly switched the buttons out for some colored craft puff balls, a different tray and a pair of kid chopsticks from PF Changs. Jackpot! He LOVED this! Another good 10-15 minutes of giggly fun as he transferred balls into the tray. To be honest, we all had a good laugh a few times because the balls just kept popping out of his grasp. A little distracting, but hey- he wasn't destroying anything so I could encourage Rhythm to ignore him.

After that, also to my amazement, he went in the living room and sat down in the recliner with Rhythm's Mobigo and played for the rest of school time. Now please realize how extraordinary this is- he doesn't even actually know how to use it. He has picked it up and messed with it many times before but never for more than five minutes! Craziness!

Day two we broke out my new iPad (actually, let me rephrase that- I don't think I ever want to use the words "broke" and "iPad" in the same sentence!) and he played some games and watched the free Toy Story interactive book with headphones on so as not to distract Rhythm with the sound. That kept him busy for a good bit of time, but once that was over he headed over to play with the duplos. Once again, these are not a typical toy for him. He has never really just sat down and started building with them. But, low and behold, he sat and built, and built and built- FOR OVER AN HOUR!!!

Excuse me while I pass out- I feel a bit like I have entered an alternate universe!

I just really cannot express to you the relief that has spilled over me in this area over the last few days! SO many people asked me whatever would I do with him in order to let Rhythm actually have a shot at learning this year, and although I could tell them what I planned and hoped, I was really thinking the same thing. But somehow, someway, God worked a miracle this week. I don't know if it is the sense of structure or maybe even the more active sense of my participation with them (even if my attention is mostly focused on Rhythm, I am there with them and not busied by housework or whatever else is going on in life, which I think he picks up on)- whatever it is, it's a miracle and I praise the Lord that He has made it so!

I know we will have rough days, but just knowing that he can stay busy in a nondestructive way and we can get through school without him being a total and complete distraction is an incredible encouragement!

How did your week go with your smallest learners?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

First Week of Kindergarten 2011- Hello Reality!

Wow- what a first week. If I'm being completely honest, it didn't go at all as I had planned or expected. In some ways I knew that there would be some adjustments that would have to be made, I just had no idea they would be so drastic. I'll tell you right now that the first part of this post is a bit of a rant, but it gets better at the end, and its filled with honest homeschooling mama confessions, so stick with me!

For starters, the school room that I have been so vigorously planning and working on is still not finished. A sprained ankle sidelined The Carpenter (my hubby) for a day last week which took a huge chunk out of his available time to work on the desk he is building for us. I think once he gets it finished I will fairly quickly be able to organize everything and finally get the room to the unchaotic state that I have been planning on, it just hasn't happen yet. And let me tell you, I will be really glad when we are done trying to accomplish school on a tiny card table!

So after the schoolroom hurdles came scheduling snafoos. I ended up having to run errands for our business first thing in the morning on our first day of school, which put a serious kink in my day- REALLY not the way I wanted to get our school year started! So two hours behind we finally managed to get sat down and start things rolling. And this is where some of the good stuff comes in- Rhythm was so excited and he put forth so much effort, more than I have ever seen him put forth before. I can honestly say that he was making his absolute best effort and I was just so surprised, proud and delighted!

Despite our late start, our school time on Monday ended up turning into such a sweet time with both my children, fully focusing on them. Lion Cub shocked us all by really getting into his Tot School activities and keeping happily and unmischieviously occupied the ENTIRE time (which I will go into more in my Tot School post for the week) and Rhythm and I were able to really work together to get through his core subjects. We were even able to go set up his play tent in the yard and read together while Lion Cub took his nap in the afternoon- what a priceless memory to mark the beginning of our school year with. That alone truly made the day feel redeemed!

However, (back to one of those unexpected hurdles I hadn't planned for and really probably should of) I quickly found out that once we made it through Calendar time, Bible, Math and Reading, Rhythm really started to check out and he has every day since. He has never had to sit and concentrate for this long and it was obviously becoming too much for this active little boy. One morning he was so distracted right from the get go that I made him go out in the yard and run laps until he was good and worn out and ready to sit and concentrate. It wasn't his best day but those laps definitely helped!

So, as a result of this realization, each day I have done it a little differently, but basically I have started planning in a break right after we finish those 3 core subjects- recess, essentially. One day we went for a walk. Another day the boys wrestled and played with trucks while I got dinner in the crockpot. So far it seems that that break ends up falling about the time that they are getting hungry for lunch, so I have moved our lunchtime up to about 11:30ish. It seems to work best if I go ahead and just let him have his independent play time until after I get Lion Cub down for his nap and then we can resume again, just the two of us, to work on all the fun stuff I have planned. Ya know, the stuff I spent countless hours mapping out for the entire year!

It has become dramatically apparent that I have definitely expected too much and my plans are far loftier than he is capable of handling at this point. But ya know, I am also more okay with it than I would expect from myself, especially considering all that work! I think that I feel more grateful than anything that we are homeschooling so that I can pick up on his cues and really create an environment and timing that he can work best in. As I discussed it with The Carpenter this evening he expressed the same thankfulness that our incredibly active little boy isn't being forced to sit at a desk for an entire morning and end up totally checking out (and likely getting in trouble) wasting away these precious learning years.

Now, I won't lie and say that it hasn't been a bit discouraging as well. I have such fun stuff planned! But as I saw with the plaster homemade globe we attempted to make this week that ended up turning into a 100% mommy project in about 2 minutes, what I think is fun may not be as fun for him, so I really have to taylor what I'm planning to him and respond to how he is doing with the projects I present to him. however, I do have to say that he did enjoy the painting of it (he just really didn't like having the plaster on his hands!).

In all honesty there have been times this week that I have considered completely postponing our geography, science and history plans (which are a combined unit study) until next year when he may be more up for it, but I still haven't come to any real conclusions on this. For right now I think we will forge ahead but just not be afraid to cut out the things that he isn't ready for. There is so much wonderful literature included in what we are studying and beautiful opportunities to learn about God's creation and everyone's need to learn about Him, that I hope to still be able to make a lot of it work. The key will just be to not burn either of us out and try to come at it in a more relaxed way. And really, like I said, I'm pretty amazed that I haven't had a nervous breakdown because things are so not how I prepared for- it absolutely cannot be me. I truly feel that God has given me an extra measure of grace, patience and flexibility this week because if it had all been me, well, let's just say it wouldn't be pretty and we would all most likely already hate homeschooling by now!

So thank you Jesus for answering prayers, giving guidance and most of all giving me a little boy who is eager to learn combined with affording us the priceless opportunity to still let him very much be a five year old boy!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tiny Talk Tuesday- August 9, 2011

I was singing a song the other day- kind of in a goofy way- and Lion Cub shouted out, "Fwoot Cake!"  (Translation- Fruit Cake!)  He has a habit of calling names (most of which are nonsensical, thank goodness) but this one just cracked me up!!

Lion Cub: Knock Knock
Me: Who's There?
Lion Cub: "Lion Cub"
Me: "Lion Cub" Who?
Lion Cub: "Lion Cub" Bak Kook! (this is the main nonsensical name that he calls people all the time.  He uses it in anger and affection- its very odd!)


In our house we generally refer to "manly parts" as chickens (don't ask me why!).  Well the other day I nearly died laughing when Rhythm (5) apparently hurt his manly business and yelled out, "Oh my tenders!  Ya know, cause that's my chicken and these are my tenders!"

Monday, August 8, 2011

Our School Room... in the works!

For any of you who missed it, I posted our plans for the school room over on BOLD Turquoise.  So head on over there if you want to see what's in store design-wise!  As soon as it is all finished you can be expecting a full-blow tour right here on The World According to Them!  Should be no later than the end of next week!  Eeek!