September 30, 2009

September 27, 2009

The End of September

This week is the end of September, the end of our first month of homeschooling. Some thoughts:
  • I'm so glad that E is not in school. I'm glad for two reasons, (neither of which have anything to do with the education provided in public school.) One, I get to be with her as she's learning, discovering, and connecting new things. And two, she's continuing to develop her relationship with her brother in a way that wouldn't be if she were at school.
  • I have so many ideas, that sometimes I want to rush forward. But then I remember that E's got a lifetime to learn and I need to enjoy teaching her whatever we're doing a the moment and allow her to direct her learning now and then.
  • I'm so grateful for the many books about homeschooling I've read so far. Quite a few of them I stumbled upon, and they've been of great benefit. Perhaps I'll get to making a list sometime, with brief reviews.
Read a sight word, get a raisin;
I get the raisin if she can't read it.

  • The more Colin and I think and talk about homeschooling, the more I imagine stick ing with it for a while.
  • I'm overwhelmed by the quantity of information available about homeschooling. Every family homeschools a little differently than the next. I like formulas and I need to do a lot more reading and experimenting before we settle on our family's. I'm anxious to feel settled; but I suppose that once you do feel settled, something changes. It seems I need to get used to going with the flow. (You who know me can chuckle; I did too after typing that.)
At the beginning of each day Elizabeth writes a letter and two words with that letter.
Then she gets to make an artistic representation of the letter.
She likes it more than I imagined she would,
and asks each morning what material we'll be using to make the letter!

September 26, 2009

Saturday, In the Park

Late this morning, I decided it would be nice to take the kids to a nearby park. Elizabeth picked one we went to last fall on a Joy School field trip; it's about a 5 minute walk away. Elizabeth rode her bike, though the sidewalks on our route weren't the best and she ended up walking her bike a lot.

There were lots of cars around. Brian had a great time trying them all, while E spent more time on the horse. (She remembered it quite well from our last visit.)

Getting started...

Please observe Elizabeth's outfit.
Her latest is to wear mismatched socks.

There's this steep, shaky bridge.
Brian thoroughly enjoyed the challenge.

The headband completes this outfit.
Which grandma got this for him? I love it!

Here, see why Brian falls and hits his forehead so much.
Not really walking, not really running...

(Above is a video. If you can't see it on facebook, head to the blog.)

After playing we went up the road to a little place called Dimitrios to have lunch. I was interested in a Greek salad and had arranged to take a gyro home to Colin. Elizabeth chose the so-not-Greek ravioli. It was quite a portion (including cheesy garlic bread) and Brian had more than his share. He easily ate more than Elizabeth.

September 19, 2009

Brian's New Look

Here's our new solution to Brian's frequent forehead bruises. Yes, that is a sweet sweatband! It's less conspicuous than a helmet and perfectly covers the area he bonks when he tumbles forward in his hurry to get places. (Colin get's the credit for this hip idea.)

Below is chunky monkey doing a little reading. Seriously, he's no worse for the wear after his accident. The only time it bothers him is when I have to change the band-aid! Stitches come out on Monday.

And the incision for those who might be interested.

September 16, 2009

Wednesday Morning: a timeline

10:30-ish am I decide to go with the kids over to the Student Center on the shuttle. (We needed to get a plastic diaper cover for Brian at the Athletic Center, so we can go swimming there. When we'd gotten our membership, they were out of his size. I'd called this morning, and they had them, so I wanted to get one before they ran out again.) I debate about taking the umbrella stroller, but decide against it to let Brian get some exercise.

10:45-ish am Brian's happily rulking (a run walk combo) across the parking lot to the shuttle stop, when he trips and hits his head on the pavement. This is not uncommon for him recently. So I am not expecting to see blood when I help him up. And blood there was! I frantically rush E and him back across the street toward our apartment while trying to fish napkins or tissues out of the diaper bag. I lay him on the grass and try applying pressure with little success, since it makes him so mad. The blood is flowing (this is not and exaggeration) down his face. I call Colin, letting him know B had hit is head and was bleeding and that we' ll be up soon. (Colin works at home.)

Colin is taken aback by the sight of bloody Brian. By the time we get inside he looks like this. (NOTE: if you get queasy easily DO NOT look at this picture. Seriously, the really small cut on his head bled way more than seemed possible; the doc said later it was right on a vessel in his forehead.) I get Brian into the bath, the only way I knew he'd be distracted enough to let me wash his face and try to get the bleeding under control.

He's clean and Colin helps me get a non-stick pad on him, held in place with gauze around his head. He promptly pulls it off. I then put band-aids on him. They hold. The bleeding appears to be under control. I let him run around the living room naked for a while to give him a break. I get him dressed.

11:03 am This time is exact because I look at the clock to know what time I gave Brian ibuprofen, to dull any pain he might feel. (Elizabeth brought it to me. I must add that through all of this craziness Elizabeth is calm, collected, and very helpful. I'm still in awe and so very grateful!)

11:10-ish am After going back and forth a little, Colin and I decide Brian needs to be seen at the ER. It is difficult to see how bad the cut is. Brian really does not like to be held down and examined in any circumstance....

11:30 am We are at the ER in Cambridge Hospital. (an aside: I feel like we've been there a alot, and I've always been very happy with the care I, Brian, or Elizabeth have received.)

It's a short wait. The assistant takes Brian's vitals and asks us about the incident. He's a kind older fellow.

11:45-ish am A pediatric resident comes in to see Brian. In the process of trying to examine the wound, the clot gets busted. The bleeding resumes. It's a mess. It's another five minutes before it clots again, but this time Brian cuddles with me and sucks his fingers while I hold gauze on his head to help stop the bleeding. The resident goes to get the attending doctor to check it out, because she wasn't sure what course to take.

12:00-ish pm The doctor comes and manages to examine it without making it bleed again. She says we could just keep a band-aid on it, but thinks a stitch might be a better idea, especially given all the bleeding and seeing how active Brian is. She seems quite confident he'll keep popping the laceration open.

12:10-ish pm A nurse, named Bruce (I remember because it's my dad's name and he took good care of all of us), comes to put on local anesthetic with a cotton ball. Brian's on my lap, quite irritated about having his head touched again. The nurse gets the cotton ball on and taped over. Then Brian pulls it off. Aurgh! The nurse thinks Brian got enough of it and just leaves gauze of the wound. We wait for it to sink in and do it's magic.

12:30 pm They come in to do the stitching. One doctor, one resident, one nurse, and one mommy - all for a 15 month old little boy! The doctor gets ready to stitch. The nurse wraps Brian up in a sheet. The resident is assigned to leg duty, to keep Brian from kicking. I stand by his head, opposite the doctor, and hold his arms and shoulders. And the nurse is above Brian on head holding duty. Brian screams like crazy whenever the doctor leans over him to do anything. He calms when she moves away to do anything at the table. I sing him some songs to calm him. He ends up needing two stitches. Oh yes, and there was more bleeding, until he was fully stitched.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth, who has been given a purple Popsicle by kind nurse Bruce, sits on the other side of the door curtain looking at a book and enjoying her sweet treat. I cannot believe how brave she is to sit alone like that. (She told me later that she peeked during the procedure!)

12:45-ish pm The procedure is done and the nurse tapes Brian up. The resident and I are calmly talking with Brian when I start to black out. At first I think I can shake it off, but no, I'm going to pass out if I keep standing. (This has happened only one other time in my life, when I was pregnant with Brian and really needed to eat. Gladys, you may remember.) I sit down on the floor and the nurse instructs me to put my head between my knees. I feel revived very quickly. He brings me some juice and saltines. Phew, a second crisis is averted. (Did I mention that I love the Cambridge Hospital ER?!)

While we wait for the final paperwork to sign out, Brian rests and eats a cracker with me. And the nurse also brings E a glass of juice and some extra crackers.

1:00 pm We head to the hospital cafeteria for lunch. It's cheap and delicious. I'm glad to get my belly filled up. Brian is acting perfectly normal, but looks funny with the big bandage on his head.

1:45 pm We head home. Elizabeth eats the Twizzlers she got before we left the hospital - all 8 sticks! I devour the Chunky I selected. And Brian falls asleep - as expected.

Now I'm enjoying a cup of coffee and writing this post. It's taking me a long time.

Here's a treat for those of you that read this entire post. If you didn't, I still won't stop you from looking. :)

September 15, 2009

How I Got Here

We're into week two. I am trying to figure out how I'm going to keep up with life, how to organize my time so we're all enjoying learning and so I'm not too embarrassed if someone comes to visit and asks to use our bathroom. :)

Let's be clear about one thing: homeschooling moms are NOT super moms! The most common response I get when I say we homeschool is this, "Oh wow, you're amazing! I could never do that." Really, you could. If you decided on it, you could! But just because you can doesn't mean that you should. Each family needs to consider the options and decide what is best for them. So some families homeschool, others send their kids to public school, and others opt for private schools. Often, those in one group can't understand the choice of those in another. But I'm noticing that what happens with homeschooling, is that the option is not considered at all. This was the case for me, until about 2.5 years ago, because I had my assumptions about "that group." In addition, I'd had a good childhood experience in school and had taught in public schools; our children would attend public school.

If you click on the link, you'll see that my research began because Elizabeth got old enough to teach (read: do crafts, talk about shapes and colors, etc.), and I had so much fun teaching her and watching her learn! I started with Homeschooling for Dummies because it seemed like a logical place to start - lots of information in one place to get my feet wet. Since then I've read many helpful books and will continue to read. (I'd like to post a list somewhere, before I lose track of all of the helpful things that I've found or to which I've been directed.) The more I read, the more ideas I get and the more fun it is to dream about our future as a family if we continue to homeschool.

I've lost my train of thought and need to get to the morning's list while Brian's occupied by the Little People (video, not toys!) I'll post more later.

Have a good day, readers, whatever you're up to!

September 11, 2009

Because I Couldn't Resist

Brian's hair has gotten pretty long.
The last couple of bath nights I've moussed it up a little.
It makes me think about him being a teenager someday.

Week 1

We are now a home schooling family.

first day of school photo

I loved our first week.

That said, I'm still not used to the fact that I am a homeschooling mom. I have (had?) these notions about what a homeschooling parent looks like, and I don't fit into them. And then there's the weirdness of peoples' responses to hearing that you're home schooling. But this is all for another post....

Highlights from the week:
  1. Elizabeth, who's not one for much drawing, enthusiastically drawing wonderful sketches of things she saw during our river walk on the first day of school.
  2. How content I am inside that we did not send E to school this week, that I'm her teacher!
  3. The way E made up an activity for herself - looking for American flags - as we drove to Arlington yesterday. (The big reward was that Mass Ave is lined with flags in Arlington; we lost count.)
  4. While we were reading Farmer Boy last night, E asked if she could read the words she knows. We've been working on a list of 10 sight words this week.
I have in the back of my mind that there will be bad days and weeks of school. I've read about these times and heard about them from other homeschooling moms. Throughout this week, these thoughts have threatened to take away my joy at what's already happening. Colin, my ever present voice of reason, told me not to worry about those times until they come. I'm trying.

So, for now, I'm enjoying being with our girl, coming up with activities for us to do to maintain her interest in learning, and watching her enthusiasm to explore and discover!

Yesterday, our friends hosted a home schooling kick off tea party! It was very sweet to hear the girls talk about how they're home schooled.

Addy, Emily, and Elizabeth

September 10, 2009

Adopted into God's Family

E and I were talking about adoption today. After some explanation about what it means to be adopted, I took the opportunity to talk about how God adopts us into his family when we believe in Jesus. I told E the verse in 1 John that goes like this: How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.

She quickly said to me, "Mom, you can't be God's child."

I explained a little more. Then she said, "Mom, you can't be God's child. You're God's adult."

This girl keeps me laughing!

September 5, 2009

Growing Up

Over the summer, several 4 and 5 year olds here have learned to ride bikes without training wheels. It took Elizabeth a while to be interested as much as her friends, but she's mastered it after a couple of weeks of practice on a very small (12" wheel) bike that a former resident left behind. She got the balance after several days of practice, then quickly learned to start on her own and brake using the pedals.

Tonight, in celebration, we went to Target and got her her first kick stand. When we got home, Colin lowered the seat on her bike a little more, by removing a reflector. Thus, she was able to reach the ground enough with her feet to take of riding on her own within a couple of tries! She seemed much more comfortable on a bike her size; but we are grateful that we had that little to teach the basic skills.

The little bike she learned on.

Here she is in action!

In other news, last night she had her first scary-enough-to-need-to-sleep-with-mommy dream, about a witch on the playground. She ended up sleeping in pretty late as a result of being up a while in the night. Tonight she asked us to pray with her that she would not have another scary dream. These are difficult parenting moments, not the praying part, but the not-knowing-now-to-fix-it part. Hm, I guess that's why we pray.

September 1, 2009

What's Going On Inside? Here's a Glimpse!

Colin suggested yesterday that I use this blog to keep a record of what's going on in my mind and in our lives as we begin our homeschooling journey. It's one that could last one year or many; the unknown doesn't bother me, at least I don't think so. It seems reasonable to reevaluate every year what our goals are as a family and the direction we want our lives to take, following the Lord's guidance.

So here we are. The summer is drawing to a close. It's September 1. I have been looking over our current weekly schedule and moving things around for the fall, focusing more on structure and routine than I have this summer. Laundry day is moving to Thursday, from Monday. Doing laundry will continue to be something I do with the kids, part of our school day as much as it is part of our lives. (For those who don't know, we live in graduate housing. To do the laundry we have to go from our building to the high rise basement to do our laundry. We can use many washers at time, so the task can be done from wash to fold in just a few hours. We do laundry once a week.) We're going to start attending the Wednesday morning toddler sing-along at the library for Brian's benefit and will continue to go Thursday afternoon for story and craft time for Elizabeth. Our attendance at the latter has not been as regular this summer and I look forward to getting back into the routine. The childrens librarian is wonderful and a knowledgeable resource for finding fabulous literature for us to enjoy at home. As the weather cools, we'll likely start up our weekly playgroup with E's girlfriends one afternoon each week. Some good friends (you know who you are!) moved out this summer, but there are a couple of new neighbor girls to invite. The community is ever changing, but never disappointing! The last regular weekly event on our calendar will be Tuesday morning Bible study at church. I've been attending for 5 years and have the humbling privilege of leading this semester, or until we move. The group of women is precious to me and has been a source of encouragement and growth since becoming a mom.

Oh yes, in the midst of all of these things we'll be schooling. And yet through all of these activities the kids will be learning and growing. I'm glad for the opportunity to continue doing what we've been doing the last 5 years with Elizabeth: learning through living. Of course, I often feel like I'm going to need to prove myself, convinced that the kids going to school will be learning more, advancing more, and generally succeeding more. But this is a fact of life regardless of whether your child is in a traditional school or not; some kids will excel at things that other children find quite challenging and vice-versa. Recently I found myself quite jealous that so many of our neighbor kids can ride two-wheelers and we hadn't pushed Elizabeth to learn. (Yes, this is a glimpse into my dark, jealous heart.) But it was a good lesson for me to rejoice with other families as their kids learn to do new things and rejoice with my kids when they master new things, regardless of who learns it first. (I have a very competitive spirit; pray with me that God will transform this into something pleasing to Him. Right now, I'm pretty sure there's not much that's pleasing about it!)

So, all that said and if you're still reading, we're currently investigating Whole Hearted Learning. I've ordered the Clarkson's The Whole Hearted Child Home Education Handbook from AbeBooks (a superb resource for cheap used books) to read further than the brief synopses in Home Schooling Methods. And for the time being, I'm going to stick to Rebecca Rupp's Home Learning Year by Year to keep me on track with what I'm teaching Elizabeth.

To summarize, my head is swimming thinking about schedules, goals, methods, succeeding, and failing. I was reminded yesterday of the "What is the chief end of man?" catechism question. The answer is, "to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." May God impress this on our hearts today, wherever we find ourselves and in whatever we're doing. Help us, Father. Thanks for being so good to us.