Thursday, August 05, 2010

August 5, 2010 Part 2

We are just starting to get back to a somewhat normal routine. We closed on our house last Friday, which was such a relief. It was a relief to be finished cleaning it and watering the plants every other day. I was so done with that. The buyers have big plans for remodeling and updating pretty much everything. From the sounds of it, it will be very beautiful and up to date when they are finished. I hope they will be very happy there.

We are now living in a rental home and I think it is going to work out very well for us. It has the same number of bedrooms and baths as our old house, although it does not have an office so we are using one of the bedrooms for the husband's office. The rooms are all smaller across the board, with the exception of the master bedroom which is huge.

We are using the small dining room as a school room / arts and crafts room. It is really coming in very handy to have an extra table set up with all of the crayons, markers, glue, etc. that does not have to be put away before every meal. The boys are in there drawing, coloring or making something at least a couple of times a day, if not more.

The downside is that there is much less floor space for the boys to just get down on the floor and play. There is a nice sized playroom upstairs and they do play up there regularly but, unless I am up there, they spend much more time overall playing downstairs and they bring their toys downstairs to play. Even though it means things are a bit messier, I am really OK with that because I enjoy having them nearby. So, we are making it work.

We have put tubs of some of the most used toys under the ottoman in the living room, we still have the two big baskets of toys in there but we are still constantly having to tote things back and forth between upstairs and down. It really is not too bad though. We place things on the bottom steps and the person who goes up next is suppose to take a load with them. It's working for us and I am more patient about letting things be a bit more strewn about.

Overall, it is a great rental house (although the yard is not) so I am very thankful to be able to live here for now.

The boys are still in swimming classes. They took lessons twice a week during June and July and just switched back to once a week in August. They have had some great instructors at this place. One in particular was a favorite this summer. Mr. Michael stole their hearts at the first lesson in June when he pretended pirates with them. They had him all through June and most of July and then he left to get ready to go back to college. He was so fun and they really learned a lot with him.

They are now back with the teacher they had last fall, whom they love, so we are happy about that. Funny thing is that I ended up kind of having a preference for the men teachers (they have had two men and two women so far) because they seem to push them a bit more. Also, I think the boys tend to prefer them more because they would throw them in the air a bit when sending them off for a swim. I think they were a bit more rough-ish, in a good way, for the boys and they will likely miss that.

They are both swimming under water for about 5 to 7 feet. Ben requires less assistance then Nick currently, although this tends to switch back and forth. Nick was having an issue with trying to go too fast and ended up thrashing a lot but Mr. Michael was able to get him to slow down a bit and he is now improving fast. They are learning to dive (sitting and kneeling on the side) and they jump off the diving board and swim to the side.

We have them signed up through December and will likely have them go through the spring also, with plans to make sure they get plenty of pool time next summer. We'll see how it goes. I would not mind if one or both of the boys decided, at some time, they want this to be their sport and would like to do competition swimming. But, everyone has their own favorites so I will wait until they are older and see what they choose.

Their soccer lessons will be over in another couple of weeks and I'm not sure right now if we are going to sign them up for the fall. I have to talk to the dad about that. The boys are game, although I think Ben is a bit half hearted about it at times.

We are planning to start a little 'official' schooling soon. The boys have friends who are starting kindergarten this year so they want to start school too. We'll see how much they really want to do it once it becomes more routine. I think Ben will be into it but Nick might not. I am thankful that we have another year before they are officially required to start so we can play it by ear this year. We will be focusing on learning to read, write and spell this year. Once we get going and get comfortable with our new routine, we will likely throw in some math also.

I was unpacking all of the homeschool materials the other day and Nick saw the readers. I had put them up a while back, when they had lost interest and we were too busy with other things. I wanted them to be out of sight for a while so they would be fresh and new when we brought them back out. Nick was so happy to see them, he sat down and read 3 or 4 of them in a row to me and then read another one to the dad, while Ben was reading one to me. I was very impressed that they really had not lost anything we had learned, even though we had not done anything in months. If anything, Nick was reading better than before. They have amazing memories and such a natural desire to learn, it is awesome.

We have so many letters and books and learning materials around that they are always learning even when it is not my focus. They are both wanting to learn to read so I think they will be into the reading lessons we do. They are also always asking me how to spell words, as they write notes or lists or whatever. Ben knows how to write all of his capital letters and is working on lower case. Nick probably does not know how to write all of his capital letters yet but he knows many, if not most. Today he showed me that he had learned how to write a small h. He was so pleased with himself. It really is amazing how much they learn just because they are interested. I think if I keep giving them real life reasons to learn to spell and write, they will be into that also. Today I was telling them that once they learned to write and spell, they could write secret notes to daddy and sneak them into his lunch or briefcase and he would find them at work. They absolutely loved that idea and were wanting to do it right away.

We will continue to use The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading. We will be using All About Spelling, Zaner-Bloser Handwriting and, if we get to it, Right Start Math. We have some other fun things to add into the mix for literature related art projects and some phonics workbook pages, just in case someone wants to do them here and there. Ben did one today but Nick was busy doing something else.

Add to all of this, the building of the new house. We have a meeting scheduled tomorrow morning with the potential GC to go over the detailed estimates he has developed. This should be an interesting meeting. I am very hopeful that we will be ready to move ahead after this meeting but it would not surprise me if we have to revisit a few things first. My mom, sister and niece (and maybe my nephew) are coming tomorrow for a visit and will play with the boys while we meet with the GC.

Well, it's getting late and, as usual, this is getting very long so I had better sign off for now. Nick will most likely be up sometime between 6:00 and 6:30 in the morning, no matter what time he got to bed, so I need to get some rest:). Goodnight.

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