Sunday, December 25, 2011

December 25, 2011

We have had a very merry Christmas at our house.  We opened gifts first thing this morning and then spent the rest of our time before church working on putting together the Lego police station, which was a very popular gift.  We went to church and they did not have Sunday school or children's church this morning so the boys were with us in big church.  I really enjoyed having them there and especially enjoyed hearing them sing.  I really think Christmas should be on Sunday every year.  It is just so special.  Our pastor had given such a wonderful sermon this morning and three people were also baptized.  The boys had never seen a baptism before so I was really glad they were there to watch and they were very interested.

After church we did our normal, every Sunday after church thing and headed to one of our favorite places to eat.  After driving around, we saw that pretty much everything was closed, which I kind of expected.  Sonic was open and they were being slammed.  We went there but it didn't take long for us to realize that it would be a long time before we were waited on and served so we headed home.

As it happens, I had bought a wonderful honey glazed ham so we cut off a few slices and heated them up, along with some baked potatoes and veggies.  It turned out to be a pretty good Christmas lunch and it was pretty quick also, which was good because everyone was getting pretty hungry by then.

Back to the presents.  The boys were very excited about all of their gifts, although some more than others, of course.  They got some fun science-y things in their stockings (a submarine that you put baking powder in and it makes it dive and come back up, magnet toys, a small volcano that requires baking soda and vinegar to make it erupt and a few other things.  They also got a Lite Brite and I Spy puzzle, a wrist watch walkie talkie, a pirate/treasure hunt maze book and another fun puzzle type book, a wood kit where they build and paint four wood projects (a jet plane, a bird house, a race car and a bird feeder) and their big Lego police station.  Last, but not least, we got a basket ball goal but we have not put it together yet so it is not on the radar.  I think the dad will put it together tomorrow.  As it was, the dad and I both ended up spending the majority of the day helping the boys with one thing or another.  It seems that the majority of the gifts needed some kind of help or another.  It was nice though because we really spent a lot of family time together today, which was a wonderful way to spend Christmas day.

My dear husband went above and beyond for me this year.  My big gift was a new, wireless printer.  It is not only a printer but it is a do-it-all kind of printer.  It prints in beautiful color and can print pictures.  It also faxes, copies and scans.  My biggest want though was for a wireless printer that could print in color.  It was a big surprise for me and dear hubby already had it set up and configured.  He had me open an envelope that had a letter in it that told me to print a Word document from my laptop, which happened to be sitting on the island counter.  Then I went to his office and there was my printer and the paper I had just printed with no connected wires!  Yay!  I can't tell you how nice this will be for me.  I have always had to take my laptop to his office and connect it to the printer to print something.  It will be so much more convenient and how lovely that I will be able to print in color now.  This will definitely be great for all of the school stuff we will be doing.

The other gift from dear hubs was a new blender.  The one we had was mine from about 30 years ago and it had a short so it was becoming more unreliable.  The new one is quite nice and may even make me want to bake a bit more often.  I also had some new kitchen utensils in my stocking, which we desperately needed.  I am a very practical person so I really like gifts like this:).  I was quite pleased and thankful for all of my Christmas gifts and also thankful for such a thoughtful husband.

I got the hubs a new router and a jig saw.  As it turns out, he already has a jig saw so he will return this one and put the money towards something else.  He got some nice office supplies, candy and some yummy cinnamon covered pecans in his stocking.

All of this is in addition to everything we all received when we celebrated Christmas with my family down at the farm yesterday.  It was so nice to see everyone and we even got to talk to my nephew who is a chaplain in the service and is currently stationed in Kuwait.  It was so good to hear his voice.

Above all, we are all healthy and were able to spend our Christmas with family, which is such a blessing.  Our sons are growing up too fast.  I think they skipped size 6 in their jeans and went straight from a size 5 to a size 7.  What's up with that?

We are going to be taking a vacation in the next couple of months.  We are going to go on a cruise and we are all very excited about it.  The husband has been on one before but this will be the first for the rest of us.  I am excited for the boys to get to see the ocean for the first time and to play on a beach for the first time.  I didn't get to do either until I was in college so this has been one of the things that I really wanted them to experience while they are younger.  It is so fun and exciting to have something like this to look forward to.  It will definitely make the time fly by.

Speaking of time flying by, we took most of this week off of school.  We schooled on Monday and I had planned to school another day or two but other things kept popping up.  The dad is off work Monday and Tuesday but we will plan to school at least Wed and Thurs and possibly Fri, although we will likely have co-op that day.

I have been spending a lot of time learning about the curriculum we will be using for history, geography, literature, some writing, church and art history and I can't remember what else it covers. It is such a wonderful product and I am looking forward to using it with the boys.  I have been learning so much from it already and I know they are going to enjoy it and we will do some fun projects.  It is called Tapestry of Grace and it seems like I have been researching it forever.  I am so hopeful that it will work for us and that we will all enjoy it and learn a lot from it.  I'm not quite sure exactly when we will really start it but I plan to do at least a couple of weeks after the new year so I can really get a handle on how best to prepare and deliver the lessons.  I have already placed a hold on the library books we will need for the first week of study.  We start out studying about ancient Egypt.

I was excited to learn about this library elf thing, where you can sign up to have this application send you emails in advance, telling you when your item on hold is ready and when your items out are due back, or overdue.  I am going to really love this little elf helper and, hopefully, I will never have another overdue item.  I have not been too good about that in the past.  I also found a ton of eBooks listed with our library that are are available for download to Kindle.  I will definitely be loading up on some books for me and the boys for our vacation.

So far we are having a pretty mild winter here, which I love.  Today it was nearly 60 degrees and it was a beautiful, sunny day.  I think the next couple of days will be even warmer.  We definitely need to get out and enjoy it.

Well, enough of a book for one posting probably.  I hope you are all having a lovely Christmas.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

December 20, 2011

Below are the promised pics that go with the last post about the recital and orchestra concert;).

Saturday, December 17, 2011

December 17, 2011

Ben has been playing violin with a local youth orchestra.  This week they played at three elementary schools and a hospital.  This afternoon they played at a church, after they had their winter recital.  He and a few other youngsters are not actually members of this orchestra yet but they were invited to play anyway.  This younger group only played three or four songs with the orchestra and then they had to sit quietly for the remaining part of the concert.  He is the youngest one of the group and it was challenging for him in many ways but he came through with flying colors.

At each of the elementary schools, they passed around a microphone and each of the kids who were playing in the orchestra stood up, one by one, and introduced themselves.  Without hesitation, Ben stood up and introduced himself each time, telling his name, age, grade and how long he has been playing the violin.  He was excited to get to talk into a real microphone, as he had had lots of practice with the play one that he has at home.

He was the first one of the violinists to play for his recital this afternoon.  The piano recitals went first so he was able to see what it was all about before it was his turn.  Ben played Jingle Bells and brother Nick accompanied him by shaking some jingle bells.  They were so cute together.

All of the boys playing in the orchestra had to wear black pants and shoes, a white shirt and a red bow tie.  Ben absolutely loved his red bow tie.  They had a practice session yesterday afternoon and snacks were provided after.  After snack, he wanted to go to the restroom to wash his hands, but I wet a napkin to wipe them instead because I knew if he went to the restroom to wash them he would get his sleeves wet.  As we were walking out to the car, on our way to the hospital where the orchestra was to play, Ben said "I wish I would have had more time to admire my tie".   This was the real reason he wanted to go to the admire his tie:).  He is so cute.

Since Nick was to accompany Ben at the recital, he thought he should wear a white shirt and bow tie too.  So, even though he was not in the orchestra, he was dressed like the orchestra boys.  They both looked adorable.

They sat next to each other on the front row for the longest time, waiting for their turn.  There were a lot of piano students before it was time for the violins.  Ben and Nick definitely set a record for sitting quietly...and not only were they sitting quietly, they were sitting next to each other...quietly....for a long time.  It really was a sight to behold.  They normally can't sit next to each other for 2 minutes without starting to pick at each other and either get real silly, start wrestling or get upset with each other and start fighting over something.

Ben took $5 of his own money with him to the recital.  He wanted to buy one extra red bow tie so he could play with it at home but his violin teacher would not sell him an extra.  She said they were for the orchestra only.  I will definitely have to find another one for him to play with.  Both boys also got their first belt - and it matched their black shoes -  so they were very excited about that too.

Overall it all went very well.  I am so proud of Ben.  He did such a great job.  I think it also helped Nick to desire to start playing the piano soon.  I need to get busy tracking down a piano teacher for him.

I know this post should have had lots of pictures with it but I have not downloaded them from the camera yet.  I will try to do it and post them asap.


Friday, November 25, 2011

November 25, 2011

My mom had to spend a couple of days in the hospital and she is doing much better now.  Her lower extremities were very swollen and it was causing her to stumble and fall a lot, which is very dangerous for her as she takes anti-clotting medication.  They were able to treat her and get her swelling down very quickly.  They also did a lot of tests on her heart.  They did not find anything significant, although her test results will go back to her cardiologist so he can compare them to the tests he did this past summer and see if there are any significant changes.  I think we all learned a lot through this whole experience (preventative) though and hopefully my mom will not be falling every day now that the swelling has gone down.
I am very tired and sleepy as I spent the past couple of days at the hospital with mom.  Both mornings I woke up early (3:30 and 4:00 am) so I could get to the hospital early and I didn't come home until late.  My sister's daughter stayed with the boys and even taught them their lessons those two days.  She made cookies with them and cooked for the boys and the husband.  She was really an answered prayer, as my sister had to work and my mom really needed me to be with her.  The husband was actually off those days but it was still so wonderful to have my niece to help out at home.

Today the husband was back at work and it was just me and the boys.  We took it easy and just had a fun, relaxing day together.  It has been quite some time since I have been away for any length of time and they were so happy to have me home.  They were very cuddly and loving and sweet and I could have just eaten them up!  I missed them bunches too and it made me realize that it would probably be beneficial for me to be away a day/night or two once or twice a year.  It is good for me and for them.  It makes us all appreciate each other more.  I definitely need to plan another trip to a homeschool conference in the spring.  I didn't go to one this past year because of building the house and moving

Tomorrow we are having our Thanksgiving at my sister's house.  We delayed our Thanksgiving celebration because my sister had to work and it turned out to be a good decision because mom was in the hospital.  I am looking forward to tomorrow though.  It will be nice to spend time with the family and visit with everyone.

Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

November 21, 2011

Well, I noticed it has been a while since I have posted so I thought I would get a quick one in now.  Things here have been quite busy.  We have pushed forward with our schooling and we are also getting over colds.  We are mostly over them now, just in time for Thanksgiving (Yay!).

School is going pretty well these days.  We are now starting our school day off with read-aloud time.  We are currently reading two books from the Mother West Wind series.  One is the Where book and the other is the Granny Fox book.  We are almost finished with them and have really enjoyed both books.

After reading about three chapters of our book, we read from Leading Little Ones to God.  We are also going through a booklet from our church children's program that has scripture reading and memorization and also some other related stories.  We just recently started this and I think we're really going to enjoy it.

Next, we do our memory work and after that we do phonics.  We are actually doing four phonics lessons in one sitting on most days now.  Now that the boys are reading so well, we have stepped up the pace a bit.  We do two review lessons and then we do two new lessons.

After phonics we move to the kitchen island to do math.  Sometimes they sit while I teach something using the chalkboard.  Other times I sit in the middle with a son on each side of me while we work through problems.  After math we do reading and penmanship.  One of them works on his writing while the other one reads to me and then they trade places.

It is currently taking us about 2 hours to go through everything.  I am contemplating when to start adding other subjects and time, ramping up slowly towards more of a 1st grade work load.  I think I will probably start adding other subjects after the new year, but I have not made a final decision yet and I still have some things to purchase.  We will eventually be adding history, geography, literature, grammar, writing composition, science and art....I think that's it.  It sounds like a lot but it will all be at a very age appropriate level.  Grammar and writing composition start out very slow and gentle and take very little time for 1st graders.  I will wait to add that in until we are finished with phonics, which would be sometime in the spring (last time I checked).  The two subjects together would take less than we currently spend with phonics so that won't be a problem.  I still have to work out a schedule and figure out where we might be able to multi-task.

Anyway, that's school.  Right now, all of our subjects are coming along quite nicely and it is very rewarding to see the results.

In other news, I have to be quick now because I am getting sleepy.  My mom has been falling a lot lately so we are trying to figure what is making her do this.  She is fortunate that she has not broken something already.  Thankfully we have a very good RN and a very good doctor in the family to help.  I hope we get to the bottom of it soon because this falling thing is very scary.

The weather here is finally getting cool enough to require jackets on some days, such as today.  Dancer has been begging to go outside every day but I'm not feeling to badly about it because he was just so so skinny when we finally got him back home again.  Little Tinkerbell is not so little anymore.  She is growing up quickly but she still acts ALL kitten, including the continued attacks on poor Dancer.  She is relentless.

I  got a new toy the other day.  I bought a Kindle Fire and it is really great, so far.  I just need a few more hours in my day though.  There is just not enough time to do everything I want to do.  And, on that note, I must turn in for the night.  I have been staying up too late and I'm running on empty.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

November 10, 2011

We were having dinner this evening and I received a phone call from a lady saying she thought they had our cat.  She said she knew he was a special kind of cat because of his coloring and markings.  She and her husband found Dancer in their garage.  I didn't get the whole story but they had also seen him outside, swatting the neighbor's dog, when the dog got too close and nosy for comfort.  She had asked a couple of neighbors if they were missing a cat and the second one she asked told her about my signs.  Her husband went out to get the phone number off of the sign and he said when he saw Dancer's picture, he knew that was the cat.

I'm not sure how long he was in their garage or when they found him.  He sure is thin though and he went straight for his food dish when he came in the house.  I gave him some special treats too.  Now he is curled up asleep in his basket next to my bed.

I am so happy and thankful to have him home.  Thank you all so much for praying for him.  I truly do appreciate it.  I had been so sad over the past few days, wondering what had happened to him.  It is such a relief to have him home safe.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

November 8, 2011

If you are so inclined, please pray for my old friend/cat Dancer.  We have not seen him since Sunday afternoon around 2:30pm.  I have put up signs around our neighborhood, posted flyers at the local shelter, on facebook and twitter and at many of the vets offices around here.

We have been having lots of hard rain and thunderstorms for the past couple of days so I am hopeful that someone might have taken him in, will see our signs and call us.

He is really the sweetest cat I have ever known.  However, he has always, always wanted to go outside.  It was his hearts desire.  He was an escape artist and would constantly watch for opportunities to catch people coming in and out of doors unawares.  Over the years, he escaped more times than I could count.

He loved going out into our garage and exploring out there and it was a place where he could get some respite from the attack kitten.  About a week ago I let him go out in the garage, not realizing the husband had left the side door to the backyard open.  About 3 hours later we realized he was outside somewhere so I quickly put on my shoes and started for the back porch to go out and look for him.  He was sitting on the back patio, just outside the back porch door, waiting to come in.  He had been exploring the back yard for all that time, I guess.  After that experience, he was crying and howling all the time to go outside.  He was constantly waking me up at night and I even had to put him in the laundry room one night.  Finally, I decided that maybe we should start letting him go out.  After all, he is almost 14 years old and he has been wanting to go out all his life.  We live in a pretty low traffic area now, with lots of open areas (pastures, fields and forests) so it seemed like a relatively safe environment for him to be out.

When I was growing up, all of our cats were indoor/outdoor cats.  They came and went as they pleased.  They did not have nearly as long lives as Dancer and Zoe have had but they lived for quite a while.

The first time I let him out, he stayed in the back yard for a couple of hours.  The boys were playing out there most of that time and they kept going over to him and petting him.  He was so happy.  He was walking around with his tail straight up in the air, smelling everything and eating grass.

The next time he went out, he was gone for about 4 hours or so.  He spent some of that time in the back yard and then was off out of sight for the rest of it.  When he returned, he came to the front door so I felt pretty sure that he knew where home was.

Then on Sunday after church he went out.  This time he was wearing a collar because I wanted to make sure people knew he had a home.  He never returned.  It stormed really badly that night and has done so off and on since then.  I am so heart broken.  I feel so guilty now for letting him go out at all....but then I remember how happy he was too.  So I feel guilty for letting him out and I felt selfish for keeping him in.  Either way, I am heart broken and I miss him so much.  Please pray for him, if you are so inclined.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

November 5, 2011

Well this was a first for me!  I was just sitting here, doing some on-line reading while watching an old episode of Friends.  Suddenly, I heard a low rumbling noise that seemed to get louder and louder and then the house started trembling and then it was really vibrating!  I reached over and woke up the sleeping husband and we were both just shocked.  My heart was really beating fast.

This morning I had read that Oklahoma had had 5 or 6 earthquakes starting around 2:00 am-ish and going until mid-morning.  The biggest one was the first one and it was around a 4.2.  It will be interesting to see how big the one we just had was.  Edited to add that it was a 5.6 earthquake!

What a really strange experience.....not something you really expect in Oklahoma!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

October 8, 2011

Guess who turned 6 years old?  Ben!
Happy Birthday Ben!
The afternoon sun warms up this bathtub so it is Dancer's favorite nap spot.
Playing a phonics game, Cross the River.  They have to cross from one side to the other while only stepping on  the cards with a certain vowel sound.
Poor Tinky had a little surgery so we won't be having any kittens.  She can't seem to leave her stitches alone so this is what she is living with these days.
Hopefully the stitches will come out Monday or so.
Sparky the dog and Sparky the cat at work again.

Dancer climbed up behind the husband and started loving on him.
I love you I love you I love you! (or, at least, I love your hair!)
Patient, cat-loving man, my husband.
Tinky loves to play in any sink.
Tinky loves to play.  She is very cute and fun to watch.
B and N playing doctor.
Isn't she pretty?
The dad salvaged this keyboard from an old computer so the boys could play with it.
Does she look happy to you?

Sunday, October 02, 2011

October 2, 2011

The weather here has been absolutely beautiful lately!  It is cool to chilly in the mornings and then it warms up into the 70's or 80's.  Absolutely lovely, although we are still very low on rainfall.

We have had a lot going on around here and I really need to post more often to capture more of it.  The latest update on the kitten saga is that Tinky went to the vet on this past Thursday to have surgery so she would not have kittens:).  Ben was asking questions about this and I reminded him why she was there.  He said he thought it would be nice to let her "lay" some kittens.  Hmmm.  Looks like we need to add more animal study to our homeschool:).

Tinky has not been the ideal patient.  We brought her home on Thursday afternoon and pretty much had to turn around and take her right back because she was aggressively trying to pull out the stitches.  They put this blue collar around her neck so she would not be able to reach the incision.  It was made of a felt-like material.  She had taken it off before we got home from the vet's office.  They told me to tie it tighter so, when we arrived home, I did that.  She had it off again in no time at all.  She could dig her claws into the material so there was pretty much no way this thing was staying on.  Back we went.  This time they wrapped her and we all decided it was best if they kept her overnight.  To make a long story a little shorter, she ended up staying a couple of nights because it took a while for them to figure out the best way to keep her from taking out the stitches.  She was able to get the wrap moved up enough to pull out two of the stitches.  They put staples in to replace them, left off the wrap and put a plastic collar around her neck.  This thing stuck out soooo far, it was pitiful.  It was definitely meant for a larger animal but it was the smallest plastic collar they had.  This ended up working but she sure looks miserable.

This afternoon we all went to see her and the husband and I stood there discussing how we might be able to bring her home.  The problem was that she could not be in a room where she could jump up on something because she could really hurt herself with this hard plastic collar.  (Think satellite dish around her neck.)  But we also did not want to leave her there in this small cage for another week to 10 days.  She could not really move without bumping into something with the collar-dish and, while standing there petting her, I noticed she was drinking a lot of water...and then I noticed that if I shut the cage door, she could not reach her water dish with the satellite-collar-dish.  No telling how long she had been without water and she has been drinking a lot since she came home.

We ended up going to the pet store and purchasing a large dog kennel-cage thing, which is much roomier than the small cage at the vet's, and she is now camping in the living room.  She is not happy about the cage thing but she is definitely happier than when she was at the vet's.  She is very verbal so she yells at us a lot and let's us know how horrible this whole situation is.  Poor girl.  It's going to be a long 7 to 10 days.

Did I mention that she follows me around the house all the time, just like Zoe did?  I have missed her since she has been gone but then I feel a little guilty because Dancer has been really enjoying the extra attention without her around.  He definitely enjoys being an only cat and he was not happy to see her today, even confined to a cage.  He hissed and growled at her.  It took a while for him to realize she would not be attacking him while she is in the cage.

In other news, Ben turned the big 6!!  He was so excited.  And he also lost another tooth so he is now missing the two middles on the bottom front.  This time he did not swallow it.  He put it under his pillow in a small plastic baggie and it was exchanged for $2.  The next morning he wanted it back so he could keep it in his keepsake box.  Back to the 6 thing.  Nick has such a hard time with Ben getting to have his birthday first every year.  It is very hard for Nick, who still believes he should be first at pretty much everything.  He is also not happy that he has not lost a tooth yet.

Tonight they are sleeping upstairs in the loft area in the dad's big tent with the dad.  They have been asking to do this for a while now so tonight is the night.  They were so excited.  From the sounds of it, they are all asleep already, which is a huge surprise, especially since they were all downstairs not too long ago, sitting around the island in the dark kitchen with their flashlights having an ice cream cone.  The last time they tried to do this, they could never settle down so they ended up back in their beds for a late bedtime.  Looks like they are going to make it this time and the dad is a heavy sleeper so he will probably be there until the wee hours of the morning.

Homeschool continues to go well.  We are moving right along with our reading/phonics lessons, math and writing.  This week we will be finishing up addition to 10 in math and moving on to subtraction.  They have also memorized a lot of Bible verses.  Last weekend our homeschool co-op rented out the local YMCA for our back to school party.  It had been delayed due to weather, or something.  The husband had to work so I took the boys and they really had a fun time.  They spent most of the time swimming in the indoor pool.  It is a really nice pool; more like something you would see at a resort, with a large play structure with slides in the very large kiddie pool area and a huge, curvy, enclosed, tube slide that is actually goes outside of the building.  You climb up stairs inside of the pool area and you climb into the slide in the pool area (up high) but the actual tube slide part is curving outside of the building and then it dumps you back into the pool inside of the building.  It is really neat, although the boys were too short to use it.  They also had this island area where the water swirled around the island fast, like a river current.  And then they also had two long lanes for swimming laps and all of these different areas were part of the same swimming pool so you could move from one to the other without getting out of the water.  This is the same place where the husband goes to swim laps and work out too.

After the boys had finished swimming, they got dried off and dressed and then we went across the way to the volleyball/basketball courts.  The boys had a good time trying to make a basket for quite a while.  Then we hit the snack tables (everyone had brought snacks) and loaded up two plates full of stuff for the boys to eat on the way home (it was past bedtime).  They ate every bit of it and went straight to bed and were asleep in no time at all.  Fun evening and very nice people.  We had a large turnout.

Did I mention that I really love our Bible study class on Sunday mornings at our church.  Our teacher is great and the group of people are really wonderful.  I always look forward to it.  It will be nice when our church finds a pastor.  The boys are really enjoying the K class and being with the older kids now.  The only thing I don't like is that they spend the first hour in a group setting, having a children's church type thing where they  sing and have a short 'sermon'.  Then they go to the K area for the second hour where they have their Sunday school lesson and they rotate from room to room, where they have the various centers to keep them busy.  I wish they had the two hours were reversed, where they went to Sunday school first because I had planned to have them in our worship service with us, so we could worship together as a family.  Now I can't because they will miss their class and I feel that is really important for them.  Oh well.  Maybe they will change it up in the future.

I know there are many things I am forgetting to post about but it is getting late, we have school tomorrow and I need to get some sleep so time to sign off.  I must post pictures soon.  We have some of Tinky with her satellite dish collar on; poor thing.  Have a good week!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

September 15, 2011

Well, Kindergarten is still going very well for us.  We are in a pretty good routine with it these days, which is great because everyone knows what to expect.

The boys are both reading at somewhere between a 2nd and 3rd grade level, although Nick is still ahead of Ben.  Ben is still ahead of Nick with writing but Nick is really catching on quickly.  Handwriting Without Tears has definitely been a good fit for Nick and Ben is enjoying it also.  They are now working on lower case letters and they do 4 pages a day (2 pages, front and back), 4 days a week.  They have about 2 more weeks before they finish this version of HWT, after which we will start copy work.

We continue to alternate days for phonics and spelling and both are coming along nicely.  The boys enjoy writing their spelling words on the chalkboard.  One will call out the words while the other writes them and then they will trade places.

The boys seem to really enjoy worksheet type of work, which surprises me.  We have been doing some math worksheets so today I decided to mix it up a bit and play some Right Start math games.  At first, they seemed like they would rather have their worksheets back.  But once we started playing, they seemed to enjoy it until the last game, which was going swimmingly until one of them realized he was losing and the other was winning and then he was very unhappy.  After that, he was not so into that game anymore.  I really like the games though because they make learning about math fun, although if a child has issues with losing it can become not so fun very quickly so we will have to tread lightly there.  The good news is that it seems they are getting the math so we will continue to move forward with Singapore Math 1A, although we will move at a slower pace than normal.

Violin practice is going well again, at least for me and Ben.  Nick has not been participating lately:).  We are practicing a couple of very simple pieces that (I think) Ben will be playing in some type of orchestra recital around the holidays.  The boys are starting to sing Christmas songs in our homeschool co-op choir, which they are really enjoying.  Tomorrow we have Zumba and choir again so it will be a fun day.

Today the boys wanted to do a craft project so I pulled out one of my craft idea books and they picked out this santa craft.  The book rated it as very easy and doable with household items.  We did part of it but the glue had to dry before we could do the next step.  It took forever to do the small part that we did and the boys needed a lot of help to do it.  It has left me with a very negative feeling about crafts.  I am definitely going to have to work at getting better at this.  I think the first step would be to start planning some crafts for them in advance so I will already be prepared and know exactly what to expect....sounds pretty obvious, doesn't it?

I forgot to mention that Ben lost his first tooth.  He was eating cheerios when it came out and he swallowed it.  After the shock wore off, he realized that he didn't have a tooth to put under his pillow.  He looked at me, near tears and with lip trembling, and said he really wanted to put it under his pillow so he could get some money.  I quickly reassured him that he didn't need to have the tooth in order to get the money.  I teased him about the tooth fairy knowing about it and he let me know that he didn't believe in the tooth fairy but he was relieved about not needing to have the tooth to get his money.  He keeps reminding us and others (everyone we meet, anywhere) that the reason he lost his tooth before Nick is that he is 6 weeks older than Nick.

We're over the worst of the colds now but still have some residual junk left...but feeling better every day.  The weather here is beautiful now, finally.  Today it didn't get above around 63 or so and tomorrow is going to be cool also and then we will be back into the mid-80's.  The boys are spending tons of time outside playing.  Now that I am thinking about what we will be covering in 1st grade, I wonder how we will ever fit it all in.  It just seems like there is already not enough time in the day to do everything we want to do.  We may have to get an earlier start on our day.

Today at swim lessons they did testing and the boys both passed and will be moving to the next level so they have their basics down very well.  They can easily swim under water back and forth across the pool, bobbing their head above water when they need to take a breath.  They can swim under water, turn over on their back to take some breaths, turn over again and swim, etc. all the way across the pool. They can float on their back and they can dive to the bottom in the deep end of the pool to retrieve a ring.  They have been practicing various other strokes, like a side stroke and others.  So, I'm feeling pretty good about their safety in the pool.

Well, it's getting late so time for bed.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2011

We're still here!  Sorry it has been so long since I have posted.  I will try to do better.  I have pictures to post but that will have to wait for another day.  The boys and I all have colds and I have not had a good night sleep for three nights in a row.  So, we have just been taking it easy yesterday and today.

School is going pretty well.  We are just chugging right along in all of our subjects.  The jury is still out on math, whether we will have to drop back to K math or we will keep going with 1st grade math.  I should have a better idea and be able to make a decision within another week or two.  Their writing is coming along very nicely and I only wish I could memorize things as quickly as they do.  Reading and spelling are going very well.   We are zipping through All About Spelling Level 1 fairly quickly and I am researching what we will use next.  I am considering switching to a more workbook approach with spelling and I think we will be trying Spelling Workout, which is recommended in The Well Trained Mind.

I have also been researching how we will do science, once we are ready to start first grade work.  After looking at the different available curricula packages, I think we are going to follow The Well Trained Mind's recommendations for this also.  So, for first grade, we will be studying living things, specifically animals, the human body and plants.  We will use the DK First Animal Encyclopedia to study animals, the Kingfisher First Human Body Encyclopedia to study the human body and Green Thumbs: A Kid's Activity Guide to Indoor and Outdoor Gardening to study plants.  Each of these books will be our 'spine' from which we will start studying the various topics.  We will also get books on each topic from the library and we will do hands on projects, where possible.  We will do the animal study for 20 weeks, one animal per week.  I will let the boys each pick 10 animals from the table of contents and then we will make a plan how to best study each one.  We will probably make some trips to the aquarium, the zoo and the farm during this study too.  I think it will be a lot of fun and we will all enjoy it and learn a lot.  For our botany study, we will do it last, in the spring.  We were already planning to start a garden then so it will fit in quite nicely.  This book looks really great, with lots of smaller, interesting projects the boys can do too.  I'm still thinking about the human body study but we should be able to come up with some interesting ideas and doctor dad can help too.
Now I need to spend some time looking at how we will study history.  I'm pretty sure we will use Story of the World and the accompanying activity guide.  I am thinking I may also incorporate some of the first unit of Tapestry of Grace Year 1, since I have it and would like to start getting to know it a bit while the kids are young, during the Grammar Stage, before we really start using it more heavily in the Logic Stage.

I also still have to think about how we want to study art.  Our co-op is offering an art class this year but I didn't want to do that during K.  We may do it next year or I may just teach it myself at home, which would be fun too and I know I would learn a lot.  That's one of the things I really enjoy about homeschooling...that I get to learn so much too!

Also in first grade, we will start First Language Lessons and Writing With Ease.  I already have these so we can start them when we are ready.   I will have to review The Well Trained Mind again to see what I am missing but this (all of the above) is the meat of the 1st grade year, plus the math and spelling, of course.

In other news, did I mention that I have my own, adult size violin now?  Surprise!  I am really enjoying it, although we have not been practicing the last day or two, while we have been sick.  Nick has decided to start joining us for practices again and says he wants to do lessons again.  He has to practice with us for this month before I am going to sign him up again though.  So far he has done very well but the jury is still out.

The boys are really doing wonderfully in their swimming lessons.  They are pretty solid swimmers now so we may either stop their lessons in December or May, I'm not sure yet.  But it will be good to have the extra time in our schedule when they start first grade.  That's one less thing for which we have to drive into the city.

Our homeschool co-op experience has been very positive so far.  The boys are really enjoying the P.E., Zumba and choir classes.  They also rearranged the classes a bit to make them a little smaller so the boys are now with the 6 to 8 year olds, which is interesting.  They will be six so soon that I hated to put them in with the 5 and under crowd and then have to move them so soon.  The choir teacher said it was good to have them in the 6 to 8 year old class because she needed more boys and also because the younger class has children as young as 3 in it so she thought they would get more out of the older class and I agree. 

Well, the natives are becoming restless so I must sign off for now.  I will try to start posting more often and hope to have some pics up soon. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

August 18, 2011

Well, we had a pretty good first week.  Did I mention that we are schooling 4 days a week during our K year? I guess technically we could count tomorrow as a school day also, since we will be doing P.E. and childrens' choir, Ben will practice his violin and we will go to the library and pick out books to read and likely read some of them when we get home. I will probably have the boys read aloud to me and I'm sure I will read more of Plum Creek to them. (I read a couple of chapters to them while they were eating lunch today. I'm just as into as they are:).

Anyway, during so much of our day, they are learning something at this age. And we divide up the work we do during the week over 4 days instead of 5. So it is the same amount of work. We just do more over the 4 days than we otherwise would have. It will be nice to have Fridays to do catch up or whatever we need to get done that day, although we will be going to co-op for at least 3 Fridays in each month.

I mentioned in my last post that N is no longer taking violin. He was having a really hard time making himself practice. I knew I would have enough to do to keep him going on regular school work that is not optional. So we decided to stop his violin lessons. He was very sad about it for a (very) short amount of time, even crying at one point ("I'll forget everything I've learned" - I felt so bad for him that I almost cried with him) but I knew in the long run it was the right thing for him right now. It is more important for me to have a good relationship with him and not have to fight with him over practicing every day. Now that we have started school, I am even more convinced it was the right thing to do.

B is still taking lessons and he is doing really well and moving right along. It is harder to find time to fit in practice now that we are schooling. I'm sure we will hit our groove though. It just takes time for them to get use to having less play time. Today we fit practice in just before quiet time, which was just after lunch.

Once we move our piano here from my sister's house, Nick is thinking he would like to take piano lessons. I think it would be really good for him to have his own thing so they are not always competing on everything.  He loves soccer and is happy to be back. Ben enjoys it too and both boys normally work really hard while they are playing. They really go for the ball and try their best. It is so good for them. I know there would have been good things about gymnastics too but I am glad they decided to go back to soccer.

I have been having a regular quiet time every morning for a few weeks now. I really look forward to it and I have been doing it long enough that it is now becoming a habit. I purposely leave my laptop in my bedroom in the morning and it does not come out until lunch time, unless I have to look something up. But I don't get on to read news or check email or read blogs until at least lunch time these days. It was a very positive change for me. I get a lot more done and, after spending time with God, my day always goes better and I am a better mommy and person.

That being said, I now have only about 15 more minutes before quiet time is over and we have to get ready to go to town for swimming and soccer. So I am going to do a bit of catching up my reading right now. See ya!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

August 16, 2011

The boys started Kindergarten on Monday of this week so today makes our second day of school. Yesterday I helped Ben and Nick create an All About Me page, including a first-day-of-school picture and some information about what they like at this age.

Age: 5 and 3/4 Height: 45 and 1/4 inches Weight: 44.8 pounds
My favorite food is: Cookies and toast with peanut butter
My favorite toy is: Legos
My favorite sport is: Soccer
My favorite thing to pretend is: anything with Aunt Kathy
When I grow up I want to be a: policeman

Age: 5 and 3/4 (actually, he will be 6 at the end of Sept!)
Height: 46 and 1/4 inches Weight: 48.4 pounds
My favorite food is: Cookies
My favorite toy is: Legos with police and jails
My favorite sport is: swimming
My favorite thing to pretend is: The sick man lying on the side of the road and Nick and Aunt Kathy find me and take me to the doctor and the doctor (Aunt Kathy) bandages me.
When I grow up I want to be a: policeman with a police truck

So far, this is how our routine goes. We start our school day around 9:00ish. This gives the boys some time to play and me some time to start a load of laundry or fold one, if I left one in the dryer the night before, and unload the dishwasher and clean up after breakfast, etc.

We start with a devotion and prayer, while sitting in the living room on the couch. On Mondays we read from an ABC Bible verses devotion book. I really like the Bible verses they use so we are going to be reading one devotion per week from this book and memorizing the Bible verse. The rest of the week, we read our devotion from the book "Leading Little Ones to God". The boys are also working on memorizing one character card per week. Nick is memorizing self control and Brn is memorizing perseverance.

After our devotion, we move to the kitchen island counter and work on writing. The boys each have a calendar notebook and they add the number for the current date on the correct day of their calendar. Then they update their 100's chart with the number for how many days we have had school so far. When we get to 100, we will go do something special together. After that, they do two pages of writing, each page is practicing one letter of the alphabet. We are using Handwriting Without Tears for this. Sometimes they first practice writing the letter on a small slate before trying it on their workbook page.

After writing, we do phonics and/or spelling. I had planned on taking turns, every other day and I may end up doing that at some point. For now, phonics is going pretty fast for us so we are doing a little of each. We are still using The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading for phonics and we are using All About Spelling (Level 1) for our spelling program.

The last thing we do, for now, is Math. We are using Singapore Math 1A, which is actually a beginning first grade math program. The first unit was suppose to last a week and we finished it in two days but I think we will really slow down on the second unit. It will likely take us longer than what they estimated.

So far (only two days in:), the boys are really enjoying school. Of course, it is still new and interesting at this point so I'm sure there will likely be some push back at some point....maybe. Who knows, maybe not so much if we keep it moving and keep it interesting.

We are also reading another Little House book. We had already read the Big Woods and on the Prairie so now we are reading on Plum Creek. We usually read a couple of chapters before bed. We need to make some additional time for the boys to each read to me but we also need to get to the library to get some books for them to read. We are at a point where I have a hard time knowing what would be a good book for them to read. They were each taking turns reading a book about sharks the other night before bed. I think it was an I Can Read book, or something like that, and it was rated for 1st or 2nd grade. They did pretty well with it but there were some large words they had never seen before that they required help with, which is fine. I guess we just need to go to the library and look around and maybe ask the librarian what level she thinks might work. I think they are probably at about a mid to end of first grade level but I'm not really sure. I will also encourage them to read to themselves during the first 15 or 20 minutes of quiet time, once we get some library books.

Since the boys are ahead in reading and that is really my top priority for Kindergarten, I am planning to do school 4 days a week this year and our 5th day will be used for library trips, homeschool co-op and anything extra we find interest in, such as geography, science and history type stuff, although we will not be using a formal program for these. We will also be doing some work with music theory, since Ben is taking violin lessons. Nick is no longer taking lessons, for now.  He will still join in when we are learning music theory at home though and he will have to go to violin lessons with us when the dad is working, every other week.

At co-op on Fridays, the boys will both be in a p.e. class and also a childrens' choir, two Fridays of the month. The fourth Friday of the month, the boys will be doing some sort of community service project with co-op. I can't remember what the first Friday of the month is but I don't think we are doing anything that day. The boys will also still be in swimming lessons and soccer, both once a week.

So, that's it. Both yesterday and today we all had a fun time with school. Today, when I told the boys it was almost time to start school work, they both shouted down from upstairs, "OK, I like school" "School is fun!". So far so good. The question is how long will it last?

Sunday, August 07, 2011

August 7, 2011

Thought I would catch up on a few pictures, since it has been a while. The boys are really growing up. Way too fast, it seems. They will both be turning six in the fall (end of Sept and mid-Nov). Here are some updated pics of them:

This is Ben:
This is Nick:
They have been very engrossed in playing Rok-N-Bok (?SP?) lately. We packed it away when we moved from the old house and did not get it out at the rental house. So they had not seen it in quite some time. The good news is that they are now old enough that they can do it without help and they really enjoy it a lot. This set was bought for my nephew for Christmas many years ago. My sister saved it all these years (my nephew will be a senior in high school this year) and now my sons are getting to enjoy it too. So nice. The other thing they are very into these days is Legos. Thankfully we had lots of those given to us also from my nephew.
And they still love to play dress up. Games are also very big on the list these days.
Practicing in front of the mirror.
I really love the sound of the violin. Ben is doing very well and he now enjoys it more and wants to practice. Nick is hit or miss but normally does not want to practice. I am ready to end his lessons because I don't think it is worth the battle and I would rather focus on a good relationship between us and only fight battles that must be fought.

Here is our new family member.
She is a cutie. I think her behavior is improving, although she still attacks Dancer relentlessly. We are working on that. A little spritzer bottle of water has gone a long way in teaching her some better manners but we still have a long way to go.
She is growing so fast and it is amazing how much higher she can jump from one week to the next. She is especially very sweet when she is sleepy;).

And, finally, a few pics of the house. It was not particularly neat the day I took these pics but they are probably pretty realistic of day to day life around here.
Living Room:
Living Room, looking out on screen-in back porch.Kitchen:
Kitchen in foreground; Dining Room in background. The extra table is now gone but we will likely be doing a lot of our homeschooling stuff in this area. We practice violin here too and the boys' small desks are on the wall to the right. It is a delightful area to be in with all of the windows, as there are windows on the wall on the right, looking out on the back porch.Library/Play Room: This room is an awesome play area for the boys. It is right off of the kitchen/dining area. The desk on the left is going away and that is where our piano will go.
And stairs going up to the boys' rooms, the exercise room, a small loft play area and the attics. There is an adjoining staircase the goes up from the back foyer (coming in from the garage).That's it for today for pics. The heat here is still relentless. We finally had a little rain yesterday evening and it was so wonderful. We stood out on the front porch and just watched it and appreciated it greatly. We are hoping for more soon.

The neighborhood pool opened a few days ago. The dad and the boys are there now and they went for a short time yesterday. It is really nice and very close by so I am sure we will be regulars.

The boys said they would like to start school tomorrow but I am not quite ready. I still have a few more things to iron out before beginning so I think maybe one week later would be better. Additionally, my niece who has lived with us this summer is moving out tomorrow, back to her dorm at college, and we will be helping by taking a van full of things over there for her. Another niece will be flying in tomorrow late afternoon, after having been gone to California for half the summer. She has been on staff with a Christian camp. She wanted us to meet her at the airport. So I think waiting to start school for a bit longer will be best.

Well, the boys are back from swimming so I had best get busy.

Friday, July 22, 2011

July 22, 2011

Are you wishing for Christmas and winter weather these days? I don't know if it has anything to do with this extremely hot weather we are having but it seems like the boys have been talking about Christmas a lot lately. Today Ben was telling me what he thought would be a good Christmas dinner, beginning with a roast. Isn't that funny?

We are doing pretty well around here. We are all well now, after a couple of weeks of colds and some strep throat. The worst thing about that was that Nick seems to have developed an aversion to taking any medication. We have always had a challenge with this with him, while Ben, on the other hand, likes it too much. But this time was much worse than normal and we went round and round, trying to get him to take the antibiotic for the strep. It was not a good thing and, in retrospect, we should have just taken him in for a shot. We discussed it and he was very anti-shot too, of course, but, in hind sight, it would have been the lesser of two evils.

I bought a pack of orange tic tacs and tried to teach him to swallow a pill but he couldn't do it yet. He is the kind of kid that gets easily frustrated if he does not learn something quickly. Yes, I have my work cut out for me, in regards to homeschooling him. It will definitely be a growth opportunity for us both.

The weather here is so hot that we cannot really be outside much, unless we are playing in water. The good thing is that the boys are taking gymnastics twice a week and swim lessons once a week, plus violin lessons, so that keeps them busy. Between that and just generally running errands and grocery shopping, they are happy to be indoors at home, especially since they are sooooooo into Legos these days. They are definitely the number one toy in our house right now. As a matter of fact, the boys both agreed that we could give away our train table, tracks and the large collection of Thomas the Train trains that we have. They were all given to us so we will be happy to pass them on to someone else who will enjoy them. We have another set of tracks and Thomas trains where the trains run on batteries. It is a large set so it has to be set up on the floor. The boys like that one better so they said we can give the other one away. I'll be a little sad to see it go, on the one hand, because they have played with it a lot of the past couple of years. But, on the other hand, it does take up a significant amount of space so, in that regard, I won't be so sad to see it go. Now I just have to find another child who would like to have it.

The boys are almost done with their gymnastics lessons for the summer. After their lesson yesterday, we talked about which they would rather do, gymnastics or soccer. The dad and I had discussed it and we both felt that soccer would be best for them (cardio exercise, team work, staying competitive with their age group). When I first asked them, they both said they wanted to do gymnastics. I told them that the dad and I had discussed it and thought soccer would be best for them. I expected them to whine a bit or whatever but they both asked why we thought soccer would be best for them and so I explained what the dad and I had discussed and they both immediately said they wanted to do soccer again. So we drove right over and signed them up. They got to see their coach again and they are both very excited to get started. They will do soccer for three weeks in August and then they will be off for two or three weeks before starting again.

So, when we start K, they will have one swim lesson a week and one soccer time a week. This is why I really like the place where they play soccer. They meet only once a week for an hour. The coach spends part of the time going over drills and then they split up into two teams and they scrimmage for the rest of the time. But we don't have to go to other practices or games during the week/end. Eventually they may end up on a team that requires extra practice/games but, for now, this is really nice. We will also be meeting with our homeschool co-op at least once a week. I think this will likely be plenty for us to do, when added to everything else and just free play time inside and outside with kids in the neighborhood.

There is not much new going on around here. I am trying to get organized so I can be ready to start K with the boys sometime next month. I have not picked a date yet.

The new kitten is growing very fast. I can't believe how quickly she has grown. She is going through a phase where she is quite ornery. And poor Dancer. She just won't leave him alone. He bats her around pretty good and sounds real fierce but she just keeps coming back for more. He cannot walk through the house without her attacking him. He looks like he is biting her but I can never find any wet spots or anything on her afterward and she never acts hurt at all.... quite the contrary actually. He is probably not being tough enough on her. She gets very upset when we are eating at the island and she does not get anything. She climbs up on the back of the chair nearest the island and watches, while licking her lips. She hates that Dancer can jump up high on things and she cannot. I sure hope she settles down a lot when she gets a little older. I don't remember Dancer or Zoe acting as ornery as she does. We play with her a lot but she wants us to play with her all the time. If we get busy doing something, she will climb up and scratch and bite (playfully but it still hurts), trying to get us to play with her again. I have clipped her claws twice (which was not easy at all) but they seem to get sharp very quickly.

She has really made me appreciate Dancer all the more:). And I feel for him and do not like how she treats him. She also has very little time these days (next to nothing - one or two seconds) for being loved on and cuddled, which is a bummer. So, this must be like the terrible twos and I will be glad when they are over. She is currently climbing into the back of my recliner, as I sit and type this, and has been running all over me and scratching my chair. I finally put a sheet over the other recliner, as she has been scratching and biting it terribly. She is a little terror right now, but a cute one. For once I am glad they grow up quickly.

The new house is great. It fits us quite well. I changed the library around a bit again and I like it much better. It allows more floor space for playing, which is always nice. It is really a play room and a place to keep all of our books and homeschool materials. When we get our piano from my sister's house when it cools down in the fall, it will also be in the library.

I have gone around and around in my mind about where we will do what, as far as homeschooling goes. I think we will likely use the dining room table, the kitchen island counter and the living room couch for most of what we do. The boys will also probably do some reading in the library but I have stopped reading to them in there because the small loveseat couch is too small for us all to fit comfortably. I really want one of the large chalkboards on the wooden stand that is on wheels and can be moved from room to room. I think we would use it a lot. I also really want some maps that roll up into a holder, where you can hang it on the wall above the white board or bulletin board, can pull the maps down when you need them and then they roll back up out of sight when you don't need them. These are the two big things on my list but I have not been able to find used ones and the new ones are a bit on the high side. I am still hopeful though that we will eventually get them.

The funny thing about homeschooling is that I have been preparing for it for such a long time and now that it is almost here, I am a little nervous and dreading it a bit....but looking forward to it at the same time. Isn't that odd? And I know I need to appear confident in front of the boys, even if I don't feel it.... which makes me a bit more nervous. I'm sure after we get the first week or two down, we will fall into a good routine and everything will be fine. Right?

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

July 6, 2011

We got our new kitten over the weekend and she is very tiny and so adorable. She is currently living in the dad's office, as she is too small and young to let roam. When I have taken her out of his office she very cautiously went a few steps down the hallway and then quickly ran back to her room. This is actually working out very well because our 14 year old male cat, Dancer, needs some time to get used to her. He is slowly but surely adjusting, or so it seems. He is certainly progressing nicely but the question is whether he will ever get to the point where he accepts her. Eventually we'll see but, for now, they live in separate worlds, although they can see each other through the french doors into his office.

We are in sick city around here and have been for over a week now. Ben caught a bad cold virus which included lots of fever and strep throat. He started recovering nicely and was almost finished with his antibiotic when Nick came down with it. Nick seems like he is finally fever free today but he still has 3 more doses of antibiotic for the strep.

Nick hates, hates, hates any kind of medicine (quite the opposite of Ben). So trying to get him to take the antibiotic the last two nights has been a total nightmare (both the kid's liquid form and a crushed up tablet in applesauce). I was crying by the time we finished yesterday evening. Today I bought some Tic Tacs to see if I can teach him to swallow a pill. We have not tried it yet but will soon. I hope he can learn it quickly so this won't be an issue for him anymore. My heart really goes out to him.

We had a pretty tame 4th of July because of all of the sickness (did I mention that I now have a sinus infection and it will be a miracle if I don't end up with strep). The dad took the boys to see the fireworks display in our neighborhood, which is actually pretty good (we went last year). I stayed home because I was tired and not feeling well. They enjoy it and I enjoyed catching up on some sleep.

The husband has Thursday and Friday off this week, which means he doesn't work at all this week because it is his light week, so we are trying to get a few things finished up around here. I made a trip to my favorite large nursery today and bought a van load of plants, shrubs and flowers. I didn't count them all but it sure was a lot. That van can really hold a lot.

When I arrived at the nursery I thought it was closed because nobody was around. They weren't. It's just that nobody shops for plants in the July 100+ weather. I was the only one there, which is so nice because I get all the help I need and can get out quickly. It gets very hot in there. I brought all the plants home and unloaded them and placed them in the different beds, around where I think they should be planted. It looks nice and, once these are planted, we should be almost finished. There is a small bed back by the garage but we are not going to plant anything there until after our fence is up because the fence cuts right through it. So we have a few more things to plant after the fence is up and then we are finished.

We just received two quotes for the fence so I think we will be moving on that pretty soon. We are so close to being finished and I can't wait to be completely done....just in time to start weeding:). I am satisfied with the inside, although I still have about 3 or 4 boxes that have a bunch of junk (odds and ends) in them that I need to sort through. I will do that next and then I should be finished with the inside.

My next thing is really starting to prepare for starting Kindergarten. I follow The Well Trained Mind Forum and I am always seeing posts where people show pictures of their homeschool rooms. Some of them are so great that it makes we wish I could have had school there! I need to at least get organized around here. I had started it a while back but then some things came up and I have not looked at it since. So I have a bit of work to do in this regard.

As for our K work, we will keep it pretty simple and I am hoping to do about one to two hours of work, 4 days a week and then we will join the homeschool co-op on Fridays. I am planning to do an age appropriate Bible devotional with the boys and then we will cover phonics, reading (they each read aloud to me and I read aloud to them), spelling, math, learning to write their letters and then practicing through copy work and practicing the violin (we are taking a bit of a break for illnesses right now). We will throw in some crafts projects and some fun geography lessons here and there for fun, along with fun cooking projects. Additionally, they will still have their violin lesson once a week, swimming once a week and one other sport (soccer or gymnastics) once a week.

The other thing is that I have not had the boys doing any chores really since we moved here, other than picking up their toys. So I really want to make this part of our new routine when we start school. Simple chores like spreading up their beds, emptying trash, helping to put away dishes from the dishwasher and clean clothes, and also helping to clean up after meals and sweep the floors. I need to work on a chore schedule.

So, that's my plan but, you know, the best laid plans.... There is the plan and then there is the reality. What I have learned is that when I am teaching, things tend to take longer than I had thought they would. Hopefully this will not be the case when we start K but, if violin practice is any indication, I won't be holding my breath.

I suppose after the plants are in and the fence is up, the tree house might be next on the list of to do's. Possibly. The boys haven't mentioned it in a while because it has been too horribly hot to be outside much but, I know when it cools down a bit, they will be asking about it again.

Oh, and we should have the new camera up and running very soon so hopefully I can post some pics in the near future. We still have not found the old one.

So, that is about all I can think of for now. Until later then.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

June 28, 2011

Today was an eventful day because we bought the boys their first real Bible. They were very excited and took turns reading from them on the way home. As part of our Kindergarten this year, I want to read the Bible and I thought this would be a perfect time for them to each have a Bible and they can take turns reading and also follow along. It will be a good way for us to start each school day.

Here is the latest picture of our new baby:
Isn't she a cutie? We will be going to pick her up and bring her home on Saturday so we are all getting excited about it and are starting to prepare for the new addition. Her name is Tinkerbell. The lady who has her has a son who actually named her this and we think it is cute so we are going to keep the name. She kind of looks like a 'Tinkerbell' and Peter Pan is one of our favorite books so it fits. It is actually kind of funny because we had already been thinking of names from the book Peter Pan, so it works for us. She reminds me so much of my Zoe when she was a kitten. I still miss her so much. It will be refreshing to have a cute, funny little kitten running around the house. Hopefully Dancer will adjust to her quickly. He seems to be enjoying his 'only cat' status though so I'm not sure how happy he is going to be to have to share his domain again so soon.

Not much else new around here, except that it seems we might have lost our camera. We went to a work picnic and have not seen it since so not sure what happened to it. We actually have a new one that we bought just before we moved but we have yet to get it out and learn anything about it. Seems that we need to do that now:).

We have been working hard around here, in the hot, hot sun, trying to get everything planted in the beds out front and watering the beds out front and the new grass in the back tons and tons. Yesterday it was 103 when I was outside watering. I prefer to do it early in the morning or late in the evening but we had planted lots of stuff that morning and had not yet watered it and some of it was looking a bit puny. We still have probably another two van-loads of stuff to get and plant before we are finished. We have already planted two van-loads.

I finally bought some curtains for our living room windows. We had ordered the curtain rod and it was on the garage floor for quite a while. I had to iron all six of the curtains, which was no small feat, as they are about 50 inches wide and 108 inches long. The rod was very heavy and long but the husband did an awesome job of hanging it. It is perfectly straight. When we ordered it, the people who we bought it from were concerned that it would bow because the expanse if so long and it only has one support in the middle and one on each end. But it does not bow at all. They were also telling us that, when the curtains are pulled back, the stack would be so big it would cover about one third of the end windows. As it turns out, the stack does not cover the windows at all. There is enough room beside the windows for the stack and it fits perfectly. I am so relieved that is done and it turned out pretty much perfectly. Although I have already seen teeny tiny holes in some of the curtains on one side where Dancer-the-cat clearly tried to climb them, at night while we were sleeping. At least they are hung very well so we don't have to worry about them falling down. Hopefully the cat found out it was not much fun and will not try it again. But then, there is the new kitten..... no telling what she will do.

Oh, and the other news is that I went to my 30 year high school reunion. I had not planned to go, as I am just that type of introvert, but an old friend called and said I should go and I did not really have a good excuse. So, I took a quick shower and headed up to where they were. I arrived just as they were finishing taking turns standing up and telling a little about themselves and their lives so it was my turn! I had not heard anyone else so I was not sure exactly how much information or what information everyone was sharing and I was a bit nervous and trying to figure out who everyone was.

I came from a very small town and we only had 43 students in our graduating class. Many of us had gone to school together since first grade. They did not have Kindergarten when we started first grade. There were 21 of us there and I really did enjoy seeing everyone. They had had a 10 year reunion that I did not attend and they had not had a 20 year reunion so I am really glad I went to this one. I was able to catch up with some old friends that I had not seen in many years. It was really fun and I didn't get home until around 12:30 that night, which is really late for me! What a good time though.

That's it these days. Not much going on. Just trying to get everything done and settled around here before we officially start Kindergarten. Almost there...sooo close. We still have to hire a fencing company to come out and fence the back yard. I need to do that now. Later.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

June 16, 2011

Actually, we are past the worst of the storm season but we started today off with a bang and it looks like it could start up again anytime. The nice thing is that it is a very cool day today, relative to what we have been having and also to what they say we are about to have for the next 5 days or so. It is suppose to be unseasonably hot here over the next 5 days or so but I think that is what they have been saying since summer got started around here so maybe this is how it is going to be all summer long. I am thankful for air conditioning.

I am also very thankful for our new house. It is quite lovely and it just feels like home. I really love the house and the neighborhood and hope we will be here a very long time. The boys can actually cross the street here by themselves, as the traffic is really very limited. They ran over to the neighbor across the street the other day and rang the doorbell to see if their little friend could come over and play. He had been here earlier in the day but the boys were out with the dad. He could not play that day but he was over a few days earlier and they all had a ball playing here at our house, both inside and out. I think the boys really like the new house and neighborhood too, although Ben said that when he grows up he is going to buy our old house and live in it.

Ben does not care for change much at all and he expresses himself quite well. When I had my long hair cut off, he made it clear to me that he did not really like it and then he said "that's OK mommy, it will grow back". When I painted my toenails on Sunday, he asked why I did that and let me know he liked them better the old way. A week or so later, he asked me how I would get the nail polish off and, after I explained, thought I should take it off then.

As Ben came downstairs the morning that the boys would go to gymnastics for the first time, Nick very excitedly told him they would get to go to gymnastics that day. Ben's response did not come close to matching Nick's enthusiasm and he said he thought he would just watch. As I reminded him of how he cried a little when waiting for his first swim lesson and thought about sitting out and watching Nick at the first soccer lesson, a small smile played around on his face and had fully grown by the time I finished. He did not say anymore about it and ran into the gym with Nick, very excited, when the time came. He has loved swim lessons, soccer and gymnastics from the very first lesson and has always looked forward to returning but he was uneasy about them all before the first lesson. He does not care for the thought of big changes or new things but he seems to adjust to them quickly when they come.

Nick has learned how to swing himself and can even get started on his own. He absolutely loves to swing too. Ben has not quite mastered it, although he tries hard and can keep himself going for a little bit. Sometimes Nick will push Ben and get him going and then he will get himself going so they can swing together. I love watching them do that. It is so sweet. They both love to sit with the dad with books like I Spy or Where's Waldo or any kind of search type book like that and search for the things together. So lately I have noticed that they will sometimes do this together when the dad is not home. They were actually doing it this morning when the dad was in his office. Nick usually holds the book because he wants to pretend to be the dad. It is really cute to see them huddled up on the couch together, searching through the book. I love that they have such a special friendship.

They are both very sweet boys and are really coming into a very sweet and more thoughtful age. I am really loving this age and I hope it will serve us well when officially starting Kindergarten in the fall.

So, what's new around here? The boys and I just finished reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and we all really enjoyed it. We are now reading The Indian in the Cupboard and we are also enjoying it. There are so many wonderful books for children and there are so many that I have never read. So I am enjoying our read-alouds as much as they are.

We now have bushes and stuff in our flower beds and they look so much better, as does the house and yard. We are still going to plant more, as the landscaper only did the foundational planting, but it already looks so much better. I need to take pictures again of the house inside and out and of the boys. It has been too long. I first need to find our camera.

We are mostly in and unpacked. I still have three boxes about which I have been procrastinating and then I found six more boxes of books in the attic the other day, after I thought I had unpacked them all. No telling what else is in the attic that still needs to be unpacked.

We had a small party here the other day to celebrate my niece's birthday. She invited some of her college friends, the dad cooked out on the grill and I made sure everyone had what they needed and clean up after. It was nice and everyone had a good time. The boys had fun and were meeting everyone at the door, shaking hands and introducing themselves. It was funny. We put the ping pong table out on the screened back porch and some were enjoying that also. Not sure how it will do out there though because it is not meant to get wet but it did during the thunderstorm the other night. Not sure how long it will remain out there but we'll see.

Two weeks and four days until we go get the newest member of our family, our new little kitten. I am looking forward to it. I really miss my Zoe and I think having a new kitten will help with that a bit. I am concerned about Dancer though. I don't know how he will handle a new addition to the family and what he may see as competition. Hopefully we can make him feel very loved so he won't feel as threatened. I hope and pray it will all work out OK.

I can't believe we only have two more weeks of July left. This summer is going by so fast. Kids start back to school here in mid-August so we are quickly speeding towards that date. I am working on our plans for starting school. I know it is 'only' Kindergarten but I feel that I really need to start off 'school' with the boys in a disciplined way. It is easy to let up later but I think it will be much harder to start off in a less disciplined way and then try to add more discipline to our day later. The other thing is that, because of their age (they just missed the cut off by 1 month (Ben) and 3 months (Nick) so they will be older K'ers) and that they are already reading at a 1st grade level (maybe beginning of 1st grade but somewhere in 1st), I feel we should be doing a bit more than a typical K program but a bit less than a full 1st grade program.

Well, time for dinner. Have a nice evening.