Wednesday, August 28, 2013

August 28, 2013

After looking through our photos, I realize that I need to take more pics because we do not have very many recent ones and the ones we have are not all that great.  The boys like to take pictures of their Lego creations or whatever it is they find funny and those are not usually something I would want to post on my blog.  Here is pretty much all I found worth posting and many of these are questionable:).

These first 3 or 4 are from the early spring, as you can tell by the clothes they are wearing.

These next two were also from last spring when the boys and the dad went to a cub scout camping thing overnight.

The next pic is from a dress-up night at AWANA.

The following pic is from Nick's first piano recital and I think it was in May or maybe April.

This was from one morning the boys had 'built' a 'wagon'...the type pulled by a horse back in the old days.  They had a good time playing with this for a couple of days.

And these final pics are of the treehouse that the dad is building.  It is really coming along.  He is getting ready to build and put in the rope ladder next so they can actually start playing in it, even though he still has some things to do, such as put on the door and shutters.  He is working on the trap door thing that they will come up into when they climb the rope ladder.  The first picture below is from the front of the treehouse.  The rope ladder entrance will be in the back opposite corner of the one in the front of the first picture below.  There will also be a fireman's pole on the back corner that you can see in the first pic below.  Just above where the ladder is in the pic below there is a small gate.  Eventually this gate will open to a bridge to another tree which will have a small platform.  They will be able to stand on the platform to take off on a zip line that goes across the yard.  I'm not sure how long it will take to get all of that done but I have a feeling this project is will be an on-going effort for a while.  The boys are very excited about it.

As for how our school week is going this week, it is not:).  I had an unexpected dental appointment on Monday morning for a bad tooth that needs a new crown and Nick had his occupational therapy that day.  Between those two appointments, we really didn't have time to get anything done and we were all exhausted by the time we got home.  Yesterday we had another two appointments for which we had to go to the city once again and my sister came to visit when we got home.  We had not seen her in a while so we enjoyed her company for the day.  Last night we didn't get much sleep because of bad colds (Nick and Ben) and an eye infection (Nick) so we took a sick day today and we are taking it easy.  Fortunately I had scheduled a one week break for week after next so we won't end up taking that after all and this week will be that week.  It is nice that we can be so flexible.  If everyone gets a good night of sleep tonight, we will definitely be doing school work tomorrow and Friday.  I feel so lazy when we are not doing school.  But I know it would not have gone well today if I had tried because Nick and I both were running on very little sleep.  I don't have much patience when I have not had enough sleep and Nick gets frustrated easier when he has not had enough sleep, which we don't need and I don't want especially since things have been going so well here lately.  We will be back at it soon enough though.

That's it for today.  I will work on taking some better and more recent pics of the boys.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

August 22, 2013

I think we are finishing up our 1st month of school, or there abouts, and we have really gotten a lot done this first month.  More importantly, I think we have finally found a routine that is working for us and has us finishing up the day around 1:30-ish and with no fits and very little whining.  This is BIG news around here.  I think we just finished our best week of homeschooling ever and it was pretty amazing.

I have put together a check list of our various subjects and have divided it into the following categories:
*  Prepare for our day - includes making bed, tidying room, getting dressed, eating, and brushing teeth and hair.

*  "Let's remember to start our day off with a prayer"  (I'm ashamed to admit that I will frequently forget this if it is not on our checklist and it really does help us all to have a better day.

*  Subjects we all do together - includes Grammar, Spelling, History (Mon and Tues) / Science (Wed and Thurs or Thurs and Fri - depends on which day we take off, since we are schooling 4 days a week) and Memory Work.

*  Subjects you do individually with Mom - includes writing, math and read aloud to Mom.

*  Subjects you do independently - includes cursive practice, 30 minutes of fun read-to-self, 20 minutes of typing practice, piano practice, and sometimes I might assign a science or history library book for them to read-to-self.

I also list the once-a-week afternoon activities we are committed to each day, such as an hour and a half P.E. class, a two hour art class, Nick's 1 hour Occupation Therapy appt., 1 hour of piano lessons, 30 minutes of swimming lessons, a 1 hour almost-free Karate class at our church and an hour and a half of AWANAs.

We are not doing a co-op this year.  The one I really like did not have anything to fit our schedule this time so we will try again next year maybe.

Other big news around here is that after two and a half years of playing the violin, Ben has now switched to the piano and is having a ball.  He is so excited about it and loves to practice.  The great thing is that he no longer needs me to help him practice.  I always listen when Nick is practicing the piano and once in a great while I might go help him with something but, for the most part, I just provide encouragement and cheering, which works out quite nicely for keeping the peace around here.  The violin has so many different variables that have to be worked on that most children this young cannot really practice by themselves and really see good improvement.  Ben is really loving his independence of being able to practice the piano without me (and so am I!:).  It really has helped so much to streamline our school day and allow us to be able to fit piano practice in as another one of our subjects.  One child can be practicing the piano while I am doing math or writing with the other child.  Music practice is now getting done more regularly in our house than ever before and none of us are stressing about it now.  It used to be pushed to the end of the school day and they were ready for a break before practicing their music (and so was I!) and then it was a struggle for us to get back into gear and get it done.  What a relief this one change has made for all of us.  We'll see if it is still going this smoothly in another couple of months.

The other thing is I have started getting up a bit earlier and trying to finish my breakfast before the boys are ready to eat.  They spend a little time playing and by the time they are dressed and ready to eat, I am ready to start school.  So I usually read our grammar lesson to them while they are eating breakfast.  They are learning the parts of speech and memorizing the definitions and the lists of pronouns, linking/helping verbs, prepositions, etc. so they repeat back or recite definitions and lists between bites.  They are done eating before we finish our lesson so they do the written part after I finish the lecture part and then we move right into spelling.  We normally finish up these two subjects in about 30 minutes or so and then we move right on to history or science and memory work.  Grammar and spelling are pretty quick subjects to get done and we all end up feeling so positive about how our day is progressing as we fly through our morning lessons.  It really gets our day off to a great start.

I won't bore you with the details of the rest of our day but I am happy to report that things around here are really going well right now and it is really refreshing.  Nick even told me today that he is starting to like school now, which was quite an eye opener.

I must give all of the credit and glory for this vast improvement to God.  I have been praying about this and I know he is moving around here.  I believe we have gone through every day this week without one major attitude issue, which is amazing!  Thank you Lord!!