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Thursday, April 28, 2016

massive catch up.

I know blogs were once popular, back in 2007 when I started this one. And then eventually most people fell off that train, unless of course it generates an income. Those people still blog, obviously. :) But I'm just not ready to give mine up. Initially I started it for the birth mothers in our lives, so they can hop online anytime and see what's going on with the boys and our family. But I love the documentation for my own sake as well. So right now, I'm going to do a little 3 month catch up, just a few of our highlights. And then pinky swear to myself that I'll never fall this far behind again! I left off at Jeremy's 36th birthday, which was January 30th!
So in February:
We celebrated Valentine's Day.
 We got to attend a little party with our other homeschooling friends.
 And the boys received their annual balloons + a few other fun treats from us.
Also during this month, I was saying to someone how we had never had an injury related ER visit with our 3 boys. And how incredible that was. Then a few days later Abe face planted off our trampoline. It was traumatizing.
(wish I could trade eyelashes with that kid.)
Then in March:
I turned 36 on the 26th. We celebrated with an Easter Egg Hunt.... :)
Easter was the very next day.
And this month of April...
 Abe finally graduated to a toddler bed. It was not a flawless transition. :) But he's doing okay now.
We met some friends in Texoma for a weekend.
 Why are the great outdoors so great!? I don't know, but it is always so much fun for our boys to spend time out in nature. It's fun to watch them explore and play in this type of an environment.
And eating s'mores is always a bonus.
And then we started another season of soccer.
 Pax isn't so sure about all the running. We are starting to think he may be better suited for golf. :) But I've bribed him with a Barnes and Nobles date if he can give all of his effort for 6 games. He's halfway there! He's hustling, trying hard and has even scored a goal. I'm proud of him!
And Holden is a soccer rock star. It's a delight to watch him play and run his little heart out.

Spring is officially here and we are soaking up this nice weather. I'm sure in just a short time I will be melting and complaining about the heat. So for now, each morning we head outside just as soon as our schoolwork is done. Daily the boys are riding bikes, jumping on the trampoline, going to the park and enjoying the sunshine.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Jeremy's birthday.

Jeremy turned 36 last month. Ouch. We're getting old. Oh well. As wise old people have always said, it's better than the alternative. :) His birthday was on a Saturday. We had kept some friends kiddos one weekend in the fall, so on Jeremy's birthday weekend it was our turn for a weekend alone. We drove to Houston to drop off the boys and then spent the next 2 nights in downtown Houston. We didn't do a whole lot worthy of pictures. We spent Saturday in Old Town Spring which was a neat little place to browse and shop. And we had quiet uninterrupted meals out all weekend. That's always a plus. We slept in (as late as possible). My boys have completely stolen my ability to truly sleep in so I just gave it my best effort. And we just enjoyed one another's company. On Thursday evening, the night before leaving for Houston, we had a family birthday dinner out at Grimaldi's for pizza. We knew the boys would also want to celebrate their daddy. I had been once before to Grimaldi's but Jeremy and the boys had not. And we are some pizza loving people! The wait staff brings pizza dough for the kiddos to play with as you wait on your dinner. Brilliant. 
 My view from across the table. These two are pretty tight.
 Abe loves pizza. He just loves it. And he had no problem devouring 2 huge slices of our pizza.
Clearly Pax and I were also at dinner, but we didn't get a picture together. I hate it when I do that. 

I wasn't supposed to do any gifts for his birthday this year. We had done a little more than normal for anniversaries back in November. Then there was Christmas, we were not supposed to buy for one another (his idea) and I went ahead and got him a little something. So then he said absolutely nothing for his birthday. But that's just ridiculous, right? No one really means that, right? Well, actually he does. Gifts aren't really his thing. But I spent less than $10, so I consider that practically nothing. :) He loves the lyrics to this old hymn and in recent weeks before his birthday God had really used the song to remind Jeremy of his constant presence in his life. So it was his one little gift we got for him.
And the one measly picture I had from our weekend alone. This man is definitely worth celebrating. :) And I'm thankful to be the girl that gets to celebrate all his big moments.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Homeschooling: Year 3!

We have found our groove! Hey, it may have taken 3 years, but we found it. This spring semester has really clicked for me. I will say that our first year felt easy peasy. Holden in kindergarten, me using an all inclusive curriculum, and only working for a couple of hours each morning (during Abe's morning nap). Holden was already reading when we began and things just went smoothly. Pax is right on his heels in age so he just did kinder along with us at age 4 and actually has become a pretty brilliant little boy. But, I take no credit. I think he always had it in him. Beginning school just brought it to light. It is interesting to me that the reasons I began homeschooling have changed as we have been doing this for nearly three years now. Those initial reasons are still there, in the background. But now having homeschooled for a few years, there are plenty of other reasons I find that makes me want to continue what we have going. Those things are better for a one on one conversation when I'm asked. Because honestly, most people don't care to read them here. I'm still not committing to forever on this. But I'm more than excited to commit to next year.

We really changed it up this year. Through some really encouraging and insightful conversations last spring, I pieced together our curriculum. For those that are new to exploring the homeschooling option, I am going to list here what has worked for us and what has not.

Science - Apologia Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the 5th Day.
We read from this Science textbook twice a week. We should complete this book early (mid-March, I think) and I believe my plan is to buy another textbook from this group and dive right in rather than waiting for fall. This science is a keeper. It has captivated my boys minds and they have learned so much. And so have I!

History - Beautiful Feet: Early American History for Primary Grades.
We complete history once or twice week. Only once a week when we go to our co-op, Sonlight. I'll talk about that in another post. But this history curriculum has taken key characters in history and compiled the information into these great literature books. So we read aloud and they usually have a task in their journal to complete. This history can be a two year commitment to complete it in full. Seeing that I am not halfway through our lessons yet, we will definitely continue on with this study into next year. Today we read about the first Thanksgiving feast, which is odd in February! But that's where we are in the study.

Math - Math U See: Alpha
At this point in time, math is a harder subject for us. In reading and comprehension, the boys are doing excellent. And most of our subjects revolve around those two things. But right now I can admit that we are catching up in Math. I do like this curriculum. I'm not yet in love with it or anything. We started the fall with Life of Fred, which was story formed math. My boys easily learn from stories and literature. So this sounded like a good option for us. But I felt like it was not taking us in the direction I wanted us to go. So at the end of the fall I made a switch to Math U See. This one is taking us in the direction I want to go. But math is a more challenging concept for my boys right now. I've been told by those that have gone before that eventually it just clicks. So I'm walking slowly with them, making sure we actually master the concept before moving on. I am planning to stick to Math U See. And we plan to continue our math all summer long. It's too easily forgotten right now, as I quickly learned when we picked back up this fall.

Reading - no set curriculum
We are big ole bunch of book worms. The boys read on their own daily. I would guess that Pax reads 5-8 different chapter books per week. But during school I'm making a point to read them some good classic literature. This is probably Paxton's favorite part of school. Listening to me read these great story books. He typically wants me to read more and more once I've completed our chapter(s) for the day. During this school year we have completed: Mr Popper's Penguins, The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Mary Poppins and Teddy's Button (my very favorite so far). Currently we are in the final portion of Despereaux. And Dragonwings is next on the agenda. So if you're looking for some good read alouds for your kids, those were some that we enjoyed.

Writing - no set curriculum
The boys do copywork each day. Sometimes it's the verse they are memorizing for church. Sometimes it's new information from our science or history. Sometimes it's about a character trait we need to work on. They hate copywork. Someone typically complains. But we still do it. Daily.

Art - Simply Charlotte Mason Artist Study
We have spent this year learning about Vincent van Gogh and study his paintings. They can now identify and name several of his works of art. We do this once a week.

Music - We sing a hymn each morning when we begin our school. Every 4 weeks we learn a new hymn. Hymns are full of biblical truths and honestly my kids rarely hear them unless they hear them at home. So we decided to incorporate these this year. We have also studied some composers and their classic pieces of music.

Devotional/Bible Time - The Dig: Proverbs Words of Wisdom
I haven't loved this one. It's been ok. But I want studying and reading the Bible together to be part of our daily school routine. This particular guide hasn't been my favorite for the purpose I was going for.

So our morning of school looks a little like this...Typically after breakfast, I clean up while they get dressed and have some time to jump on the trampoline. Even when it's 30 degrees outside. :) I really appreciate that they begin their day with activity. I'm pretty sure that they appreciate it as well. We start our school by 8:45 with prayer, a hymn and our devotional. Then we move on to math because that takes the most brain power. :) Then copywork. Then science/history (we do these on opposite days). Then our reading and anything else we need to finish up. We are done with school by lunch time. Last summer I sat down with Jeremy and we really evaluated why we have chosen this route and what we wanted to accomplish as a family on this journey. He kept saying: a well rounded education. So we've incorporated some things that originally I hadn't thought of by myself: the hymns, the classical music/composer and the artist study. I used plenty of resources and other homeschooling mommas to help me to get to this point. I'm thankful for the community and the many resources. Yet, someone reading this may see all kinds of flaws in our approach. And I'm still fairly new to homeschooling. I may find my own flaws when I read this post in 5 years. But I feel like one thing I am learning is there is no "right" way to do it. Each family and child is different. So you have to figure out what works for you and your family. What I do know, is that this is working for us right now. Even with the schedule above we go to the library once a week. The boys love this library trip. We spend a full morning at our co-op on Wednesdays. And we have hours each week to play in the sunshine. But with that said, remember that it's taken me 3 years to get into this groove and really figure out a schedule. But we've finally gotten there.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

January happenings.

I love a new year and a new beginning. When we returned home from Colorado, this little baby was waiting for us. We had ordered it after Christmas. For some reason, Jeremy had thought a magical Santa was going to buy us a blender. That didn't happen. So we bought one ourselves and I love it. We have used this thing nearly every single day since getting it.
Abe has the largest veggie intake of the boys because he loves these green smoothies. He helped me fill this container with spinach, banana, frozen mango, a splash of orange juice and some water. He pushed the button to blend. And quickly slurped it down.
The schools in our area headed back and we took an extra week of play. Well, the boys played and I organized my house from top to bottom. Spring cleaning in January and it was fabulous. And it really involved no cleaning. Even better. :) But then we headed back to our books. It took us a good week to get back into that routine. And now we are rolling right along.
 Some school outside in the sunshine. Pax will read multiple chapter books in a day. I really can't even believe it. Is he going to be a writer or what? He has a great hunger for words and reading. I have just never seen anything like it. Except if I didn't have many responsibilities in this life I could sure plow through some books. But I was not this way at age 6.
 Some school inside at the desk. Writing can be painful. Physically painful to my boys. ;)
And this little guy. He would LOVE it if I set him in front of a TV the entire time we were doing school. I'm always saying "go play". And apparently that is hard for this one's personality or age. I'm not sure which. But so far the fire truck tent filled with a few toys and books keeps him occupied for a while.
 I've been showing some tough love to the 6 month old injury. At the end of December I saw my orthopedic and she said I was free to head back to Camp Gladiator. That the physical strain and activity on my arm would be good for it by extending the range of motion of my wrist and breaking up the scar tissue from surgery. Sounds pleasant, right? :) She said it would be sore and probably "flare up" with the increased movement. So I headed back this month. And it sure has "flared up". That picture is just a big swollen area around my incision. Going back to CG, I realized how very out of shape I am compared to last January when I had been running several miles a week. And I'm still somewhat limited with the injury. But I'm back it. It's fun and it's a special part of my day. A time just for me that I thoroughly enjoy.
 I've had a couple of one on one dates this month with my big boys.
 Both dates included fro-yo.
We met up with some church friends at the MLK parade in downtown Fort Worth. This was our first MLK parade. The boys loved it. Marching bands, music, cars, motorcycles and people throwing candy. What more could a little boy want? I'm so thankful and proud to be part of our church.
 It was so cold that morning.
 So they warmed up with hot coco on their way home. I bought one hot coco and Starbucks split it for me between 3 cups. :)
 We had a last minute dinner out with friends at Abuelo's. And this little pair are an affectionate couple of boys. Pretty sweet friends.
 Abe and Cruz. The fun of being 3. 
And little brother, Rico, looks like a sweet little baby doll. 
 We had a family movie night with popcorn. Mainly because Jeremy and I hadn't watched Aladdin in YEARS and we wanted to see it. :)
And this athletic little boy can now out run me. :( Holy moly what happened? I've always won in the past. He and I went on a bike ride one Friday when Jeremy was home. We played at the park and I decided we should race on foot. I picked a longer distance because Holden has always gone full steam and then puttered out. But this time...he won. Big time. He even ran backwards at one point and taunted me. I raced him a second time. And he won again. I don't claim to be fast. At all! But he's 7. And I'm taller. Not by a ton, but I'm still taller. I hope hope HOPE he'll be my running buddy in future years.
And this weekend we will close up January by celebrating Jeremy's birthday! He will turn 36 on Saturday. Some friends are watching the boys for 2 nights while we have a little getaway by ourselves. It's been over a year since we've done this and you don't even know how much I'm looking forward to this weekend. And that is a little of what we have been up to this month.