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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Apparently, she grew.

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Does this ever happen to you? You look at a picture of your child and think, “Wait. Is that ____? Really?!?! When did they get that big!?”.

That’s what happened when I saw this picture of Brooklyn. I’m not sure when this happened. I’m not sure when she completely stopped looking like a baby and turned into this big (ish) girl. She has always been tall, but in my mind, she’s just a tall ‘baby’, not a tall ‘girl’. Her second birthday is sneaking up on me. Time is telling me, “I’m here. I’m ticking away. Your children are growing, and your tiny face babies are memories of ago.”

That’s a hard truth. You won’t believe what words came from my mouth today…words I never thought I’d hear myself say. I was speaking to a new mom of just one baby, who is just 10 weeks old. As I cooed over him, I said with a voice heavy with memory, “Oh, this goes so fast. You blink and its over.” I SAID that. What? Who am I? When did I become the mom of ‘kids’ (not babies) and the mom who utters those words to tired moms who have NO clue what that means? I used to shrug that phrase off when well-intentioned women would say it to me. “Right,” I’d think. “Here I am, blinking, and everyone still looks exactly the same.” But, oh! How its true!

As for Brooklyn, there is no doubt: she is no longer anything baby. She speaks in sentences and communicates her needs. She can count to 5 and is learning her letters and the sounds they make. She loves the color purple, and has a fondness for anything stuffed. She loves ducks (both stuffed and real) and thinks everything (and I mean, everything) is a game. She giggles constantly, unless she is throwing her body down in a tantrum because you refuse to give her 12 cups of yogurt a day. She is quick to give hugs and kisses, and her first sentence every morning is, “Hi!!! I eat? FOOD!”. She carries around a disgusting, tattered blanket like its one of her limbs, detached from her body.

I spoil her rotten, and I don’t care. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Wait, is that…Mom?

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I am not exaggerating when I say that I don’t get dressed very often.

Why should I? I spend most of my day playing and cleaning, and I find jeans/dresses/skirts can make that a bit challenging. Mama in yoga pants is a mama who can catch a 20 month old much quicker than mama in wedges (which, I love, by the way). Most days, I shower just to put clean pajamas on.

Which means you don’t see me much. I take lots of pictures of the kids. Most of them don’t have me in it. BUT. But, I don’t want my children to have thousands of pictures of themselves, and none of me. I want them to see how we were, what we did, what we looked like. I want them to know that I was present, that I wasn’t just the one behind the lens, but the one with them. The one that wiped their tears and read them stories (and read and read and read).

I want them to know that I COULD get dressed and look pretty, but I choose them instead. I choose the dried cheerios and the dirty diapers and the spilled yogurt and the crushed egg yolks, the snotty noses and the dirty shirts and the puddles of bathwater. Everyday, I choose to be present with them.

Even if that means that my wedges get dusty and my clothes hang pretty in the closet.

How could I not? They are the most precious jewels I own.

 

Many thanks to my friend, Sarita, who so graciously allowed me to hand over my camera so I could get in front of the lens for a few minutes. ๐Ÿ™‚ Now, where did I put my yoga pants….

Switching Things Up: My perspective and curriculum.

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I’m lucky to be able to say that I’ve taught in the public school system. It solidified my decision to not have my children go there, for sure, but it also gave me a huge advantage when it came to teaching my own children. I know, for the most part, exactly what I need to do and when I need to do it. I know what to look for in curriculum, how to adjust my style of teaching across a group of students with different learning styles, how to change things up at a moment’s notice if I need to, and how to research.

Even with all that, though, I still struggle. I still struggle with patience. I struggle with being quick to anger. I struggle with my expectations.

I struggle. It has taken me a looooong time to come to a realization that has been life changing for me when it comes to homeschool: I am SUPPOSED to struggle. Of course this isn’t easy! You know how you pray to be more patient, more kind, more organized, more…everything? If you want the fast track to the Refiner’s Fire…then homeschool. I can honestly say that there has never been a period of greater growth for me when it comes to those areas than since I’ve began the responsibility of teaching my children. Can everyone do this? YES. YES, YES, YES. I am not special…I am just learning. I am putting myself last and them first…and there is never a day where that is easy. Except today, since we went to the pool, lol! ๐Ÿ˜‰

So, part of this whole journey is trying to figure out what works for us. I am lucky. When you teach in the public schools, you don’t get to choose your curriculum. If the school chooses Saxon math, you do Saxon math, even ifย  you or your students don’t understand it. You don’t like a certain literature book? Too bad, you are doing it. Science curriculum too dry? Too bad. So, its extremely nice being able to use something and stop it halfway through and say, “This isn’t working, lets try something else.”

I got to this point with our Sonlight Language Arts program and our Sonlight Science program. I love Sonlight, I do. But this is why these two parts didn’t work for us. Here is a picture of the “sample” piece of writing that Jackson was supposed to do this week:

from my iPhone, sorry for the quality, lol!

Really? Raise your hand if you have a second grader who can write a story like that. *crickets* Now, I understand that they aren’t expecting this EXACT paragraph, but this is the only sample they give, so its hard to know exactly what they are expecting of a student. It would be much better if they would show the work of other second graders, or give realistic samples!

Also, another issue is that the Language Arts program is tied to the level of Readers (what they can read aloud to you) is. You don’t get a choice. So, if you have a student like mine, whose reading level is FAR above his language arts ability, you have a huge problem. We ended up stopping halfway through and went with a different LA program, which we love. We will still order all our literature (both Read Alouds and Readers) through Sonlight, but we won’t use the LA program.

As for Science, I can’t WAIT to show you pictures of what we are doing! We stopped using Sonlight’s a few weeks ago. This is why: you would spend all week learning about a particular sub-unit, like the animals of the rainforest or something like that. Then, you’d do an experiment on the fourth day that was a completely different lesson that had nothing to do with what you are learning about. So, we’d do rainforest animals all week, and then do an experiment on magnets. That doesn’t even make sense, and it would make it so much harder for me because I’d have to teach an entirely new lesson! So, we now use Apologia and it is phenomenal! I was lucky enough to attend a few workshops led by the author at a homeschooling convention I attended about a month ago, and I cannot speak highly enough of her or this program. Awesome stuff!

We are finishing up our first lesson in Apologia: Human Anatomy and Physiology (one lesson takes two weeks) and I’ll post pictures that show what we are doing. You will LOVE it! ๐Ÿ™‚

Side note: For those of you who send your kids to school…make sure to take some time to truly thank your child’s teachers. Most of them spend their own money outfitting their classrooms and buying supplemental stuff. They make, on average, about $33-35,ooo a year (in Arizona, at least) for about 50 hours a week of work, if not more. They are up late every night preparing and grading, researching and printing, cutting and pasting. So, as this school year approaches its end, perhaps bless them! Popular things they love are restaurant gift cards, movie tickets, Starbucks cards, gift cards to your local learning stores (like Lakeshore Learning), etc. A lot of teachers use a site called Teachers Pay Teachers, where they can buy pre-made unit studies, so a gift card/online code would be fantastic as well! I promise you, you will make their day! ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m off to make an edible cell with Jackson! Enjoy your day! ๐Ÿ™‚

A Perfect Day

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I have two types of perfect days.

There are perfect days that are perfect because I have no responsibilities (read: for some reason, my children aren’t with me). Don’t get me wrong; I adore my children. I do. But, in order to keep adoring them, I have to have a few perfect days without them. Usually they are with my husband, and they involve things like sleeping, reading, talking, walking, eating without cutting up food, eating hot food, eating my own food, not sharing my food, shopping for things that I need, not having a diaper in my purse, getting in and out of the car in 3 seconds flat, actually going inside a Starbucks rather than the drive-thru…you get the point.

Then there are the perfect days that are full of responsibility and cut up food and diapers and drive-thrus…the perfect days that are about our family. Friday was that kind of perfect day. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, and we decided to go to the pool. Yep. It’s the beginning of April. It’s 95 outside. The days of constant wet swimsuits and towels in the dryer have started. I could not be happier about it.

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It was perfect. The water is still heated from the winter, the temperatures aren’t scorching yet, and school isn’t out, so the pool isn’t busy. No lines, no crowds…just warm water, warm weather, the sweet smell of coconut sunscreen in the air and happy squeals from my children.

Perfect.

After the pool, we drove with the windows down to the nearest Rubios and sat outside, munching on food that reminded us of the beach and sea breezes. We went home, laid the kids down for naps, and took a nap ourselves.

I got a pedicure. I’ll spare you the picture, but a perfect day almost always includes a pedicure.

Then, we dyed Easter eggs.

I went with something new this year. I had seen a blogger do a post on dying your eggs with Kool-Aid instead of vinegar. I liked the idea of not stinking up my house (on a perfect day, stink house is not allowed), so I gave it a whirl. My house smelled of sugar, and the colors were vibrant and pretty. The only thing I noticed is that you have to wait until the eggs dry before you really handle them, or the color will wipe off. Other than that, it was fantastic, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back to vinegar based dye!

Another tip I had seen (I can’t find my original pin to post for you) was to use whisks to hold your eggs while they are being colored. GENIUS! I mean, it was absolutely fantastic. Using whisks means that even your little ones can get in on the fun…Brooklyn loved dipping it in and out, in and out, in and out, in and out…you get the point. Aren’t the colors fabulous? Kool-Aid, ya’ll. It’s wicked awesome.


While I wouldn’t always put such an intense, time-consuming, possible tantrum-causing activity on a perfect day schedule…this made it the kid’s perfect day.

And when everyone around you, from 1-35, feels just as perfectly perfect as you do…then you know it’s a perfect day.

The Holy Week

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What a week! When you believe that Jesus Christ is the living Son of God, and want to impress these truths upon your children, the week before Easter is a busy one. Praise the Lord above that their salvation is not based up my works, but on His grace, but the thought of eternity for your children is a heavy yoke to bear. My constant prayers and never-ending character building means nothing if I don’t take the time toย teach.ย Toย impress the truth on their hearts. I can not wait for a youth pastor in 10 years to do it, or a Sunday school teacher once a week to do it; it all begins at home, and it all beginsย now.ย Yesterday, actually. Or really, 6 years ago when my first child entered this fallen world.

So, what did we do?

I found an amazing, interactive Holy Week calendar on Pinterest a few months ago that a Christian homeschooling Mama called The Domestic Notebook had posted. I pinned it, and luckily had come across it again a few weeks ago. I got everything together, which took about an hour on my part, and had everything ready to go starting the Sunday before Easter, otherwise known as Palm Sunday.

The kids LOVED it! Most of the symbols I made ahead of time, and then they glued them onto our calendar after we studied the scripture and talked about the story. Some of the crafts they made themselves, like the palm leaves, their “watchful eyes” faces, and their praying hands. You will have to forgive my artwork, lol! This was an amazing way to make the events that happened almost 2,000 years ago come alive and real for my children. Jackson asked to do it again next year, so I am going to work on a more permanent version that we can use again and again.

I am also going to change some things up on our permanent calendar, and add newer songs and maybe symbolic snacks to go along with our stories. Thank goodness I have a whole year to work on it!ย  For the complete list of symbols, scripture, and the original post of this great idea, check out the Domestic Notebook. She no longer blogs anymore, but she has some terrific things in her archives!

Milestone Pictures – Downtown Gilbert Railroads

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About a month ago, I was all geared up to take London’s 3 year and Brooklyn’s 18 month pictures together.

Then the Great Plague of 2012 hit, and everyone was sick for a month.

It ended up working out pretty well, because during that time Jackson turned 6. So, I decided to just get all three of them done at one time. Whilst doing it I realized that probably wasn’t the smartest idea on my part; the kids weren’t focused and if I had done it one-on-one, I probably would have ended up with more shots. However, doing it this way gave me great rewards…such as the picture above.

I’m just going to say it: my children are adorable. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Brooklyn: 19 months. Adorable, squishy ball of fun. She is a very tall girl, sitting at 34 inches (just 2 inches shy of her big sister…trust me, I get the “are they twins?” a lot!) and 24 pounds. She is wicked smart and very expressive. She loves to sing and dance, color, and can be frequently found with a baby doll or stuffed animal under her arm. This child is addicted to her blankie and her binky, much to her mother’s chagrin (but, hey! she’s the baby! who cares, right?). You never would know now that she had a developmental delay, as she gets exactly where she needs to be in record time. She is the life of our party.

London: 3 years. Holy moly, this girl is SPUNKY! As I’m writing this, I’m reminded of how we used to call her “spicy pepper.” A girly-girl sparkly princess to her core, she glitters and glows. She still has her charming fairy voice, and is my super polite, always compassionate, tender-hearted little soul. She knows all her letters and the sounds they make, can count to 20, and is learning how to make and follow patterns. She will start preschool (at home) in the fall, and she is VERY excited! She loves to dance, color, and can usually be found near her kitchen set in the playroom, preparing delicious treats for her family!

Jackson: 6 years. No longer are his updates about traditional milestones; we’ve reached the “boy zone” where, well…he’s made it all. His milestones are now focused on bigger things, like learning to ride a bike on his own and mastering multiplication. His current interests are weather, human anatomy, and volcanoes. He is currently planning on writing the National Hurricane Center to request that his name be used to name a hurricane in the future (there has never been a Jackson).ย  He is finishing up second grade (six weeks left!) and is looking forward to our week long vacation to San Diego this summer. He plans to rock it at Legoland. ๐Ÿ™‚

1,3, and 6. All such great ages, really. Each one of them bring their own jazz and spark to our family, and I really couldn’t imagine life without any of them. I love my precious babes!