Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Food We Eat!

Phase II Results:
Oh, would it be nice if I had some good news and encouragement for this food/diet update! I have been putting this post off since I didn't really want to display my failures. But I know that one of my purposes in blogging this is to have a little accountability for myself and because this food issue is having a profound affect on our homeschooling life.
It's been 16 weeks since dh and I started our "no white flour/no white sugar" type weight loss program. Again, we aren't on any real program but are just using what we've already learned from Prism Weightloss program (2 years ago), The Maker's Diet, Nourishing Traditions (see this awesome blog for great posts along these lines -> Keeper of the Home is able to give great ideas and info), and my nutritionist friend (thanks soooo much Dorcas!). We have learned over these 2 years how to think differently about food and now are just in the depths of talking the talk and working towards what we know should be our goal (not just a number on a scale -but a lifestyle change).

As you may recall from my last progress post on our weightloss, the first 6 weeks of this plan went very well. We both lost 15 pounds, were eating well and holding each other accountable. Reagan (5) and Adam (2) were both doing well with their new allergen-free, rotation diet as well. However, this time the numerical results didn't turn out as well:

DH ->5 lbs

Me -> 2 lbs
(and a massive outbreak of guttate psoriasis)

So what happened this time, you might ask? Well, phase II (the 2nd six weeks) is always harder. Whole wheat bread and white potatoes are allowed again in small amounts. And momentum from phase I doesn't last as long. So I wasn't surprised at Dh results - 5 pounds is just great! But the last time I went through this process, I lost 13 pounds in phase II and know very well that this time I just plain FELL OFF THE WAGON!

I hate saying those words.... *sigh*

I've seen a certain family member struggle with weight their entire life and end up with diabetes. I know that heart disease hits women hard. I don't want to teach my kids poor eating habits. And yet, I struggle each and every day with food!

Not just food but anything with wheat in it seems to be my desire. I found out a couple years ago that I have a sensitivity to wheat. This was something I didn't want to hear and so I ignored for a while. Until I realized that I really did feel better and less tired - when I didn't eat it. And the small bit of plaque psoriasis that I had on my elbows and scalp almost cleared completely up for the first time in my life (I've had it since I was 6!). So I stopped eating most wheat products for awhile.

I failed at this at Christmas which lead to dh and I starting this diet in January.
So when I could have stuck with our plan for better health, I again lost control this March. I could have lost the last 10 pounds of baby weight and fit into my wardrobe by now. I could feel more energetic, be less crabby, and be a better example for the kids.

But instead I ate birthday cake, Chips Ahoy (one roll in a sitting - yes, really), Girl Scout cookies, and then moved to bread and on to the D&D doughnuts. I started hiding foods from dh (my accountability partner!) and started eating in the car. These are patterns that I thought I had dealt with 2 years ago (when I lost Adam's baby fat) with the help of Prism.
The poor weightloss results I could live with - after all, my BMI is fine and I'm a healthy weight/size. But one of the consequences of this "wheat binge" that I was on for 4 weeks is that I've broken out with a nasty case of guttate psoriasis. For those with a weak stomach, read no farther! LOL! In short, it's like the chicken pox rash - redish spots all over that itch and scab if scratched. It really is quite torturous - I can't wear shorts as the weather warms up, I dread the shower since it stings all over, and I had to get acrylic nails (so annoying and expensive) to keep my skin from getting scabby.

All this from eating (again, the better word would be 'binging on') junkfood containing wheat! And I know better! But really I know that it's even more than that - this time through I have been trying to do it on my own. No daily devotional time allotted to this journey (battle) with food and not even any prayer! Now since when can we do anything of our own strength in this life??

I thank God that my dh is determined to help me out here. As I write this post, it's been 2 weeks since I've buckled down to get back to better health.
I will admit that I think almost constantly about cookies and cake, etc. I can't be the only one who experiences this with food! It may be a non-matter for some of you, but for me this is one of my biggest life struggles! It isn't even really about food, but rather about control and dependence. I want control - but God should have it. I eat when I'm not feeling in control (and how often is that with 4 kids? Ha!). I eat to sooth my stress or anxiety - I should be depending on the Lord instead for His comfort. I eat for instant gratification - instead I should wait upon the Lord and enjoy the bountiful blessings that He provides in his good, whole foods!

I know that God has provided good food for us to eat. I enjoy healthy whole foods. So once again, I need to fall to my knees and allow God to help me with this daily struggle. I pray that he will bring health to my body (and to my family as a result) and will take this struggle on His shoulders. An update will be posted in a few weeks!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Jefferson (6.5yo)

Jefferson arrived 4 weeks early (9/01) and was large (7lbs 12oz) and healthy - not quite considered a preemie. However, his liver seemed to need a little kick to get working. Putting him back in the hospital at 5 days old just for light treatment for jaundice stressed me out terribly! I can't imagine how those moms of preemies get through their time in the hospital! Remembering this reminds me to be thankful for my kids' health and the opportunity to raise and homeschool them!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Week 27 (not so much a report as a play by play!)

Not our best week. Did we get things done this week? With the exception of 1 hour of history and 1 hour of science - yes. Was it a successful week? Not so sure.

Tuesday, my allergies and stress got the better of me and so we didn't do anything but read a little and enjoy the weather. This then stressed me out by leaving me with only Wedns and Fri (our homeschool co-op is on Thurs and that day is always shot) with dinner guests planned for Fri. Why do I let myself get stressed out? I don't know! I think that my personality has to get things done just so and in the right order. It borderlines on sickness, folks......

I wish that I could just learn to relax and go with the flow so that I didn't end up pressuring the kids in any way. I know that this is when I should go to the Lord in prayer but my body fights against the Spirit and says,"No time for that now! Go, go, go. Let's just push through this and get it done!" I'm sure you can all hear the pride in saying 'no' to prayer when I most need to head the Spirit. Oy!

So here is where my own planning, pushing, and stressing got us this week. I was left trying to get all the leftover school tasks finished, in addition to a full load of lessons, in addition to preparing for dinner guests, on Friday.
  • Adam wakes up at 4:45 howling and soaked in pee (thanks so much for dh dealing with him for me)

  • Lincoln wakes up at 5:30 for some strange reason. Thankfully he goes back to sleep - although I am now truly wide awake.

  • I look over at the clock at 7:45 and realize that I did indeed fall back to sleep and am now an hour late in getting up! This means no peaceful prayer, breakfast, or quiet time for me.

  • I forgot to thaw the chicken for the soup for dinner guests and have no bread for them. I run to the local grocery and break our grocery budget by buying another chicken (larger - I am nervous that there won't be enough for 5 adults and 3.5 kids) and the other things that you always end up buying when you make an extra trip to the store.

  • I finally start breakfast at 8:30 (an hour later than usual) after getting the food put away and the leftover dishes dealt with (should have done this the night before). Thank goodness that dh slept late too and is helping with the 3 oldest kiddos.

  • Nurse Lincoln at 8:45. This takes about 45 mins w/ diaper and clothes and helps me too loose any morning energy I might have had. I almost fall asleep in the chair.

  • Adam has been throwing a tantrum for 15 minutes straight in his highchair while I refuse to help feed him until he calms down. This entire episode began when I touched my tongue to his cereal to make sure it wasn't too hot. Sheesh.

  • Coffee at 10:00 (ahhhh...the blessed 'happy juice'). I feel like I've waited all morning for it. I lament in my mind that we haven't started any lessons and proceed to bark orders at Jefferson to at least get out his Friday folder and start "something, anything!" Adam has quinoa cereal all over him and is screeching about something else in the high chair. Who knows what Reagan is doing - trouble most likely. Lincoln is still being ignored while he lies under his playmat thingy.

  • Gotta get the chicken in the pot so that I can have it cooked and picked apart by 3 or 4. It barely fits in my pot! Will I have enough broth for soup for all of us tonight? Jefferson wants more food (he always wants more food!). Adam is at my feet screaming about something else and saying "Up-uh, up-uh!"

  • Finally, at 10:30, I just clean up Adam's snotty nose (for the millionth time), change his loose poopy diaper (I won't even go into the anxiety it causes me to see his diaper loose and burning his bum again - his g.i. issues are another story), and throw him back into his crib. There is nothing else I can do to meet his needs but to force him to get more sleep so his sick body can heal. Lincoln get plopped into the excersaucer.

  • It's 10:45 in the morning before I can sit down with Jefferson to teach him. But at least it's quiet and we can focus - therefore math comes first. What's Reagan doing? Not sure - I think she's looking at books or a puzzle. Lincoln is quiet and happy, jumping up and down - as usual (this is why it's so easy to ignore the poor baby!).

  • The quiet lets me breathe and we get some good lesson time in. But I won't give Jefferson the breaks that he usually gets since the time when both babies are asleep is priceless for lessons. I push him through math, phonics, grammar, and spelling. He is fidgety and distracted by the end and it's obvious that he needs a break. I keep breaking his focus by getting up to attend to another food prep for the lunch and/or dinner.

  • Preparing lunch by 12:30. Babies are still asleep due to their colds and late start this morning. Jefferson works on his spelling list for 10 mins while I have to cut up and fry (olive oil and a little honey) 3 chicken breasts and 2 pounds of carrots for Adam and Reagan's lunch. Also have to make deli sandwiches for myself, Jefferson and dh (yes- the chick and carrots get gobbled up by A and R). Wash and cut up salad greens for dinner; pull out cooked chicken to cool before picking. Jefferson still has science and his own reading to get done as well as any leftover work from the week - maybe this afternoon I'll be able to sit down with him again?

  • Nurse Lincoln at 1pm (an hour later than usual). 3 older kids are eating outside. I am breathing again - nursing is so relaxing. Even so, my mind is racing. There is so much food prep still to be done. Thank goodness that at least the house is clean enough!

  • At 2 I'm cutting strawberries, beating the whip cream, cutting tomatoes, and cooking 2 more pounds of carrots to put into the soup (forgot to add them in the morning and the kids ate the last batch). Getting coffee serving items ready and cleaning all dishes as I go. Kids are actually quiet outside - Reagan isn't screaming at anyone! Lincoln is on the floor playmat again.

  • Dh is home early to cut the grass and trim (and change the overflowing trash). The kids love being outside with him - the weather is beautiful! Thank goodness that we can eat outside tonight - no table setting needed. Still haven't stolen a minute for a shower - p.u.!

  • At 3 I bring the kids in for a little break from running around (dh goes back into work). If they get too tired out, they'll be monsters for our guests in the evening. They are caked with dirt in every little crevice. Could they get any dirtier? Adam loves the fingernail brush because it tickles as I scrub away the mud. They watch 1 hour of tv while I continue with food prep by picking the chicken meat and making sure the kids' snacks are ready. Wait - did I eat lunch?

  • Adam goes back down for another nap at 4 since he's sick and tired. I have 1/2 hour for history - not really enough time to do more than just read and narrate SOTW. I ask Jefferson to finish his copywork but it didn't get done. I am thankful that at least he is reading in bed in the mornings before I get him up since we didn't get that done either. I throw J and R back outside again.

  • At 5 (yes - that's PM) I finally get a quick shower and am hoping the guests will be late as I nurse Lincoln in my bedroom. Then, I crazily decide that I can give him a quick bath too. But the guests aren't late and I take his clean, fat nak*edness downstairs to lotion and dress with the guests. It's always fun to show off his sumobaby fatness anyway!

I seriously don't know how Jefferson learns anything on days like this! And this week, every day felt like this - just packed to the brim. Reagan did not get a single hour of focused lesson or even reading time from me this week (except Tues)! I just don't think that I'm balancing this very well sometimes. I wish that I could do better.

I know that I'm not the only mom out there that is busy. After all, it's not like I have five or even seven kids. But days like this make me long for the days of PB&J lunches and relaxed play dates, where my biggest concern was that a baby had yellow poop up his back!

It was definitely good to hear Jefferson come in at 7pm as we were cleaning up some dishes and say,"Boy, it sure is nice to have people over and have dinner and stuff!" Despite the work, I know that too! Next week, I will try to get my prayer life together and hopefully Adam's cold (passed so nicely on to Lincoln already) won't pressure us too much.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Week 26

Spring break has done us well. We had a productive week and none of us felt so tired of the 'school' routine. The lovely weather has also helped to lift our spirits and give the kids someplace to burn off good energy. Nothing makes me happier than the breeze flowing through the drapes and the sounds of nature in our ears as we learn (makes a good motivator for getting the lessons finished also)!

Phonics - worked on rules for 'decoding' longer words (CCC); using CCC to review vowel digraphs and suffixes this week

Spelling - SWB lessons (he likes these because he can do them on his own and they often have crossword puzzles) as well as 5-7 words from CCC (this week vowel digraphs & suffixes)

Reading - had trouble getting as much read-aloud in this week as I would like but at least some of it happened; on his own he enjoyed 3 Mary Pope Osbourne books (Hour of the Olympics, Tigers at Twilight, Lions at Lunchtime) to go with history and animal science, as well as an Encyclopedia Brown book

Grammar - 3 FLL lessons covering pronoun review, name initials, and an Aesop's Fable -The Crow and the Pitcher; he LOVED illustrating the fable - I couldn't figure out why he drew so many birds for a story with just one until he told me that each one was doing an action from the tale in sequence in order to show everything that happened (rather than just one part of the tale); reviewed definition and example of homonym

Math - Jefferson continues to get good practice at mentally adding double digit numbers, learning which methods work more easily depending on the addends given - he is thrilled at his success when he get the chance to do a worksheet with no mistakes and also loves to check his answers on the abacus (good practice also); looked at even/odd numerals again (into higher digits); beginning to understand concepts of rows/columns with games and charts

History - Alexander the Great was fun for Jefferson because he took over so much land in so little time; had to have him re-do the coloring page since it was obvious that he just scribbled it in to get it done - this is unusual behavior for him and I hope that I don't need to start watching him more closely to ensure that he's doing his best work; still reviewing the DK books on Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Greece - they are loaded with great pictures and info

Science - we began the study of the human body by drawing an outline of the kids' bodies on brown paper - they loved this due to how much the pen tickled as I traced around them; we learned about cells (not sure Reagan understood this but she'll get it again later), skin and hair; also learned about psoriasis since it is a skin disease that I have and am oh-so-eager to display right now (I've broken out terribly since starting to eat wheat again - the kids 'oooo and aaah' over it each day while I lament about it); outside the kids are discovering all kinds of things in the nice weather - Jefferson was thrilled to have this butterfly land right on his finger! He loved that it stayed there long enough for him to see it's 'straw' tongue and green eyes!


Reagan came home from pre-k Wedns with this Y sheet. I thought the rainbow pattern was pretty and asked her who helped her do it. She said,"I remembered it in my head from the balloons you had hanging {from her birthday party 4 weeks ago}!" I can't believe the memory that she has - the rainbow pattern of colors is rather long one to remember for a kid!

I learned a lot about Reagan's learning style this week with just one penmanship lesson. I wanted to give her a short phonics lesson from CCC since her workbook has arrived. The kindergarten lessons are short and easy so I thought that I could fit it in while Jefferson finished his grammar illustration and Adam played with play dough (his new favorite - thank goodness...something to occupy him). However, I soon figured out that my expectations of what we will accomplish in this next year need to be brought waaaaay down so that I can make sure she has a good foundation and that we can deal with her learning 'difference.'

The penmanship sheet has a verse on top and some capital and lowercase A's to trace and write. Now...this is not the first time she's picked up a pencil or written an A before. She has done so at preschool and when I worked with her this winter on pencil holding and tracing shapes and vowels.

But I felt as though I were showing her for the first time again. She could trace the letters fine enough but when she had to write them on the lines at the bottom, she struggled with directionality of them (left to right, top to bottom). When I asked her to color in the letters in the verse, she was all too happy to use rainbow colors again. I moved my attentions back to Jefferson's lesson but soon realized that, after the first line, she was starting her rainbow pattern on the right and moving left. After explaining to her (for the umpteenth time) that we always work from the left to the right, I left her go again. I soon noticed that she was coloring in each letter from the bottom up and corrected that as well.

Now this may not be a big deal to most kids, but it was a prime example of her 'mixed dominant' neurocognative processing that the psychologist informed us about. She may have a tendency to reverse sequences, letters, numbers, or patterns as well as having difficulty following directions so these are things I need to catch and help redirect early. I am so grateful for being lead to see this as just the way that her brain works rather than a disciplinary issue (which, believe me, I would have thought it to be prior to her evaluation due to her strong will). I just think that if she were in school, this 'little' difference would not have been noticed and may have ended up slowing her down in her education. I am thankfully praying that God will help me to be able to teach to her needs and personality so that kindergarten next year won't be a struggle for her.

So far she likes that things that we do for 'school' and she has not fought me on any of it (as I half expected her to do this year). I am learning to read her body language and help her to use words so that we don't end up frustrated and unable to learn. I truly thank God alone for this, as these lessons (for me) are growing me immensely as a teacher as well as mother!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Reagan (@ 2 weeks old):
Bored with us already!
For more Wordless Wednesday check out 5 Minutes for Mom!

Monday, April 14, 2008

...the mouths of babes!

Here's what the kiddos had to say this week:
Jefferson is always interested in anything military these days. When watching "The Water Horse", a movie set during WWII, he sees an Allie plane fly past.

J: "What kind of plane is that?"
Me: "It's from the war back in 1942."
J: "What team is it on?"

(You mean ... the good guys who won the war?")

When we were trying to get some probiotic powder down his throat:

J: "I'm never, ever, ever going to have it with honey again! You know what it makes it taste like - the after taste?"
Me: "No, what?"
J:"Like a tire or something!"

(I thought some one once said, "A spoonful of sugar.....?")

Reagan (5): "Daddy, there's too many green beans....I want you to cut them!"
Jefferson (6.5): "But Rae! If you cut them, there will be more!"

(Ah, yes...looking out for the benefit of his sister. We wouldn't want too many green beans, now!)

For more laughs, check out Tiny Talk Tuesday at Not Before 7:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Confessions of a Rookie HS Mom

I've had a little (and by little, I mean not nearly enough because family just fills in any extra with chaos) time to ponder on where I've come so far on this homeschooling journey. Although I taught Jefferson kindergarten last year (phonics and math), I feel like this 1st grade year has been my baptism of fire! It has been a whirlwind... a struggle... a blessing altogether. I have been in tears as well as overjoyed. Jefferson has grown and grown even though he insists on telling others that he doesn't like "school." And we've made great discoveries and strides with Reagan as she prepares for Kindergarten.

Here's how our journey has looked so far:
  • Jefferson takes 2-day pre-k while I ponder what in heaven's name I'm supposed to teach him for Kindergarten (knowing that I'm called to homeschool but not a clue otherwise). God provided a new friend at church with same aged boys who was using Christ Centered Curriculum for Phonics and Math.
  • We went with CCC knowing that I wanted his education to come from a biblical perspective first and foremost. But truthfully at this point, I just wanted to do something that someone else whom I respected was doing so that I could ask for help when I failed (as I was so afraid of doing)! We only spent 1 to 1.5 hours on this "school" 3 times per week - an even then I began thinking, "How on earth am I going to make this fit in with our life?" (notice how that question is backwards of how it should be if I'd had my perspective right), especially since our 3rd was still young and we were already working on the 4th.
  • We took about 2 months off for summer since I was still not sure (another word for this would be "clueless"!) where to head and was not yet ready to really focus and be intentional with teaching Jefferson. What, after all, does a 1st grader learn? Because of my lack of focus, he wasn't yet reading and I was worried about starting 1st grade without having taught him to read yet!
  • But God is good to give guidance! About a month before we plan to start 1st grade, a friend loaned me "The Well Trained Mind" by Susan Wise Bauer & Jesse Bauer. This book got me excited to teach and it fit exactly what I had been toying with in my head (a classical formula -although I didn't yet know this is what it was called). This book gave me structure, direction, enthusiasm, goals, and hope! I recommend it to anyone who wants to look into a structured, classical methodology for their kiddos!
  • Also, about this time prior to beginning 1st grade, I found a great website where I could find more information, resources, and encouragement through the personal experiences of another HS mom, Jessica. I didn't even know what a blog was last July - LOL! But Trivium Academy has been a great introduction into the bloggy world - through her blog I have been encouraged to focus my efforts in planning (teacher's manual, goals, schedules, etc.), have found umpteen resources that fits our 'classical' needs and can drool over her organizational ideas (organizing gets the serotonin flowin' for me! A sickness - I know!). Since then I have been greatly encouraged and helped by other HS moms online (my favorites are all listed on the right sidebar - you girls are the best!).
  • I soon learned that this home education journey would be filled with many evening hours of planning and researching. Although I felt that we were being well directed by the Lord, I was soon overwhelmed with the amount of preparation I needed to do even before we started the year (since I wasn't just going to buy a packaged curriculum as I had assumed previously). I needed to learn about the classical education style, plan out Jefferson's 1st -4th grade years, and order/plan all the books we'd need!
  • I felt almost "caught up" and in a nice groove, when we had Lincoln in late October. I used this 4 week break (which I dreaded - afraid that Jefferson would forget everything) to plan our animal science lessons, get him reading books on his own (finally!), and get more organized.
  • Getting back to lessons after this break had me thinking "public school" on occasion as I struggled against exhaustion, chaos, and hormones to get back into some kind of structure again. But here is where we learned about flexibility in homeschooling and learned to use our schedule as a guideline. Lessons were done on the couch, floor or where ever I could be with the baby (and screeching Adam).
  • Taking a spring break has allowed me/us to re-group and start fresh. Boy, do we need to plan a few more breaks next year (when we don't have to take 4 weeks for a new baby)! Although I didn't get all of the planning for 2nd grade done that I wanted to, I feel much more ready to get it done (what with a freshly rested brain and body and all!).

And here's some of what we've learned so far:
  • It's okay to be clueless, if we've been lead by God to be homeschooling - He will guide us!
  • Kids learn tons and tons of things just by osmosis! Obviously this can be a good thing as well as a bad thing.
  • Reading will happen when the child is ready and interested -until then just keep working on the foundational phonics.
  • Read, read, read, read to the kids (this never was a natural thing for me since I fall asleep easily in these "prego/baby/nursing" days I'm still in).
  • The web can be the most amazing resource for homeschooling! But the experience/encouragement/help/friendship of other bloggy moms is trully the best part of the web. I am so thankful for your ladies who've let me know your struggles and your $0.02 as I hash things through in our school.
  • Our school will be molded to fit us and cannot be a copy of anyone else's exact program. I can take bits and pieces of good things from others but the meat of our school must be based on the specific needs and abilities of our children. This has been a hard lesson for me as I moved from planning on using a packaged program to researching and planning my own system for Jefferson and Reagan. It would be so much easier just to use something from a package or to copy what has worked for someone else....but 'ease' is not the name of this game! ;-)
  • There are only a few things that can be done 'incorrectly' in homeschooling: pressuring the kids instead of teaching with grace (been there, done that, still struggle with that when I'm grumpy or impatient), not being intentional (again - thanks Jennefer for that word this year!) in getting through the days, and comparing the kids to others' kids (whether PS or HS) in their progress instead of keeping the focus on their learning/needs/style (now who doesn't do this at least a bit!?).
  • Homeschooling is way harder than I thought that it would be! I knew it wouldn't be a cakewalk but could never have known the amount of time and stress it takes.
  • Homeschooling is even more of a blessing than I could have imagined! I love teaching my own kids and seeing them understand something or enjoy figuring something out. Everyday I get to see them grow in new ways! It is just amazing and so worth the time and stress!
  • If this is just part of what we've learned in just one year, then this is going to be life-changing!!

So here I am, almost finished with my first structured year as a homeschool mom! I am getting a bit anxious (normal for my personality type) about next year's specific goals and plans but at the same time, am excited for the things we will all learn. The baby will be older, Adam will hopefully settle out a little, Reagan will be in kindergarten and we will be one step further on our educational walk! I also hope to be able to put together a blurb book from this blog to add to our shelves as a scrapbook of the beginnings of this journey (thanks to Mary for the blurb book idea!) - I don't want to forget these struggles, accomplishments, and lessons!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Ok - this one can't quite be wordless since it has a story also. Dh and I were youth leaders at church (8 years ago) and they had an 80's night. I teased the daylights out of my hair (it took days to get the hairspray out), visited the Goodwill for some older clothes and even 'pegged' those pants. All fine and dandy if no one sees me looking like this (except the youth group), right? Well I picked this night to rear-end someone's truck! Seriously - I had to get out of the car and exchange info with the guy looking like a freak from 1982! It was totally NOT radical, man! LOL!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Week 25

I can barely get a weekly report in recently! I feel like I can barely get school lessons in either! This week especially felt like a 'checklist' week - not full of learning milestones or accomplishments. Something tells me that I am headed down the road to homeschool burnout - just feel like I've been pushing and pushing with no end in sight. I do have goals, it's just that I forget them sometimes when my energy is low and I just want a break. So if I feel this way, I wonder how Jefferson feels!

And next year's plans and curriculum ideas are swimming around in my head daily, clogging my focus on each day. I am starting to feel anxiety about this creep slowly up with each day of non-planning that goes by!

I attribute this poor attitude on my part to a couple of things: first, I still have not gotten my resolutions well established in our days (especially the consistent quiet time -yikes!), and second, we just need a break! Some time where the days are ordered differently and where I can actually think about next year's goal's without having to divide my mind among another million things. So next week, when dh is away on business, I will pray for energy, warm weather, and a clear head so that I can get some planning/organizing/ordering done and the kids and I can get out of this house a bit more than usual! I didn't plan it for this week but here it comes - SPRING BREAK!

So this past week:
  • Science -> Bears, bears, bears. Not my favorite animal but there's something attractive to a 6yo boy about a beast of this size. He's had a phobia last year about black bears showing up at his grandparent's log home in the woods so maybe this is where the interest comes from? This is our last week of animals. Next week-human body! It'll be nice to have a change of pace.

  • History -> More Ancient Greece -Sparta & Athens. It seems a bit repetitive since we looked at this in August but it's just so interesting. Also nice to see that Jefferson actually remembers a lot of what we learned then, just by reading Jason and the Argonauts once! Jefferson loved making paper dolls and fighting them against each other. We'll see how many nanoseconds it takes to lose the tiny little sword and spear!

  • Reading -> We finished "Nate Saint: On A Wing and A Prayer" and I think that it stirred quite an interest in Jefferson about flying and missionary work. I love books that teach about godly people! Still working on White Fang and daily Bible verses or chapters. I think he enjoys it but it's still part of "school" to him. I bought some wonderful chapter storybooks from Rod & Staff which illustrate wonderful scriptural lessons. He can read some and some we can do together - they are great! I really want his (their) education to be encompassed by biblical principles.

  • Phonics -> Only got two lessons in this week but they were kind of longer than usual and I get the feeling that he really learned the topic. We worked on rules for breaking down a long word into syllables and accents and vowel sounds.

  • Spelling -> We keep chugging right along here - lesson sare short and sweet. I'm trying to keep any stress from building here by correcting him right away rather than making him sweat it out for too long. I don't want him to stumble on a word because he got it wrong or stressed about it the first time. I also don't want it to 'stick' in his head incorrectly because of this. We just repeat it a few times over time if he can't get a word right (our spelling notebook marks his trouble words). Is this the way to do this? Not sure - suggestions are welcome...

  • Grammar -> Only two lessons this week also. I just didn't want to do this this week - don't know why. He copied a few sentences and labeled them N, P, or V.

Reagan just got jipped this past week. We read books but didn't have any sit down time for penmanship, math, phonics or even her Earobics software which she should be doing every week. I was just too tired to juggle it all. For the next week, I'll need to be sure to plan out what we'll be doing together more intentionally. She did enjoy practicing her new 'horse' drawing on the whiteboard.

However, we've made one small improvement with the screeching, tantrum-throwing 2 year old, Adam, which has helped with school. We've switched from using a rod as our span*king tool to using a flexible rubber spatula (we've don't use our hands). We have consistently flicked his jaw when he screeches or screams, in order to require him to use the few words or signs that he knows and to use a quieter tone. The spatula comes into play when he hits us (his way of showing his anger - he comes at us like an ape swingin' for bananas!) as we can use it on his hands w/o hurting any knuckles. With consistency, we have been able to read his body language (since he doesn't yet speak) and tell when his heart turns from rebellion to repentance and can then show him love and forgiveness. He is still a very loud kiddo, but the tantrums are becoming fewer and he is becoming happier. (Sigh of relief....)

So I'm off to break for spring!! I hope I can get something done and spend time doing fun things with the kids. We're ready for some bike riding, weeding, playgrounds, math cardgames and lots more!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Ode to DH

Okay, so it's not really an 'ode' as I stink at poetry (I'll have to learn it with the kids). But I just really need sing the praises of my dear computer geek hubby!

Now, I've always loved my dh but recently our lives have become just one child more chaotic with the birth of Lincoln (our 4th) last October. Along with homeschooling Jefferson (6), adjusting to Lincoln, and getting Reagan (5) evaluated for her behavioral problems, we have totally revamped our family diet due to food allergies, we live at the doctor's office with Adam's (2) weak immune system, and we are trying to not to lose all contact with humanity in the process!

So when I am beyond tired, stressed out, or just plain overwhelmed (which is more often than not these days), my DH steps in silently and does the dishes for me or works on some laundry or cleans up the kitchen. This, after bathing and putting the 3 older kids to bed. Sometimes he gets their dinner and almost every night he stays up to feed the baby a bottle at 11:30 so that I can get more sleep. He comes in the door from work and immediately occupies the kids so that I can think straight enough to finish dinner or takes them for a walk so that I can hear myself think. He volunteers to take a couple of them with him every time he runs an errand and often makes runs to the grocery for me in the evening when I am too tired or have forgotten something. And girls, can I tell you the amount of diapers by man changes? Voluntarily - just to show me he loves me.

There is no man like my geeky man! He is extremely intelligent and does great work for his boss (who is also his older brother). His standard of excellence in his work is seen by all who work with him. I think that he might be able to do anything on a computer! I am so very proud of him!

He is the world's best daddy! The joy in the faces of the kids when he comes home for lunch and dinner is just priceless to see. There is nothing more valuable to them than time with (or on top of, as is often the case when he is their jungle gym) Daddy. Adam asks for him in sign language over and over, all day while Jefferson has to know where he is and when he is coming home. Reagan loves to make up silly pretend stories with him. And one of my favorite things to see (in the whole world!) is my strong, handsome hubby cuddling our dear little baby boy and cooing at him!
What a blessing I have been given in this man! He loves the Lord and obeys Him by loving me. I try never to forget to be thankful daily for all that he means to me and for how much he loves me and our 4 babies and hope that Jesus can make me into the helpmeet that dh deserves! He is so precious to me...and I just needed to share it with the bloggy world! Thanks for listening!
(Oh - and I forgot to mention the dimples when I posted! I mean, have you ever seen such huge, adorable dimples! You just can't help but smile when you see them!)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

...the mouths of babes!

Here's what we overheard at our house this past week:

Jefferson (6.5): "This goes as high as space!!"
(Now that's pretty high! I just love their imaginations!)

Reagan (5) at the dinner table while shaking her head back & forth: "I can feel my brain shakin' in my head Mommy!"
(Oh, goodness - I hope it's not loose! LOL!)

Jefferson (pretending to be a race car in a race and running around the house): "I'm goin' in for a pitstop!"
(Then he ran stright into the bathroom!)

For more Tiny Talkers head over to Mary at Not Before 7!