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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.