Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Callin' in Sick

Why is it that we homeschoolers don't get sick days? I mean, we still have to do all 180 days of schooling in addition to any days we're all laid out flat. No matter, though, since our ongoing home educating also takes place on days 181-365 (or 366 as the case may be). Today, however, is a sick day for us, and while I don't think we have the dreaded flu that's been going around, we do have quite an assortment of ailments represented in our house: Michael has some sort of pink-eye thing going on. It looks a little better today than yesterday but is still red enough to, if we ventured out, send other mommies running from the room clutching their children. Jacob just plain doesn't feel well...he has a fever, has been in my bed since he got out of bed this morning, and won't eat anything.

As for me, well, my heart is beating a little differently lately. Over the last week or so, I've noticed a strange extra beat or pause or something--can't really describe it. I finally went to the doctor yesterday, and he explained that many people's hearts beat irregularly; however, he was a little concerned about why this would start out of the blue. So...they took some blood, and I'm waiting to hear if it is anemia or a thyroid problem. Or maybe it's Sudafed! I always knew my addiction to Sudafed would do me in at some point. Now I'm not supposed to take Sudafed, and I'm going through withdrawal. On the positive side, I was teasing my dear husband this morning and told him that even after almost 13 years of marriage, he still makes my heart skip a beat!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Potty Training

I promise life around here does NOT completely revolve around the Princess. At least not fully 100% of the time. I love each of my children equally. I love different things about each of my unique children, but I love them all equally. And I think each of them is cute, beautiful, handsome, pretty. I do have one admission, however: one of them is just a tad bit more photogenic than the others. And I can say that because not only am I the mom, but I am so NOT photogenic, I'm just a bit jealous. Anyway, the following pictures were taken while, believe it or not, she was on the potty trying to earn her bribe reward (a boppy-pop, what else?!).

Monday, February 18, 2008

So Many Moments, So Little Time

Life is crazy. Just in the last week, so many events have occurred about which I should have blogged, but like I said, life is crazy. Honestly, I'm about written out. I've been occupying my spare time (spare time?!) with writing my curriculum. Surprisingly, I've had current students' moms asking me about it and past students' moms asking me about it, so I figured I ought to get it revised, expanded, and up on a decent website (as opposed to my current one which isn't even worthy of a link). So...that and educating my children has been my life.

As I mentioned, there have been many important occasions in between my teaching and writing: there was a day of jumping, there was a birthday, and there were more basketball games. Of course my blogger head has composed entries on each topic, but it's just too time-consuming to create separate posts for each, so this'll hafta do:

On to the Next Phase

On Valentine's Day, we had a little homeschooling Valentine's Day party at Jungle Jump. We figured that since the public school kids were busy partying in their classrooms, we could party homeschool style...wherever we wanted! What was different about this jumping session from any other is that I spent almost the entire time enjoying conversation with another mom. Imagine: 3 hours of adult conversation! With nary an interruption. I don't think I saw the older three...unless you count the tops of their heads I saw bouncing here and sliding down there. Even Audrey was having too much fun to need me at all. She did occasionally require a boost up on to an inflatable, but she independently enlisted the help of a sibling or friend. It was completely enjoyable. A tender moment, though, as I considered the fact that they just get more independent from here on out. Of course, to be quite honest, since I still get to hug them as tight as I want whenever I want, the tender moment passed more quickly than I am passing on into this new phase of independence from the children (there's still the potty training of one, young princess to go for this phase to be considered officially over!).

Happy Birthday, Michael!

He's 7. Can you believe it? My "little", almost-10-pounder baby is 7! My little boy who cried for the first 4 months of his life is 7! 'Course he's still fairly loud, but the impish grin and sparkly eyes always accompany the volume, so it's all good. Michael had a few birthday parties, which seems to be tradition in this family. He got to celebrate with his friends after the Valentine's Day party. Everyone came to the house to enjoy more playtime as well as a Power Rangers cake. The next day, we as a family celebrated with presents, his favorite part (obviously!). I was quite sneaky and got him to do some reading work on his birthday as we sent him on a scavenger hunt to find one of his gifts. On Saturday, Michael brought cupcakes to share with his basketball teammates after the game. And he got to pick where we ate lunch after the game. Had I known he would pick McDonald's, I would have done some serious restaurant name-dropping prior to our asking him. I'm so McDonald's-out, I can hardly make myself bite into one of their greasy hamburgers, but he's the birthday boy after all, and what better present than a Kids' Meal toy?

Keeping Score (or Not)

I always wondered what it would be like to be the one who is picked last. I'm not bragging, but I just wasn't ever picked last. However, now my little Mommy heart is breaking because watching Michael play basketball feels like watching him get picked last. I think Michael could be good at basketball if he was interested in it and if he focused. Focus, however, is not his strong suit unless it is focus on something he truly is interested in (and, no, school is NOT one of the things in which he is interested either).

Michael's teammates do not pass him the ball because they lack confidence in him to handle it well from there. And their lack of confidence is well-founded; however, it's all kind of a vicious circle: he isn't improving because he never gets the ball, and he never gets the ball because he isn't improving. There's one little boy who really has an attitude about passing the ball to him. The other night at practice during a scrimmage, his mom was yelling, "Pass it to Michael. He's open." The boy made some smart remark I didn't quite hear, and his mom promptly benched him for the remainder of the game! Thankfully, all of this goes completely unnoticed by Michael, so he continues to have fun out on the court--not necessarily fun playing basketball, but fun playing tag with whomever he is supposed to be guarding. Or fun keeping an eye on the scoreboard so he can cover his ears before the buzzer sounds. The little guy is adorable out there!

As for Alex, she has improved so much in basketball! One advantage she has is that she is on a team of 4 girls (as opposed to the 8 on Michael's team), so she has had a lot of hands-on practice just by default. In the beginning, she was the girl to whom her teammates didn't want to pass the ball. Now she is often the top scorer of the game. She is becoming less and less timid and has really figured out the game.

So there are a few moments now captured. And, oh, that I could actually capture some spare moments to return this house to some semblance of order. To obtain more progress to my writing. To add some more to the academic plans for the remainder of this year...and, yes, next year (already!). I would say the night is still young, but to this almost-mid-30-year-old, all-nighters no longer fly. And it has been a full night already...we had dinner down at the airport with some friends who are headed out tomorrow on a trip that will eventually land them out on the mission field. With our lives as missionary kids, we often have old friends cross our paths. It's great to be able to just pick up right where we left off; moments don't seem to have passed with old friends!

Friday, February 15, 2008


It all started Monday morning. Mark left before the kids woke up, and when I went up to greet the Princess (who STILL, after almost a year, refuses to get herself out of her big girl bed in the morning (thus defeating the whole purpose of the big girl bed!)), she asked, "Daddy bye-bye?" This isn't an unusual question; the Princess likes to know exactly what's going on in her kingdom, and of course her daddy is one of her most important subjects. But her next question I have not heard before: "Daddy at Boppy-Pop Store?" "The Lollipop Store?" I began in response. "Well...I don't think his original itinerary--which took him to Maryland this week--includes a lollipop store, but I can run it by him." I did run it by her daddy who immediately agreed to stop by the Lollipop Store (translation: Publix) before his return. Really, how else could he respond to Her Highness?

The next few days were filled with personal telephone conversations between the Princess and her daddy as she wanted to make sure he completely understood the necessity of the visit to the Boppy-Pop Store. And yesterday her daddy returned but not before our homeschool Valentine's Day party at Jungle Jump. After a couple hours of jumping on the huge inflatables, we broke for lunchtime, a time which also included a Valentine craft and a Valentine exchange. Much to the Princess' delight, the valentines accompanied many sweet treats, including boppy-pops (unbeknownst to her, another one of her subjects (me!) had recently purchased a 300-piece bag of Dum Dums). From Jungle Jump, the whole crew of kids and moms headed to our house for Michael's birthday celebration. There was, of course, cake and goody bags with more boppy-pops (how else is a mother to get rid of 300 Dum Dums?).

Perhaps it was all of the excitement of yesterday as well as the multiple boppy-pops the Princess snuck in her mouth. Or maybe she was just so happy to have her daddy back on Valentine's Day. Or maybe a little of both. Whatever, the case, it slipped her mind to inquire of her subject about his trip to the Boppy-Pop Store. This morning, however, the Princess was quick to remind her daddy of his promise. In her little mind, I would suppose she thinks it really took her daddy 4 days to select just the right kind of boppy-pop for someone of such royal blood as herself. And he didn't disappoint: he presented to her the most royal of lollipops: the Tootsie Pop.

And, no, I don't feed my children lollipops for breakfast, but I can't help it that she slept until 9:00. And I can't help it if she hadn't eaten any of her breakfast yet when the thought popped into her mind that she hadn't yet received her lollipop. So, yes, I guess that, although I'd prefer to think she had a lollipop for snack, she in fact had a lollipop for breakfast.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Nothing Sweeter

I was folding laundry and overheard this conversation emanating from another room:

Alex: Who's my favorite baby? (Pause.) Say, "Me", Audrey.

Audrey: Me!

Alex: Who's my favorite baby?

Audrey: Me!

Alex: Awww! Give me a hug, Baby! (Pause.) Aww!

Alex: Would you like me to read a book to you?

A few moments pass as they are engrossed in A Fly Went By.

Alex: This is a long book. Do you want me to read all of it?

Audrey: Uh huh!

The Fly Went By resumes.

More Princess Tales

**In jest, my husband and I often joke that it's a good thing the Princess is so cute as she's not picking up on her letters, etc., quite as quickly as Alex, for example. 'Course when you're 4th in line, not as much one-on-one time is spent with you, so it's completely understandable. Anyway, today I've decided the jesting must stop...I was making lunch with the little one as my audience. She suddenly spied a pile of Presidents' Day lapbook stuff. "Mommy, eez dat Orge Ashington?"

**On nights when I'm an MSM, by 8:00 I'm just done! I was sitting on the couch with Audrey on my lap. "Do you think you could walk upstairs by yourself," I ask. "I'm too tired to carry you!" "Mo," she says, "My birs (bear's) too auvy (heavy)!" Her vocabulary and diction continues to improve daily!

**"Night night, Baby," I said. "I love you! Do you love me?" She nods. "I luf Daddy too. I luf boys and Dada too."

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Benjamin Franklin Lapbooks

Warning: If you don't homeschool, this post will probably bore you. If you homeschool but don't lapbook, this post will probably bore you!

I've been very neglectful lately of my hands-on learner. Chalk it up to busyness. Or laziness. Whatever...I just haven't planned very many extra-fun activities for our academics as of late. So, needless to say, I needed a little spark to avoid the staleness that can strangle a home school about this time of year. I decided to turn back to lapbooking, which I haven't visited since Alex was in Kindergarten. Our first Benjamin Franklin lapbook project was a complete success--especially for my hands-on learner; he was so proud of his project, he slept with it under his pillow! (Hopefully, this did not give him nightmares of his previous Toothfairy Troubles!)

It was admittedly a lot of work for me, especially with 3 participating in the project this time instead of the 1 I had last time I approached lapbooking. I designed this one myself which contributed to the amount of work in cutting out templates and making sure everything fit. From now on, despite the extra cost, we're going to go with pre-fab kits and templates. In fact, Michael was so eager to do another lapbook, we've already started a Presidents' Day book using a kit a purchased from Hands of a Child. Much easier!!

And now, for the particulars of our Benjamin Franklin Lapbook (these details are for my virtual lapbooking friends):

For the cover, we colored a picture from Enchanted Learning (and, no, I don't know why this particular rendition of BF is sporting bright red lipstick!). We stamped the letters, causing mass chaos with my already mismanaged scrapbooking materials.

The middle inserted flap gives a brief bio on BF, details the kids remembered from Eve Merriam's The Story of Ben Franklin. The left flap is a place value math activity. The 100s envelope contains numbers 100-900, the 90s envelope contains numbers 10-90, and of course the 1s envelope contains numbers 1-9. The object is to visually see that 200+30+7 = 237. A photocopy of a 100 dollar bill was the springboard for this. The top right flap contains a narration of static electricity as well as the details of our static electricity experiment. The bottom right flap contains 9 mini books pertaining to BF's jobs, contributions, and inventions.

Underneath the main center flap which contains the biographical info, there are two books. The first gives examples of Ben Franklin's famous sayings along with space to choose a favorite and explain what it means. The other book is a timeline of BF's life.

Finally, on the back of the lapbook is a pocket, camouflaged in with the rest of the book. Discovering this extra hiding place was delightful for the boys. The pocket contains a photocopy of the Declaration of Independence as well as a handwriting page on which each of the kids practiced writing those famous lines of the document: "We hold these truths to be self-evident..." We're working on memorizing these lines, but with words like "self-evident", "endowed", and "unalienable", it may be slow-going!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Miscellaneous Notes

(These newsy notes are especially for my most faithful reader--my mother-in-law...who probably thinks we fell off the face of the earth.)

Academic Notes

We've had a great week of school. My boys are finally progressing in their reading! Last week we had a day of really bad attitudes with them when it came time for reading. I finally realized that the A Beka reading and phonics program is just too tedious for them. So last Thursday we visited my new favorite place. Maybe you've ordered curriculum from Learning Things before. Well, I found the the home of Learning Things, and it's a curriculum lover's paradise: A huge warehouse with shelves and shelves of curriculum to peruse...and a huge play area which the kids loved. My saving grace (saving as in money) was that the warehouse was freezing, so I couldn't endure the hours and hours I wanted to spend looking through everything. Anyway, I chose some Spectrum reading workbooks for the boys, and they LOVE them! They beg to read on in the continuing story, and they are becoming more and more fluent everyday.

In History, we're studying Benjamin Franklin. I've found My Father's World a little disappointing in that it is not nearly as meaty as I would have liked, so I'm supplementing a lot. I'm trying to add a little more excitement into it because the kids really haven't been very enthusiastic about each lesson. For Ben Franklin, I added some Science, plus we're working on a lapbook which I'll post about later. The kids enjoyed the science experiment about static electricity. To execute the very simple experiment, find a dark closet. Rub a balloon on your head and then touch it to the contacts at the end of a fluorescent light bulb...and see what happens.

We took today off because we had a playdate at a friend's house. The kids were mildly annoyed when I told them we would be having school tomorrow! When Mark is gone on the weekend, it throws me off psychologically, so I decided to battle it psychologically by treating tomorrow as a regular weekday. We'll just work on our lapbooks and some other fun projects to make the day pass by faster.

One fun project we've found to supplement our geography is the Great Commission Kidz Club. This club is through the CMA, the mission my in-laws work with. When you sign up, each child receives a passport and stickers to mark their travels in the passport. There are about 30 countries to study as well as online connections with missionaries in those countries. Yesterday we began our study of Israel.

Athletic Notes

I have to honestly admit that basketball is getting a little old...practices two nights a week and two hours of games on Saturday all while trying to corral the other kids at the same time! Michael has decided he doesn't like basketball. Alex is enjoying it. Both are improving on the court, although they both need to learn that you must go after the ball, not wait for it to come to you!

Because I'm a glutton for punishment, I've signed them up for soccer which begins as soon as basketball ends. I know Michael will enjoy this more as he has played before. We won't normally do two sports in a row, but this year I thought I'd do both. Next year they can pick their favorite!

Other Notes

We had a strange night Tuesday night. The high winds were howling outside our house when I went to bed. About 1:30 the electricity went out. As it got colder and colder in our house, I got a little worried about the kids, so I woke them all up, packed them into the car, and headed out to Grandma and Grandpa's house. Didn't get far, however, because I found the culprit for our power outage: a big tree and power lines were blocking our neighborhood entrance. So we headed back home and cuddled together in my room.

On a separate but related note, Jacob overheard Mark and I plotting an experiment to see how late the kids would stay up if we just allowed them free reign over bedtime instead of enforcing the rules. Since then, he has asked nightly if this is the night we're going to let him stay up. I thought perhaps our middle-of-the-night adventure would substitute for our little experiment, but you can't pull one over on Jake; he informed me that since he slept before I woke him up in the middle of the night, it doesn't count!