Friday, September 30, 2011

Baby for One More Day…

last day of babyhood

I have so much to do today, and I can’t get myself moving. Instead I’m on the computer playing with pictures. But can you blame me?! She turns ONE tomorrow, and I’m sure that just isn’t right.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Quick Hello

PSA

I miss being here on my blog, but real life is where it’s at right now. {grin}

We are working so hard at getting our routine down. It’s been a little tough with everyone sick this past week (the downside of being in a weekly class), but we’ve kept shockingly close (for us) to the basic schedule I have outlined. It’s the same old story. Not enough hours in a day. And NEVER enough hours in a night.

Boys Studying

We are getting up early (for us) and starting our day with a bang. Shower and breakfast prep for me, math for Levi, and dishwasher and piano for Luke. We eat breakfast, finish up our chores, grab water bottles, put on our boots, and head down.

Someone asked how far the studio is from our house, and whether we get snow in the winter. It is about 80 feet from door to door. No, we don’t get snow (or much cold weather)—just  a lot of rain. We’ll just slip on hooded jackets and rubber boots on the front porch. They’ll slip off at the studio entry. Not a big deal.

The morning starts with Bible (I’m loving Telling God’s Story), including independent reading, Bible memory songs, and hymns. Then spelling, geography, memory work (CC and poetry while jumping on the mini trampoline), Latin (on DVD, usually while I’m putting Lola down for a nap), literature read-aloud (snack and bathroom break), and grammar/language arts. We wrap up the morning with a poem by our monthly poet, then head up to the house for lunch.

Grammar is still my favorite subject. And I adore Michael Clay Thompson. We are adding in some sentence diagramming, and I think it is going to be a hit with all of us!

grammar

The afternoon lessons consist of math for Luke, writing (loving IEW’s Fables, Myths, and Fairy Tales Theme-Based Writing Lessons for Levi), and science or history. We sneak in presentation prep (public speaking for CC), literature reading, and other fun stuff in the cracks.

Boys Studying (2)

Late afternoons are filled with swim practice, piano lessons, and library trips. I am overwhelmingly thankful that Russ has taken on the swim practice responsibility, and even takes Luke to piano practice every once in a while.

I have never been good about getting everyone to bed at a decent hour, but that is a huge thing that we’ve been working on recently. And succeeding!! If only I could be so successful at making a decent dinner every night. Well, I can’t work on everything at once, right?

This is our basic routine for Tuesdays-Fridays. I have a feeling that at least one day each week will get interrupted with appointments or activities, so we’ll just listen to CDs in the car, do assigned reading, and fit in other lessons as we can. Mondays are reserved for our Classical Conversations classes in the morning. With lunch and social time we often don’t get home until 1:30 or later, and then we all need some down time. Quiet reading time for the boys and lesson prep time for me might be all we can fit in before swim practice.

So, that’s a basic week for us. I decided not to do weekly reports like I was doing earlier in the year. I’ll probably keep track of highlights, reading lists, basic updates, and links and post them monthly.

How is the new school year going for all of you?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Book Detectives

(Oh, look. Two big posts, two days in a row!!)

I had a request to share notes from our book club meeting(s). I don’t know if anyone else is interested or if this is helpful, but here they are.

My sister and I started a monthly parent-child book club called Book Detectives. We invited a few families (enough so it felt like a group, but not so many as to not fit in our space or make discussion cumbersome) to participate. Dads are encouraged to attend, but we only had moms at our first meeting. The kids are ages 5-10. Younger siblings are encouraged to stay home so that we can be focused and they aren’t miserable being still and quiet! (We have about 10 moms and 12 kids plus a couple older sisters and one aunt to help out. We REALLY wish we could have invited several more families!!)

(Disclaimer: My sister, Holly, and I are learning right along with the kids. We don’t have all the answers, much less all the right answers. I can only tell you what questions we asked and what we came up with together.)

I purchased magnifying glasses at the dollar store for each of the kids. The two older sisters dressed up like detectives and handed them out to the kids as they arrived for our first meeting. We also served cookies and little cups of water. The kids sat right in front and the mothers in back, but I think we’ll have the kids sit with their parents and get the moms involved a little more in the discussion next month.

I used the ideas from Chapter 2 of Deconstructing Penguins: Parents, Kids, and the Bond of Reading , Everyone Loves a Mystery: Learning to Be a Book Detective, to open our meeting. I asked the kids if they knew what a genre is, told them it came from French and means a style or type. We listed types of books. I told them that we think there is only one kind of genre in fiction and had them guess what that was. We discussed how every fiction book is a mystery because we don’t know what is going to happen until we finish the book. But what happens in the story is the mystery on the surface, and that we had to solve the hidden mystery—what the author is really trying to tell us—by using the clues of character, setting, plot, and resolution.

We talked about how we needed to be detectives and analyze the suspects’ (characters’) behavior for clues, come up with potential solutions, rule out false leads, and then solve the mystery. I explained that we had to be very careful to stick to hard evidence—it’s against the rules to make stuff up! Our theories had to be supported by the text.

I told the kids that their most important detective tools were listening ears. If they didn’t listen, they wouldn’t be able to solve the mystery! Then I read aloud Anatole by Eve Titus. (We are using picture books read at the book club meetings for several months to get the hang of things before moving on to simple chapter books to be read at home before coming to book club.) When I finished reading the book (the kids listened well and stayed focused), I told them it was time for the detectives to discuss the evidence!
Book Club Notes (1)
My sister led the book discussion while I wrote our notes on a white board and searched the text when we had questions or to verify evidence. I drew a blank story chart from Teaching the Classics. Holly used the Socratic questions from Teaching the Classics as well as the Story Sequence Chart from Primary Arts of Language Writing (IEW) as a jumping-off place. We introduced the kids to the elements of the story chart one at a time and filled the circles with notes as we went along.
Book Club Notes (2)
We started with Exposition. Who is in the story? What is he like? What does he say/do? When does it happen? Where does he live? Where does he go? (I wrote on a white board, but I am re-writing and saving all our finished charts in a huge white tablet so that we have them to review and refer to. Please excuse the messy ink blob.)
Book Club Notes (3)
Then we talked about Rising Conflict. What is the problem or surprise? What do they need or want?
Book Club Notes (4)
Next up was Climax. At what point do we first know the problem will be resolved? How is the problem solved?
Book Club Notes (5)
Then Denouement. We had fun with that word. It was a French sort of evening with genre, a mouse village in Paris, and denouement. (It sounds a little like day-new-mah (with a nasally sort of mah).) What happens after the problem is solved? What loose ends are tied up?
Book Club Notes (6)
Then Conclusion. What is the result? What is learned?
Book Club Notes (7)
We finished up with Theme. This is the hidden mystery, what the author is really trying to say. What is the universal idea that we can take away from this story?
Book Club Notes (8)
At future meetings we will explore protagonist and antagonist, conflict (man v. man, man v. fate, man v. society, man v. self, etc.), context and authorship, and literary structure and style. But we’re taking this s.l.o.w.l.y. and trying to keep the kids engaged!

Our meeting took about an hour, which was our estimated ballpark. Holly and I talked about thinking of something to give the kids a break or change of pace somewhere in the middle of the meeting, but we haven’t come up with specific ideas, yet. And that’s about it!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Mt. Hope Academy @ The Live and Learn Studio ~ Week 1

I’m packing at least a week’s worth of STUFF into one post. Which is good because I haven’t posted in a week. Oh, and I probably won’t post again for another week. So feel free to digest this one in small chunks…

We’ll start with the most exciting STUFF, shall we? I know you have all been on pins and needles—or maybe I was the only one with sharp things relentlessly annoying me—but I am FINALLY ready for the big reveal. There are still many finishing touches to do, but you’ll get the idea. I know I’m going to get questions, so I’ll try to add as much commentary as possible for those of you who are interested. Feel free to ask questions in the comments if I’ve missed anything.

Drumroll, please!!!!!!

Welcome to the Live and Learn Studio @ Mt. Hope!!!!

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”

~Albert Einstein

(Is that not perfect?!!! Unless, of course, Einstein didn’t actually say that.)

Live and Learn Studio @ Mt. Hope

No, wait. Let's start at the beginning, shall we? As many of my regular readers know, we live in a small house. At its very, very, very best (once a year, or so) it looks something like this. When Lola was born we turned the small upstairs playroom into the princess tower. We do have a school room, as well. It used to look something like this. It hasn’t looked like that for a very, very long time. In short, we needed more space. More space for living. More space for learning.

What most of you don’t know is that we have a detached shop in front of our house. The reason you don’t know this is because it is big and ugly. And I don’t like ugly things in my pictures. Let’s call it creative license. Inside this shop was a ‘finished’ office space. I don’t want to describe what it looked like a few months ago. Let’s just call it ‘the abyss.’ I posted an ‘in progress’ picture of this space a short while ago. That was after a lot of progress. Everything that had no home in the house (which was a ginormous amount of stuff) lived haphazardly in this ‘office space.’

So, a few months ago I mentioned to Russ that my new book club didn’t have a place to meet. He casually suggested we clean out ‘the abyss’ and use that as a meeting space. He had no idea what force he was setting in motion. In about 2 minutes I was down there with a measuring tape. In two hours I had a scale drawing of what I wanted. In two days I had pictures, links, and magazine clippings for inspiration. Then I discovered Pinterest. Poor guy, he didn’t stand a chance.

Then we worked and worked and worked. Well, Russ did the lion’s share. We are FINALLY finished enough to share pictures and use the space. I am so. stinkin’. excited.

Back to the tour.

Front Door

Someday we will paint the shop, but at least the front door isn't an awful burgundy-purplish anymore. Vinyl numbers from Etsy.

Studio 4

In the far right corner you can see the front door. We have shoe and coat racks from IKEA. Russ’s office nook is to the left when you come in the door. (You’ll be able to see that a little better in a later picture.) Book shelves are also from IKEA. I have lots of shelf-filling to do. We’ll still be using our school room up at the house for most of our books and just keep the ones we are currently using down in the studio.

Studio 1

The Dr. Pepper cooler (it works!!) was a treasure we found a few years ago. It had been stored in the abyss. Russ is still working on shelving for the electronic equipment. Lola has her own little playpen nook. Highchair is from IKEA.

Studio 2

The orange dresser holds games, puzzles, and math manipulatives. It was an ugly old brown thing left by the previous owners. I spray-painted it and added glass knobs. Fine art prints (above dresser and on bulletin boards) are from Costco.com’s photo center. They have a huge gallery of free artwork. You only pay for the inexpensive printing. Turquoise chairs are from IKEA (I spray-painted them). Scrabble tile pillows are from Etsy. Wooden desk is from my grandma’s home (was stored in the abyss) and will be my work space. 

Chalkboard wall calendar is from Etsy. Oar from my childhood. Letter tray from IKEA. Records were a garage sale find. I bought the printer’s tray ages ago (Ebay) and never got around to doing something with it until now. I created the canvases (paint, fabric, whatnot). My sister Shannon and my mom helped create and arrange the wall display.

Studio 3

The boys each have a desk station along the back wall. (One of the bulletin boards (Amazon.com) came damaged so we’re waiting for a replacement.) Desks, bookshelves, and computer chairs are from IKEA. The white cabinet on the left wall hides the AC unit. Our chest freezer is next to that, and I will be mounting a world map on the wall space above the freezer.

Studio 5

I mounted tension rods on the back of the bookshelves. The top one is held by hooks so that it can be easily removed and holds posters mounted with clip rings. The bottom rod holds clipboards for handwriting pages, etc.

Studio 6

A view from the other angle. Obviously we have more bookshelf organizing to do.

Studio 7

The table behind the couch is an awesome work space!! I am so glad to finally be using it again. It was the first nice piece of furniture Russ and I ever purchased, and it was in the corner of our school room covered with STUFF. The table leaf is painted with chalkboard paint, which didn’t work as well as I had hoped. C’est la vie. Black chairs from Target.com. Fabulous floor lamps from Target, also.

Studio 8

The door in this picture is also painted with chalkboard paint, though I haven’t tested it yet. Clock. Wall-mounted pencil sharpener. Russ’s office nook, which he is still in the process of completing. Printer station is easily accessible. Inexpensive stacking black stools (we have 8 ) from IKEA. Rug borrowed from my mom. Couch was originally in our house, then stored in the abyss. Orange throw from IKEA. Pillows handmade. (Okay, who am I kidding. I just draped the fabric over the pillow forms. Add ‘finish pillows’ to the to-do list.)

What am I forgetting? Light fixtures and fan are new. Everything was repainted. Wall color is an old Martha Stewart paint chip called Celery. Floor is new. (And what a nightmare that was.) The room is about 450 square feet. Yes, we have tons of stuff to sort through that didn’t make it back into this room. I’m dreading that process.

Yes, we’ll be spending a lot of time in here. I’ll share how that works and what our days look like in another post. No, there is no running water. Drat. I would have LOVED to add a bathroom to this set-up. I HATE having only one bathroom.

I can’t think of anything else. What did I miss?

On to other things…..

This week’s highlights:

1. Finishing up the Live and Learn Studio certainly tops the list. It isn’t quite finished, but now we just have the fun settling in to do.

2. Why did we finish the studio this past week? A deadline, of course. I hosted our first meeting of the Book Detectives. My sister and I are leading a monthly parent-child book club (with our grammar stage students) focusing on literary analysis via Socratic dialogue a la Deconstructing Penguins and Teaching the Classics. (That’s a mouthful.) This is out of my comfort zone (the leading part) and expertise (we’re all learning together), but I have to say it went even better than expected. I am THRILLED and excited to see how it develops. We’re in the guinea pig stage, and I wish we had room for 10 more families!!!

3. I hired someone to clean my house. Now, at first glance, this might not seem to have anything to do with ‘school,’ but I assure you, it does. I won’t deny that the teacher-student ratio of homeschooling is a huge benefit to doing this thing. BUT (and that is a big ‘but,’ ha!) there is a downside. The downside is that the teacher does EVERYTHING. I plan scope and sequence. I create benchmarks. I choose and order curricula. I do lesson planning and prep (without a prep period). I teach all subjects for K, 2nd, and 4th—this year. Every year the children’s ages change. As do the subjects. I am in charge of nurturing these precious, creative little souls as they become mature, intelligent, well-rounded, pleasant, humane humans. I also am the nursery worker with a still-breast-feeding, non-sleeping, mobile, tenacious baby. I am the bus driver. And the food service worker. And the teacher’s aide. And the school nurse. And the administrative assistant. And the counselor. AND the janitorial staff. Oh, and I’m the parent, too. By golly, I was ready to give up one of those hats. Have I mentioned I hate cleaning house?

4. We had our first week of our second year of Classical Conversations. It, too, went more smoothly than I expected, and I adore each of the boys’ tutors. It is going to be a phenomenal year. Last year (the first for our group) we had 25 families. 21 families returned, and we’ve added 21 more families for a total of 42!!! The Foundations program is FULL with a waiting list, and we have two FULL Challenge programs! I’ve loved seeing all the new faces and look forward to getting to know everyone!

Food for Thought:

What if the secret to success is failure? at the NY Times.

The most critical missing piece, Randolph explained as we sat in his office last fall, is character — those essential traits of mind and habit that were drilled into him at boarding school in England and that also have deep roots in American history. “Whether it’s the pioneer in the Conestoga wagon or someone coming here in the 1920s from southern Italy, there was this idea in America that if you worked hard and you showed real grit, that you could be successful,” he said. “Strangely, we’ve now forgotten that. People who have an easy time of things, who get 800s on their SAT’s, I worry that those people get feedback that everything they’re doing is great. And I think as a result, we are actually setting them up for long-term failure. When that person suddenly has to face up to a difficult moment, then I think they’re screwed, to be honest. I don’t think they’ve grown the capacities to be able to handle that.”

Weekly Report ~ Week 1

Guess what? We didn’t ‘do much’ this week. That’s okay. I wasn’t planning on starting our full schedule until this next week. (Wish us luck. Or pray for perseverance….)

Classical Conversations Week 1: History time line, memory work (history, science, Latin, grammar, math), geography, science experiment, fine arts (drawing), public speaking, and social time.

Faith:
Independent Bible Reading

Math:
Daily TT math lessons

Science:
Bill Nye: Skin (DVD)

P.E.:
Swim practice started up again for Levi this week.

Fine Arts:
Piano practice and lesson for Luke.

History:
Christopher Columbus by Stephen Krensky (Step into Reading Level 3) (Leif, Luke, and Levi, IR-independent read)
Where do you think you’re going, Christopher Columbus? by Jean Fritz (Luke and Levi, IR)
Christopher Columbus: The Great Adventure and How We Know About It by West (Levi, IR)
Pedro’s Journal: A Voyage with Christopher Columbus by Pam Conrad (historical fiction) (Luke and Levi, IR)

Literature:
Robert Louis Stevenson: Teller of Tales by Beverly Gherman (biography) (Levi, independently)

Book Detectives (parent-child literary analysis book club)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mt. Hope Academy 2011, Summer Edition ~ Week 23+

My weekly reports dropped off sharply at the end of spring. Not much of a surprise there! I kept track of a few of the things we did over the summer (mainly reading lists) and am posting those today, mostly for my own benefit/records. Weekly reports should resume next week with pictures of our new studio!! I think you’re gonna love it just as much as we do! {ridiculous grin}

I also have a few great links to share with more thoughts on education, so we’ll start with those.

:::It’s as much about your education as it is about theirs. by Jamie Martin @ Simple Homeschool:

‘Charlotte Mason, an educational pioneer from 19th century England, summed it up well when she said this:

Self-education is the only possible education; the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child’s nature.”

When we’re able to let go of this false notion and heavy responsibility, we’ll discover a new freedom. We’ll also discover what our job actually is: to create an inspiring atmosphere and to educate ourselves. This is where it gets really fun–because this is where we get to develop and nurture our own passions.’

 

:::Saint Paul and Christian Classical Education by Tucker Teague @ Satellite Saint. Very good stuff, here.

”But a true dialogue can seem to be unfocused and wandering, which is also antithetical to teaching in the modern sense. Our modern education system is partially based on a sense of urgency–we cannot afford to waste time with thinking when we have so much knowledge to get into those little brains. It is a system that must swap dialogue with lecture. But this modern system denies the existence of the human soul. Is that what we want?”



:::Technology in Schools Faces Questions on Value
@ NY Times

 

:::Why Are Finland’s Schools Successful @ SmithsonianMag.com:

“If you only measure the statistics, you miss the human aspect.”

And then:

“We prepare children to learn how to learn, not how to take a test...”

 

:::A very long and phenomenal article on Socratic dialogue @ Classical Academic Press, An Invitation to Socratic Dialogue and Learning: Becoming an Artisan of Thought.

 

:::For a little bit of life inspiration, we have For the Days That Aren’t So Spectacular by Hannah @ A Quiet Spot:

‘And I remembered ... we are all toddling through this remodeling journey together. We are all that messy room. The clutter of perfectionism, of disappointment, of unreasonable expectations, of misplaced hopes ... it all has to go. Sometimes, the room looks worse before it gets better, right?’

:::And for a little bit of funny (especially for moms of boys), we have The Kids Are Alright @ The Weekly Standard:

‘The boys become more invested, however, as the tasks grow increasingly physical, and even mildly dangerous. For Jousting, we balance ourselves on a board, then try knocking each other off with baseball bats. “Ow!” exclaims Dean. “You hit me in the crackers!” My mistake—next time, we should use pool noodles, as per the instructions. We ride a mattress down the stairs, nearly crashing through the wall at the bottom. “This is fun,” says Luke. “We haven’t done this in a while.” “We’ve never done this,” I say, confused. “Me and Dean have,” he confesses.’

 

Whew! Did you get a chance to read all those? You can skip our summer report, as it is not nearly as interesting as those fabulous articles. But, for the curious, here it is:

Faith:
Bible Reading

Math:
Daily math (Teaching Textbooks or Singapore workbooks)
Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature by Sarah C. Campbell

Science:
Various DVDs and books 
Day Camps:
Going Buggy (bug habitats)
Regurgitation Vacation (dissecting owl pellets and a frog!)

P.E.:
Swim practice
Family swim night
Outdoor play

Fine Arts:
Piano practice/lessons (Luke)
The Mona Lisa Caper by Rick Jacobson
The Artists’ Specials: Degas and the Dancer (DVD)
Degas and the Little Dancer by Laurence Anholt
The Artists’ Specials: Monet, Shadow & Light (DVD)
The Magical Garden of Claude Monet by Laurence Anholt
The Story of the Orchestra: Tchaikovsky
Classical Kids: Tchaikovsky Discovers America (CD)
Degas and Tchaikovsky on YouTube
I Dreamed I Was a Ballerina: A Girlhood Story by Anna Pavlova illustrated with art by Edgar Degas
Swan Lake retold and illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger

Owls and Pussy-cats: Nonsense Verse by Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll
Poetry for Young People: Edward Lear

Language Arts:
Handwriting Without Tears workbooks/copywork

Latin:
Song School Latin review (Headventureland.com)
Prima Latina DVD lessons 1, 2, 3

Literature:
The Trouble Begins At 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West by Sid Fleischman (biography, Levi)
Who Was Mark Twain? by April Jones Prince
A Brilliant Streak: The Making of Mark Twain by Kathryn Lasky
River Boy: The Story of Mark Twain by William Anderson
The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy) by Barbara Kerley
Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (unabridged) (read aloud)
Classic Starts: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer retold from the Mark Twain original (Levi and Luke, independently)
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (unabridged) (Levi, independently)

Levi’s Reading:
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
The Roman Mysteries Series by Caroline Lawrence (2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,15,16,17):
(The Secrets of Vesuvius, The Pirates of Pompeii, The Assassins of Rome, The Dolphins of Laurentum,
The Twelve Tasks of Flavia Gemina, The Enemies of Jupiter, The Gladiators From Capua, The Colossus of Rhodes,
The Fugitive From Corinth, The Sirens of Surrentum, The Charioteer of Delphi,  The Slave-girl from Jerusalem,
The Scribes from Alexandria, The Prophet from Ephesus, The Man from Pomegranate Street)
The Roman Mysteries Mini Mysteries: The Legionary from Londinium (and other stories) by Caroline Lawrence
(My America) Freedom’s Wings: Corey’s Diary, Kentucky to Ohio, 1857
(My America) Flying Free: Corey’s Underground Railroad Diary
(My America) A Perfect Place: Joshua’s Oregon Trail Diary
Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean
The Borrowers by Mary Norton
The Borrowers Afield
The Borrowers Afloat
The Borrowers Aloft
Escape From Warsaw (The Silver Sword) by Ian Serraillier
Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan
The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall
Escape by Night: A Civil War Adventure by Laurie Myers
George Washington’s Socks by Elvira Woodruff
George Washington’s Spy by Elvira Woodruff
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Brisingr by Christopher Paolini
Inkspell by Cornelia Funke
Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke
Nick of Time by Ted Bell
Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
All sorts of other books…

Luke’s Reading:
The Most Beautiful Place in the World by Ann Cameron
Riding the Pony Express by Clyde Robert Bulla
Lots and lots of Dragon Slayers’ Academy books (15? 20?)
Finished the Magic Tree House Books?
The Boxcar Children (a couple/few books in the series)
The Adventures of Sir Gawain the True by Gerald Morris
The Toothpaste Millionaire by Jean Merrill
Things Will Never Be the Same, For the Duration, and I’m Still Scared by Tomie DePaola
Dominic by William Steig
All sorts of other books…

Leif’s Reading:
Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne
Night of the Ninjas
Pirates Past Noon
All sorts of other books…

Miscellaneous:
Paddle to the Sea (DVD based on the book by Holling C. Holling… what a neat film!)
Just Being Audrey by Margaret Cardillo

A week of morning VBS (Panda Mania)
A week of evening VBS (Gold Rush)
3 Days of morning VBS (Son Surf)
A week of evening VBS (Egypt Files)

BOYS’ CAMP with Dad!!
Evening concert in the park
A weekend at the coast
Softball with family
An airplane ride for Luke
Cool Pool (outdoor splash pool)

A two-day teaching conference—in-service for ME!!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Scooting and Sneak Peek

or In Which a Jammied, Bum-Scooting Lola Gives a Sneak Peek of our Project Still ‘In Progress’
(or Readers Beware, Heidi Has Figured Out How To Do Video)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sweetness in Overalls

R6 I'm finally posting a glimpse of the family photo session I did a couple weeks ago. Is this boy not the sweetest thing you've ever seen?! What a doll. It was hard to pick and choose, so here are a bunch! R2 R8 R1 R7 R5 R4 R9 R3 R10

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tenacious

That should have been my one little word for 2011.

Tenacious isn’t in my nature, but I am determined to hang in there. {Everyone sing it with me: I Will Survive.}

A Big Mess

Tenacious does happen to be in my husband’s nature. He is working like a mad-man! Here is a depressing photo of ‘project in process.’ I was asked not to post before pictures. Yeah. This room is going to win transformation awards. I promise. But we’re not there yet.

So my husband has been working around the clock. Remodeling. Picking blackberries. Scraping adhesive off cement. Taking half-night shifts with a non-sleeping baby. Installing light fixtures. Miscellaneous projects around and about. Prying up vinyl tile. Running the tractor on our over-grown property. Painting. Taking boys to piano and swim practice (and swimming and competing, himself!). Trips to Home Depot. And IKEA. Working for his private consulting clients. Oh, and working at a full-time job with a 45 minute commute each way. He is the man. And he deserves a vacation. But there’s more work to be done.

Tenacious. That would also be a certain little girl who is having a rough time sleeping. For those of you who might suggest co-sleeping: Do you sleep 13+ hours, or does your child only sleep 8, or do you leave her unattended on a flat surface (and does she just lie there peacefully, instead of falling off the bed, when she wakes up? Really?)? Yeah, none of those options work for us. Even if I could sleep well with a baby in bed with me…or on top of me as she thinks she should. For those of you who might suggest letting her cry it out: Well, we tried that, too. Did I mention tenacious? I will laugh (slightly maniacally) if you tell me it might take 30 minutes. Or even an hour. Or even two hours. Or even four. Did I mention tenacious? Y’all have no idea. We’ve come to a slight compromise, she and I, and we’re are working on our routine. I’m PRAYING this sleeping thing improves. (P.S. Yes, I was being rhetorically cranky. No suggestions needed.)

Tenacious. That would also be a certain first-born son who will, when he so chooses, NOT do his math. Will you suggest rewards? Consequences? He can sit in front of a 15 minute math worksheet, which he is more than capable of completing, for six hours. Including while at the beach watching his brothers play. And out to dinner, sitting in front of a glass of water, while the family eats. (P.S. Again, being rhetorically cranky. No suggestions needed.)

Hey, and while I’m being real, you might want to imagine a 10 hour trip to IKEA on a holiday weekend with three little boys and a baby. You can imagine one over-loaded cart (and a baby) being ‘manned’ by the 9 year old. And THREE flat-beds ‘manned’ by Russ, me, and the 7 year old. The five year old was in charge of the empty stroller, but that was just. too. much. so it was folded up and added to one of the flat-beds. You can question my sanity or be extraordinarily impressed. I’ll let you choose.

All this to say—we are still not there, wherever there is. Maybe we’ll start school in October. Yeah, that’s it.