Friday, August 28, 2015

Happenings

This month has been a whirlwind, and also a long one.  Mike worked hard all of July and the beginning of Aug on his qualifying exam.  His exam is a bit different than a typical qualifying exam.  His professor gave him a question and then he had to write a paper answering the question and then has to get a committee and defend the paper.  That happens on September 11th.  It's only the second week of classes so things are not terribly difficult yet.  After finishing his paper for the exam he had a day before school started and he told me he'd like to make freezer meals to help me out this semester.  We've talked about it before but it's always such a big endeavor that I usually only double a meal here and there.  He sat down and did all the planning and shopping list and then we went together and got the food and we began the prepping the night before.  While I ran school the next morning Mike got to work on the meals and then I joined him later while the boys were doing their own work.  It took a couple of hours but we got 24 meals in the freezer and I am so thankful for his help.  I love how he always wants to make my life run more smoothly and help me when he can.  
These picture are not in order but Mike signed up for a sausage making class with the bishop and then the class got canceled.  They decided it would make a great double date.  We invited one more couple  to make it a triple date.  It was fun and gross and smelly and also really interesting.

Homeschooling is going well so far.  The things I don't like about it are the things I knew I wouldn't like about it and the things that I do like are the things I expected to appreciate.  I feel like the boys are happy.  They are working hard and I've so far had only a few time had to really get after them.  Mostly Eli because he is little and has a hard time staying focused but then I just have to remind myself that he needs more of my focused attention or that he needs more breaks.  They have all had a good attitude and pretty much just get to work.  They have enjoyed the field trips we've taken to Ijams Nature Center and the zoo and love to do art projects.  They have especially liked working on mummifying our cornish game hen.  We have to change the baking soda/salt mixture every week and already it is starting to work!  Soon we will wrap it in white fabric and have a real mummy.  They love it.

Will suggested we eat mummies for lunch.  I hate hotdogs but they love them and I thought it was a great idea!


 Right now my life looks a lot like this:

 I am finding it hard to really get some good exercise in.  My 40 minute yoga takes over an hour and it's not uncommon to have Piper try to climb all over me while doing it.  While working out I am interrupted from someone needing help through the entire thing but sometimes they just sit by me and do their work so I am available when needed.  We do exercise together regularly but it always makes my exercise a little less effective and takes much longer.  Yesterday we went for a lengthy walk (I walked and Will went on roller skates while the other two rode bikes).  Today we did some interval running training.  I am getting over a sprained ankle that is taking months to heal and my knee still doesn't handle running well so I did mostly walking but the boys did running.

We are also trying to get ready for a bake sale.  Our neighborhood has a garage sale coming up in a month and the boys wanted to sell goodies so we are getting a head start.  We made three loaves of banana bread to freeze for the sale.  They did an incredible job.  I explained what to do and was around when they needed help but they mostly made the bread.  They did a great job!

 For science this week we are focusing on animals.  Today we did a food chain art project to go along with our animal unit.  They each chose an animal and then made their animal food chain.  Isaac chose a Komodo dragon.  Eli chose a mouse.  Will chose a Cobra.  I think they did a pretty excellent job.





Thursday, August 13, 2015

The first week

School has officially started.  I took the obligatory first day of school pictures.  Somehow Will and Piper's pictures got deleted so they aren't included in our first day of school pictures.  Will is in 5th grade, Isaac is in 4th, and Eli is in 2nd.  Our first week is almost over and I think it's gone pretty well.  I have been dreading doing Homeschool this year and tried to have a calm heart about it but it wasn't until the night before school started when Mike gave us all blessings that I felt things would be ok.  The boys have been awesome this week.  They have been on task and had a great attitude the entire week.  They didn't even complain when I made them do Yoga with me.  They wake up at 7:00, shower, and then clean their room and the bonus room.  At 7:30 we eat breakfast and at 8:00 we check their rooms and bonus room to see if they are actually clean and then we check agendas and get started with the day.  I say "we" but Mike is really getting back from running or showering but he comes in from time to time to see how things are going or to have family prayer with us before he leaves for work.  This week we have talked about the tools for dealing with anxiety and stress by reading about music, yoga, and being in nature.  Tomorrow we will talk about how service helps with anxiety/stress and we will make homeless kits for Mike to take with him to work.  The school is downtown and there are a lot of homeless individuals asking for money each day.  He mentioned he needed something in his car and since I was already planning on talking about service with the kids, this seemed like a good idea to do with them.  After reading about these things we put them into practice so the first day we listened to music while we worked, the second day we did yoga and today we went for a hike.  

 The first day we had Cinnamon rolls to kick off our year.  It was a yummy way to start our year.
 We also make a "recipe for success" snack where we talked about effort and teamwork and all that good and cheesy stuff.  They munched on that for the first couple of days.
 We also went swimming for PE.  I made the boys do some laps and other water exercises before they got to play.  We had the pool to ourselves.  The pool is only open until the end of the month so we will probably do this a lot.  Next week a friend who is a swimmer is coming to the pool with us to teach the boys some strokes.

The boys are doing Spanish this year with the help of the Rosetta Stone.  

 Yesterday I was feeling bad for Piper that I had been giving so much more attention to the boys and thought maybe she would like going to the park.  The boys packed some work to do while she played (well, and Eli.  He chose to play and finish work when we got home).  I forgot that the splash pad was still on so they got drenched in their clothes before we headed back home.



 Eli read to Piper on the trampoline while the other two boys helped each other mow the lawn.  Mostly Will mowed because it's still pretty hard for Isaac but they helped each other for part of it.

Today we did Egyptian faces for art.  The boys loved using the gold paint and had so much fun!  


 After painting we went to Ijams Nature Center for our Science.  We've been learning about plants this week and we were going to save Ijams for tomorrow but it's supposed to be cooler today than tomorrow so we will probably just do a review tomorrow.  Will is becoming quite the little photographer and he has been trying all summer to snap a picture of a butterfly and finally got a couple today.  He was very happy and proud of himself.  He did get some good pictures too!




That's it for this week mostly.  I'm glad to have one week done.  It's a lot of work to be honest but the boys seem happy and that makes me happy.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Homeschool

We have just a couple more things to do to be completely ready for our first day of Homeschool on Monday.  I still need to get to the library and get a couple of books for the first week.  I have a couple of things to grab at the store for our first lesson (it's a cooking lesson about working together) and I need to print off each boy's schedule.  They are mostly the same but we stagger them on some things like reading, piano, and Spanish.  Besides that, I think we are ready.  Each boy has notebooks, folders, and a planner in their drawers.  I've got their curriculum chosen and organized in the bookshelf.  I've got a couple of weeks of lesson plans written.  

I've decided that we are going to focus a lot of executive skills this year as well as stress relief and anxiety relief techniques.  I have a long list of activities that we are going to incorporate into the day to help us learn how to use these skills on a regular basis.  For the executive skills functioning I've ordered multiple games that help improve executive skills.  Will loves games and since he is the one that most needs help in this area, I think the games will be perfect for him.  Each boy also has a planner for this very reason.  We are going to be pretty strict about writing assignments in our planners and planning out a timeline for our projects.  I hope by the time the year is over Will is going to be a pro at paying attention to details and being organized.

For our anxiety skills I've come up with a list of 30 activities we will do to help us learn how to manage our stress and anxiety better.  Off the top of my head some of them are yoga, deep breathing, journal writing, listening to music, exercise, and memorizing uplifting scriptures.  I am really hopeful that these techniques I've researched and planned for us to practice will help us all.  My kids really need some help in this area so I'm excited that I will have a chance to really focus on this area--something they really wouldn't have help with at school.

Am I mentally and emotionally ready for this change in our home?  No.  I actually had a major breakdown two nights ago when Mike put the letter to the school  in the mail withdrawing our children from the public school system.  I put it off as long as I possibly could until he finally just did it for me.  Today is the meet and greet at the school and I kept thinking maybe we would just hop on over and meet their teachers and just see if my feelings changed.  But now the letter is sent and it's pretty official.  I am not ready for this change.  I feel like after praying about it and going to the temple that this is the right thing for us but that doesn't mean I'm happy about it.  

There are a lot of women in this ward that homeschool and their kids are great and they are wonderful but homeschool has pretty much taken over their lives.  Some of them have demanding callings and they manage their callings well along with homeschooling.  I feel like I am a mother, a wife, a friend, a sister.  I have hobbies and a business to run with Mike.  I have a body that I am trying to work hard on making healthier and I need friends and interactions with other people.  

Most of the mothers I've interacted with who homeschool feel very strongly about their decision.  I don't feel that way.

My feelings on this are really complicated and too long to write about on here.  I am interested in seeing how this will effect our children on multiple levels and I am interested to see how my feelings change as time goes on.  If they don't change, I might not stick this out longer than the year.  In the meantime, I'm going to put my heart into it and make this the best year possible for the boys.





Hiking and the Smokies

The boys had a service project/hike to do for scouts this month.  We went to Ijams Nature Center and helped haul huge branches to a truck.  We all got there at 9:15 to try and beat the heat but the people at Ijams were running behind and didn't get us stared on the branch hauling until about an hour later.  By 11:30 we decided it was getting too hot to put off the hike any longer.  Will had a three mile hike to do and Isaac had a mile hike.  Will was supposed to be the leader for his group so I went with him and let Isaac go with the Bears and Wolves.  It ended up being so hot and humid that we only went two miles.  Isaac's group went on the same trail as us and even though they thought they were doing one mile they ended up doing two also.  I was really proud of the boys and their good attitudes because it was miserably hot.  I had frozen water bottles in the backpack where the camera was so my camera was all foggy and I didn't get great pictures.  




On Monday we headed down to Metcalf Bottoms in the Smokies with some friends.  We spent the day just playing in the water and having a picnic lunch.  It was the perfect day.  My friend brought camp chairs and we took our chairs down to the river and sat in the middle of the river in our chairs.  I thought, "Now I'm officially a Southerner!"  It seems like such a typical southerner thing to do.  The boys tried to skip rocks, made a rock slide and tried to catch little fish all day.  It was perfect. 

The summer is just about over now and we will probably stick close to home the next few days while I catch up on laundry and get ready for our first day of homeschool on Monday.