September 14, 2007

Down Day #2

Somehow this "down day" for Mom included doing the dishes, washing, drying, and folding two large loads of laundry, and running 3 miles on the treadmill all before 10 a.m. I guess it was nice not to have to do those things while managing school activities at the same time, which is what usually happens, so in a sense...I guess I got a "break." The kids loved working on puzzles (Tobin completed another 500-piece puzzle by himself before tearing it down and moving on to a 1000-piece project), building with legos and our Math-U-See blocks, listening to kid CDs, and generally hanging out together. Oh, yes, and I also weeded through a bin of the boys' old clothes to pass on to a home school friend who recently adopted two little boys plus made a pan of "Heavenly Cake" to take to the co-op fall kickoff picnic tonight. Whew!

I did play a game of Sorry with the kids and did Arden's reading lesson with him. He and I began working on the Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons book a couple of weeks ago. He really wants to learn how to read, though I have my doubts about whether he's truly ready for this. Still, it's interesting to me as well, since this is my third child to take through the program. Both Charis and Tobin had a well-laid foundation of knowing their letters and sounds before we began the book. In fact, Charis was already reading quite well, though she didn't know how to sound out unfamiliar words. The book really helped her learn how to blend the sounds together. Tobin and I had worked our way through every letter in multiple times, so he was more than ready. So Arden is the first one I've taught with basically no previous knowledge other than knowing what the letters are, which is somewhat useless since we focus on letter sounds and not the letters themselves.

So, I'm interested in seeing how this will work when one truly uses it to teach from square one! Arden enjoys his time with me and is trying hard, and I can actually see some progress. I was beginning to think I would run out of patience, shelf the thing, and tell Arden we'll wait for his 5th birthday. (He turns four next month!) However, he actually did sound out the words in his lesson today and figured out how to say them fast so that he confidently knew the words. Woohoo! The shiny star stickers to put on his chart are a HUGE motivator, so I doubt he will let me let him quit! He takes his school time with Mommy very seriously, and honestly, it's a rare bit of time for me to focus only on him, so as long as he isn't frustrated, I will keep plugging away with him, and who knows?! Maybe he'll indeed be reading by Christmas!

We also decided to call the B family in Texas. I chatted with Sarah for quite awhile, and then we let the kids talk. They all passed the phone around, and I could tell from their conversation that all 3 of the B kids were on the phone at some point as well. I think they had a good time chatting at one another. I say "at" instead of "with," because I overheard Arden reciting to Mackenzie alist of every puzzle we own. Who knows if Mackenzie was actually listening?!

Kenna woke from her afternoon nap earlier than I had hoped, since we had the home school picnic tonight, but there was not much I could do about it. We loaded up in the van and arrived about 5:30 at the park. It was nice to visit with other families, and I actually met two other brand new military families who just moved to the area. It reminded me of how I felt two years ago when WE were a new military family attending a home school picnic not knowing a soul except the B family, whom I had met only once before! I plan to try to get in touch with the new folks and maybe invite them over for dessert. One of the families has 6 kids, ages 12 and under, and though I didn't see all the kids, at least 2 of them are obviously adopted. The husband is in the Guard, and they are here for some training and will only be here about 10 months.

My visiting time was all too brief, since once it was time to serve the food my hands were literally overflowing! Fortunately the kids were hungry enough to eat just about anything. Not surprisingly, Kenna began fussing right about the time I sat down myself to eat. I balanced her on my knee and then my hip for awhile, trying to shovel in some mouthfuls in between shifting, then discovered she was poopy. Of course. I changed her in the stroller and tried to finish eating; meanwhile, the other three had disappeared to the playground and a friend's daughter was completely distraught, having had a miserable time at the 'tween "Messy Games" event that happened before the picnic actually began. Her mom was still at work, and I guess her dad was supposed to be at the park but was caught up somewhere else, and the poor girl was beside herself. Fortunately her mom did arrive not too long after I realized what was going on.

About this time the sun was disappearing behind the mountains, and it became harder and harder to see the people at our table. Conversations began to revolve around one theme: Why aren't the lights coming on?! A call to the park police was completely unhelpful--"They're on a sensor and should come on automatically when it gets dark." Um, OK, great. It's dark, and no lights are on! Can you give us some real help here?!

I managed to track down the kids, nearly bumping into other parents doing the same thing, and decided we'd give it until after dessert, since they had been anticipating cupcakes. We scarfed down sugary treats in the dark and then I discovered that Tobin had disappeared. I had told him he could go on the little playground right by where our table was, and though it was dark, I could tell he most certainly was NOT there. Walking around a park yelling Tobin's name is not an unusual occurrence, but by this point I was extremely stressed. I found him chatting with another mom whom I know quite well, so that was a relief, but it did not let him off the hook for disappearing on me in the first place!

We gathered our stuff and headed to the van. I forked over a bin of clothes and a sack full of boy shoes to Krissy and her hubby, and we headed home, not a moment too soon!

The kids have crashed, and I'm headed to bed myself very soon. Whew--down days are tiring!! I'm looking forward to getting back on our school schedule next week!

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