September 30, 2009

Frigid Fall Field Trip

It was a hot August evening when I signed us up for the Young’s Jersey Dairy field trip through our homeschool group. September 30 sounded perfect. The date conjured up images of sunny breezes on a crisp autumn day, with yellow and orange hues of farm fields providing a perfect backdrop for the festivities.

That, however, was not the picture that we actually lived out. Today it was 50 degrees outside, with harsh winds and drizzle blowing in our faces. I woke early enough to go running, which gave me a heads-up that I would need to make sure the kids were dressed warmly. Erm, okay…my boys have ONE pair of pants each that fit them. That one pair for each boy is nearly worn to shreds, their “cozy” pants, sweats we bought them last Christmas that have certainly seen better days. Well, at least they are warm—in the places that don’t have holes, that is.

Thankfully, Lucan is set for clothing, since I have a good portion of clothes Arden and Tobin wore at this age. He was bundled up in some adorable clothes. Kenna likewise was bundled up in some hand-me-downs from cousin Tabitha. And Charis has managed to not outgrow the last of her jeans and sweaters. I gave Tobin one of my hoodies and made him pass his jacket on to Arden, who flatly refused to wear any of my clothes.

Our group was first on the wagon ride. It was an excruciatingly slow ride behind a tractor that undoubtedly would have thrilled all the kids in great weather. As it was, it thrilled all my kids...except Tobin and Lucan. Lucan was, understandably, not thrilled about too much that happened outside, but, being 6 months, his fussing is excusable. Tobin, on the other hand...well, let's just say that he makes sure everyone knows when he is uncomfortable. (Although I have to give him credit--I think the mom who sat across from us actually wins the Whining Prize for the day. At least Tobin found that standing during the ride distracted him from the cold, and since I was loathe to make him sit down and start whining again, I let him stand and just hoped that the driver wouldn't mind.)

After our ride, during which we stopped to pick up two li'l pumpkins (not nearly as exciting as it might otherwise have been, since we have received cute little pumpkins in our Happy Box the last 3 weeks), we went back to the "Dairy Tale Theater" to see a video about the farm. Did you know that one cow drinks 50 gallons of water EVERY DAY? Me neither.

Then the kids got to "milk" a "cow" to see what it feels like, as well as see the machine that they use nowadays to milk the cows. Then we were herded over to the barn (get it?? herded?? I crack myself up!). Of course, we have been to the barn many times before, but it's always fun to see and feed the animals. The pigs crack me up. Tobin decided that they were more "Uncle" than "Wilbur," and I would have to agree with him. And if you don't, then I highly recommend reading Charlotte's Web.

Of course, what would a visit to Young's be without ice cream, so each kid got a little cup with vanilla ice cream. Teeth chattering, lips blue, shaking so hard they could hardly open the cup, but darn it, we're here for a field trip, and we WILL have fun or ELSE!!

We went inside to eat the ice cream. I ran into some old friends from Cedarville, Harold and Joanne, who are dear friends of my family's. Mom and Dad would stay with them when they came to Ohio, and I worked for Joanne in the Admissions Office. It was so great to see them and get to show them our sweet kids, two of whom were fighting with their feet in one of the booths. That's nice, boys! Let's show the general public how beneficial it is to homeschool our kids, ha! OK, to be fair, the boys were pretty well-behaved MOST of the time we were out. They also found a new friend Justin, who is 7 years old and lives on our street--what a blessing, and a direct answer to my prayer for a Christian boy for our boys to play with!!

By the time I finished visiting with old and new friends, it was close enough to lunchtime that I decided to go ahead and treat us to burgers and fries. The kids were thrilled, of course, so we got our food and sat down. I visited some more with Joanne while spooning cereal into Lucan's screaming mouth (he was not too wild about missing his morning nap), and once we were finished, we headed home for some much-needed naps, Mommy included. Whew!

September 24, 2009

September 23, 2009

A Day in the Life

People often ask me questions such as, "How do you homeschool with a baby and a toddler?" Or "How do you keep up with a home business?" I've even heard comments such as, "You seem so sane!" "You look so calm!" And, my favorite: "You must be very patient!"

Well, my friends, I am here to tell you it's all an illusion. Any semblance of goodness, order, and accomplishment in our family comes as a result not of my feeble efforts, but by God's grace alone.

Take today for example. Here are some snippets of "highlights" from the day.

6:30 a.m. Kenna wakes up. Sigh. She's been waking early and will NOT go back to sleep. If I don't get her up immediately, she wakes Charis and Lucan, who nurses anywhere from 5 - 5:30ish, usually after I get up to pump around 4:30. (Not by choice, I assure you, but when your body tells you it's time to feed, you have to do something!) Since I prefer to feed Lucan again around 8 or 8:30, I most certainly do not want Kenna waking him at this hour.

6:33 I am changing Kenna's wet diaper and telling her that it's still nighttime. It's dark outside, so I hope she will fall for this and go back to sleep. It has happened on rare occasions, but I'm not optimistic that it will work today. Still, a shower is very much in order, since I have been running in the warm, sticky outside air. Besides, I just sat down to do my quiet time and got no further than about 2 verses in Matthew 13.

6:35 I am at the kitchen table doing my quiet time so as to not have the lamp on in the living room, thereby keeping the illusion that "it's nighttime" since Kenna's door is open and overlooks the area where I usually read my Bible in the early mornings.

6:55 If I'm to shower, now's the time...Kenna is still quiet, so I'm hoping she did go back to sleep. A short quiet time is better than none, right?

7:15 Kenna greets me as I open my bedroom door. Apparently Charis unzipped the crib tent so she could get some peace and quiet--I don't blame her. Having just prayed for supernatural patience, I take Kenna's hand and lead her to the kitchen to feed her. She is not a happy Kenna if she is hungry. She opts for oatmeal, so I fix an instant packet for her and we pray and eat. Then she asks for another bowl of oatmeal. This is not unusual--Kenna's MO is to eat 2 1/2 bites of dinner and make up for it by eating 30 pounds of breakfast food the next morning. I prepare another bowl of oatmeal and set it down in front of her, only to have her tell me that she is "full" and "wants cereal." This is probably because she sees me eating cereal. I tell her that she asked for oatmeal, and when she finishes her oatmeal, she may have cereal.

7:35 Kenna is screaming at the top of her lungs that she wants cereal. I am determined not to give it to her, because I hate seeing parents give a child what she wants just to make her stop whining or crying. I will not allow my daughter to "learn" that she can get what she wants eventually if she simply perseveres in a tantrum. I calmly exit the kitchen, deciding that it's better not to give Kenna an audience and figuring it will be easier not to cave in if I'm out of the room.

8:00 Other kids are starting to wake, so we move on with breakfast. I learn that Arden has a sore spot on his foot, and it looks like a splinter, but I can't tell because his foot is dirty. (I thought he showered last night?!) I get a bowl of warm, soapy water for him to soak his foot in while he eats cereal. Kenna, having been distracted for awhile, returns to her seat at the breakfast table, and decides she is starving for oatmeal. She eats it all as if she had not been vehemently resisting it for the better part of an hour. Toddlers!

It's during this time, when the kids are eating breakfast, that I usually like to review our Bible memory verses, the current character quality we're working on, pray, and sometimes listen to CD tracks of the memory verses and geography songs. This week we have 2 new geography songs to learn, so we're trying to review past songs plus listen the the new ones.

So today, in the midst of trying to review verses and listen to songs, Lucan is waking and wanting to be fed. My multi-tasking skills are stretched to the limit here, and I'm thankful that Charis can work the CD player. At one point during breakfast, Lucan is screaming, I'm frantically mixing up his cereal, Arden and Kenna are fighting over the bowl of water because Kenna has decided her foot hurts, too, and she needs to soak it in the water, and a happy voice on the CD is chirping something about Scandanavia. We pause the CD, dry Arden's feet and let Kenna stand in the bowl of water, then resume the music. Not two minutes pass and Arden is screaming--Kenna bit him on the leg. (What in the world?!) We stop the CD again, discuss appropriate ways to use our teeth, pull Kenna out of the water bowl, and continue listening to the CD. In the middle of Greenland Kenna decides she wants cereal, and since she has finally finished her second bowl of oatmeal, I pour her some cereal hoping to buy a few more minutes of peace so I can finish feeding Lucan, who is now yowling because his breakfast has been interrupted.

8:45ish So much for training in godliness at the breakfast table. I am more than ready to move on to our next bit of schooling, which consists of math, language arts, and various notebook/seatwork type activities, with some "fun-velopes" sprinkled in to keep things interesting. (Today's funvelopes include a drawing assignment using an Usborne I Can Draw Animals book, a book about Rosh Hashanah from the library to read as an introduction to Jewish holidays, something I had hoped to cover this year but am already behind on seeing as how the Jewish New Year was last Friday, a coloring assignment in their geography books, and instructions to write a letter to our nursing home friend Mr. Mel from Las Vegas.)

9:00 I go down to the basement to pick some toys for Kenna to play with during room time, then take them and her up to the girls' room. After scouring the room for writing utensils and reviewing with Kenna House Rule #78--no marking on the walls, which she broke yesterday when she found a pencil and proceeded to scribble all over the wall next to her crib--I leave her happily playing in her room and go to get Arden's bedding to wash. It smells faintly of pee, though he hasn't had an accident per se. He is still wearing pull-ups at night because he is rather inconsistent, but despite the pull-ups, we still seem to get pee smell on the sheets and blankets far more often than one would think.

Back downstairs to start laundry and move Lucan to another location, since he is now thoroughly unhappy in his feeding chair. The next hour passes in a blur as I clean up the kitchen, mind the baby, and prepare some envelopes to mail in between helping kids with assignments, checking their work, and offering correction and encouragement as needed.

10:00ish Arden continues reading aloud to me while I change Lucan's poopy diaper, and then I head back upstairs to put Lucan down for his morning nap. He should definitely be ready to sleep now. I open the door to check on Kenna, who also has a poopy diaper. We clean her up, and she announces she wants to come downstairs. I decide that trying to lock her back in her room for more room time is not a good idea with Lucan trying to nap next door, so I supervise the cleaning of the toys and we go back downstairs.

11:00ish Where is the time going?! The kids are working hard on their checklists, and we are making lots of progress. I am proud of them all for doing so well in math--Charis is on the very last lesson of her Gamma book; Arden is wrapping up his Alpha book; and Tobin just has a few more lessons in Beta. I hand out tickets for 100%s for the math practice pages they did--we've been trying a new reward system to encourage good behavior, diligence in schoolwork, and initiative with chores. Charis has a great attitude during her writing assignment and even gets excited about what she ends up typing. Whew--this has often been a struggle, and I am pleased not to have to butt heads with her today in this subject.

11:30 I begin to work on lunch--I've had multiple requests for snacks, so I know the troops are getting hungry. They are wrapping up their morning activities, so I quickly put together grilled cheese sandwiches from our leftover sourdough bread and some tomato soup. Kenna decides she wants to "help" and ends up flinging tomato soup drips all over the stove, then screams when I move the pan to the back burner to begin cooking the soup safely away from her stirring efforts. The phone rings during her fit of rage. Normally I would let it go to voice mail, since technically we are still doing school, but I see that it's someone from Stampin' Up! calling. I answer the phone only to be asked which stamp set I want for free--apparently I get a free stamp set for presenting a Workshop Wow at the Regional Seminar recently! I somehow was never told this, possibly because I was a last-minute fill-in for someone else who cancelled. I ask the lady for 10 minutes, then scramble to look through the catalog while telling Kenna she most certainly may NOT stir the soup anymore and hollering for the other kids to clear off the table so we can eat.

12:00 Somehow the soup and sandwiches are ready, and I am getting the kids to sit down as the phone rings again. I've picked a set from the holiday mini-catalog, and I'm glad to finish the conversation before any chaos erupts again. I move back to the stove after we pray so I can make myself a sandwich and find the monitor showing that Lucan is awake and crying. Sigh. I bring him down and hold him on my lap while eating my 3/4 of a sandwich--we only had 3 half slices of bread left.

12:30 The kids disappear for some free time while I nurse Lucan and feed him cereal.

1:00 Time to start herding Kenna in the direction of naptime. She's poopy again. So we take care of that and I tell her to go pick out her stories. I call for Charis, who has escaped to the craft room in the basement, to come and take her shower since we forgot to have her do it in the morning, telling her that Kenna will be in the room for naptime before long. I send the boys to gather their supplies for AWANA. I'm determined that this week we will not have a mad scramble in the evening to get to church!

1:20 I read Kenna's stories to her and try to enjoy our brief time of cuddling. Our afternoon is ticking away, and the big kids and I still have history, geography, and science reading to do. Kenna informs me she needs to go potty, so we go to the bathroom and wait for her to perform. She asks for M&Ms when she's finished, but I tell her flatly that she no longer gets M&Ms unless she poops in the potty. The news doesn't seem to phase her, thankfully, as I have no energy for any more tantrums.

1:30 Kenna is in bed!!

1:35 Lucan is poopy again.

1:40 We are on the couch, ready to begin Sonlight reading. Lucan is in Charis's lap because she wanted to hold him during reading time. I take a hold of the first book and prepare to read. Lucan begins kicking and screaming.

1:45 Lucan and I go upstairs for his naptime.

1:50 I return to the couch to find Tobin reading a magazine and Arden pretending to stab himself with a toy knife. Charis is waiting dutifully for reading to begin.

1:51 Tobin announces that he needs his glasses and runs upstairs.

1:52 Tobin is back on the couch.

1:53 Tobin needs to use the bathroom.

1:55 Arden needs to use the bathroom.

1:58 I wonder why the older children can't use the bathroom during the times I am dealing with the little ones.

2:00 We finally start working our way through the pile of books on the couch. Brief arguing over who gets to sit by Mom ends when Arden decides to sit on my lap. Ooof.

2:40 We are finished with Sonlight reading.

2:45 I apparently fall asleep on the couch.

3:00 I wake up to hear the boys play fighting loudly (Star Wars, you know) and send them to the basement so they don't wake up the napping kiddos.

There you have it, my friends, a typical school day with our family. Five poopy diapers, numerous sibling spats, more trips up and down stairs than I can count, and lots more little incidents and interruptions than I can possibly remember. Would I trade all this for the "peace and quiet" I could get if I sent my children to school? Definitely not. Our school schedule may leave some things to be desired, but I know we're following God's direction for our family. The privilege of shepherding my children's hearts as I keep them here at home far outweighs the temporal cravings for "me time" that I admit creep up in my heart on occasion. I can let myself get discouraged and frustrated by the interruptions and the messes, or I can embrace the opportunity to let the Spirit bear fruit in me so I can be a godly example for my kids. How can I teach them about self-control if I lose my temper over spilled milk? How can I teach them to be patient if I respond impatiently to a toddler's demands? How can I teach them to persevere in doing good if I act like I want to quit when things get tough?

No, today has not been an ideal day, but I want to hold onto the good things and believe that He who has begun a good work in me--AND in my children--is being faithful to carry it on to completion. Someday we'll stand before Him in heaven, and I can't wait to see Him smile at each of us and say, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"

Now, if you'll excuse me, I just remembered that I have laundry that needs attending to...

September 20, 2009

Renaissance Festival

It has now become a family tradition to attend a fall Renaissance Festival. Unlike the one-weekend affair in Las Vegas, Ohio has two months' worth of festival weekends. Yesterday worked out best for our family's schedule, so we attended Pirate's Day, which delighted the boys to no end. Even Kenna got in on the theme with a little borrowed sword from our neighbor, which she waved and jabbed at any opportunity.

On the one hand, the more permanent structures of the fair were a fun change from the tents we were used to seeing in Las Vegas, but on the other hand, the whole experience seemed much more commercial. In Las Vegas various guilds would set up tents filled with renaissance-era items. We could watch women weaving or listen to men explain the fine details of period armor and weapons. There was an air of authenticity and an opportunity to truly learn about life in renaissance times. This year, however, the closest we got to a learning experience was watching a glass blower make a hummingbird--a fine art, indeed, and one I was glad to see in person, but instead of explaining his job to would-be students, he simply did his job and spread out his wares for sale.

Still, it was a fun day, and we did get to see a gaming joust that was fun for everyone except Lucan, who screamed with every "Huzzah!" Ted and I enjoyed the pirate stunt show (the kids did, too, but they failed to appreciate the Midsummer Night's Dream parody that accompanied it). The large maze was a hit (Kenna tried to get in again after exiting on the slide), and the mud pit show (a rather dirty rendition of Beowulf) was somewhat amusing after they finally stopped talking about the show and actually presented it. All in all, it was a fun way to spend a Saturday, although we all paid for the lack of naps on the way home...

Baby Dedication

This morning was Family Day at FairCreek Church. Lucan was the only baby dedicated during the 10:45 service, quite different from Canyon Ridge, who had, I believe, 45 babies to dedicate during their Baby Dedication weekend recently! It was really special to be part of the service today. It dawned on us that all of our boys have been dedicated at FairCreek Church! As part of the preparation for the service, Ted and I attended a two-week class that included as part of the activities an assignment to write Lucan a letter explaining what we were doing--publicly committing before God and our church family to pray for him and teach Him about God and His love for him. We will give the letter to him after he invites Jesus to be his Savior. This must be a newer idea since we dedicated Tobin and Arden, as this was the first time we had written a letter to a child for a dedication service, but I really like the idea and wish we had been able to do it for all of them! At any rate, Lucan was good on stage and charmed the body of believers, then got so fussy in the nursery that they had to page me to come calm him down. The stress of being on stage must have gotten to him. :-)

September 14, 2009

Arden's Birthday Present (and a good one for daddy too!)

Hey all, this is Ted.

I am not a blogger, but I wanted to post this pic for mom and everybody not on Facebook.

I took Arden to go see the Broncos play in Cincinnati for an early birthday present and we both had a fantastic time. It should be a good memory for both of us to cherish for quite a while...I told all the disgruntled Bengals fans at work that the flukey last play was probably God's birthday gift to Arden - he stayed to the end and got to see a win!

September 10, 2009

Piano Girl

Three years ago I tried teaching Charis piano lessons. She was eager to play but not so thrilled about the actual learning process. I decided I valued my sanity and our relationship more than being her piano teacher, so we shelved her books and the attempt. We could wait.

Now that I'm playing piano again myself (with one of the worship teams at church), I decided it was time to try again. I had seen a recommendation for a piano teacher posted on our homeschool loop, so I gave her a call and learned that she was willing to come to our house. Charis was fairly agreeable when I asked her if she wanted to take lessons, so we scheduled Thursday mornings for our time slot.

Mrs. D arrived a bit late, having had some difficulty finding our house, but otherwise all went well. She's elderly and reminds me a lot of my own grandmother, rather short and very sweet. I hustled Kenna and the boys outside, having decreed that they would have a half hour of "PE" (or something) so we could give Charis and her teacher some peace. Lucan and Kenna tried out our "new" sit-n-stand stroller that I bought for $5 (woohoo--thank you, God!) and walked around the neighborhood while the boys rode bikes and scooters. I was hoping and praying that all was going well with the lesson--Charis had a look on her face when she met Mrs. D that made me a bit nervous...not quite her "bad attitude" look, but something that showed she wasn't as excited as she had maybe thought she would be.

Well, by the time we came back inside, Charis was happily plunking away at the piano and listening carefully to her teacher's instructions. Though she is to practice only about 10-15 minutes on school days for now, I believe she has spent close to three hours playing the piano today! She even dug out the dreaded pink piano books I had bought to use for her lessons years ago. I had told Mrs. D that perhaps she should bring something different, as those books had caused Charis to balk at the thought of trying lessons again. So we do have a couple of other books, but I was pleased to see that Charis's thirst for learning songs was strong enough to conquer her distaste for the other materials that we already had on hand.

It just goes to prove that when a child is ready to learn a skill, it is SO much easier and comes much more quickly when you do it at his or her own pace rather than trying to force him or her to do something simply because it is at "grade level." One more reason we love homeschooling!


Over 5 months old now, Lucan has definitely been showing signs that he was ready for solid food, i.e. waking at night again, wanting to nurse more frequently, and being generally discontent when he is normally a happy baby. So we took the plunge a few nights ago, giving him about two tablespoons mixed with breastmilk at dinnertime. He loved it! I'll have to see if the pictures we took are any good and maybe post later. The past two mornings I've given him cereal since he hasn't been too keen on nursing at 8 a.m. (He nurses just fine at 12:30 and 4:30 a.m., though, sigh.) Today he absolutely screamed when I finished his initial batch (about 3 tablespoons), so I mixed more for him. He downed another 3 tablespoons and probably would have eaten more had I not distracted him by removing him from his seat! I think cereal is here to stay. He's definitely physically ready--no tongue thrusting at all. In fact, you'd think he'd been eating from a spoon for weeks now! Maybe he's been practicing on his own at night, LOL.

September 07, 2009

Labor Day Weekend--Continued

Saturday morning I went for an 8-mile run with two new friends, one of whom is also a homeschooling mother of 5 girls under 7 years old! And, wonder of wonders, she is also using Sonlight and Math-U-See curricula! God is good. :-) Both ladies are believers, and we had a wonderful time of fellowship. The 8 miles positively flew by. They continued on another 4, as they are training for the AF 1/2 marathon on the 19th.

After resting and recovering a bit, I and the family went to Ted's boss's house for a college football kickoff party. Lots of food and fun! I brought a couple of little projects to help keep the kids entertained, and I think they went over pretty well. I'd love to say I got some of the moms hooked on stamping, but no one took the bait, LOL. I enjoyed meeting some wonderful new people, and the kids had a blast as did Ted. I got a good nap in the late afternoon, which I desperately needed after sporadic sleep...Lucan is probably ready to start on cereal, but we've been a bit lazy and haven't tried it yet.

Sunday morning we were at church for 2 services, since the two-part baby dedication class started yesterday. I spent some time stamping in the afternoon, playing around and trying to get ready for a 5-minute "Workshop Wow" presentation that I'll be giving at the Stampin' Up! Regional Seminar this coming Saturday. I quit working on that after awhile to finish preparing for our guests Andy, Susie, and their 3 sweet girls who came over for dinner in the evening. We had a great time chatting and watching/herding kids around. They are a fun couple, and the kids seem to get along well together also. We look forward to more times of fellowship with them.

Today we "slept in" until Lucan woke us at 6:00. I'm still in my was raining and with lightning earlier, so no run yet, but maybe before lunch?! I've already spent an hour and a half in my stamp room working on my projects, and it's slow going. The creative process is long and drawn-out for me! Once I have my idea, I can whip out an assembly line in no time, but this creativity thing is just not my forte! Still, I'm having a blast and trying some products I really haven't played with a whole lot before now, so it's all good.

September 06, 2009

Labor Day Weekend--Friday

We're having a fantastic four-day weekend. Ted was off Friday, so we did very little schoolwork. I was able to do a big commissary trip, the first time in 3 weeks. It is so nice that Ted can pick up things now and then on his way home from work, leaving me free to only shop "big time" once every 2-3 weeks.

That afternoon, while the little ones slept, Ted took the older kiddos to the library--they each have their own library card but are only allowed to check out 10 books at a time for the first 60 days. (What's up with that?!) We had gone the Friday before, but of course they had all read their own--and each other's--before the week was even halfway up, so they were desperate for new reading material. While they were gone, I made some customer calls that went quite well. I'm thankful for some positive responses to my efforts thus far!

In the evening Ted and I had our first date night since our move! A few weeks ago I attended a scrapbooking night that my new friend Susie took me to. The consultant who was hosting it has a 14-year-old daughter, Rachel. The family is also military and also believers, and I was excited to learn that Rachel was available and willing to babysit 5 children! She was wonderful! I felt completely comfortable leaving the house with her in charge. She is a delightful young lady, and I pray in a few years Charis will have the same words said about her. :-) Ted and I went to The Greene, a new area since we lived here, and ate at The Cheesecake Factory, then puttered around a huge bookstore...all in all, a perfect date for us! When we got home, Lucan had just finished a bottle successfully, and the kids were up having some reading time. They begged for Rachel to come back soon--we've already made plans for October 3 and plan to set a monthly date night! What a blessing to find such a great babysitter.

September 03, 2009

Hitting Our Stride

Today was very nearly the perfect day...and I didn't even eat any chocolate! It was just one of those days where everything seemed to finally come together in various areas of my life. If you'll indulge me, I'll share...

Lucan wakes at 4:30 a.m. (This has been roughly his first meal of the day, anytime between 4:30 and 5:30. I actually don't mind. We put him down around 8:30 or 9 p.m. and are in bed not too long afterward. I've been sleeping so soundly that by the time he's finished nursing, I'm actually rarin' to go!) I put Lucan back down (he's already asleep by now) and get ready for an early morning run. The air is moist and quite cool; I almost wish I had gloves. The sky is so clear--I can see Orion and hundreds of other stars, so many more than I ever saw in Las Vegas.

My feet pound the pavement on what has become one of my favorite routes. It's really one of the only ways I can run this early in the morning, since there are no street lights here and I rely on the lights from the little lampposts in each yard. (Phooey to those folks who leave their homes shrouded in darkness...don't they realize I'm trying to run here?!) The route is a perfect 30-minute run and gets me home in time for a good stretch while reading the newspaper, followed by a nice quiet time with some hot tea.

Now it's time for a shower. Ah, a kink in my day already--Lucan is awake again, and it's not even 7:00. I prefer for his feedings to be at least 3 to 3 1/2 hours apart, so I briefly contemplate seeing if he'll settle himself back down, but then I hear Kenna also. I dash upstairs to get her out of the crib before she wakes Charis (who often unzips her crib tent and stumbles back to her own bed to go back to sleep) and discover the reason Kenna is already awake: she soaked through her diaper, jammies, and sheets. Well, I suppose I'd wake early too. I take her and Lucan downstairs, get her cleaned up, and find that Lucan has pooped. No wonder he woke early! I should have known...he's had blowouts every morning since Saturday. Thankfully this one is contained in his diaper.

A baby DVD started for Kenna, Lucan in his bouncy seat in my bathroom, and I am ready to shower. Quickly! I don't trust Kenna for long, and Lucan may very well decide he's ready for his second breakfast after all. Sure enough, he is ready to eat again by the time I'm dressed, so I feed him as Kenna finishes her "God Made Me" movie. Then we girls have our breakfast, as has become our habit; Kenna is pretty much ready for cereal before she makes it down the stairs, so I'm pretty fortunate that she allowed me to complete my shower. It's kind of nice having breakfast with a toddler who can feed herself--she's much more interested in eating than talking, giving me a chance to eat in peace while doing the daily crossword and skimming the paper. Lucan gurgles beside me in the exersaucer and goes down for a nap after I finish eating.

At 8:00 I go to wake the older kids, who are still zonkered. They very much enjoyed chapter 2 of Red Sails to Capri that we read outside on our back deck last night and would have stayed up longer listening if we had let them, but I see now that our decision to get them to bed was wise.

After breakfast I inform the kids we're trying something a little different, a transitional approach as I try to work my way into doing workboxes--probably not the way Sue would want me to, but I must do what I need to for our family and environment. I've been googling ideas and thinking and praying about how to organize our homeschool day, and I think some version of this system is for us--I'm just not quite ready to implement it all yet. So in the meantime we're working on following instructions, working independently, and maintaining order during the morning school session! I hand out printed checklists for the kids with 8 different activities on them. I tell them that after 3 assignments are complete, they may choose a "Funvelope," a closed envelope with an activity inside. (Today the 3 funvelopes contain a spelling game, Tangrams, and headphones with instructions to watch some fun and educational videos from a great website I would set them at).

The morning progresses very smoothly. I actually find myself with time on my hands to finish my crossword! I have a good one-on-one language arts time with Arden plus check everyone's math and language work without feeling frazzled or pulled in various directions. I smile to myself when I hear an exclamation of delight upon the finding of a fun new task to do.

We finish school before 11:00, so I have time to put some ingredients in the breadmaker for a new loaf of wheat bread. (We finished the last of the bread when the kids had toast this morning.) Charis and Arden wash the empty containers for our Happy Box so we can be sure to set it out by 4 p.m. Then it's time to warm up leftovers for lunch. The kids eat while I read a book about safety regarding strangers that I checked out from the library last week. We discuss safety measures, and then we take advantage of the gorgeous weather and head outside for "PE." The kids ride bikes and run around while I chat with Debi on the phone, the first time in quite awhile that we've talked. It's good to catch up, and we visit 20-30 minutes before I take the kids inside. Tobin vacuums the kitchen floor, and then we watch the rest of a sign language DVD we got from the library. It's a pretty good one, and I'm thrilled that I learn some new signs while feeling that I remember quite a bit. The kids enjoy it, too, begging for one more session until we actually finish the program.

Kenna and I read Bible stories together, and then she's ready for her nap. Lucan goes down also, and finally the rest of us are ready for Sonlight reading. First I quickly mop the kitchen floor, and then we gather on the couch to finish up Timeline figures from Core 1 (!!!) and do readings from Bible, history, and science. Not even finished with week one and already we're in love with Core 2.

In the afternoon I talk with a neighbor friend and ask her if she will schedule a Stampin' Up! party for me. She agrees and we set the date for September 24. Woohoo! More playtime outside--I've already put together tonight's casserole, so I enjoy chatting with another neighbor while her son, who has Down's Syndrome, jumps with my boys and Kenna on the trampoline with the sprinkler going underneath.

It's been a great day. Now the kids are in bed and I'm about to nurse Lucan for the last time before bedtime (it's 8:30 now). I know not every day of homeschool or business activities will go so smoothly, so I smile and thank God for the little blessings when they do.

September 01, 2009

All in the Family

Cute, aren't they?! It's easy to pick out our Suburban in a parking lot now! (Well, that and the Colorado license plates probably give it away...)

Things I Never Said as a Two-Year-Old

...but Kenna does.

"Mommy, where my cell phone?"