Some sanity measures

For my mommy friends that read this, here are some things that are helping me or some new ideas I am trying or today at school (how’s that for random):

The PEGS chore chart, I’ve wanted it for 2 years. I would print out charts a week or two then not do it for a month or two or 6. I desperately wanted to find a reusable system to lay out clearly our expectations jobs for each family member. I read the book cover to cover twice before implementing it and today has been a great start. I was feeling like my parenting was really negative-focused and needed some help getting out of the rut.

I have been SO bored with lunches around here and felt like they were lacking a lot. After reading a post on MckMama’s blog, I thought I’d try branching out from mac’n’cheese and carrots or pb&j with apple slices. She feeds her kids tiny portions of lots of ‘good options’. So above is my first try at that, and yes my kids ate every leaf of spinach dipped in a bit of ranch. I will keep expanding the lunch horizon! This worked great, I’m probably the only one who doesn’t do this, but oh well-better late than never.

We do ‘table time’ every morning as part of ‘school’. This was our game today, writing big letters on construction paper, cutting them into three big strips then mixing up the pieces and putting the letters back together again. Meanwhile, Kyler and his puzzle:

He is eager to share!

Shaving cream

Since our sunny days are numbered, we ventured outside for our ‘sensory’ experience of the day-good, old fashioned shaving cream on the table. After exploring it’s texture and smell and ‘drawing’ things in it, what followed was the downward progression that I happily watched unfold:

Exploring with the cream…

Cream in the hair…

Cream in the toes…

Getting all the cream hosed off…

Ups and downs

After two great days of school and lots of school excitement, we struggled through two days of a sick daddy at home and didn’t get much of anything done. Here are some pictures of our ‘ups’ this week:

Caleb in his groove during our music time

Artist number 1

Artist number 2

Artist number 3

This picture sums up all of our time spent homeschooling so far…Kyler wanting to be right in the middle of anything and everything his older brother and sister are doing. This will be one of my greatest challenges of the year. Learning to embrace his curiosity and intense desire to be included and allow him to soak up what I am doing with Rylee and Caleb. He already, in the past few days has learned to identify 4 colors, count things (one, two, three) along with dozens of new words from mimicking his siblings and me. I am amazed.

Lastly, my brave sister who after already undergoing a 26 hour labor that ended in a c-section, had to have gallbladder surgery this week as well. The fruit of her labor?

As if he’s not cute enough all by himself, here is him AND his darling cousin Audrey on our grass this evening:

My fav of Audrey from tonight…

Okay, so I lied when I said ‘lastly’ earlier. If you wonder why we have so very many pictures up on our blog, it’s mostly because my little sister Stephanie is in school in Nashville and I know seeing pictures helps her feels more ‘in the loop’ and if I were her, I would want to see lots of pictures too. Posting them here is easier than me mailing them to her….plus, rumor has it my grandma reads our blog in Virginia too (but she’ll be here soon to see her “great-grands” as she calls them, in person in just a few weeks!). This last pic is as close as we’ve been to capturing the 4 together, note Caleb’s hand moving so fast it’s blurry-he’s got a fist full of grass and just after I snapped this, he covered Audrey’s nearly bald little head with it.

Our first day

Despite a rough start (for me) after a night up with Kyler rolling around in my bed since 1AM and the rest of the kids mysteriously getting up at 6:30, very unusual-we had a great first day of school at home. Rylee asked me how long we were going to do ‘school’ and my answer was, as long as we want to and I explained that really all of life is learning and my deepest heart’s desire is for our kids to embrace that truth and enjoy taking in everything that life and the One who gives life, is.. That’s the beauty of what we’re doing, we can do what we want and toss what doesn’t work.

Kyler’s highlight? Calling out bingo letters for consonant bingo as I whispered the letters into his ear-cutest thing ever!

Caleb’s highlight? Decorating his special 3 ring binder that will house all his art and projects in the months to come. He ‘hid’ a car by gluing it behind another picture, called it a sports car…but it was the new Honda Odyssey, oh well.

Yesterday Rylee: “Mom, I wish I could do out and about homeschool. I don’t want you to be my teacher, maybe Dee Dee could be my teacher?”

My thoughts? What in the world is ‘out and about homeschool’ in her 5 year old mind and okay that’s not very good for my fragile ego…

Today Rylee: “Mom, this day has been so fun with you, what’s our next activity?”

My thoughts? So thankful that she gets to ask me that question instead of her kindergarten teacher and so glad for the start of the journey and all the patient and wise answers from my beloved friend Kim as I tried to figure out how we were going to do this. Fully expecting bad days and tears and struggle and lots of imperfection but fully ready to dive in anyway. Isn’t that just the way life works?

Projects for Everyone

If you have young kids you need to know about the kids programs that they have at Home Depot. I have been truly impressed each week at the Everett location. Each Saturday morning from 8-9 the store provides an employee (a wonderful lady named Chris in Everett) and free material to build a project. The first Saturday of each month they provide a new project. I am not sure that every store does this, but the one in Everett allows you to come and bring the kids every week and work on a project that they have done in the past if you have already built the current month’s project. Here is the catamaran they built Saturday. In addition they have also built planter box’s, pencil holders, football stools, Nascar racing cars and a castle. So far I just take Rylee and Caleb, however last week we brought two of our neighbors. The kids get their own personalized Home Depot apron to wear and receive a coordinating pin for each project they complete. We usually finish up around 8:40 and head off to our favorite coffee shop – The Spotted Cow – for some hot cocoa. This is becoming a wonderful Saturday morning tradition. 

Daddy’s project this last weekend was fencing in our side yard. Thanks to Nana and Papa, our friends Erik and Kris, and my neighbor Brian, here is what went up on Saturday. I still need to finish off the top of the lattice with a decorative arbor.  The project continues as we are hoping to put down weed barrier and pea gravel and finally finish the play fort with slide and climbing wall. Ambitious, but necessary for our sanity this summer.

Our school project involves teaching Rylee to read. She is chomping at the bit and last night was demanding to read some books by sounding the letters out. She did great. She is a great learner and excited to be able to read. She is doing great already reading 3 or 4 four pages of “mat sat.” and “sam sat.”

On the Audrey front we have two more members of the AFC: our friends Kris and Bekki.  It was so great to see you guys on Saturday!  By the way, make sure you note the big smile Kris is getting from Audrey. All in all it was a great weekend.

-Chris