Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Indy Air Show

Kevin and I both had wanted to go to an air show forever. It was one of those bucket-list things. So the day finally came. We are definitely going again. Next time maybe we will bring ear plugs!

A military, transportable air traffic control center:

There were lots of airplanes and other vehicles for the children to climb on and explore:

Picnicing during the show:



A replica of the Wright Brothers' first airplane:

The girls trying out a simulator of the first flight.

Constant entertainment in the sky:

This crazy guy crawled out of the airplane mid-sky, and then kept waving his arms at the crowd while the airplane did spins, loops, and flew upside down. What kind of mama raised this boy?

The Blue Angels were a highlight, of course:



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A Slice of Our Life

I had to post pictures of the indoor Trader's Point playground because we go there a ton!! We were hanging out until the last half of Kevin's last basketball game (I thought that Sophia could probably only last for half of it)!


My camera fell on the ground and took a picture, which I thought was pretty funny since it captured three of us. :)




Kevin loves, loves basketball. I'm glad he plays every week. He stays in shape and has a lot of fun.


So there you have it ... a slice of our life!

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The girls are sad that gymnastics is over until the fall. We found a wonderful homeschool class at half the price! They loved making new friends this last semester and getting to play and learn. We are looking forward to a more lazy summer, however!


Sophia loved to run around while big sisters had their lesson:




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Friday, May 06, 2011

Homeschooling with Preschoolers in Tow

A friend recently asked me how I homeschool with preschoolers underfoot. I know from talking to other homeschool moms that this is often a source of frustration. Here are some of my thoughts after nearly completing our first year of official homeschooling (kindergarten), with a three year old and baby/toddler. 

I think it is easy to see your preschooler as an impediment to your efforts to homeschool and, whether you intend to or not, you start to view her as a problem to overcome.  Kids pick up on this easily and I think it makes them act up more.  

Excluding preschoolers from school time altogether makes schooling a lot more difficult, in my opinion. I found that it worked best for us to integrate Clara into our school activities as much as possible.  We always start our day off with Bible, scripture memory review, God's world news, and poetry. This takes about a half hour and Clara is as much a part of this as her big sister. Sophia also participates until her Cheerios run out and then she toddles off to play.

I also try to give Clara the first fruits of my attention! I have found that if I give her the first 10 minutes of my time and give her 100% of my attention during that time, she is much more content for the rest of the morning. Her love tank, so to speak, has been filled up and then she usually is happy to go off and play on her own. I usually use this one-on-one time with Clara to work on her phonics. 

We also have special toys and activities that Clara may use only during Meredith's school time. She also has some simple workbooks that she loves. 

Sophia is currently taking naps twice a day but I foresee the morning nap ending soon. We try to capitalize on her nap time as much as possible!

To be honest, we get interrupted a lot.  Either Sophia has special needs or Clara acts up. I think that if I had an only child, we could knock out school in about two hours!  Instead, it takes 3-4 hours. 

At first I was resistant and a little resentful of all the interruptions. Throughout the school year, however, God has really helped me change my attitude. He has opened my eyes to see the benefits and character building opportunities that interruptions provide. 

My prayer at the start of the school year was that God would help me in making the shaping of my children's moral character a number one priority. If I didn't have younger children at home, we would not have very many opportunities to learn to give, and love, and serve. When the kids fight or disobey or are unkind, we can take 20 minutes and work it out. In a homeschool setting, we can afford to take time to make thinkgs right and restore relationships, and learn how to please God and live out the Christian faith. In fact, if it takes ALL morning to work on discipline issues, I should be thankful for that opportunity to teach my children what is infinitely more important than math or the eight parts of speech.  All of that can come later, after a good foundation of developing their moral character is laid. 

When we are interrupted or have had to work on discipline issues, that is what God had for us that day. I need to accept that as from His hand. 

I think it is good for Meredith to have to share her time and her mom with her younger siblings, and learn to work well in a family setting.  She is learning to be more flexible and patient. Clara is learning to be more respectful. 

All of this doesn't mean that the interruptions are always easy. But I have become more welcoming of them since my eyes have been opened to the gold mine of learning opportunities. 

Having said all of this, I do have one time in our school day where Clara is absolutely not permitted to interrupt and that is when Meredith is reading out loud to me. Clara knows that this is sacred time. It is important for Meredith to not have interruptions while reading so she can keep her train of thought. If Clara interrupts during this time, she is strictly disciplined. I have to pick my battles!

The last thing I will conclude with is that I believe I (accidentally) did the best thing I could have done several years ago to prepare for homeschooling and homeschooling with preschoolers. I kept Meredith, and the other two, home for preschool. I wasn't planning on doing this (I have had a hard time with kids ages 2-3 and would have loved the break!) but Kevin really wanted me to NOT put them in preschool and because of his encouragement, and because preschool is expensive, I kept them home. This laid a good foundation for us. The kids have never known anything but being at home and learning at home. They have always had to accommodate each other and I have had to learn how to get things done with them with me at all times. It has made the transition to homeschooling a lot easier. They know how to be home all day and entertain themselves! 

Now I need to stop typing because I hear that Starbucks is having a happy hour with 1/2 price frappucinos. I hear one calling my name!

Growing and Changing

There has been a lot of growing and changing around here lately.

I nearly cried when I discovered Meredith's first loose tooth in January and I had similar emotions when I watched her ride her bike with no training wheels for the first time last week. You know that these days are coming but they come when you least expect it. They are milestones that remind me that my time with my children is short. It is only a season.

There is a children's book out there that talks about how you will never know when the "lasts" will be. When will be the last time your child asks you to play This Little Piggy on her toes? When will be the last time she lets you rock her goodnight? Or when will be the last time she rides her bike with training wheels? You never know until it is past.


Clara is getting close to reading and loves school. She begs me to do Explode the Code workbooks. Meredith taught her all the letters and sounds. She is really interested in reading. I suppose I should teach her sometime soon! She sure is growing up fast!


This first picture is classic Sophia. It was taken on our road trip and we had just told her "no." Whenever we tell her no, she often juts out her bottom lip and gives us the most pathetic looking pouty face in the history of the world. She is SO funny. She is growing and changing so fast right now.

Here are some more pictures of playful Sophia. She put this blanket on her head herself, and then started laughing. I guess you do get kind of bored on long car trips.


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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Royal Fun

Yes, of course, we got up early to watch the wedding. Tea and scones were made (dough was thankfully prepared the day before). All that was missing were big, colorful hats!

It's just not very often that a true princess gets married. So I had to wake up the older girls to watch. Kevin made fun of me for taking a picture of the TV.

Here we are, dazed and tired. But 10 years from now we won't remember that we were tired. We will only remember the fun.

Sophia woke up in time to see the kiss!
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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Motherhood and Politics

Being a mom is great. The kids are currently playing with their two favorite neighbors. They are romping around in our dirty, disarrayed garage. Never mind the beautiful, expensive playsets that adorn the neighbors’ lawns. The real fun is happening in our garage.

I have no idea what they are doing out there but it probably has something to do with pretending the paraphernalia in our garage is furniture, or sea creatures, or something, and it probably also has something to do with making mud cakes and pies.

I love watching my kids just be kids.

Politics is also great. Today I did double civic duty. I voted and I also volunteered to work for an hour when the polls first opened, to greet people coming to vote and wear my chosen candidate’s t-shirt. It was fun. I enjoy doing things out of the ordinary. We stood huddled under a tent while it poured rain, drank our steaming coffee, and cheerfully greeted the five people who showed up.

The best part was that the opposing candidate was there. He had the brilliant idea of handing out umbrellas to people coming to vote. Only we think it was illegal because you are not supposed to hand out literature, but he had a “Vote for Bill Smith” (not his real name) sign attached to his umbrellas.

The absolute BEST part was that it appeared that the pants he was wearing were purchased at Target the night before because on the lower part of his right leg, on the back of his pants, there was a long, skinny “XL” sticker still attached.

The poor guy was bent over in the rain, handing out illegal umbrellas, wearing the size sticker still attached to his pants. It was a pretty sad sight. I really don’t think he will win.