Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Busy As a Bee

Alexander is quite busy.  It is really hard to get much done because he is a typical almost eleven-month-old boy.

He is happy most of the time and just enjoys doing things.  While making bread one day, I gave him a little flour to play with.  Of course he tried to eat it and then just swirled it around.  It did not hold his attention as long as I figured it would, but long enough to get my bread on to cook!

One of his favorite things is to open and close doors.  Especially the dryer door.  He can sit for a long time and just finger the things in the dryer and then push the door to and open it again.  Over and over.  I'm hoping this will translate into help with the laundry one day!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Swim Like a Fish

Last June Lillie tried out for the local swim team and made it.  It was not too hard for her to make it, but it was still something she had set as a goal and had to work to attain.  She swam every morning during the summer (for the most part) and then three days a week once school started back.

Her first meet was in October and it was an eye-opening experience for us all.  I had never seen so many people crammed into our rec center.  And the pool deck was a mad house.  It probably was not as bad as it seemed, but I was carrying around a sleeping 7-week old baby who I wanted to keep asleep.  And it was LOUD!

Lillie sort of felt the same way.  The events were running behind. Each event had several heats because there were so many kids.  She really felt rushed and did not come away from her first meet with a lot of positive feelings.

I kept asking her about each meet that came up and she declined.  Every one of them.  Until a mini-meet came up.  There were only kids from four teams competing and from what everyone said, it was a perfect meet for fairly new swimmers.  I felt like Lillie fell in that category even though she had progressed to level 2 and had been on the team for a year.  She decided to give it a try and I am so glad she did!

She came in first for her heat on two events.  The third event we think she came in third based on our video, but the clock messed up and I don't think the manual time keeper was paying attention.  But we are waiting on the results to see the final time on that and how she placed in the event overall.

The best part was that she shaved 10 seconds off one of her times.  We were so excited and I think it may be just the boost in confidence that she needs to keep her working hard.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Baby Boy and a Box

I've mentioned before that with this third child we committed to limiting the number of toys to a lot fewer than what the girls had when they were coming along.  We are paying the price for all the toys they received as young kids (excuse me while I step over a barbie and throw out a bag of polly pockets...).  But that is another post entirely!


We've done pretty well.  Alexander has his stash of toys (and it is quite small compared to the girl's), but as with most kids a bucket or box and spoon are much more fun.  Alexander loves to bang on anything with a wooden spoon or whisk.  And he likes to put things in and take them out.  I put some old cut-up shirts and rags in a box with a hole cut out (like an empty sandwich bag box) and he loves it.

When I am brave enough to let him in the kitchen with me when I'm cooking (read: when the girls are not here to watch him and we want to eat supper on time), I let him open a few cabinets and get out some things to play with like containers, pots, and plastic bottles of spices. It is a lot easier to wash some extra things that keep him happy than to constantly chase him!

We had to get a new dishwasher a few weeks back and we put the box into the den for him to play with.  He had a great time going in and out, putting things in, chewing on it, and eventually getting on top and sliding.  He even had a few friends who also enjoyed the box!  I guess my title should have included a few older girls. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

New Homeschooling Chapter

There has been so much going on these last two months that I have not really had time to pack up our school stuff from last year and clean out to prepare for next year.

I've bought some things that are tried and true when they were on sale, and also got things to go with our Classical Conversations classes.  We use that as a framework for our learning and some things are needed to make my days go smoothly.  We like to say all we need to teach our kids is a stick in the sand, and while that is true, having some things just saves my sanity.

All that stuff is in piles on my dining room table.  My somewhat OCD self is about to burst!

With all that being said, a post on our curriculum for next year is probably still many weeks away.

But one thing that will be a huge change for Lillie and me is doing Challenge A with Classical Conversations.  If you are interested, please go read a brief overview.  And know that this was probably the hardest decision I have had to make in this journey, even harder than initially deciding to home school when Lillie was entering kindergarten.

Challenge A is a pretty tough program and is designed to begin the transition into the rhetoric stage of learning. (Read about the Trivium's stages of learning here.)  It's a transition because they are still learning new facts/ideas (Grammar stage) and practicing their arguing debating of ideas (Dialectic stage), but they are naturally starting to put what they have learned together and be able to express them in the later Challenge years.

CC has designed the Challenge program (Challenge A, B, I, II, III, IV) to be Socratic in nature and that is where the "Conversations" comes from in the name.  The founder started with that and actually worked backwards after seeing what was needed to carry on these conversations.  So one can assume that having several kids in a class is the optimal situation.  Right now it's just Lillie.  And that was the hardest part of our decision.

We talked a lot about it and had decided to go with what we did last year for one more year (Foundations/Essentials).  It would make my life easier since Camille will be doing that too.  I was giddy thinking about doing everything exactly the same except math and spelling.  But then it got a little tricky.  I started to feel like I was being pulled to Challenge.  I prayed and asked Lillie to pray from her perspective and to give it some more thought.  We both decided to give Challenge a try.

I figure that since there is no one in our community that is ready and/or the right age that I should go ahead and start anyway because subsequent years may be the same.  And I had been told by tutors of Challenge A that you really don't want to skip that one.  There is a lot of Latin (this was one of my hold-ups about tutoring) and if they miss it the rest of their Challenge years will be a lot harder.  So I am taking the "if you build it they will come" approach and have officially been contracted as a Director/tutor for Challenge A. I had only wanted to tutor Lillie at first, but now I see so many benefits to having more than one.  The obvious is having more discussion, but also to keep me accountable each week.

In the coming years we may try to start a community in our city and see if that garners more kids, or traveling may be necessary to give Lillie that group she will need to help this be the most beneficial education.  Right now we may also join up with another city's group for field trips and the like if it works out. The closest class like this is about and hour and a half away and with Alexander being so young, this was our best option.

I am breathless at times with fear and excitement!  And saying that I am overwhelmed is an understatement.  But God is good.  I felt pretty good about this decision and when my area manager called to do a phone interview she asked to pray before we started.  That sort of sealed it for me.

Then I went to Director training and the majority of it centered around Bible study.  I was so blessed by being around other women who have more experience with this and hearing their words of wise advice.

The last key that I needed was to get my guide and go through tutor training. I did this earlier in the month as I spent a couple of days away from my kids (and Alex!), did a lot of reading, caught up with some friends that live near the training, and met with other women who are gearing up to tutor kids the way we have chosen.

While I have all the "keys" I need, it's now a push to put it all together.  I have more books than I can possibly read--books for Challenge A, books for further improvement in our homeschool journey in general, more specific books about Classical education, and just books I need/want to read for my book clubs and for fun.  Needless to say some may not get read, but others must.  I should have taken a picture of my stacks. 

I should have a post in the next few weeks with what we will be studying this year and maybe a book post since that is what I am all about right now. 

And while this is a picture-less post, I'll try to post another one about some of the other things we've been doing this summer.  It's been packed and it's not over yet!  I am ready to start school to settle down!  And of course, Alexander is growing and is so very busy that this mama is so tired at the end of the day.  He is starting to show more personality, but still as sweet as he can be. I should have a post soon about just him.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

For the Love of Food

This little boy loves to eat!  Lillie loved to eat when she was this age, but I think he eats larger quantities than she did.  

I think I may have said that "if I ever had a third baby I would not"...and you can fill in the blank.  Buy him so many clothes, buy him lots of meaningless toys that annoy everyone around with their lights and sounds, worry so much about the stuff that doesn't matter, and feed him baby food.

We've done pretty well on most of it, but that last one got me.  Life (read: school) got in the way and it was so much easier to open a jar or pouch of food and spoon it in.  Very little thinking involved on my part.  Or planning.  A friend of mine loaned me the book Baby-Led Weaning and I didn't get around to reading it until we had already started eating solid foods.  I had the book in the car to take back when I found myself with a few minutes in the car the other day.

I read a few things and wished I had taken the time to read it before Alexander was four months old.  It pointed out some things that made sense and I wished I had thought of them before giving baby food.  But I didn't, so now we are working a little harder to get our "gagger" to eat food by himself.  

Okay, sorry about the rabbit trail.  Now back to what he likes to eat, and pictures!

He loves spaghetti.  I think he tolerates the noodles, but loves the meat.  Which is not surprising since he seems to like tomatoes.  I loved tomatoes as a toddler/small child, but after about the age of four would not eat one for anything in the world.  I blame my mom for letting me pop them in like candy.  Even now I'll eat them cooked in things, but that is all.  Alexander likes them any way he gets them.  

He also LOVES zucchini.  And meat and potatoes.  (He's definitely my child.)  He even tries to get in the raw potatoes and eat them. The pictures above are of him sneaking potatoes. He waits until I am in the other part of the kitchen then heads for the bins.  He's sneaky and cannot be left for more than a second.  Especially where there are potatoes.  Or dog food for that matter.  But that is another post altogether.

He loves mozzarella cheese, scrambled eggs, bread with peanut butter, peaches, carrots that are mashed, bananas, black beans, yogurt, and chicken if it is prepared with flavor.  He had some baked chicken I had put up in the freezer to use for chicken salad and didn't care much for it.  But when he tried this chicken (minus the bacon and cheese for him), which is probably our family's favorite chicken ever, he couldn't get enough.  He likes waffles, and pancakes, and pretty much anything bread.  (Again, he is my child!)

I am happy he likes so many things and really hope he will keep on liking them.  He actually tries anything we give him and typically will eat several bites.  He doesn't seem to be averse to anything. But you can tell when it is something he is not a huge fan of because he will play around with it and it usually will end up on the floor.  But if you take the same food and feed it to him he will eat it.  He may be a little lazy when it comes to eating.  

He is still on breast milk, but in a couple months he will be on whole milk.  I can truthfully say I won't miss pumping at all.  I have pumped all his milk since about day five since he would not nurse.  I started with pumping five times a day, and that morphed into four and after some scheduling issues this summer, it's down to three.  I imagine by next month we'll be at two.  Luckily I have lots in the freezer.

And lastly, he loves to eat his feet.  I guess he is definitely not too picky of an eater!

**Edited to add he likes shrimp and barley too.  We had this yummy recipe and he gobbled it up!**

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day 2014

I hope all you dads out there had a great Father's Day.  It was sort of a special day for me too since I only had to cook breakfast.  We enjoyed a meal out with Alex's family for lunch and then the five of us went for burgers for supper.

Alex also worked on a project over the weekend that we had been wanting to get done and proved himself to be a great father once again.

We have a lot of trees in our yard, but they all have high branches.  So last weekend he trimmed up some of the branches on the trees in the backyard to try and make way for a swing for Alexander. Then this weekend he was able to get the rope over a branch and get it all set up.

It's the same swing that both girls loved as babies and Alexander feels the same way!

We spent many days swinging when the girls were little.  Lillie especially loved to swing and would almost fall asleep in it and I saw the same thing with Alexander.  I think if I had kept going, he would have dozed off.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Funny Stories

Before the girls went to their public speaking class at practicum, they had to have a short story or joke memorized as well as a speech with a visual aid written and ready to present.

We were trying to come up some funny stories one night at supper and Alexander decided to join in with his own.