Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Rolling Along...School Year Update

First Day of School Ziggy wasn't so sure about this school Business...It just means Mama and sisters are distracted from playing with him!

Last week wrapped up our 6th week of school! I've decided to make every 6th week an "easy" week, we don't do History, we do a fun audio book for language arts, and we take it easy.

We're trucking along with Brain Integration Therapy exercises I'm struggling with these, it's really hard to balance the fact that "if we're going to do this, we need to do it right!" and "we're just going to do the best we can and hopefully any thing we do is benefitting and helping to integrate and resolve midline issues."

The positive is that dd1 is doing her computer-based vision therapy every day.  The writing 8 exercises have improved their handwriting and are resolving reversals and issues they have in that regard.

It's just hard to balance my desire to be delight-driven in our school days, and our need to make progress and give them the best foot forward educationally. It has been really challenging and a bit intimidating.

Where have we landed?

Each year I go in with lots of big ideas and then life happens and things get sifted down to reality.  I end up finding a sweet spot of what is enjoyable and working, and what is not.


Roo is completing her vision therapy, BIT exercises, A section of History and Timeline work, Two Miqon Math lab sheets, and alternate days of Science reading and a Journal page (a paragraph and optional illustration) daily. This is not with out some complaints and whining. I've come up with a reward situation where she gets 30 minutes of coveted time playing with a friend (it's an online server and she emails her friend to set up a time, yay for practice writing, spelling, online safety and communication- learning on several levels!) on a Star Stables game if she gets every thing done with a positive (or at least neutral) attitude.
So far that is working well. She also whips through books like nobodies business, she's reading 4-5 chapter books a month at this point, I can't say what a joy it is to see her taking off with reading. I also can't believe how reading has improved her spelling skills! She has jumped from phonetic spelling to rarely misspelling words in the last month. Again, I'm thrilled...It means so much, 3 years into this homeschooling thing to finally be seeing that she's getting it! And older homeschool Mom told me that usually homeschooled kids will often be behind grade level until 3rd or 4th grade and then ZIP they get it and jump well ahead of their peers on almost every  level, I am starting to see the truth in this statement. Not that I care if the kids are academically ahead, I just want them to enjoy learning, but it is rewarding to see I'm not stunting them by keeping them home, ya know? I was wondering there for a while...It's been quite a journey of faith.
Ziggy gets in on Miqon Math Labs too!

Friendly.. Friendly really enjoys school, most days we don't have a bit of trouble with her attitude. The only problem is when it takes longer to get to actually doing school because the baby is having a rough day. She completes her BIT exercises, a page of reading out loud (to me), two Miquon Math lab sheets,  and a journal writing page daily. She also listens to History and completes the timeline work and other assignments along side Roo. She is passionate writer and very interested in literature. She spends much of her days outside with her kindle listening to audio books or playing with Pip. 
I had lofty goals with Pip when we went into the school year, but it's landed where it always does...Enjoying reading things together and busy work. She's really a lot more academically focused than her sisters were at this age, and it's been a lot of fun to see her work at things. I bought her a bunch of these amazing busy books at the start of the school year and she just whips through at least 4 pages a day, she loves cutting and pasting and problem solving. We've been enjoying a daily chapter of Milly Molly Mandy together and a Bible story from this curriculum  (it has a coloring book to work on as well), it's been really quite perfect..Depending on the Bible story I'll throw in some Heart of Dakota finger play as well- she really just didn't like the stories from Heart of Dakota and it's not like she's my only student- there's too much going on to try to push through any thing she's not loving! I love the Finger plays though and the Bible Memory songs so it isn't all a waste. :D

He's 1, enough said. Oh my goodness! Some days are awful. He's climbing every thing, into every thing, and often melting down because I'm not playing with him. Some days are awesome though, he's happy to play with whatever sibling isn't doing school, he enjoys watching Sesame Street with Pip...He discovered how crayons, markers, and pens work and we've taken to laying down big pieces of paper for him to scribble on...
He really is very much a little scientist and loves to try to figure stuff out, he will sit for quite some time just studying some thing, he spent a good 10 minutes (an eternity for a 1 year old) trying to get this hole punch tool to work on his paper.

 He also loves to take part in the BIT exercises, he finds his spot and does his lunges like his big sisters! :)
 And His Magic Yellow Stroller, it's so funny how different every baby has been!!! This little ones loves his stroller, it is many days the only way I get any sort of nap out of him at all. He prefers to nap in the middle of it all, he doesn't want to miss a thing and he seems to sleep best with a lot of noise in the background, some thing his sisters are happy to supply!
As far as milestones go, he's climbing everything in sight, pretty much walking now, taking as many steps as necessary, but still mostly prefers to crawl- it's faster and he's less likely to get knocked down by older siblings. He is the sweetest snuggliest....I could go on and on about what a sweet little joy he is. I can't say what he's added to our family and we're quite in love.
He fell asleep during read aloud time!
The rest of school has been outside, frankly I'm feeling a bit exhausted from all the Going we've been enjoying! We bought a pass to a local zoo and we've been taking advantage of a gorgeous and warm autumn, spending several days a week at parks and playgrounds. And Hubby Joy's work schedule has been crazy, so some times when he doesn't have a pressing deadline he takes a weekday morning off and joins us a the park.
Lots of sunshine and fun at home and around..
Pip teaching Ziggy how to use a shovel to put mulch in a bucket, he got it right away and has been filing buckets with dirt and mulch ever since! Homeschooling, starts at birth- they learn so much from their siblings!

Some Pip and Mama snuggles, she is growing so much my little snuggle bug is outgrowing my lap. :(

playing in the garden, it turned into a jungle but they don't mind!

An afternoon picnic reading our language arts assignments at the park bring back so many happy memories for me!

Visiting a replica of a Teepee at the the local Native American grounds near our home.

It's been a good school year so far, onwards towards The Holidays!

Finding Flow...Anchors and Flux

I know how important it is to have rituals in life. "To every thing there is a season.." rings with the deepest truth of life, we humans feel centered and happier when we have rituals and seasonal times of reflection.

 This is something I have been trying to build into our family over the last couple of years.

In Spring we get the yard ready. We go to our places and have a celebratory picnic. We take a lot of nature walks, reveling in the new warmth (even if it's still chilly), looking for signs of green at every turn and when it truly arrives, we revel in the green and flowers.

Summer means popcicles, fireworks and lightening bugs on the 4th of July, playing in the sprinkler together, picnics by the creek, the Summer Reading Program, playing outside all morning and resting in the heat of the afternoon. Grilling and pickles and garden veggies. Summer Ends with The Fair...

Autumn means Leaf Walks to collect colorful leaves and crunch all that will be crunched!  Making our Seasonal Window Hanging- we make at least 4 a year out of wax paper and leaves, glitter, or paint.
Autumn Means hours at the park playing under the trees, reading books, early evenings, and the tinge of sadness that another year is winding down.
 And then we swing around to the Holidays and winter...The Holidays means a new window hanging, The Christmas Tree Hunt, decorating the tree, the Advent Elves and their secrets and surprises and letters of encouragement and Advent Projects...
Can you see Clemmie and Calvin nestled down on the window sill?

Decorating the Tree
Winter means Long days at home. Winter is dark and cold and the days feel long and people feel crowded. There is sickness from the lack of sunshine. But there is coziness and time for creativity. Snow fun and lots of time for books and school and sewing projects.
Playing with their friends next door after a blizzard.
sewing with a sleeping Ziggy on my back.
  I see all that we've built into our life, the way we try to honor and embrace the season we are in, to take the time to say "We can't do this any other time of the year, this is special."

School, newborn Ziggy, reading our Language Arts out loud while Ziggy nursed.

So when it comes to the year, yes I feel like we have an ebb and flow and definitely anchors. Some thing I want to write here while my kids are still young so I remember. I think the one thing I have done pretty well is to set my bar pretty low. The things I do with the kids aren't things that are hard for me to do, or take a ton of work. I enjoy them, they add a sense of stability and rightness to my life.

I have been fairly intentional not to build things around things that feel like work. They are important to my kids but I want to continue doing them for me.  Even when my kids are too old or uninterested I want to take time to make a new window hanging for that year in each season, or at least have a specific window hanging we've made back up. I want to take time to revel in leaves that crunch, I want to enjoy the ritual of decorating the tree and sitting in it's light with a warm beverage. I want to take the winter days to read and sew and enjoy quiet days at home. I don't mean any judgement to my Mom, she did what she needed to do, and she did a million things I am so grateful for, but as one of "the babies" I felt a huge sense of loss when she started to drop traditions because she was so busy with the older siblings who were teenagers.

I know down the line my kids are not going to want to join me, but I know that we lose so much when we stop honoring the seasons in small simple ways. And I hope to always offer that haven and safe feeling to my children. I don't cook fantastic meals or make Holidays all about the foods, that stresses me out. But I try to find ways to honor the seasons in simple ways and I hope I always will.

Tree night, store bought cookies and cider by the tree
So that's how we honor the season of the year...Now I want to talk about how we honor the times of the day and the ebb and flow and flux we need in life. That will be the next post...