one and thirteen

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Braedan read Gigi’s birthday cards :)

 

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What a difference lighting makes! The cake above is shot in natural light (admittedly not enough), and the cake shots below are under incandescent lights. Same cake!

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We celebrated two milestone birthdays in June. Gianna turned one, and Hunter thirteen. The first birthday is always momentous to me. I’ve thrown a party for each of the kids when they turned one. For me, it’s a concrete reminder that we must move on from the infant stage- whether I want to or not! I adore tiny babies! But even so – even though age one is a tiny bit bittersweet, I also am excited for what’s to come.  So many exciting things are happening when the second year begins! Gigi is picking up new words quickly. She says mama, dog, all done, ball, water, dada, hi, num num, and baby. I feel like I’m forgetting some of her words, but that’s most.  The other kids get truly excited when she says something they understand. Actually, we all get excited about pretty much anything Gigi does. She’s crawling up and down the stairs by herself (we are always close behind), she rolls (or throws) a ball to us, she gives kisses and hugs. She’s close to walking.

As usual, I cannot believe how quickly the first year of her life has gone. And then for Hunter to have turned thirteen is really something.  I clearly remember, when he was around one year old, trying to imagine him as a teenager.  It seemed so far away then.  Well, here we are with this truly precious young man who we are so proud of.  Hunter is such a generous and sweet boy.  He’s respectful and obedient and has a silly sense of humor. I can really count on him.  He’s into longboarding and has asked for a new board for the third year in a row! I didn’t mind fulfilling the request, because I’m all for activities that get them out of the house and burning energy. We celebrated just our family (no party), and with a little planning between myself and our waitress, we surprised him with his gift after dinner.  It was cute. She brought it out with his dessert saying, “So, who here ordered a side of long board with their birthday treat?” After a minute Hunter said quietly, “Um…I guess that might be me!”

My heart overflows…

first month update

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September flew right on by, and we’ve had a great start to our school year! This is a most welcome surprise after the roller coaster that was our experience last year.  I don’t know what the difference is, exactly.  I guess something clicked with the boys somewhere along the way and they aren’t giving me the hard time about doing schoolwork that they sometimes often did last year.  Praise God!  It’s a Grace that I’m invigorated about teaching them once again.  I’ve no doubt whatsoever that divine intervention is at work here, because there is absolutely no explanation for it otherwise.  Things have fallen into place (for now), and I’m just extremely grateful for it.  But I’ll stop there with all the talk about how great it’s been so far, because although I’m not superstitious, I do believe life sometimes has a way of making one eat one’s words after publicly announcing how great things are.

I have two more “official” students this year.  Alexa and Maya are enjoying Kindergarten.  I’m keeping their lessons pretty simple and fun.  I don’t want them to feel like schoolwork is a burden.  There is a lot to be said about developing a love for learning by presenting material in a fun and not stressful way.  As I write this, it occurs to me that my more relaxed attitude this year might be part of the positive change we’re feeling around here.  (The not being nauseated constantly for four straight months right after school begins definitely has something to do with it too).

Now is a good time for me to share how much I appreciate my fellow bloggers. I have received so much encouragement and inspiration from other women who open themselves up and share their experiences.  This comes to mind because I read a really great post from Sarah over at Amongst Lovely Things this past summer that really stuck with me. If you’re a homeschooler, you should really read it. By the way, Sarah’s blog is one of my favorites to read!  Even if you’re not a homeschooler, you would probably love her as much as I do.  Anyway, she talks about teaching from a state of rest- and what she said was just what I needed to hear I love her approach to schooling and I’m adopting it as much as I can (including her emphasis on great literature as being critical for developing the moral imagination-yes, yes, yes!!).  Actually, saying that I’m “adopting it” doesn’t seem exactly true.  I think it’s more like I’ve discovered something about myself that’s always been there but just needed to be drawn out.  This whole experience, I’m realizing, is a bit of a weeding out process for me.  I sort of dived in without any preparation, and have been trying to find my footing ever since.  That’s because I believe the homeschooling way of life is really a calling.  I certainly felt called to it. I did not choose to do this because I thought I would enjoy it and that I would be good at it.  I still don’t know if I’m ever going to be good at it, and I certainly don’t enjoy it every day.

So that is where I’m at now on this journey. I’m being mindful about my attitude towards learning and how it affects my children.  I feel like a bit of weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I feel a little relieved.  I’m going to do more fun things this year.  Art is one of those things that got sort of pushed to the back burner last year.  I have a goal to actually enjoy our school days- not just get through them. I’m going to tune in more closely to how my learners are feeling about this experience.  If they seem burdened, I am determined to lighten their load accordingly. I want to bring smiles to their faces everyday! I want them to feel that they have a part in the process…that they have some control over their own learning experience.  I want to help them “discover” knowledge and not just cram it down their throats.

The pictures above were from a couple of weeks ago when we made our own water paints.  It was my first planned art activity of the year and it really was pretty fun.  I followed the directions on this website.  We made three trays of paint.  The kids mixed their own colors up with food coloring and they were really into it.  Even Hunter and Landon stuck around for the whole thing.  I wasn’t sure if it would keep them interested being that they are a bit older, but it did.  The paints turned out nicely, but they are different from the store-bought stuff.  We’ve used them quite a few times already, and I think they will last a while – unlike the trays I buy at the store which only last one or two painting sessions for us.