Thursday, February 28, 2008

Home Schooling Brendan

Most of you probably know that I decided to give homeschooling a whirl this year with Brendan instead of putting him in preschool. Thought I would give you a little homeschooling update.

Homeschooling this year has been mostly a very positive experience.....for both Brendan and me. He LOVES learning and successfully completing new tasks. A couple things he does (L.A., Math and Handwriting) require workbooks which he loves doing. Every morning starts with our Bible verse memorization which we try to practically apply to 4-year-old-life throughout the week. We have a new verse every week along with a new letter that goes along with his beginning readers that he is reading on his own! After talking about the date (and counting down days until the next visitor arrives or our next trip to Shelton) and the Bible verse we start with our reading assignments. The program I'm using (Sonlight) is a "Living Books" program, which means the kids/parents do a lot of reading and a lot of their learning (even as they get older) comes from novels and stories and, well, living books, rather than text books. Almost daily we read a Nursery Rhyme, a Bible passage, something from one of the Golden Books collection (remember those??), and something else maybe a little more cultural (ie, Stories from Africa, Children's book of Virtues, Children's Big Book of Art, etc.) and we even have a great science book.
Anyway, I love the materials, I love being so involved in Brendan's school, I love watching him learn and I love that school is fun and really only takes us about an hour (roughly) a day AND it's FLEXIBLE!!!
Onto the down side.....
Lately I've been having doubts about whether or not I am doing the right thing by keeping him at home. There really isn't a lot of support for what I am doing. In fact, I don't even know anyone here in Phoenix that is choosing to home school their kids. I go to a mom's group once a week where the kids each have a "class" that they go to and then they go to Sunday School on Sundays. They LOVE going to their classes. Brendan LOVES talking to other adults and other children, and telling me about his "teacher" and what he has learned. We live right by an elementary school and we drive by and he sees the kids playing outside and he, of course, asks questions. He will say things like, "I'm going to go to that school next time, and go to "real" school". He enjoys what we are doing at home and he is learning at lightening speed, but I know he knows that his friends are doing something that he doesn't do, and he wants to do it too.
I've doubted whether I am disciplined enough to keep up homeschooling when Wyatt needs to start and when things get when we have more kids. It would be so much easier to send them to school for most of the day, and get a little break from parenting!
I could go on with the doubts. Why don't you home school your kids? Most of those answers are going to be all the reasons I've been thinking maybe I shouldn't do it.
BUT THEN ON THE OTHER HAND, I love doing it. Brendan loves doing it. Wyatt loves doing it too. As they get older I think there becomes more and more pros to homeschooling. What is he missing by being home? Are those things I could remedy in other ways like sports, play groups, classes outside of school? How can I balance house work, and school, and alone time and possibly new babies?? Is public/private school the only answer? Probably not.
There's something about homeschooling that gets me so excited. I love the whole package. I like that I can tailor it to fit US. We don't have to revolve our lives around the 8-3 school day for the next 14 years. School can be flexible and fun and tailored to fit each child. And although it requires work and sacrifice on my part, I get to be the one watching them learning and helping answer their questions and making sure they don't get lost in the mix somewhere along the line. Anyways, don't mean to rant. Just some things I've been thinking about.
I'll leave you with a little interview :) ....
ME: "Hey Brendan, what do you think about homeschooling? How do you like doing school at home?"
BRENDAN:"Like when I'm working hard in school, I get everything done just in time. I like to work in school. I like reading and practicing hitting the ball."
(OK, so the ball part could be considered P.E. with Dad, right?)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Love Letter

Last night Brendan wrote me a little love letter. It says, "Dear, Brendan," but he was just a little confused about how letters start out and what that all means. He had to write "Brendan" on top of "Dear" because he started too low. And he meant to write "Mommy" instead of "Mom", but as you can see, he ran out of room. We should write more "real" letters, I guess.
He wrote the whole thing by himself, with a little spelling help from Mom!
What a sweet boy!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Another Eye Update

Rand had another appointment yesterday. She said the bacteria infection is almost gone. She gave him some steroid drops to help with all the inflammation, but overall he's getting better. He went back to work Thursday and Friday and has resumed playing baseball with the kids in the street. Yeah! He's back! His infection is still quite irritating and he has to wear sunglasses almost all the time, but I think he's going to keep the eye!
He will go again to the eye doctor next Wednesday, but it looks like the worst is over. Wasn't that crazy? I can't believe that happened to him. Next time you see or hear of someone with pink eye you'll probably catch yourself thinking of Rand and wondering if the person might possibly have a cold sore on their eye ball!!!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Green Desert

(By Green, I mean the color!)
Over the past 7 1/2 years that I've been married, Rand and I have traveled to Phoenix numerous times. Sometimes over spring break, sometimes over Christmas, and absolutely never during the hot summer. I never, ever thought I would live here. I never got to do much sight-seeing or desert exploring, so I didn't really appreciate the beauty of the desert. Being from the Northwest, I get green. I mean, you can't keep the grass from growing right in the middle of the blacktop. Rain=Green. It used to drive Rand nuts because our lawn was just not contained enough. He always wanted to barricade off our lawn from our flower beds with cement. I kept saying, "You're fooling yourself to think that the cement is going to stop the grass, it's just going to be one more obstacle for the mower."
Well, here we are in the desert. Grass could be a whole other blog, believe me, I'm still trying to understand the grass here. Anyway, all summer we would drive around and I would gloomily look at the brown landscape and wonder if my eyes would ever feel the relief of looking on real green nature again. If there was a patch of desert, undeveloped, it just looked like a patch of dirt with some pitiful bushes.
Now transition into fall and winter and soon to be spring. We've moved a bit to the outskirts (a lot more undeveloped desert around) and up against some mountains (if you are from the northwest, you might just call them big rocks). We have gotten quite a bit of rain and I have watched the mountains and desert totally transform. We keep going past these large areas of desert and I keep saying, "Look out there! It looks like the desert is covered in grass." It's not really grass, but it is green. We have a nice walking path that goes right by our house and I took some pictures to prove it. Maybe it's just me, but I can't believe how much green there is! Click on the pictures to see them bigger. Seriously, you'll be impressed!

Flying Kites

After being sick, the kids always have trouble sleeping for a while. I think they just get in the habit of when they wake up at night they need to cry and wake me up. So once they are well we have to start over and re-train them to not wake us up in the middle of the night. Call it rewarding good behavior or call it bribery, but this is what we use. The other night the kids were promised a special prize if they could sleep (or quietly stay in their beds) all the way until 7:00. Of course, they succeeded on the first time. So off to the Target dollar section we went. Brendan spotted kites and that was his choice. And of course, Wyatt chose what Brendan chose. So we went home, had a good nap first and then went out front to fly some kites. Now mind you these kites were a dollar, so we're lucky they worked as well as they did. I don't think they will be taking too many more flights. But hey, they did the trick, right? Now they've slept 2 nights and it only cost me $2.00.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Update on Rand's Eye

As most of you know, Rand has not been well. He got the flu over 2 weeks ago. Several days later he got, what we thought was pink eye. Sadly, he was misdiagnosed. After failed treatment he was back at the doctor, and then the eye specialist who confirmed that he had viral herpes in his eye which required totally different treatment. He has followed the doctors orders but has been experiencing increased pain and not a whole lot of improvement. His follow-up appointment was today. The doctor said that the virus is gone, but there is now a secondary bacterial infection. So now he's back to the original treatment. She wants to see him before the weekend to make sure the anti-bacterial drops are working and that this thing doesn't "go bad". We don't want him to lose his eye! Rand is almost never sick so this has been really hard. Your eye is a really important part of daily life! I'll let y'all know what we find out on Friday. Thanks for keeping Rand in your prayers!
(I don't think any pictures would be very appropriate. Trust me, his eye looks really bad.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pitcher in Training

Unfortunately, he's still not old enough to play little league yet. I'm sure dad will have him outplaying the 3rd graders by the time he is!

PS. If you don't live here in AZ, you gotta be jealous that we just ate dinner outside and now we're playing ball in the backyard in the middle of February! Don't worry, I'll be jealous of you this summer! :)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Let Me Explain the Eye Patch

Poor sickies

We have had a horrible couple of weeks. It's probably why we feel the need to laugh so much lately. Poor Rand came down with the flu Tuesday, the 5th of Feb. He spent the whole next day in bed and then tried to get back up and running. Not so fast! Friday he came down with pink eye and went to the doc. on Saturday to get anti-biotics and eye drops. Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday.....He still wasn't getting better. Meanwhile Brendan came down with the same flu on Wednesday and Wyatt had it Thursday. They are still recovering.

Well, Rand's pink eye was getting worse and worse. He could barely open it (it wasn't goopy, just swollen and very red) and it was extremely painful. Thursday night he tried the ER and left because the wait was going to be about 8 hours. Friday he got into a family doctor who diagnosed him with viral herpes of the eye!!!! Sick. I know. Turns out he basically has a cold sore on his eye ball. OUCH! So now he has anti-viral drops and pills as well as some good ol' hydrocodone. It's slightly better today...espcecially with the pain medication, but he is still VERY sensitive to light. Hence the eye patch. It is helping but we are still keeping all our blinds drawn today. I have literally been taking care of sick people for almost 2 weeks. Luckily I haven't come down with it....I think. Sometimes I wish I was sick and somebody was taking care of me, but boy am I thankful to be healthy and able to tend to my poor sick family. I think we are coming over the other side of it. Finally!

So there! That's what the eye patch is all about. The boys think their dad is a pirate. "A pirate who doesn't do anything. He just stays at home and lies around........" :)

More Laughs

For Christmas, everyone got webcams so that we can all see eachother and chat. It has been so fun. It is like we are sitting in the same room together. Brendan and Wyatt LOVE seeing their aunties (we haven't seen any uncles online yet) and their nana and cousin. Really they love looking at themselves just as much! Here's our new family photo. I know it's scary. Actually we all had a real good laugh....again. I guess I'm in the laughing mood lately.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Warning: You Might Laugh and Spit Out Your Coffee

I'll let the pictures do the talking...but I will say, this was Papa's idea. :) Enjoy!

Papa and I laughed WAY harder than the kids. I think I pulled a muscle.

Ok, fine. Here are some more pictures.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Today's Lunch

What to eat? What to eat? The kids were having ham and cheese. I don't like sandwhiches that much but all the stuff was out so I thought I'd doctor mine up a bit and grill it. The kids finished their lunches and we were off to get ready for nap. Stripping of the clothes, finding stuffed animals, getting water, laying down, etc, etc. As I was laying by Wyatt my stomach growled and I thought, "Man, I'm hungry. What to eat? What to eat?" And then it dawned on me. I'd already had this conversation and there was a sandwhich on the stove as "we" speak.

Here's my lunch.
Let me just say that I expected to see flames when I ran into the kitchen. Luckily it was just smoking.
I'm back to "what to eat?" again.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Card Making

Well, I really don't have anything exciting to write about. We haven't been doing a whole heck of a lot except the usual routine. Breakfast, school, lunch, nap, snack, playing baseball with dad, dinner, bath and bed. And then it all starts over again. During nap and an occassional break I've been whipping out my card making stuff. Our 4th bedroom is where our computer is and where guests sleep. And right now, when we have no guests, it is where my big craft table is set up. Valentine's day is coming up...along with some birthdays and the weather has been lousy here (although getting better this weekend) so it sounded fun. I've been having trouble completing much of anything so we'll see if I get it together enough to actually send them to people, but here is some proof that I've been doing something. (You should see the laundry and cleaning that HASN'T been getting done as a result!) :)