Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Alabama Hates Us

Our second week in Alabama with Steve had a few very different moments than our first week. We still got to go to the splash pad and we still did school, but I think we were cursed a little bit. Amidst the fun and outdoor play, there was pink eye for both girls, fire ants swarming in our minivan, Henry throwing up and having diarrhea all over the hotel bedspreads, and our car hitting some sort of debris on the way home, which tore off one side of the front bumper. Good times.

None of these events seemed like big deals in and of themselves, but we got home on Friday afternoon, and Steve and I were just sooooooooo tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiired. :)

Breakfast each day was so much easier when Steve walked downstairs and brought back a tray. 

Invading Books-A-Million on a rainy day

Navigating the hotel like pros!

More splash pad fun. 
Seriously, I would not have survived these two last two weeks without this splash pad.

Keeping busy in the car.

Even though we were in the same city, it was still a special treat when Daddy came "home" each night.

We let the girls watch the gymnastics and hurdles portion of the Olympics, and their stretching became very intense. 

Doctor's office for medicine

Having a lazy school day after out doctor visit

There are still plenty of fights and plenty of bad attitudes, but this is happening more and more, too.

We ate dinner next to the river one night, and Henry spent for-e-ver throwing handfuls of rocks into the water. 

They found a huge hole and were convinced it was an animal den. 
Then they wanted their picture taken next to it. 

I was pretty convinced that all three of them were going to fall in the nasty pond water, and I was going to have to jump in to save them. Luckily, that didn't happen. 

He has the best "I'm not impressed" faces! I think he learned them from Evelyn.

Henry found a toy piano at one of the playgrounds, and kept saying, "Papa. Papa." I think he was waiting for the music to start.

I'm a total sucker for this girl's smile. 

This was right before his poop poured out of his diaper and all over the hotel bedspread. 

We spent a ton of time with pipe cleaners and beads, and the girls made an insane amount of jewelry.

My reward! Lori (the lovely lady in the middle) offered her lake house to some of the ladies in our Sunday School class, so Mel and I drove up there on Friday night, and it was so much fun! (Okay, so I woke up on Saturday morning with a stomach flu and Mel had to drive me home early, but even Friday night was refreshing!) We got to eat and play games and laugh really loud without worrying about waking any babies. It was glorious!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Alabama With Daddy

Almost exactly one year ago, Steve had been assigned to work five out of six weeks straight. Bella had just started school and Evelyn was in preschool two days a week, so we just did life without him. It wasn't fun, but we made it work. It was also the first time I considered homeschooling. I am not one of those people who secretly feels that every family should homeschool, but I can absolutely look back and see how God moved our hearts towards homeschooling. All of a sudden, everything just seemed to make sense. There was no real downside, and I know that had to be God!

Fast forward to August, and Steve's schedule has been very similar. He had one week in D.C., a week at home, and then one week back in D.C. and three straight weeks in Alabama. We didn't expect to go on the road with him so soon, but we decided to give it a try and see how it worked. So far, the major pitfalls have been keeping Henry happy and Bella's level of focus.

Doing Spelling in the car.

We got a suite, so the room is larger, which really helps us not feel like we're on top of each other. It also gives us a little couch and coffee table, so we have a "school space". Trying to keep Henry contained in a room where there's a bathroom, microwave, art supplies, and papers, all at his level, has been interesting, and at times, a straight disaster. He's either opening and closing the microwave door fifty times, dumping the girls' art supplies all over the floor, or crying at me when I sit him on a chair, smack his hand, or anything else that he doesn't appreciate.

The other hurdle has been Bella's focus, or willingness to do school. Which I totally get! We're in one room and anytime one of the other kids is doing something, her attention span struggles. Which is a lot of the time. I know it's so hard for her to be on "vacation", but also have to sit still and work on Grammar. Here's the thing, though, sitting still and focusing are hard traits for Bella no matter where we're doing school. She would so much rather be running or climbing a tree or looking under rocks.

With all of that in mind, this week has been all about balance; about figuring out when to push my kids and when to call it for the day. Tuesday was a bad "school" day, so we headed for the outdoors, and the day got so much better! For all of us!

We started out at McFarland Park, a campground, marina, and park, all mixed into one. The area that we're in is pretty desolate, as far as the economy goes, but the scenery is beautiful! The local parks are much nicer than what I expected. We saw this park online, and it was even more beautiful in person.

The kids found salamanders, dragonflies, and caterpillars, and we threw a little bit of our current Science lesson in there, and pointed out the cumulus clouds that were overhead. 

It was good for everyone's souls to get outside and enjoy the breeze!

Henry spent the first 48 hours of the trip, pretty much making this face. Steve and I were about done, but on Tuesday afternoon, he took a 2 and 1/2 hour nap, and was a new kid! He's been doing pretty good all of today - thank God for sleep!

We found a lion habitat that was connected to the local college, and it was awesome! There were two, full-grown lions and they were just lounging against the fence. The kids got a very close-up view!

Henry kept "roar"-ing.

And Bella was in Animal Heaven!

Our next stop was the local splash pad. The kids had a great time, and I didn't have to worry about anyone drowning. They ran around in the water for over an hour, and Henry got bold, too!

This kid. I love his big eyes. Make me swoon everytime.

It's been a good week, and I've realized that Bella and Evelyn are definitely not "let's just sit down and get it done" kids when it comes to schoolwork. It's been much better for them to stretch it out over the course of the day. A little bit of school, watch some PBS. Finish your Jackie Robinson book, have a snack. That's not how we do it at home, but it's been working this week!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Some Of This Week...

We survived our first week of homeschooling, and a week without Daddy. Whew! 

Also, for the record, I'm not requiring the girls to wear dresses; they're choosing to wear them on their own. 

Evelyn put together her new "red" puzzle. She was frustrated at first, and pretty convinced she couldn't do it, but once I started pointing out the different pictures and helping her find the pieces, she got really excited.

Bella taking notes about clouds and then drawing what she learned. Here, she was drawing a picture of what happens when the sun passes through the water in a cloud and makes bright colors.

Making smoothies! One of our "Specials" this year is cooking, and I know it's going to be a hard one to follow-through on. Kids are messy, and sometimes that can be really overwhelming, but I'm so glad we did this on Wednesday, because it was a lot of fun and the girls loved it! 

This was a great parent moment, where I had about 20 seconds in Walmart to make a decision. I've been telling the girls all Summer that I'd dye their hair, but I keep forgetting. (Other parents do that, too, right?) The only box that was a funky color had this genteel, young lady on the cover, which advertised an upcoming movie called Suicide Squad. So. Many. Thoughts. I grabbed the box while the girls were looking at Dora shampoo, flipped it over, and paid for it carefully. Once we got home, I took the stuff out of the box and threw the box away before they could see anything. That's good times right there.

We visited the Eastside playground, and Henry pretended he was a lion.

I've got to admit, Thursday was a rough day for me (although, probably our best day of homeschooling). It was the day that Eastside went back to school, and I missed being a part of the fun and hooplah. The uniforms and the new bookbags, and seeing all of the parents and teachers again. It didn't make me want to change my mind about homeschooling, but it did make me text Whitney and be sad to her. 

FaceTimeing with Papa to hear him play the piano. Papa's the best. The end.

Putting the finishing touches on our first Science experiment, a wind vane! This was a little bit of trial-and-error, because we had to substitute our own materials for some of the cheaper versions that came with the kit, but still, it worked! Bella also used a compass for the first time. 

Evelyn is definitely in the stage of thinking she can't do something new, and then getting tickled pink when she figures it out. Granted, she may be doing it with a lot of help from Mommy, but it still makes her feel accomplished. 

Can I have a "Side Note" about Evelyn for a second? This girl is insanely verbal. I mean, she's incredibly well-spoken, she gets social nuances that Bella has no clue about, and she has a freakish memory. She can count to at least 30 and uses words like "literally" and "actually". 

But she doesn't recognize letters or numbers very well at all. I mean, at all. I don't know if it's a learning-style thing, but it throws me off a little bit, because I expect her to know more, and I know they went over letters a little it in preschool last year, but she can't identify about 3/4  of the alphabet. Anyway, that's just my "huh" parenting moment of the day.

On the one hand, my girls don't see a whole lot of diversity in their daily lives. On the other, I've noticed that it doesn't really seem to register with them anyway. In a good way. They are very matter-of-fact about describing their friends with either "brown skin" or "peach skin", but it's not an issue otherwise. I've never gotten into the issue of racism with Bella, so I was glad to have her read this book and then get to discuss it with her. She's only about halfway through, but she's figuring out that not everyone has been treated equal in this world. She also wanted to know why people with brown skin were called "black", which I had absolutely no answer for.

Her graphic organizer that I made for her to complete on Jackie Robinson. I've loved being there when she's learned new things!

It's My Own, Stupid Fault

So, I was playing with Bella and Evelyn on the couch. We had just finished reading a cowgirl book (of course), and we were having a tickle fight. It quickly escalated into calling each other silly names - "cupcake face" and "smoothie breath" may have been called out. Well, without even thinking of what I was really saying, and please keep in mind, we had just read a book about horses, I looked at Bella and yelled out, "You're a horse's bottom!" 

The sheer mental horror of accidentally calling my child a replacement for a swear word was quickly overcome by the horror of hearing them repeat it. Over and over and over. Except it's not just horrifying; it's also hilarious. I made it worse by laughing hysterically at them, which made them say it even more. 

Oh wait! It got worse. Evelyn didn't understand what I had said, and ended up yelling "whore's bottom" at everyone. So, if you see my kids in church and they call you a 'horse's bottom', or even worse, a 'whore's bottom', please don't judge them...it's all my fault.

Monday, August 1, 2016

First Day Of School!

We made it! We survived our first day of homeschooling! I'm probably going to be a little more optimistic about it, because it's over and all of the little humans are in bed, but still! It was fun, and I'm hoping that's the most important part.

Here's how it went, what I loved, and what I want to change tomorrow. 

You have to have a picture of the calendar, because otherwise, it's not official. 

Little Miss Bella. She loves climbing trees and imitating animals. When she grows up, she wants to be a horse trainer.

Little Miss Evelyn spends most of her day following Bella around. When she grows up, she wants to work at the bank with Daddy, become a hairstylist like our most favorite Miss Suzanne, or be a famous ballerina. 

I loved that all we had to do was walk back inside! The first few minutes of the morning will take some getting used to. Like, whelp, I guess we should do school now. I'm sure that will change as we get used to our routine, but it felt a little weird this morning, not rushing off to school, or yelling at Bella to put her shoes on.

Henry's interpretation of Math...Henry was a complicated part of today. He didn't sleep well last night, so he was cranky all morning, his nap schedule was off, and he was pretty needy. I know Henry is just a part of homeschooling that we'll have to adjust to, but I'm still figuring it out.

Bella rocked her schoolwork today! She is definitely a first-born and a rule follower. Last night, she told Steve that she was most excited about "the work". She and I worked pretty well together...I know there will be times when we don't, but it was a good first day!

Evelyn working on one of her quiet boxes. She spent a good amount of lacing beads on pipe cleaners and making all sorts of jewelry. These kept her busy for a good chunk of the morning while Bella and I were doing Math, so I'd call them a success!

Bella and her "All About Me" paper. It was fun to do some of the traditional back-to-school things, even though we're not in a traditional classroom. 

Evelyn is working on letters and sounds this year. We're doing a Letter-of-the-Week program, starting with vowels. She did a really good job this morning and stayed focused much better than I thought she would!

Evelyn's "A" craft today - an alligator eating a's. 

Bella spent some time this morning doing independent reading. This may have been my favorite time of the day! (And not because it was quiet.) It was so cool to get to watch her curl up in Steve's chair and read a book that I had assigned her. It's a children's biography of Jackie Robinson...not a horse book, or someone she's familiar with. But she read it and she kept reading! I assigned her Chapters One and Two, and she came bouncing up to me, saying she had read through Chapter Three, because she liked it so much! It was a quintessential "this is why" moment for me. 

Things That I Liked Today:

1. The way each girl focused on their work and really tried hard. 
2. Being able to make them whatever food I wanted for lunch and snacks.
3. The freedom of the schedule! Oh my goodness! This one was amazing!

Things That Are Going To Take some Crazy Patience:

1. Henry. Most of my strategy around Henry involves holding him or praying desperately. 
Working on this...
2. The girls wanting to do "Summer" things, like binge-watch Netflix, 
or constantly asking what we were doing next.
3. Being with the kids 24/7. I know this is an obvious one when you decide to homeschool, but still...

Okay! I think that's it! 
We learned and colored and read and laughed and whined and played. 
It was a good first day!