Thursday, March 22, 2012

Creating The Life I Want: More Changes

Continuing my 2012 theme:  Creating the Life I Want!

After revamping my parenting style and creating a more peaceful home, the next step in creating the life I want is a big one...

We are going to homeschool!

I have had all 3 kids in school for 2 years now, and I will happily admit that I have loved every minute of it.  I love their school, I love their teachers, and I love having my days peaceful and quiet.  I can grocery shop, recover from work, clean, and enjoy myself for 6 hours a day! 

Despite all the perks of sending them to school, I have long wanted to bring them home.  I finally wore Kydon down enough that he agreed to let me try it.  I have been gathering curriculum, buying books, and creating lesson plans and schedules.  It is really exciting!  The kids are excited too, although I will admit that I have heavily played up the benefits!  We are letting them finish the year at school, and we will start homeschool in August! 

The number one question people ask me is "why?", and it is a very valid question. 

- It is NOT because I am dissatisfied with their school.  I LOVE the school, I love the teachers we have had.  There is not a problem that I am trying to avoid or fix by homeschooling.  I could send them to this school for the rest of elementary and be very happy.

- It is NOT because I think public school is awful.  I think it is great most of the time.  Yes, there are things about public school that are less-than-ideal, but I could list just as many things that will be less-than-ideal about homeschool.  I do not think people are bad or wrong for choosing to use the public schools.  I think they are great!

- It IS because I want to be more involved in their schoolwork.  I want to know details of what they are learning and how they learn it.  I want to help them understand something new.  I want to show them things and teach them things.  I want to learn some of those things myself!

- It IS also because I want a more flexible schedule.  I think going to school for 9 months solid with just a week here and there off then stopping everything for an entire 3 months is silly.  I want to have a more consistent schedule of work time and down time.  There are days I can tell they have just "had it" and need a day off.  I make them fight through and go to school, but I would love to be able to say "take the morning off, and we will get to it later or tomorrow" without them missing precious instruction time.

- It IS because I want them to be able to learn at their own pace- to not worry about being ahead and bored or behind and frustrated.  Every child learns at a different pace, and some things come easily and others don't- I want to be able to go fast when we can and slow down when we need to!

-It IS because I want to vacation when I want!  We were looking at prices for a trip to Florida recently.  We were looking at rentals.  The cost for the rental in the month we wanted to go was $1000.  The week of our spring break, the price shot up to $2500.  I want to go to Disney in September when there are no crowds!  I want to take off on vacation because we got a great deal on airfare without being restricted by school schedules. 

- It IS because I want to have fun with my kids.  The way summer is- school work in the morning, play and visit museums and go for hikes all afternoon.  By the time they get home at 2:30 and have snack and homework, they have barely 2 hours to play before it is time for dinner and getting ready for bed.  And of course that is reduced on days we have soccer and piano lessons.  I think kids need more time to play.  More time to relax and do nothing and be bored and dig out old toys and think of new ways to turn tinker toys into weapons.  I hear stories of kids who go to school all day and come home for 2 hours of homework.  I want to avoid that!

I was originally worried about the cost of homeschool.  One book I read said to budget about $300 per child per year.  I budgeted $1000, and I wanted it to include curriculum, 2 museum memberships, and school supplies.  Of course, as with everything, you can spend more and more, but I was able to purchase all of our curriculum for less than $500, the museums I am interested in offer discounts for homeschoolers, and I have more than $300 left for supplies, which I really don't think I will spend that much.  I reviewed how much I have spent over the past year for our "free" public school- between school supplies, donations to the school, participation in fundraisers, and uniforms, I had easily spent $900, and that didn't count small donations like extra glue sticks or special things/treats that the teachers asked for now and then.  I don't think I will save money homeschooling, but it isn't costing me much more than "free" public school.

Friday, March 16, 2012

What They Draw In Church

We let the kids each have a notebook and pen during church.  I find it rather fascinating the things they draw- each are so different!

Abigail either makes an activity book for one of the boys- a folded over paper with tic tac toe games, dot games, mazes and hidden pictures, or she writes stories:

 Hungry Boy Island:  I was going to go to hungry boy island.  There must be a lot of hungry boys there.  When I got there, I could not see any boys on it.  (But look closely at the above picture- do you see the boy coming??  Does he look hungry??)
 Next we have Everything On It:
 One day I saw a hamburger stand and went to it.  I asked if I could have everything on it.  I should have said can I have a hamburger with lettuce on it, mustard on it, ketchup on it, tomato on it but instead I said can I have everything on it.  That was my lesson instead of them giving me all the things that go on a hamburger the man gave me a ship a toy a elephant a turtle and all the things in the world on my hamburger.
 Jack sits next to Daddy and give Daddy requests of what he should draw.  "Draw a monster truck!"
 "Draw a haunted house"  - Jack added the flying bats.  I couldn't find a picture of the ever popular "maze of death" that is one of his favorites.
 Aidan really likes numbers.  All numbers, all the time.  He spent several weeks making this list- 1+1=2, 2+2=4, and so on.  Sometimes he would get tired and ask me to work on it for a while (of course I said yes- he was working so hard on it)!
 He got well into the hundreds before he moved onto something else.  Like I said, it was a several week project.
 Once he finished that, he listed numbers 1-21 down the edge, then reversed the order in the next column, then put all the numbers together as a "sum".  I find this number fascination very interesting.
 Today he made spikes- a spike to the first line listed as 1, spike to the second line is 2, etc.  It went on for several pages.  Makes me wish I had a degree in child psycology to figure all this out! Or maybe mathematics!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Soccer Season Begins Again!

After a year off, we signed up for soccer once again!  This time we are trying the wall-to-wall method, and I am loving it!  There was a slight communication error, and we ended up with Jack and Aidan on one team, and Abigail on a different team with her good friend.  I don't mind a bit, however, because practices and games are all on the same days and same times, so I still get all the benefits of having them on the same team- just sometimes my attention is split and I miss some good plays once in a while!

 Abby is a member of "Team Chelsea"
 Jack and Aidan are "Team Arsenal" (side note, what are the chances that Aidan got on a team named "Arsenal" with a canon on the jersey??)
 We had to buy some new shoes and socks- can't believe how much they grew this year! 
 The kids are having a blast, and we are loving it too!  Although we have been reminded a few times how much time is taken by having soccer every single weekend!
 I'm so glad these two are playing together again!
 They have each scored several goals already, and their ball control has really improved!

Yay soccer!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Never Too Old For Bubbles!

Kydon and I are working in the Nursery at Church, so we spend a lot of time with the 2 year olds!  One of the weekly highlights is having Kydon and I blow bubbles.  Well, it didn't take long to get really tired of hyperventilating for 15 min to produce a paltry 1-2 bubbles per blow.  So when the summer stuff hit Target, I snatched up a bubble machine.  One beautiful January (yes, January) day I set it up for the kids, and they had an absolute blast!

 Of course our favorite neighbors had to join us! 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Fear of Patterns and Zippers!

As much as I love to sew and create, and I even love to make clothing, I have long held onto two distinct fears- fear of patterns and fear of zippers!  I would fall apart and get shaky if either of those elements came into my life, so I very diligently found ways to avoid both!  I would only make things that did not contain those two elements.

Until now!  I decided to make Abigail a dress- from a PATTERN, and -AND- it contained a ZIPPER!  Both at once, I was feeling brave!

 And, despite having to reread the instructions a million few times, and sewing one piece on upside down the first time, I made it!  Her spring dress turned out pretty cute! 
I'm so happy with it I'm even considerening making another!  Just not right away.... 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Creating my new life

As January came around this year, I decided on my 2012 purpose:  Create the life you want!  I came to realize that there were so many things I wanted to do with my life- things I want to start, things I want to change, things I want to eliminate.  I decided that this year I was going to set about doing those things!  Imaging the life I want and creating it- making it happen. 

First on the list was changing the emotional climate of our house.  At any given moment, our life felt like chaos and highly charged emotions- yelling, crying, frustration, you name it.  All 5 of us were guilty.  It could be anything from putting the wrong color of cup on the table to fighting with siblings.  There was near constant stress in our house, and I wanted to change it.  I wanted calm, peaceful days (beginning with me), and thanks to a friend, I have found something that is working!

I bought the book "A house united- teaching self-government" by Nicholeen Peck.  I spent a week reading it cover to cover, and I knew it was exactly what I was looking for.  She spends 75% of the book talking about communication, praise, and showing love to your family.  Before anything else, start with the positive!  She maintains that children need to learn four basic skills-
  1. Following Instructions
  2. Accept a "no" Answer
  3. Accept a Consequence
  4. Disagree Appropriately
When I read those skills, I swear the earth shook.  I felt like they could barely do any of those skills.  If they could learn them, it would absoulutely change our entire home.  So I put the plan into place.  We explained it to the kids, made it very clear what was expected and what would happen if expectations were not met.  There was a lot of initial teaching, but they caught on really, really quick!

And, by far, the biggest benefit has been for my own emotional stability!  I have a plan of exactly what I will do in each situation.  I know what to give consequenses for and what consequence I will give.  I have a script in my head of exactly what I will say and exactly what I will do.  There is no emotion or frustration or anger like there used to be.  We have been going strong for 3 weeks now, and it is incredible how much it has helped.

If I say no to something, they (out of long established habit), start to scream.  I say to them "it sounds like you want to disagree", and they immediately calm down (they aren't allowed to disagree until they are calm), and then they say "Mom, may I disagree appropriately?"  (and it is pretty cute to hear them lisp the word appropriately!)  I say "yes", and then they say something like "I know you said I can't watch tv, but I really want to watch it".  I then give them a decision and they are expected to accept the decision and drop the subject.  Each basic skill has certain exact steps to follow, and if they don't they earn a consequence. 

There is still a long way to go, but I can see such a huge difference in our family!  It is a huge blessing to us to have found this book!  Creating a loving, kind, peaceful home was #1 on my list of creating the life I want!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Calloway Gardens

A few weeks ago Kydons' sister came to visit with her husband and son, and we all took a trip to Calloway Gardens.  Right when we got there, Aidan came running up asking me to take his picture in this certain spot.  I fell over dead, then happily complied!

 He picked a pretty good spot, I have to admit! 
 Then the others got in on the action!
 We took some walks, a short mini hike, and went to the butterfly house.  It was a beautiful day!
 A few days later they came up and we went to a park and played around for a day until they had to leave!
 Abigail and Camille.

I'm glad we got a picture of (almost) the whole group!