Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Our Home School

In mid-July this summer, just a couple of weeks before the mad rush for school supplies, Marcus and I made the decision to try homeschooling the boys.  So far, it has been a smashing hit for all involved.  The kids love it, I love it and Marcus loves it.  All for different reasons, but with equal fervor :) 

The boys love not being rushed in the morning, learning at their own pace and having more time to play together (the structured part of our school day only lasts 3-4 hours).  Caleb liked school last year, but he has assured me multiple times that he likes homeschooling much more.  Ethan was not fond of preschool (hated it at age 3 and tolerated it at age 4), and he strutted around like he'd won the lottery when he found out he was going to get to do kindergarten at home :) Lydia loves having her brothers around during the day, playing "school" at her little craft table, and not being in the car for 2+ hours a day (like last year). 

Marcus loves being exempt from the struggle with his coworkers for time off during school breaks (we can vacation whenever!), he loves Ethan doing first grade math because that's what he's ready for instead of his learning being confined to the parameters set by his grade.  Marcus also enjoys talking to the kids about what they learned that day, and being able to get answers out of them since their teacher is sitting right there!  He is great at adding perspectives to their science and math lessons, and when he can, he likes to do their science experiments with them. 

I love all of the above, and I also LOVE learning with the kids, being with them all the time, hardly ever rushing (and never first thing in the morning), and feeling free to enroll them in activities without eroding the little bit of free time a school day would allow them.  I love how connected the three kids are, both to each other and to me.

Last year, Caleb was always so tired when he got home from his 8-hour school day that he just wanted some down time, mostly alone.  Ethan wanted to play, and I wanted to talk to Caleb about his day, but he just wanted to chill.  I felt most of the time like I had no idea what he was learning or thinking or experiencing.  He always said he had a good day, and his teacher always said he behaved well and was having no trouble keeping up, but I still felt very disconnected from him.  And Ethan struggled so much to behave himself in preschool.  He really, truly gave it his best.  Unfortunately for him, there is something in his nature that goes nuts when you put him in a classroom with 10+ other kids.  It was all he could do to control himself for 3 hours a day last year, and I dreaded putting his self-control to the test for an 8-hour kindergarten day.  Ethan rarely struggles with impulsivity when he's at home or in very small groups, so his behavior has been smooth sailing since he finished preschool six months ago.  His self-esteem has soared, and he is the smart, funny, kind, hardworking little boy that I've always seen beneath the classroom behavioral struggles.

I don't say things like this as often as I should, but I believe to the core of my being that homeschooling was God's idea, and that he impressed it upon my heart through repeated encounters, conversations, and heart-nudgings all summer long.  I had no inkling of teaching my kids at home when school let out in the spring!  But God did his work on both of our hearts, and we are thankful for the blessings upon blessings we and our children are receiving already!


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Monday, October 7, 2013

Fall Camping

Our family took its first Tennessee camping trip this past weekend at Fall Creek Falls State Park.  This park was by far the prettiest place I've ever camped, and maybe the prettiest state park I've ever been to.  I don't have much time these days for writing blog posts, but, thanks to Picasa, it only takes a couple of minutes to post pictures :)


Lydia is standing at our campsite in this picture, and the camp play ground was so close that we could sit around the fire while watching the kids enjoy the playset.

I took this picture from our campsite as well.  Marcus brought our pop-up goals, and there was a field next to our site perfect for pick-up games.  We had about half a dozen kids join in the soccer fun over the weekend.

Lydia with Marcus's college roommate, Brian Borgman
Our friends from college days, Brian and Gena Borgman.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"It Goes That Long?!?"

Ethan is into asking everyone he meets how old he or she is.  He knows the exact ages of lots of people in our lives.  One of those people is our babysitter, Amber, who is 25-years-old.  The other day, she and Ethan were chatting in my presence, and Amber made a reference to getting something done for school.  Ethan stopped short.  He looked incredulously at her and said, "You go to school?"  Then he turned his incredulous look to me and blurted out "It goes THAT LONG?!?"  Ethan, unlike his brother, is not school's biggest fan, and he was flabbergasted to learn that school continues for many well into their third decade.  He was so discouraged by this news of interminable education that I didn't have the heart to tell him that his dad just finished "school" last year :)


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Great Wolf Lodge

For our first little adventure of 2013, we had made plans to join our college friends, Alli and Damon Herren, for a weekend at the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio.  Unfortunately, Marcus ended up having to stay home and cover call at the hospital, so Nanna extended her visit and stood in for him so the kids wouldn't lose their much-anticipated trip.  It took us about six hours to drive up to Mason, and the trip there went smoothly.  When we arrived in the huge, three-story lobby of the lodge, Caleb looked all around and said in awe, "Ohio is AWESOME."  

I can't speak for all of Ohio, but Great Wolf Lodge is pretty amazing.  There is an entire water park inside the lodge, just a short walk from our spacious room.  The kids had so much fun enjoying every part of the water park and playing with the magic wand that opened treasure chests all over the lodge.  And I had so much fun catching up with my college bestie and her husband, also a good friend from the semester we all three studied abroad in Athens, Greece.  Alli has two little ones, Kyla (age 3) and Lana (age 1).  Lydia enjoyed the little girls, and Ethan and Kyla really hit it off as well.  One night, they got to have a late-night play date from 9:00 to 10:00 while Kyla's parents did the big-kid water slides (all the other kids were asleep).  Kyla and Ethan sat on the couch and made up silly stories together about Kyla's favorite stuffed animal, a llama.  I'm afraid Ethan may have interjected a little violence into the stories (llama was being very naughty and killing other imaginary animals), but they sure enjoyed each other!  Alli's girls are precious and I'm so glad I had a chance to get to know them at these ages. 

Caleb was tall enough to ride everything in the park (just barely) and he ended up getting on all but two of the water slides.  (The only reason he didn't get to those two was because Nanna and Ethan weren't feeling well the last day, so we didn't spend as much time in the water as we'd planned.)  Most of the time, Nanna hung out in the toddler area with Lydia, while I followed the boys around to where they wanted to go, snatching a minute to chat with Alli as often as I could.  Lydia enjoyed the smaller water slides and wading in the water with Nanna, though she did get cold much faster than the boys, so we either warmed her up in towels or in the hot tub.  She also tired out faster and spent more time in the room with Nanna than the boys did.  Though the boys had much more stamina than Lydia, when they got too cold in the lazy river or the wave pool or in one of the long water-slide lines, they took their turn resting in the huge hot tub (more of a hot pool) as well.  It couldn't quite be a great vacation without our very own Super Dad, but it was as good as it could be in the circumstances, and I am ever-so-grateful to Nanna for making it possible!


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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Nanna Is Here

Nanna is here for a visit and it so wonderful to have her!  The kids are all getting spoiled :)  Lydia gets rocked all the way to sleep every night, Ethan has an adult who always says yes when he wants to play a board game, and Caleb has another ear to listen to him read.  She even sits upstairs with the boys when they play Wii and cheers on their every move.  I love it!


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