Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Polar arctic

The last 5 weeks have been a bit tough. Ezra's 18 months old now and I"m trying to figure out how to homeschool with a little guy who wants me to hold him most of the time and who likes to climb up on tables and play in the toilets. He has also started screaming at the top of his lungs to communicate. He knows what he wants and gets so frustrated that he can't tell me. He does have some words and a few signs, but the problem with the signs is that I have to be looking at him to see what he wants. Most of the time, I"m looking somewhere else, so in order to get my attention he screams. He's also adjusting his nap routine from two down to one. There have been a few days when he only slept 30 minutes the whole day. On this day, he did not nap at all. The kids were piled on the couch watching a show and Ezra went right to sleep leaning on Abby!

So, I'm thankful for a break this week and for a chance to look through my pictures and remember that we did learn and we did have fun! If I don't make an effort to remember the good times, it is too easy to only focus on the difficult ones and fall into a trap thinking I can't do this.

We checked out a few fun books about the Arctic from the library.

Elijah helped Abby to make an igloo out of marshmallows. It turned out so nicely! The glue helped it harden, so I guess it will be around awhile. We set up a little play scene with Artic animals, the igloo and an iceberg from a game we have.

I froze different size containers of ice. I put them on trays to serve as icebergs. It made another great playscape for the artic animals.

We watched "The March of the Penguins" for a family movie night. We took turns being the Mommy and Daddy penguin passing the egg to each other. We used a small ball for the egg.

We made a few artic and winter crafts. I can take or leave the crafts, but I absolutley love painting with Abby. I gathered the supplies for a few nice art lessons to do with her so I could just grab them when we had some time for just the two of us. There is something about art that makes my heart sing!

We used water colors and masking tape to create winter birch trees. Elijah and I used to take watercolor lessons together before we had children. I got out our good watercolor paints and brushes for this lesson.

Abby does lots of drawings on her own. I thought this one was particularly good. She got a unicorn for christmas and wanted to draw that.

Sometimes I feel like Enoch gets lost in the middle of everything. He asks quiet a bit if he can "do school with me." If I can get Abby to play with Ezra in another room for a bit, then I can have some time to sit down at the table with him for focused time together. I've started doing a few of the lessons at the very beginning of the Right Start Math program I am using with Abby.

We recently got an ipad which I am really enjoying. It's a great tool for school. There are so many educational apps to add. It's nice to let one child play w/ it while I work with another.

Enoch doesn't have much time for hugging, but Elijah happened to be at the right place at the right time to snap this picture. I will cherish it!

Abby also got in on the action of teaching Enoch. She made little connect the dot letters for Enoch on the white board for him to practice writing his letters. He loved it!

Abby has really wanted to play a lot lately. I'm so thankful she has two brothers to play with, they have such a great time being creative together.

We took a few field trips. The Adventure Science Center currently has a nice exhibit about animals. There are lots of ways to pretend there, it was perfect for the little ones.

Doctor Abby and Doctor Ella are ready for surgery

They even had someone demonstrating really neat science experiments.

Abby and I joined a school day at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center about Aaron Copeland's music.

Our family went to Centennial park to feed the ducks and geese on a warm Saturday morning, Ezra was super excited about seeing real animals.

We're a part of a group that meets twice a month. It was my month to plan the activities for our group. We had a Valentine party at the Downtown library. The other moms were able to take their little ones to the story time while a few helpers and We did some really fun Valentine themed educational activities. Of course they also exchanged valentines at the end.

Okay, this was a good reminder, we did have lots of fun the past five weeks. I am looking forward to a break this week, and then we move on to the African Savannah!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Homeschooling is Hard

After a long Christmas break from school, which we all enjoyed so much, Abby has started to show a little resistance to our "sit down and learn" time. As I've sat with her and asked her about what's going on in her heart when I see resistance creeping in, she has simply stated, "I'd just rather play." I believe she does enjoy learning, but there are times when she'd just rather play, which seems perfectly normal for a six year old! I want to just accept this for what it is, a normal 6 year old who loves playing, and not take it personally, but it's really hard somedays. I think there is a balance of accepting where she's at and relaxing my expectations and also helping her understand the beauty and freedom of homeschooling and how blessed she is to be able to stay home and learn with me. I don't want to guilt her into learning. One of my main goals for her this year was to continue to love to learn. I don't want to squelch the joy of learning by holding my expectations too high and putting too much pressure on her just because I like the satisfaction of checking off another one of my boxes on my planned list.

I think I'm going through a little homeschool "burnout" which I think is pretty normal this time of year. We're about 100 days into school, so we're more than half way to our required 180 days. I had laid out a plan of 4 school days per week so we could have one day off. I struggle with perfectionism and it seem that I can't help but "sneak in" an extra day of school on our planned day off so I can be ahead of my planned out schedule. I was such a weirdo in college that actually finished my papers early because I wanted to avoid the stress of last minute deadlines. I'm realizing I need to scale back, lower my expectation and take my planned break. This is a great chance to recall why we are doing this. My main focus is developing a strong positive relationship with my children, loving them well, teaching them how to rely on the Lord for everything. All the "school stuff" is actually secondary on my list of priorities.

It's also a little difficult to balance my two roles of teacher and mother. I'm finding it difficult to just play with my children for the sake of playing. I always have this pressure I put on myself to make everything educational. I do want our lives to be learning in everything we are doing, but I want it to be JOYFUL!

As I've processed through these feelings for a few days, the Lord has brought to my mind how He has cared and provided for me through this rough patch where I've honestly just wanted to run away from my house, far away! I'm tired! This feels hard! He's gently reminding me not to be afraid of things that are hard. He will give me what I need. I've wanted to just escape, but He will restore my soul when I come. Two specific ways He's provided have been through a sweet neighbor who loves to invite Abby and Enoch over to play frequently. This has given them great social interaction and a much needed break for me. Also a 12 year old homeschool girl has expressed interest in getting some practice caring for young children. She and her mother have asked if they can come and play with all three children while I take a break.

One more week of learning about Polar animals and then a week break...which I plan to take!