Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Of Mountains, Manure and Monsters

I love running.  I've ran since middle school and have recently dabbled in the world of Ultra running.  Therefore, runs of 26 miles or more are not unfamiliar (or odd) to me.  When you are by yourself for that long there is a lot of time to think.  Many times my mind wanders and I find myself cruising along the western States Trail in California.  One hundred miles of trail through cool forest and hot red canyons.  I am by myself, without care or much responsibility.

On certain days however, the smell of cow manure punches it's way into my nose and brings me back to reality.  I live in rural west Michigan.  There are no mountains.  There is one hill.  And my "trail" is a dirt road around a cemetery.  But that's okay.  I can still get excited about running past corn fields under the crisp moonlight.  Animal eyes reflecting the light from my headlamp make farmland seem desolate.  I'm still by myself.  Quiet.  My run.  My life.

My watch beeps as I slow to a walk in front of my house.  The sun is up by now, at the right time of year.  I walk for a minute or so.  Then I hear the pounding.  It sounds like something is trying to escape.  That's when I look up at our front window and see one, two, three little heads looking out at me and hitting the glass with their little hands.  Every morning I run.  Without fail.

I stand up a little straighter and give a little wave back.  I walk up the driveway and all eyes follow me.  I stand below the window and make faces.  Wave some more.  Play peek-a-boo.  And even jump up and hit the window back at them.  They smile.  Giggle.  Stare wide awake.

You can probably tell which part of this scene I enjoy the most.  Sure, I could run for hours.  Add to my medal collection.  Travel the world and see and run through some amazing places.  Meet some pretty incredible people who, up to now, I've only read about.  I could.  And yet, there would be something missing.

No red-headed little guy following me up and down the stairs.  No little blondie coming out of her room every morning like she's got a pack of Red Bull hidden under her covers.  And no three (almost four) going on sixteen year old carrot-top saying "I love you daddy" as she gives me goodnight hugs and kisses at 8:30am every weekday.

No medal can top that.  No record or prize money could ever mean the same thing.  And if I run (or someday walk) around the same cemetery dirt road the rest of my life chasing phantoms of the elite, that's okay.  I have already won one of the best things a life on Earth an give.  I am a dad.  And I've got three (soon to be four) precious, priceless gifts from God.  And that is something far beyond anything I could have ever dreams of.

P.S. Maybe the next time I get surprised with the change to make a "guest appearance" I can write about my wife.  Wait, how many pages will this site let me write?  Hmmm

Monday, August 27, 2012

A "Typical" Day!

Another link up today!  We are sharing our "typical" school day schedule on the "Not Back to School" blog hop.  Pop on over here to see lots more ideas for scheduling your day!

Not Back to School Blog Hop

We are a scheduled family, I know it's not for everyone but for us, it works.  My kids have been on a schedule (flexible but scheduled) since they were infants and I've found that for me, and for them, it's easier to know what's coming next.  So we carried that "flexible schedule" over into our school life too!  None of our days are exactly alike, that's what you get when you have 3 kiddos but here's a look at what a "typical" school day looks like for us!

We've tried a couple of different things, when we started the school year 3 weeks ago we schooled in two sessions, a "morning session" (during Abram's nap) and an "afternoon session" (when both Abram and Sophia were napping).  However, Abram then decided that he didn't need his morning nap anymore so we have rearranged a bit and now we just do it all in one sitting while the two little ones are napping in the afternoon!  I try to keep it to about an hour.

 We start our school day with calendar time.  This includes going over the weather, days of the week, months of the year, memory verse, and color of the day (which usually corresponds to whatever color shirt Amelia is wearing)! We are also putting together a 100 piece puzzle - one piece gets glued on for each day we do school!

 We are doing the workbox system this year and so far it's going really well!  Amelia loves that she knows what to do next and for the most part doesn't need a whole lot of guidance.  I change the activities daily but box #1 is always either a letter or number tracing page.  This week we are learning letter C and number 3!

 Box #2 today was putting together nuts and bolts.  Great for finger dexterity, and hand eye coordination.  Plus way inexpensive! :)

 Box #3 is our "heaviest" work and I always keep this in box #3 so if we don't get much else done at least we've gotten to this.  Amelia usually needs help with these workbooks more than the other boxes.  There are our Rod and Staff workbooks and so far I am LOVING them.  Amelia is learning left from right, sight words, coloring in the lines etc.  A great investment for sure!

 Box #4 is cutting practice

 Box #5 is ALWAYS story and a snack!  

 Box #6 is usually another "heavy" box.  This is another Rod and Staff workbook that Amelia needs help with.  We do this book twice a week, the other days we're working on an "All About Me" lap book so I always include the "Work With Mom" card (on the other side is a picture of her and me) in this box!

 Box #7 today was sorting Pom-poms by color, which is way too easy for her but she loves doing it!

 Box #8 is her pre-writing mazes!  Her very favorite thing and I must say, a great investment.  I'll be ordering the next level up for her in the coming months as she has wizzed through these faster than I thought she would (they are dry erase so she can do them over and over).

 Box #9 this time was lacing cards

Box #10 is pattern work with over-sized beads.  Sometimes she puts them on a string, sometimes she just lays them on the table.  

We school 4 days a week (M, W, Th, F), about an hour each day (sometimes less, sometimes more depending on Amelia's mood).  I am really liking our system thus far, it's not the same two days in a row so Amelia isn't getting bored.  And the work boxes vary from fun activities to activities that are actually challenging for her. 

Stay tuned later in the week for a guest post from Tim!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

One very long week

I do apologize for lack of posts this week.  I personally have not been feeling 100% and it is taking all my energy just to make it through my days. Not to mention a 3 day garage sale, we've been a little busy.
Not to worry, on Monday I'll be posting "a day in the life-what our school day looks like" on the "Not back to school" blog hop so be sure to check back!
Until then, here's a couple pictures to tide you over!

The kiddy table at the garage sale, trying to keep them busy... worked for the most part!

This is my favorite part of the morning!  Just to the right of Abram's head you can see Tim coming up the driveway from his run...the kids rush to the window and wave to him every morning!

Doing some school work outside!

Sophia "making ice cream" - not sure why but the girls flip their trikes over and pretend to make ice cream... it keeps them entertained.

And that's seriously ALL the pictures I took this week :(  Hopefully next week I'll be feeling a little better!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Our Week In Pictures

Trying on daddy's hat!

We headed to the park.  Amelia got brave and tried out the twisty slide!

and the rock wall (all by herself)

This was one of the very few times Sophia went down a slide and it took lots of coaxing...

My handsome boy.  Abram was content to sit at the bottom of the slide and watch the action around him.

Not too sure about the tunnel slide!

"mommy, take a picture of me with all my animals!"

Abram was helping me put away laundry - in the drawer where all the bags/foil go!  We find many sippy cups and pacis in here as well!

Grammy came with us to the farmer's market.  The girls got to pet some animals (thanks to grandma - there's no way mommy was going to help with that)!

Amelia loved watching the ducks up close, Sophia not to much!

This is what happens when Abram misses both of his naps... zonked out by dinner time!

A little school work!

daddy unpacked all his matchbox cars from when he was little - the kids LOVE to play with them!

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Countdown Is On!

YIKES, where have the last 34 weeks gone?  With only 6 weeks to go until baby #4 arrives we are busy busy checking things off our (okay okay, "my") "To Do Before Baby Comes" list!

I am so thankful that my husband is sopatient!  With each pregnancy it seems the things on my lists become just a tad more obscure.  With baby #1 it was all the obvious things; assemble crib, wash baby clothes (most of which were gifts), pack for the hospital... that was about it.  Baby #2 was pretty similar sinc
e we were expecting another girl and hadn't put any of the baby things away since the two girls are so close in age.  With pregnancy #3 things were lots different, not only were we expecting our first boy but we also had a HUGE construction project going on.  We finished our entire basement in just a couple of months (everything from framing, to insulation, electric, paint and carpet) so most of my crazy list revolved around that, other than the regular baby things; buy boy clothes etc!

Now we are on to pregnancy #4, while my "TDBBC" list does include many of the normal things, wash baby clothes, pack for hospital etc, my husband has given me "that" look multiple times in the last few months.  Let me just give you a general run down:

My list this time was broken into categories, first by floor, then by room, including the garage!  Some things weren't too crazy, I wanted (okay so I haven't finished this yet) all my kitchen cupboards organized and cleaned out, not too out there right? 

But then we moved on to other things like -organize Tim's tools (I did this one afternoon, even going so far as to wiping them all down and vacuuming all the dust out of his tool box), this also included having Tim assemble some shelves for the garage on which to store all the tools which are newly organized!

Then came more silly things,  -alphabetize all CD/DVDs (because the baby will care?), and -defrost the deep freezer (seriously?).  And let me just say that I am so very blessed, between my mom and my husband we have knocked out most of the list, there are only a handful of things left... and I have 6 weeks to do them! 

I know women go through nesting phases during pregnancy but I'm even starting to drive myself a bit crazy.  I've been dealing with insomnia for the past several weeks (partly because of pregnancy, partly because I have one child who shall remain nameless who refuses to sleep all night), so what do I do in the middle of the night?  I've been organizing our closets.  It's a sickness I'm sure of it.  And while it is nice to know exactly how many shirts I have in every color it's not really necessary to bringing home a baby is it?  My husband would say no!

Just for kicks I thought it would be fun to compare my belly with all four kiddos at the same time, so for your viewing pleasure... here is me at 34 weeks!

Pregnancy #1 (girl)

Pregnancy #2 (girl)

Pregnancy #3 (boy)

Pregnancy #4 (girl)

Other than my case of "extreme nesting" I feel so ready to have this baby.  With my first, people told me to enjoy the pregnancy because it's easier than taking care of the actual baby... I completely disagree (I'll post more about that another time).  I cannot wait to get life started with this little one and am very (im)patiently awaiting her arrival!  Baby clothes are washed, just have to install the carseat and we are ready to go!

Stay tuned, our week in pictures coming tomorrow, and another blog hop on Monday!  Enjoy your weekend, I know I will as it has been a very long week at our house!

Monday, August 13, 2012

"Where" we homeschool!

We're linking up again with the "Not Back to School" blog hop.  This week is all about homeschool spaces!

 Our school "nook"!  This room doubles as our toy room so I can keep the "non-schooling" littles in sight while we do our work!


 This door is to the left of our school table and is referred to as the "school closet"
(it's secretly my favorite part of our house - because I get to keep it so organized!)

Inside the School Closet:

 We are currently using the workbox system, my oldest likes to be independent so this is one way that she can do that but still do the things that she needs to get done.  It's working for us thus far, as long as I remember to refill the boxes before she starts school the next morning! :)

Directly above Amelia's workboxes are more shelves.  The bottom shelf is current curriculum, plus file folders of current worksheets/lap-book materials etc.  The second shelf is mostly literature that we'll get to over the next several years, along with reference books, dictionaries etc.

To the left of those shelves are all our supplies!  I'm kind of an organizational freak (my label maker has been working overtime lately), so we have boxes for pretty much everything, stickers, felt, paint, manipulatives, beads, random craft supplies etc!  

 Directly across from Amelia's work boxes are more workboxes! :)  The girls know they are NOT to get into these drawers without permission.  The top left drawer is MY box!  It has things that the girls can't use, stapler, hole punch, grown-up scissors, etc.  The other large drawers are filled with Amelia's workbooks for school, construction paper, computer paper, scrap paper etc.  The drawers on the right side house things for the kids.  The top drawer has crayons/markers, then glue and scissors, dry erase supplies, etc.  The purple box in the middle is Sophia's drawer - she's not old enough to be doing school but wants to be involved so every day I put a special game or coloring book of some sort in there for her to do while we are working.  The bottom half of the drawers are full of file folders, notebook paper, etc.

On top of the large workboxes is our giant roll of paper, and above it (pictured in the picture above) are three hanging baskets, those hold our writing utensils, dry erase markers, pens, and pencils.

In need of more ideas for how to organize your school spaces?  Click on the button below!

Not Back to School Blog Hop

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Our Week in Pictures!

What a week, started off with HOT weather, and gradually got milder as we went!  This was one of our first walks of the season (pathetic I know but being pregnant I just can't handle the heat)!

Sophia showing off her scooter skills!

I have NEVER had one of my kids climb things as much as this little boy.  He is such a monkey... did I mention that that foot stool rocks?  Doesn't phase him a bit to tip it over either!

All three kiddos helping me with the dishes!

"mommy, take a picture of me being silly"

wrestling with daddy

snuggle time before bedtime!

Keeping Sophia  busy with a tub of beans while we do some school work!

We enjoyed TWO RAINY DAYS this week.  It was wonderful, the girls played with their legos for hours!

I think we may have an engineer on our hands!

too lazy to walk around the table, I'll just crawl through to get what I want!

Come back Monday.  I'm participating in another Not Back to School Blog Hop post all about "where" we homeschool! :)  Enjoy your weekend!