Kindergarten has begun!

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We officially began our kindergarten year on August 3rd, so we’re going on week four even though schools in the area began their year yesterday. So far, it’s been going really well. J is loving and thriving in our curricula choices for the year, and he looks forward to our 45 minutes of school each day. We actually only do Monday through Thursday with only our main curriculum on Friday. Yet, he asks each weekend to “do school,” as well. Even though it can be tricky with the distracting 3 year old and demanding newborn, I’m really enjoying that special time with him. It does us both a lot of good to have that intentional time.

Our plan for each day begins with our main curriculum, Build Your Library Kindergarten, and then we go through a rotation of the remaining curricula until the 45 minutes is up. We have a chart posted, so he’s able to follow and knows what to expect and what is coming up. He currently always anxiously awaits doing math and a kiwi crate ūüôā

Our Curriculum Choices: Kindergarten

I’m looking forward to what the next year brings and to see how much he grows!

Review: Math-U-See Primer

20150716_121832Yesterday, I broke the news to J that it was his last lesson in the Primer level of Math-U-See. I thought he’d be excited, but he got really upset about it! I think that speaks to the program quite a bit. He’s really enjoyed working through each lesson and looks forward to completing all of the worksheets. I was a little concerned that it would be too “workbook” for him, but he loves it. He doesn’t use the blocks as much as I thought he would, but he knows that they’re there when he needs them. A lot of the skills in Primer were just review for him, but he had no issue picking up the new skills. We now have a child who can tell time, and he’s so proud of himself! I’ve been really impressed by how the program introduces everything and feel very confident that we’ll be sticking with Math-U-See for awhile.

I showed J the Alpha books, and he wasn’t upset about being done with Primer anymore! He especially loved that the’re green! We won’t be starting it for a few weeks, but it’s ready to go! The Primer books are all put away waiting for the day G is ready for them, and I know he’s going to love it, as well.

 

Good-bye, Pre-k!

The “official” 2014-15 school year is over, so our first year of homeschooling has come to a close! Although we’re continuing on a year-round basis for what works for us, especially with a baby coming next month, we’re still going to be sticking with the grade labels on the public school side. Therefore, J has now graduated to Kindergarten!

This pre-K year was a big risk for us; it was basically us deciding if this was the lifestyle that we wanted and could handle. It went far better than we expected, and we’ve been far happier being outside the school schedule than when we were in it for J’s preschool years! There are definitely days when I would be glad to be rid of them, but it’s usually G that I’d prefer to ship off for the day than the older one! Overall, it’s been a great year. I’m really looking forward to the year ahead. Being in Kindergarten doesn’t really change much around the house, but it does open a lot of opportunities for him around the city. I’m certain we’re going to get more clicked in to our local homeschool community than we already are, and we’re all excited about that.

Taking a look at what our¬†Yearly Goals¬†for this past year, it’s exciting to see how far we’ve come.

My goals: I’m certain that patience will forever be at the top of my list, but I don’t think I did TOO terribly with it this year. My biggest struggle was organization and staying in a routine that works for all of us, but we have managed to find something that works right now. I’d like to think that the majority of the issue was the pregnancy, so we’ll see what happens next year. J has requested more routine, and I think we’ve figured out a way to make it work for both (all) of us. Again, this pregnancy forced me to stay in the present much more than I likely would have if it hadn’t forced me to slow down/stop altogether. I can for sure get caught up in planning, but I wasn’t really allowed to do so this past year since I had so many set-backs!

J’s Goals:

  • learn to read at a basic level-¬†check!
  • read a clock/tell time –check!
  • ride his bike without training wheels¬†– we haven’t really worked on this at all, so it moves to a summer goal!
  • write both uppercase and lowercase letters with ease, as well as numbers 0-9-¬†he has his mix ups every now and then, but I’d still say that he has reached this goal, as well
  • continue to work on sharing (especially with G) and other similar virtues¬†– he’s pretty good at this, I will say. It will, however, forever be on his goals list most likely!
  • tie his shoes on his own¬†-haven’t worked on this at all. His feet are still small enough for velcro, so we haven’t had to deal with this yet
  • regulate his impulses and activity level¬†– a constant progress for J
  • to find new interests and passions and build upon current ones– I’d say he found a passion in dinosaurs, so check!

G’s Goals:

  • recognize all the letters in the alphabet and numbers 0-9 –¬†check!
  • work on small motor skills in preparation for writing-¬†check! He’s even writing some of the easier letters
  • continue to increase vocabulary¬†– check!
  • find interests of his own apart from what J is interested in¬†– He’s definitely become more independent this past year, but I feel like this will always be a struggle for both of them since they’re so close. He, however, is not as into dinosaurs as J is!

 

Under Construction: Paint!

paint

 

Our bedroom now looks more like a bedroom than a construction zone. We went with Behr Relaxed Blue for our paint color, and I’m in love with it. It’s just the right mixture of light/dark, and it works so well with the lighting we have in the room. Trim took awhile to get back up, and you can see that we haven’t gotten the crown moulding finished up just yet. When that is complete, they’re will be no more big construction projects in the actual room! We’ll move on to decorating and the closet. The fan is fully installed again, outlets are all finished up and we got our new blinds put in. Those things really brought on a finished look, and it’s so exciting to look in there and imagine how far we’ve come!

Jony has started another few weeks of heavy travel, so it’ll be sad to see the progress slow down so significantly. We’re starting to feel a bit of crunch time stress with the due date quickly sneaking up on us, since we have a few other projects we want done before she arrives. Luckily, we’re getting closer to the stage where I take on most of the heavy lifting, so to speak. I’m all over Pinterest and Etsy looking for ideas on how to spruce our space up! We’ve compiled our IKEA shopping list, so things should move along quite nicely over the next few weeks. The next step is moving the bed back in!

Current Progress:

  • tearing down current drywall/ removing current trim
  • removing all the old, insufficient insulation
  • replacing insulation
  • repairing termite damage
  • electrical overhaul, including finally putting in a lightswitch!
  • replace drywall¬†
  • remove popcorn ceiling and re-texture
  • paint
  • put trim/doors back up¬† (note: crown moulding NOT complete)
  • total hallway closet overhaul- new shelves, mainly
  • decorate!

Under Construction: Ready to Paint!

pre-paintingWe are officially to the “finishing” part of our bedroom. Jony actually installed the drywall, but we hired a crew to come and do all the taping/floating. With Jony working out of town, it was so nice to see the work getting done while he was gone! No question they were able to do it better and faster than he would of, as well (don’t worry, he’d say the same thing!). When he returned, Jony was able to finish removing the popcorn ceiling, sand it and re-texture it. It was an exciting day when the light fixture went back up for the final time! He was also able to texture the walls. I was skeptical, but he ended up doing a really amazing job with it. When that was finished, the annoying plastic doors that we’d been using to keep all the mess in the bedroom were able to come down! With all of the major stuff checked off the list, it’s time to put the room back in working order. We’ve chosen a paint color (and you’re getting a tiny sneak peek), so now things get fun!

 

Current Progress:

  • tearing down current drywall/ removing current trim
  • removing all the old, insufficient insulation
  • replacing insulation
  • repairing termite damage
  • electrical overhaul, including finally putting in a lightswitch!
  • replace drywall¬†
  • remove popcorn ceiling and re-texture
  • paint
  • put trim/doors back up
  • total hallway closet overhaul- new shelves, mainly
  • decorate!

Under Construction: Master Bedroom Update

bedroomduring

A fair amount has gone on in our bedroom, but there’s still a long way to go! We cleared everything out, out of necessity, so our living room is in major chaos. Our bed is underneath our TV, our dresser is in the hallway, and all of our stuff is piled up in a corner next to our piano. Adding all of that to our current two couches, ottoman, dining room table and all the kids’ stuff? It’s a little cramped. Now that Jony is back to travelling, the work has slowed down substantially. I’m looking forward to a sense of normalcy again, but I know it will be worth it.

There ended up being a fair amount of damage that needed to be repaired from our termite infestation a few years ago, so it was a good thing we went ahead with this project. Most of the support beams surrounding the window had to be replaced, and I’m glad that it was able to be accomplished without the window falling out! Jony’s dad was able to come and help out with the electrical work, but Jony still had to spend a considerable amount of time hanging out in our attic. Luckily, it’s only March! Finally, all the new insulation has been installed. You can already tell how much better insulated it is, so maybe I won’t be complaining all this next winter about being cold in our room?

The boys haven’t been able to involved in a fair amount of the work due to insulation dust and such, but they’ve highly enjoyed the few moments they have been able to participate! A few more years, and we’ll have a fine set of full helpers on our hands.

boyshelping

 

Current Progress:

  • tearing down current drywall/ removing current trim
  • removing all the old, insufficient insulation
  • replacing insulation
  • repairing termite damage
  • electrical overhaul, including finally putting in a lightswitch!
  • replace drywall (we‚Äôre hiring out the taping and floating)
  • remove popcorn ceiling and re-texture
  • paint
  • put trim/doors back up
  • total hallway closet overhaul- new shelves, mainly
  • decorate!

Changing things up!

We’ve always joked that we named our home-school The Hammond Academy for Boys. Turns out that we’ll be undergoing a name change in these parts; we’ve got a new student working on their enrollment! Coming this July…

It’s a GIRL!

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We’re just over halfway at this point, so the countdown is officially on to her arrival. The boys are extremely excited to have a baby sister, and we’re adjusting to¬†learning that we’re not going to be an all boy family (although very excited)! Baby Girl is perfect and healthy, which was the biggest excitement of the ultrasound. After an emotional and physically rough first half of the pregnancy, it was a huge relief to get such good news. To continue her dramatics in utero, she is currently in breech position. She has plenty of time to move, but she couldn’t be as complacent as her brothers, obviously! It’s exciting to be able to start putting more of an image of our family together, and we couldn’t be any happier about having our little girl completing our family this summer.

Any tips/tricks for having a little girl would be greatly appreciated! We’re a tad overwhelmed ūüėČ

Inching back in…

For the past few weeks (okay, months), J has been asking/begging to start his school stuff again. We just haven’t been able to swing it with how I’ve been feeling, so we kept just pushing it aside. It always made me feel super terrible (even more than the pregnancy was already doing to me). It’s incredibly difficult to see your five year old son get dejected and sad when you tell him that you just don’t have the capability to do a reading lesson. I love that he loves doing his “school work” and don’t want to discourage that!

So, today, after about three months off (talk about flexibility in homeschooling!), I finally got down his “Run, Bug, Run!” reading book from AAR and sat with him to read his next two stories. One green star on his chart later, and he’s beaming at me! He asked if that meant we could start his reading and math lessons again, and I reluctantly agreed. It’s not that I don’t want to do them with him. I do! The attention and direction that he gets while we do his lessons directly impacts his behavior in an extremely positive way, and we’ve been for sure needing that lately! I’m just nervous that I’m going to get in over my head with committing. I am, however, going to try. If nothing else, even doing stuff with him for a few minutes each day will likely carry him over to the next day if I’m not feeling super great. Therefore, I’m going to give it my best effort, and we’ll see what happens!

Flexibility

It’s about that time of year around here that people start asking about school plans for the next year. Registration for Mother’s Day Out programs is about to open, as well as registering for kindergarten. Since we’re still in the younger crowd (most of which do not homeschool), we’ve been getting the question quite a bit. It’s a great excuse to really sit down, think and evaluate what we’re doing. The conclusion? We’ll be keeping things exactly the same. Maybe a few different classes or a new co-op but, overall, the exact same. Our family is the happiest that it’s been this year, and I know that the homeschooling lifestyle is a huge part of that (being sick and pregnant certainly isn’t contributing!). The main reason? Flexibility.

Jony has always loved having me stay at home for the flexibility of being able to take the kids to have lunch with him or even just having more time to play/interact with them if his schedule is proving flexible. Homeschooling is basically an extension of this. This last summer, we picked up and drove to Florida to spend the week with him there while he was working. Not only did he get to have a week with his family instead of a week travelling away from them, but the boys had so much fun and learned so much. We still hear about sea turtles and sharks, the obsessions that originated on that trip.

Even when it comes to the mundane every day aspects of life, we have embraced the flexibility. We don’t have to wake up early every day, although they certainly do most of the time! There have been days, though, that both boys (either on the same day or separately) have slept well past 8am. That means that I got to sleep in, too, and I’ll always appreciate that. We can choose our schedules, and we can even just choose to stay at home, stay in our PJs and do nothing. If we’re at a park or a museum, we don’t have to watch the clock to make sure that we get back to our area in time for school pick up. We don’t rush most mornings to head out, although I’ll be honest that it’s not always a pretty scene to get somewhere at 10am! Our time is our own.

Looking at this week:

  • Monday- we did nothing! The boys always love a stay at home day; it gives them a chance to truly unwind and recapture what’s interesting to them. J dove into his dinosaur books, and the trains were given a good work-out by G. It’s nice weather here, so the capes also got some good play time in the backyard.
  • Tuesday- G had Little Gym. After that? More free time at home. Early mornings make for a tired pregnant mama.
  • Wednesday- Since Jony is working from home most days this week, I was able to sleep in! J had Little Gym in the afternoon, and the entire family got to go. We even signed up for a free Lego event in a few weeks for both boys- another bonus to the flexibility of homeschooling since it’s during the school day!
  • Today (Thursday)- To counteract all of our lazy days this week, we had a tour at a Nature Discovery Center in the morning and a Valentine’s party in the afternoon. Not much home time at all!
  • Tomorrow, the plan is to go roller skating!
  • Then, this weekend, after soccer in the morning on Saturday, we’re heading up to the Farm to see my parents until Monday (which is actually a school holiday, but we didn’t have to check).

So, will we be continuing to homeschool next year? Absolutely.¬†When you consider that we’ll be needing the flexibility with the new baby arriving this summer, I can’t even comprehend making a different decision.

Planning for Summer

I’m an extreme planner, so I’ve been trying to focus in on figuring out our summer plans to make sure that we can do everything that we want to do. With J being five, things are starting to get interesting! He’s been dreaming of being on the swim team since last summer, so we’re going to to be embarking on that journey this year. With that, though, comes challenges and obstacles in planning the remainder of activities/camps that we can do. J really wants to do Art camp again this year and has expressed interested in Zoofari, as well. Luckily, G is not quite old enough for any of this stuff yet, although he will be doing swim lessons! There’s also Vacation Bible School, if we can work it in. Then, there’s the potential family vacation at the end of May. I’m beginning to truly understand how it’s harder to have school aged children than just toddlers, at least in terms of logistics!

It wouldn’t be too difficult to fit it all in, except that we’ve eliminated the entire month of July as possibilities for activities due to the impending arrival of #3. With precipitous labors, I fear travelling too far from my house. The zoo, in particular, is not happening since I’ve had way too many dreams of giving birth there (although, admittedly, it’s not the worst place it could happen if it has to be away from home!).

I feel like I may have a handle on what we’re going to do, but it looks like it’s going to be an intense June. I’m fairly certain our summers will forever be crazier than the “school year.” Any one else getting ready for the summer months while it’s still winter?