G is three!

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Yesterday, my littlest boy turned three years old. I keep flipping between thinking it’s crazy that he’s so old already and trying to remember what our life was like before him (and, mostly, failing). He’s been a force to be reckoned with since his birth day and has always done things on his own terms. He is most definitely our dramatic child (for now, at least; this one inside me seems like she may give him a battle on that!), but he is spunky, goofy and hilarious. He loves to sing and requests songs constantly. Luckily, his brother likes to oblige him on this some to give my (not great) singing lungs a break. Trains are his favorite, and he has a strong preference for the color yellow. His big brother is his absolute favorite person ever, followed closely by his daddy. I may fit in third, but that will change soon as he is SO excited about having a little sister. He squeals with delight whenever he sees a baby girl and tells them/their mommies that he’ll have one of his very own soon. It’ll be sweet to see his affectionate side really come out to play when there’s a new baby in the house. He’s super energetic, as is the Hammond way, and is constantly on the move. Intelligence isn’t lacking in him, either; he knows the alphabet, can count to 20, and is even putting the correct sounds for letters together. He’ll tell anyone who asks that he loves “school” since he always sits and tries to participate in whatever J is doing, but his favorite activities involve meeting friends to run and play.

 

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Disregard how terrible I look; it’s proof that I’m 6 months pregnant!

Only one other person can drive me as crazy as G can, but I absolutely adore my little bug. Every year, we cuddle up and take a picture together at the exact time he was born (4:20pm is what we decided upon that day) in the exact location in which he was born. I love sitting there and reminiscing about his birth story and remarking how much he’s grown. Here’s to a great year three!

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?

A Day in the Life: 5 and 2 years old and Pregnant

 

For the past few years, I’ve always enjoyed the “Day in the Life” series on Simple Homeschool. It’s so interesting for me to read about how other homeschool families work on a normal day-to-day basis. I’m excited to be able to share my own this year! I’ll be honest, though, that our current typical is very non-typical, at least to a degree. There’s one child in this family who is demanding a severe amount of my time and energy (hint: it’s not the five or two year old), and it’s brought a major change to how we’re living currently.

For anyone new, we tend to fall into the category of “classical unschooling.” We have some curriculum, but it’s not the basis of our homeschooling. Life takes the lead, and we’ll always choose an activity or adventure over feeling tied down to getting what’s expected of the day. To refer back to life while pregnant, nothing has been done in the curriculum arena since November. I just don’t have the energy for it. I’m sure it’ll pick back up soon, and it always just fits into our day where it can. We tend to be out in either the morning or the afternoon (although there are the days where we’re out both or none at all), and we just do it when we’re home.

So, here is our Monday morning of February 2nd, 2015:

5:40am- Jony leaves for the airport. It’s a travelling husband kind of a week.

7:30am (ish)- the boys wake up and proceed to begin playing. I’m not in a stage of life where I wake up before them, and I honestly am not sure that I ever will be! This is their best playing time. I usually wake up when I hear them, but I stay in bed. They almost never fight during this time, and it rarely includes technology. I don’t dare disturb them, and I don’t mind staying in bed!

8:45am- A bit later than normal, but they come to get me and tell me they’re ready for breakfast. Someday, I hope to be better at breakfast (or morning in general) again, but for now it’s frozen waffles and cereal for breakfast. They certainly don’t mind. After we all eat, everyone takes their plates and bowls to the sink.

9:45am- I use this time to get dressed and pack our bag for the day. It’s a short trip out today, so that mainly consists of ensuring I have enough diapers and wipes. J gets dressed on his own and then joins G to play some more. MagnaTiles and trains are the toys of choice. When I’m finished, I help get G dressed and send him off on his way again.

11am- It’s a late morning adventure, but we all load up and head towards the Galleria area. Our big excitement for the day is meeting someone from our local trading Facebook group to buy a Rock n’ Play for the baby.

11:45am- Pick up Rock n’ Play. The boys are always excited for something baby related to occur, so we have a big baby discussion as we drive to lunch

12pm- lunch at Chick Fil A! I feel super gross, but the boys put away their food while I sip on lemonade. I’m still working on managing my blood sugar while pregnant. Of course, every trip to Chick Fil A includes some play time. J, per usual, befriends the little girl already in there, and they all go on a plane trip and car ride to Massachusetts. When she leaves, they just decide to race each other.

1:30pm- head for home! Mommy needs to rest.

2-6pm- While I just lay around and check the computer (and finally manage to eat my nuggets), the boys spend the afternoon playing. You may notice that my children have zero issues with playing independently or with each other. Sometimes, I feel like I can too easily neglect them, but it’s a good stage for this point in my life. Today, they choose to color, return to the trains and MagnaTiles, put some puzzles together, and play on their tablet for a bit. J reads some Thomas books to G for a good half hour in the hallway, which I love.

6pm- The sounds of hunger are beginning to emerge to the tune of raised voices and crying, so I start dinner. We usually aim to eat at this time, but I had a “pregnancy afternoon.”

6:45pm- The smell of sausage became too overpowering, so I wasn’t able to actually eat what I made. Both boys had two helpings, though. They’ve been eating so much lately!

7:30pm- Dinner is over! The boys clear their plates and head to the Legos. I manage to eat a bagel with cream cheese.

8pm- Bedtime! After PJs, bathroom/diaper change and teeth brushing, we all settle into J’s bed for him to read us a BOB book. Then, it’s each to their own bed while I read a book, one chosen from each. They settle in while I clean up from dinner and spray some poop diapers from the day. I typically then read from their encyclopedia for a bit, but they both were too tired tonight so I just relaxed in there while they went to sleep.

9:30pm- I’m catching up on the computer and finally managing to eat some real dinner. It’s been a pretty low key day and my pregnancy has shown it’s face more than a few times during it, but it was a good day overall. The rest of the week looks pretty hectic- Little Gym for both boys (on different days, of course), La Leche League, MOPS, dinner with family and a sleepover (for the boys) at their Grammy/Grandpa’s house all on the horizon!

It’s definitely more of a day in our life than a “homeschool” day in our life, but that’s us! I’m excited to see how different it all looks in a year, but we’ll just keep cruising along for now.

Raising a “Mathlete”

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It doesn’t take much time hanging around with J to learn that he’s obsessed with numbers. He counts everything, and I say this literally. He has trouble handling a situation in which he can NOT count. He’s constantly adding numbers and is starting to do subtraction on his own, as well. He refers to Math-U-See as his math games and looks forward to his daily math time. When in the car, we’re either talking about numbers, counting things, or just counting in general. I get asked, “Can you count to 1,000?” and “How long would it take to count to infinity?” daily. Then, there’s the speed round to see how quickly he can count to 100. Math is just in his head constantly. It’s how we works, and it’s what he understands.

Admittedly, this has been difficult for me to fully accept. I have always been a reader, and I’ve always looked forward to passing on that love to my kids. Math has, by far, always been my weakest subject. I think much more in the abstract than logically, so I was left behind pretty quickly when it came to math in school. I’m actually quite curious to see if home schooling the boys will improve my math skills! Even still, it wouldn’t change the fact that I’ll always be partial to English/literature. That is what I got my degree in, after all. J did not take after me in this way, and that is very clear. He is, however, exactly like his dad. They understand each other, and Jony has no issues discussing math concepts and “talking numbers” with him for long periods of time, whereas I get bored quite quickly.

It started pretty early. As a toddler, instead of just playing with the cars (which I would do and get quickly told that I wasn’t playing correctly), he would sort them. Size, color, type of car; it didn’t matter. Once he was able to count, it was a game changer in his life until he’s reached the point where he is currently- obsessed. I have had to adapt to the fact that we will count everything in our life. If I put decorations up, it needs to be able to be sorted into different categories of some nature for him to enjoy looking at it. Not only will we discuss how many chickens are in our pasta salad, we will discuss how many there would be if we added such and so money or if we ate so many pieces. All of this has been a struggle since I don’t particularly enjoy counting, but I took it in stride with minimal issue.

Now that he’s beginning to read, however, it’s been hard to really realize how much is love of numbers overtakes his love of letters. When we’re looking at a new book, we have to look at the page numbers first to see how many are in it. The Table of Contents page in his non-fiction books is his favorite. He’s fascinated by the number of letters that are in a word. As his reading skills progress, I’m beginning to see how his way of thinking is guiding his path to reading. It’s clear that he likes to read and will enjoy it, but I think it’s safe to say that he’ll be much more likely to stick to his beloved non-fictions than to read novel after novel. And I’m okay with that! As long as he loves to read, of course.

In case you were wondering, G is very clearly the exact same way.

October Review

Happy Halloween!

This was a short month for us since J spent a week away, but it’s still amazing to see how much we covered in such a short amount of time! We’re really happy about our current groove, and J is more than excited to do some school each day.

All About Reading (Level 1)

This month brought along some new letters: i, v, f, z, o, l and w. It’s really opened up a whole new world of words, and it’s clear it’s starting to spread out to actual life and not just when doing his reading. J’s favorite part (besides the stickers at the end of each lesson) is that he’s reading the short stories now. He got through four this month. I love having him read to me, and he is SO proud of himself. The confidence this program builds is my favorite part.

Math-U-See (Primer)

We finally saw the switch from super easy review to learning new concepts! J has been loving math the entire time (it’s his favorite subject, by far), but I was ready to start seeing him challenged. There was still some triangle identifying and practicing writing numerals, but he was introduced to place values: units, tens and hundreds. I was nervous that the jump would be too much for him, but I keep underestimating my boy when it comes to the math world. It made perfect sense to him, and he took to it immediately. He didn’t need any help in identifying triple digit numbers, but he’s coming from a place of understanding when he says every single number he sees anywhere now!

Nancy Larson (Kindergarten)

We finished Unit A: Exploring the Human Body and Five Senses by really getting into those senses. We are now about halfway through Unit B: Investigating Healthy Habits. He’s been learning about nutrition and exercise. We’ve been covering all of the main food groups and learning how to identify them. He’s really enjoyed working in his booklet, Investigating Ways to Keep My Body Healthy, since he feels like he’s writing his own book. There’s been no complaint about the snacks from the boys, either!

Artistic Pursuits (The Way They See It)

I’m still concerned that this level was a bit below where J is actually at, but not so much that I’m worrying about it. Both J and G are really enjoying the activities that go along with it, and that’s what art is all about! This month, we talked about using different colors and explored watercolor which brought a beautiful underwater scene to our house from J. We also had some fun with the visual motivator lesson by doing it at the farm! It called for us to go to a body of water and draw the experience. Since they have a lake there, it worked out perfectly! J really brought in some detail, while G just enjoyed coloring on the dock. We’re a bit behind schedule in art due to the crazy schedule that October brought, but we’ll catch back up. Eventually 🙂

 

Quality Time with the Little

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While big brother spent the week at the “farm” with MeMaw and PawPaw, G and I got some good quality time together. Daddy was off to Florida again, so it was just the two of us. I was pretty nervous about it since his two favorite people wouldn’t be there, but we had a great week! He loved having all of the personal attention, and it was great to really get to hang out with just the little guy. He’s at such a fun age (2.5), and it’s a time that I didn’t really have with J since I had just given birth to G! We took it easy and just hung out most of the week, although we did manage a few things outside of the house. My absolutely favorite memory from this week is taking a nap together. It was so sweet, and I loved the extra snuggle time (and the extra sleep, if I’m being honest).

Our big activity for the week was heading to the Houston Children’s Museum to visit the Tot Spot. Since it’s only for those under 3, it’s not something G has been able to do very much of with J being at home now. He was super excited to go and had a great time, although it was quite clear it was his farewell visit. Even though he’s still got another 6 months before ageing out, he’s obviously outgrown it. He spent the majority of his time playing with the babies and younger toddlers. It was reassuring for me to see so that I know that I shouldn’t feel guilty for not being able to take him there. The regular part of the museum is where he belongs (right alongside his brother)

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I treasured our week together, but I think we were both ready to be together as a family again. G started asking for J more and more as the week progressed and was constantly hoping he’d show up whenever we went somewhere. It’s good to know that they can be great on their own, but they still love being together.

Next year may be interesting if both boys are up at the farm! It might just be a week all to myself!

Harvest Festival

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A benefit to having my parents move away is introducing us to new activities in their neck of the woods. My dad has recently gotten involved in volunteering at the Heritage Village in Woodville, TX. So, we all packed up and headed to their farm for the weekend and visit the Heritage Festival! They were excited almost immediately when they saw they could ride the shuttle to the front of the festival- a school bus!

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Since it’s a living history museum, there was the old town set-up that the boys loved exploring. The jail was a particular favorite, as was the little red school house. G was extremely fascinated by the model rail road set-up, which happened to be where my dad was volunteering.

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They had weaving demonstrations, people carving sculptures out of wood, bee-keepers and lots of other little shops and set-ups. There was live entertainment, which was mainly background music as the boys ran around and explored. They even got to decorate their own pumpkin, which they always love doing.

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There was so much to see and do that I’m sure we missed a fair amount of it. We did leave and miss the war re-enactment by choice, though. Too loud for poor little G! I’m glad we were able to go, and I’m sure we’ll at least be returning to take the boys to see it as it is during the year if not for the Harvest Festival again next year.

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7 Acre Wood

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We always try to make it out to a local farm during the fall, so we jumped on the opportunity to try out a new place this year with a new home school association that we joined. It was a bit smaller than previous ones we’ve gone to, but it was perfect sized for my boys to just run around and have fun. They had games set up all over it, such as mini golf and a giant chess board, but we skipped over all of that since they’re both a little young for those still. The biggest hit was the playground and two boats they had to play on. Not exactly “farm,” but they had fun playing with the other kids.

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We did get to go on a hay ride, which had a little spooky village set up to drive by, including a giant spider and some ghosts that we drove through. There was also a great assortment of animals, and we got quite a bit of information about them all from the “farmer.” Gavin touched a turtle on his head and sufficiently scared himself when the turtle reacted, and both boys got to hug a bull named Olaf. It’s size and distance from our house makes it a location that we probably won’t venture to again, but it was a great location for a group of kids to just be able to run around (not to mention it was a beautiful day!) and everyone had a good time.

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Zoo BOO!

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We love Fall in this house! It keeps us pretty busy, but it’s full of fun activities! One of our favorites each year is Zoo Boo at the Houston Zoo. This year was no exception! It sprinkled on us a little bit towards the end of our trip, but I think the ominous weather kept a bulk of the crowd from coming so it was perfect! The boys were able to wear their costumes for the first time together, pick and decorate a little pumpkin and do their first trick-or-treating of the year! The costumes didn’t stay on long since it was pretty warm (until it started raining, of course), but they were still able to enjoy the fun there without them. They always have a great area to talk about conservation, and J really got into it this year and was able to participate. Both boys loved the mystery boxes, as well, even if there was a little apprehension at first. Of course, we also saw a few animals and visited the new Bug House again. It was a great event to kick off our Fall festivities! I’m so glad we were able to attend since we’ll be missing some of our normal ones (but adding some new fun experiences!). The boys would definitely have missed the fun at Zoo Boo! J is already asking when they get to go again next year!

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