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.

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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.

Why I disappeared…

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We’re expecting! A third tiny Hammond will be joining our family mid to late July! Both boys are ridiculously excited, especially J. While always excited about actually being pregnant, I have not so much enjoyed the actual act of being pregnant. For some reason, this pregnancy has hit me much harder than the previous two did. Almost immediately, I started feeling nauseous and remained so, with varying degrees, until very recently. Even now, at 14 weeks, I still have to monitor my activity level and force myself to eat. My appetite is slowly coming back around, luckily, and I don’t get close to blacking out near as often as I was! So, I’m on the right track!

In a nutshell, for the past 8-9 weeks, I’ve just been surviving. I wouldn’t have if I didn’t have Jony here as much as he was due to holidays (which, I advise, is a time that should be avoided when in early pregnancy) or without the help of our parents, especially my mom,  who was able to come live with us for a few weeks while I couldn’t manage life.

I’m starting to get back up on my feet. In fact, this week I have managed to feed, bathe and entertain the boys for the first time by myself in weeks while Jony is back to travelling. We even left the house for a few activities!

After J’s birthday, all school activities totally dropped off. We had already planned on taking off December, but we still haven’t gotten around to picking it up again. Soon. It’s allowed us to explore the concept of unschooling a little more and are realizing that we definitely fall into that scope at least to a small degree. We’re not ditching any of the curriculum we’ve chosen, but we’re for sure straddling the line of  an eclectic homeschooler/unschooler family. More thoughts to come on that, I’m sure.

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 🙂

 

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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Open House

After reading about the idea on a Homeschool Facebook page that I follow, I really wanted to hold an “Open House” of our own. We knew that everyone had some questions about what exactly we were doing, so we thought it was a great opportunity to invite the family over and be able to look at all J’s work and see the curriculum in person. We had both sets of parents and the local aunts attend, along with an uncle and a cousin. J was so excited to have everyone over and show off all that he’s been working on. He read a few words for everyone, showed off his green room and played with his cousin. We took advantage of having company and really got the green room back in order again, putting away all the loose toys and coloring books and pages that get everywhere so quickly.

openhouse

We set up all the curricula and the work he’s already completed on our kitchen counter so it was easy to pick up and look at. We got a lot of great questions, and it seemed like everyone left with a bit more confidence in our alternative schooling route. I imagine this will be a yearly tradition at the Hammond Academy for Boys! openhouse1

 

Weekly Wrap-Up: 9/19

What a fun week! Even though we were just as busy as we were last week, it seemed to flow so much better. J zipped through his lessons this week with minimal issue (except for his first sight word- the; it’s killing him!). He even got his fluency sheet for AAR Lesson 4 done already today! I’m so impressed by how quickly AAR is building his confidence in reading. He’s so excited to start his first stories next week. He really enjoyed his science lessons this week, especially regarding his sense of smell and a sliced banana! Since last week was so nuts, we missed his art lesson last week. The boys were both excited to pick that up again today and were super thrilled at being able to do a messy project.

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As far as outings go, we started out our week at Homeschool Day at the Houston Children’s Museum! We didn’t do anything special there that we wouldn’t have been able to do any other day, but it wasn’t nearly as crowded and J was amazed at how many homeschoolers there are in our city. He thought it was so cool to see older kids, and he kept remarking to me that everyone there “except the adults” were homeschooled just like he is.

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On Tuesday, we had our Open House for the family to come over and see our little “school.” J was so excited and proud to show off what he’s doing, and he always loves having family come over. My parents spent the night (also exciting for both boys) and took the boys and I to see the Sharks! exhibit at HMNS, which, obviously, J loved. The biologists/curators were amazing there, as always, and were answering our questions and letting the boys touch a fossilized megaladon shark tooth. They were even both given a shark tooth from the Cretacious time period, so J is super proud of his new cool shark teeth that lived with dinosaurs.

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The rest of the week consisted of our normal activities- swim, Little Gym, MOPS, chiropractor and even a trip to IKEA. We have a low key weekend planned and then we’re off to another crazy week!

Happy Grandparent’s Day!

My boys are so very lucky to have four grandparents that love them and are so present in their lives. Not a day goes by that we don’t hear about at least one of them, and we are made fully aware when it has been too long since they’ve seen them. I’m so happy that there are so many fun memories of our parents with our children that finding pictures of them all would be exhausting. Instead, I’m focusing on a memory that neither J or G will remember but will always cherish: some of the first times they met each of their grandparents.

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Here’s to many more memories! Happy Grandparent’s Day, PawPaw, MeMaw, Grandpa and Grammy!