Zoofari!

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It was a hot and exhausting week, but J loved his experience at Zoo camp (or Zoofari) this week! We’re no strangers to the zoo, but we rarely catch any of the shows or special exhibits that may be put on while we’re there. While the kids are still pretty young, we keep it low key. Needless to say, J got to do it all this week, and it really gave him a different perspective about the zoo! I’m pretty jealous, actually! Each day was three hours long, and he got to see different animals around the zoo, have an animal encounter, and even a snack/some crafting time. He was able to see a show about sea lions, elephants, rhinos, and gorillas (maybe even more? It’s hard to get too much out of a five year old). He fed the giraffes, which was his favorite thing the entire week. He got to play in the petting zoo and ride the carousel. He met and touched a snake, tarantula, and an armadillo. Basically, he had a great time. He really looked forward to going every day, and the zoo has it down to a science. If it weren’t for parking being so chaotic, it would have been an A+ camp. Even still, I give it an A. J is super sad that it’s over and is already talking about going next year and taking G with him (since they can start attending at 4)!zoofari1One of my favorite parts of Zoofari? On Thursday, J and I had a special mommy/son date day. I took him to swim team practice and we went to the chiropractor, but then we had lunch together and rode the train before dropping him off. I don’t get that much solo time with my oldest, so it was fun to have good quality time before little sister shows up.

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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.

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!

Weekly Wrap-Up: 9/12/14

This was a crazy busy week, and I feel like I was running around constantly. Nap time is always a low key time, but the rest of the day? Exhausting. For all involved. Wednesday was Jony’s birthday, so that was the biggest excitement of the week. Swimming for J also kicked off again for the semester. It’s clear he was doing more free form swimming than “swim lesson” swimming over the last month, but he was getting back into it by the end of the lesson. As usual, he loved it. Both boys are still loving their respective classes at Little Gym, and J is handling hanging out in the lobby during G’s class way better than I could have anticipated. He takes his backpack of activities, and he’s perfectly content between that, the toys they have there, watching/cheering G on and having one-sided conversations with the employees trying to do their job. G missed out on both of J’s activities this week due to naps. One of the few benefits of Jony working from home! It was nice to have that solitary time and get to just enjoy watching my big boy have a blast in his classes.

As far as other activities for the week, we had playgroup on Tuesday, some friends over from LLL on Wednesday morning and spent an hour or so on Thursday pouring rice and beans into plastic bags for a local food pantry. It was our second time for this service activity, and I could tell that J got a little bit more out of it this time since he had something to build on. I’m sure we’ll be back; it’s such an easy way for young kids to provide a service for their community.

School for J took a bit longer this week than it has been, mainly since reading is starting to really pick up. Not everything is coming as easy to him, but he’s doing great! He refers to his school work as his reading games or math games, and he’ll come and ask me to start school on the days that I don’t initiate it quick enough for his liking. We’re currently working through his first fluency sheet in AAR Lesson 3, completed MUS Lesson 4 on rectangles (math is still very easy for him), and started working on parts of the body in science.

The biggest development of the week is the switch of career goals for J. He’s wanted to be a construction worker since he could talk, but he’s moving on. He now wants to be a “shark scientist” and discover why hammer head sharks have hammer heads. His set goals for himself to prepare for when he’s adult is to learn about the ocean, all about sharks and to keep taking swim lessons so he’ll be able to go deep into the ocean. He hopes to be able to swim with sharks by the time he’s a daddy.