Archive for category Family

Hair Day!

Today was Hair Day in our house.  I do Miss Imagination’s hair nearly every week (though sometimes she can go two weeks), but this week the boys both also needed hair cuts.  Humorous Thinker is no problem; while it’s not his favorite-ever activity, he doesn’t hate it.  Perpetual Motion Boy, however, is a different story.  He hates it.  Really hates getting a haircut.  He hates sitting still, and the boy has an incredibly sensitive head.  Even combing it can set him off, meaning that I have to be especially careful with the scissors or I might accidentally poke him when he suddenly thrashes, which, of course, would set off more thrashing.  I have to steel myself for the whole experience, which is why his hair hasn’t been cut since July (I cut Humorous Thinker’s hair sometime in August, but let the other skip).  I powered through, though, and have three very cute kids with “new” hair.

The side view

The back!  My first-ever cornrows up!  It required her lying down, head on a pillow and turned as much as I could manage while still having her able to see the screen.  I think this style will last two weeks–I’ll put twists into the puff at some point, and then we’ll do a braid-out/twist out to get us to the next weekend.

I just think this picture, with the sunlight, is cool.

Here is Humorous Thinker.  I guess he was showing his “thinker” side tonight–no smiles.

And here he is playing his trumpet, which is why he was so serious in the previous picture

Good photos of Perpetual Motion Boy to come, since he is no longer in perpetual motion…



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First day(s) of school

2011-2012 started off easily.  We have 3 kids in 3 different schools, which makes for a lot more organization than last year!

First up is Miss Imagination, newly 4, starting her PreK year at her same public Montessori school.  Same teacher, many of the same classmates, but a brand-new school building!  The new building is gorgeous, and I was very jealous.

Next is Perpetual Motion Boy, almost 7 1/2, who started 2nd grade at our local Primary center.  He still gets to walk to school with me, which is a wonderful thing.

My Humorous Thinker, 9 3/4, started 5th grade at a brand-new school.  I miss him a lot at our school, and have moments where I get so confused when I get home and he’s not there.  His school goes later (2:55), and he is currently running cross country, so he’s not done until 5:15.  His school is about 15 minutes away from our house, which is hard for us.  thankfully, it’s 3 minutes from the Montessori school, so morning drop off isn’t too bad for Carl.

And, of course, me.  I started my 2nd full year at school, though it’s my 3rd year, as I started in November 2009.  I love it, still, and even got a new office for this year, which is much bigger than my previous cramped cave.

I think it will be a great year for all of us!

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How I know when I’m on vacation

7 days here…

4 runs…

2 campfires…

1 trip to the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes…

2 beach trips…

No pics.  I hate taking my camera to the beach!

countless lake swims…

3 showers.

(Kid shower/bath total = 0.)

Ahhh. 7 more days to go.

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What I wish I was doing right now…

Hunting for mulberries in the tree with Carl.  Or maybe…

Eating dinner outside with the family.  But maybe with the heat, we’d rather be….

Swimming in the pool!

Soon we will be doing these things together (well, except for the mulberries!) in Bowling Green!  With a side of….

Mammoth Cave National Park.  And….

A little bit of Nashville.  Humorous Thinker and Carl get to see a little…

While Perpetual Motion Boy, Miss Imagination, and I do a little…


Who knows what more fun we have in store for us!  Only a little bit more until I get to…

Kiss these sweet faces again.  I can’t wait!







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Summer so far

My summer has been very relaxing, easy, and fun so far. I have had almost 2 weeks off of school-work, and my class load hasn’t been too heavy, meaning I do feel pretty relaxed. I am trying to get organized and ready for boot camp at least some every day, but as I get closer, I find myself with quite a bit to do still, and I leave on Sunday!

This morning I woke up at 5 am with a kid, and decided to stay up at that point. I took advantage of the quietness and worked on the “work” boxes for the kids. As part of their summer schedules, I want the boys to each do 30 minutes or so of some kind of academic work. This is mostly for Carl’s sanity as he will be on his own for 5 weeks! The plan is that it will give him a little down time from being the awesome dad that he is, and is part of the larger loose summer schedule we have already put into place.

The box for Humorous Thinker has:

  • math book, Life of Fred Pre-Algebra I with Biology, for him to do daily.
  • A write-your-own-book kit, which he got for Christmas, started, and hasn’t finished.
  • A journal for writing down the books he reads for the library summer reading program, along with whatever else he wants to journal.
  • A daily devotional book.
  • A brain puzzle book
  • The history book, A Child’s History of the World, because I think he will love reading it.
  • A book he got from school about critical reading and writing.
  • Some math and writing worksheets I printed from online
  • I also will be giving him writing assignments via mail when I am gone.

He decided on his own that he wanted to work on writing this summer. We got his 4th grade ISTEP scores, and they were all ISTEP+ range, but his writing was the lowest. So, he wants to work on improving writing. I also am going to have us both complete the same assignment, so he can compare what I write to what he writes.

The box for Perpetual Motion Boy has:

  • Worksheets for daily speech practice. Yes, the child of this SLP-to-be still has articulation errors! He can make all of the sounds, but I know he just needs to practice more, which we just don’t do that much at home. So, hopefully just a little daily practice this summer on r, l, and th will pay off.
  • A science book right at his level, about plants and animals. I went through this morning and wrote down assignments for some of the pages, putting them right in the book. Little things like “go look outside at the way the leaves are on the stems of different plants. How many different kinds can you find?”. Some of them he can send to me, others will just be recycled. I think he will love this!
  • A journal for recording the books he reads for the summer reading program.
  • A prayer journal
  • A “get ready for 3rd grade” workbook. Yes, he is going into 2nd. But I looked through the book, and he can do most of the first four weeks (aside from regrouping with subtraction), and I know he will be more motivated to work on something advanced.
  • A brain puzzle book
  • Some leftover math pages I got from school for second grade. He can work through one a day.
  • Printouts for learning cursive writing, which he really wants to do. His printing also needs a lot of work, but I figure we will work where he is most motivated, and right now that is for cursive.

Of course, Miss Imagination needs a box, too. She will mostly be taking her nap when the boys are working, but I am trying to find things for her to do at other times. So far, I only have:

  • A box of spelling puzzles, where each piece spells a word.
  • Melissa and Doug letter stamps and a stamp pad
  • A blank notebook and crayons for coloring, writing, and making things to send to me.

In addition I am also making a chores list for them, mostly for the boys. Our summer expecatation has a handful of chores to be completed daily, and then a list. Each day, we want them to choose at least 2 chores from the list. If they want to do extra chores, they can earn money for each chore. Humorous Thinker also gets paid to mow our lawn and mow a neighbor’s lawn.   He loved the list, and was immediately motivated to start on two chores today.  Perpetual Motion Boy thought it sounded OK, but doesn’t want to start until I leave.  Here are the chores:

Do Every Day:

  • Pick up the Legos and toys in your room; put them in the right bins
  • Pick up all of the books on the floor, even if you didn’t read them
  • Put laundry away
  • Set the table
  • Clear the table
  • Do 30 minutes of box work
  • Write to Mom, or draw me a picture!

Choose at least two every day:

Place your initial after the chores you do each day.  Extra chores earn you money!

  • Load the dishwasher
  • Unload the dishwasher
  • Sweep the floor
  • Wash the floor
  • Vacuum in the living room
  • Vacuum upstairs
  • Wash the sliding door window and the bay window
  • Clean the bathroom sink
  • Wipe off the toilet
  • Spray and wipe the bathtub
  • Help Miss Imagination clean up her room
  • Read books to Miss Imagination and write them down
  • Take trash from bathroom to kitchen trash can
  • Wipe the cabinet fronts in the kitchen
  • Help get dinner ready
  • Clean mirror in the bathroom
  • Help fold laundry
  • Clean up the backyard
  • Clean the playroom in the basement
  • Take out the recycling
  • Weed and water the garden
Carl has a pretty good schedule mapped out for the summer when I’m gone.  Everyone normally wakes up between 6-7.  It’s breakfast and some iPad time then (everyone gets 30 minutes a day in the summer), and then outside time right away, since it’s normally pretty nice out at that time of day.  Very often this play time will be with the neighbors.  For 2 of the weeks they will have swimming lessons (just finishing up their first session) at 10, one week they will be helping out at the church summer program Recess, one week the kids will hopefully be staying with Grandma and Grandpa (fingers crossed it’s in their new house!), and one week they will be in Chicago with Carl’s brother and nephew.
After lunch (when they’re home), Miss Imagination will nap, and the boys will do their work and chores, and then have free time to read, play inside, listen to books on CD, and so on.  Carl normally will nap or take his own rest time during this time.  Then, in the afternoon they’ll have more time to play outside, hopefully with the neighbors again.  Dinner, then play time until bed.
I think they’ll have a great time, and only miss me a little bit!

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It’s report card day!

And that seems like as good of a time as any to talk about my kids and what they’re learning.  Recently I read a blog post where the author mentioned how lots of homeschooling bloggers comment frequently about what their children are learning, and how school is going, but parents with kids in public school tend to do this less.  And I realized that is very true!  So I decided that I, as well, would let my blogging audience (Hi, Mom!  Just kidding, I know 5 other people read this too!) know how my kids are doing in school.
This is your warning, it’s really good.  So, if you don’t want to hear endless bragging on my wonderful kids, it’s OK to close out and wait for another post.   This might be like the worst braggy Christmas letter that you throw away every year without reading.   This one is long, really long.  But, if you are interested (Hi, Mom!) then here it is!

First up, my Humorous Thinker.  He is 9, and in 4th grade.  This was his first grading period in 4th grade, as we did a grade skip after just the first 9 weeks in 3rd grade.  And it was a wonderful move.  Some day I’ll go into more detail on that, since grade skipping is oft-debated.  In our case, it was the right move at the right time.  Will we need to adjust back some day, for social reasons?  It’s not out of the question.  We’re not worried about it right now, however.  He’s doing very well in his new class.    His class is all boys (there is also an all-girls 4th grade class at our school), with an amazing teacher.  He fits in well to the class as a whole, he loves learning, and he loves his teacher.  He made high honor roll again, and got all A’s (with a couple of A+), with a B+ in gym (Ah, just like his mom. Sorry, son!).  His STAR reading level goes up to 9.4 (forgive me for not leaving the warmth of my bed to find out the lower number).  We’ve had 18 weeks of school, and I think he’s read close to 40 books for the Accelerated Reader program.   Of course, none of them so far are above an 8, because our library doesn’t have any books above an 8.  We need to start utilizing the public library for his AR books, because he’s read out most of what interests him in the school library.  He also does math at home on IXL, where yesterday he learned the Pythagorean Theorem.  He does 5th-8th grade skills on IXL, depending on his mood.

More than academics, though, I’m glad to see his character continue to develop, as he is a strong boy who loves God.  This winter he donated at least $50 by purchasing hats, mittens, and books for other kids in South Bend, as part of our church’s outreach at Christmas.  He’s always willing to give to others, be it Monopoly money for someone going broke, or his time, or a hand to help out.  He’s kind to the kids at school, and is learning how to use his fine-tuned sense of humor in a positive way (including knowing when is OK to tell a joke, and how long is appropriate to laugh when it’s funny).   I love being able to see him throughout the day, and I love that when I do see him, he’s always very excited to see me, sit by me, and give me a hug.

Next up, my Perpetual Motion Boy.  PMB is in first grade, and closing in on 7.  He got all 1s and 2s on his report card, with 1s on the highest content areas (math, language arts, reading).  The big news on his report card is that his Guided Reading level is now N!  This is big news, this is a third grade level reading level, and he started the year at a G.  His STAR reading level is a little lower, topping out at 2.5.  He’s working so hard at reading, and when he slows down and doesn’t try to scan two lines ahead while he’s reading, he improves his accuracy even more.  He also loves reading, and he still loves for me to read to him.  Which is good, since I love reading to him!  He’s suddenly taken a huge liking to math, as well.  He is working hard to master all of the 1st grade skills on IXL, because he wants to do them all before he starts second grade skills.  He wants to work daily for 10 minutes in my office before school starts, along with wanting to work every day after school.

My speech office is right across the hall from PMB’s 1st grade classroom, so I see him frequently throughout the day.  He also loves to see me, gives me hugs, and is very affectionate.  I love seeing my guys during the day!  He’s growing in other ways, too–he grew a half an inch in the last 2 weeks (with more to come?  He still eats like it!), and just yesterday told me how some of the kids are calling one of his friends nicknames (nothing mean, just lots of nicknames and not done in good spirit), and how he’s sticking up for him.  He also “broke up” a fight between two of his good friends yesterday, standing between them and telling them to stop.  I should be clear that these two boys are also friends, and it wasn’t a fist fight, but they were arguing and maybe pushing.  I’m glad he’s confident enough to step in.

He is struggling some with focus and attention at school.  It’s always been a problem at home, but we’ve mostly found ways to help him out.  But it is creeping into his school–he missed 4 on his last spelling midweek test, all right in a row, and I could tell he’d lost focus, because one of the words he wrote wasn’t just a misspelling, it wasn’t even one of his spelling words.  He says it takes him a long time to finish some things because he gets distracted by what the other kids are doing, like if a kid is counting out loud while doing math.  And he’s started saying, “I’m stupid!  I can’t do it!”  So we’ve really hit hard on working on changing that self-talk to truth.   Building up his strengths, as well as speaking plainly about where he struggles (attention, focus).  For the spelling test today, I didn’t really quiz him on words.  I knew he knew how to spell them all.  I helped him think about how he could focus during the test:  work hard to write the word right away, then take time to be distracted until the next word is said.  He said he was able to implement that, and he did get them all right.  I am trying to be thoughtful and prayerful about continuing intervention and teaching skills, behavior modification, while keeping a close eye on his mental picture of himself.

And now for Miss Imagination.  She is 3 1/2, and in her first year at a public Montessori.  She loves her school!  I would know more about how she was doing if only I had not completely forgotten about her parent-teacher conference on Monday…  But everything she reports is great, and her teacher told me she has no concerns at this time.  She’s a rhyming machine, which is the most fun development I’ve seen from school this quarter.  She rhymes so well, both nonsense rhymes and real-word rhymes.  She also is attending to so many details in books.  This afternoon I listened to her tell us about a current favorite book from the library, a Charlie and Lola book called, “I slightly want to go home.”  She recited it with so much detail to the phrasing of the book–many pages were nearly perfect.
Miss Imagination loves to play pretend with others, too.  Of course, as her family we’re often called into service.  But she has frequent play dates organized by Carl to keep her active.   She also plays quietly every day in the afternoon in lieu of a nap, and she knows that is completely “play alone” time–she is creative and engaged in a make-believe story that whole time.   I miss her during the day, and can’t wait for the time when she is at my school, too!  Only a year and a half to go!  All of my favorite teachers better still be there when she starts Kindergarten.

Miss Imagination is also doing very well in gymnastics.  She can walk on the beam by herself now!  Her core strength is amazing to me, as it’s something I just do not have.   She dances, twists, jumps, and spins through most of her day, including skipping whenever she can.  I’m pretty sure that neither of the boys can skip, even at 9 and almost-7.  And I know she’s the only one of my children who can effectively sweep the floor.  Thank you, Montessori!
So there you have it, just a few details about my children.


It’s not me, it’s him

A recent comment made me realize I need to clarify something.  My level of super-amazingness is not what allows me to do all of this and blog.   It may be in part the ADHD, leading me to have an iron in way too many fires, but the only reason any of it gets done successfully (or done at all, instead of just half-done) is because I have an amazing husband.

You may read all of the things I do, and think to yourself, “Some days I feel fortunate to get the laundry done.  I could never do the rest of it, too!”  Just so you know… I don’t do the laundry.  Well, sometimes I start a load. And occasionally, I remember to move a load to the dryer after Carl asks me to do so  (but I often forget).

And you may think, “I can’t even keep up with my two kids, not to mention having 3 kids and working!”  To that I remind you, my youngest is now 3 1/2 and in school half days, and I have no responsibility to get her there and back.  That’s all Carl.   He also volunteers at her school. And while I’m at the same school as the boys, if there’s something important, I put it on Carl’s schedule, because there’s no way I’ll remember.  And then, even when it’s on his schedule, and he reminds me, I still might forget.  Take, for instance, today’s parent-teacher conference for Miss Imagination.  Today at 4:40.  I was supposed to leave the house at 4:20.   The boys could handle themselves at home for 40 minutes until Carl got home with Miss Imagination from gymnastics (and I would have asked our neighbor to monitor Perpetual Motion Boy, who was outside with his neighbor buddy).  And I forgot.  Completely, absolutely, not even a glimmer in my mind forgot.  I don’t remember anything on my own.

Or you  may say, “My brain feels too full with just keeping up with family stuff, I couldn’t also take 3 graduate level classes!”  To that, I remind you of my husband.  I don’t keep up with family stuff.  I read to the kids, I play games with them, and I snuggle each night.  It mostly happens the same way every day, so I don’t have to keep track of it.  The doctor’s visits, the dentist, each of their activities–that is all Carl.  I couldn’t do it!  To tell you the truth, when I was a Stay-at-Home Mom, he still had to help me keep track of most of that, even when he worked full time.  I’m not very good at it.  I can admit that weakness!

There’s one other major factor going on here, and that relates to a sermon this fall at our wonderful Living Stones Church.   Sam talked about a “sun stand still” prayer, in a sermon series on the book of Joshua, this one in particular the 10th chapter. (Carl could tell you the date, I’m sure.  The sermon series was called “Unstoppable”, if you want to hear it, it’s probably at the beginning of November.)  If you’re not familiar with the book of Joshua, the Israelites were engaged in a battle, where they were overwhelmed and unlikely to win.  He prayed for the sun to stand still in the sky, a pretty big thing, so that the Israelites, who had God on their side, could win that battle and fulfill God’s plan for their kingdom.

To that end, our “sun stand still” prayer for the church was to provide a hat, book, and pair of mittens or gloves for every student at the two closest elementary schools to the church.  The two schools together have 1000 students.  And, do you know,  our church did that?  We provided a very practical gift (the number of students at my own school with no hat or gloves is high, I can only imagine the same is true at these two schools), for a large number of students.  We prayed a big prayer, that we could meet this need.  And we did.

I didn’t call it a “sun stand still” prayer, when this journey of working + grad school started, but I know that it is.  This really is a pretty big undertaking, doing grad school, having a family with 3 kids, working full time (with a caseload that’s way, way, too high).  The only reason I can get through all of this right now, all at the same time, and still be smiling (most days), is because I know a great God.  Who gave me a great man to be on this journey together with me.  Who directs me on this journey, as we seek to fulfill his plan and serve Him.  There are about a thousand reasons why me getting my master’s degree helps with our ability to serve God.  Maybe I’ll get into that later.  You can trust me, though, that we are fully convinced of our lives happening this way for a reason.

There’s a reason I gave Carl an iPad for his birthday last year.  He’s that amazing.   So, when you’re tempted to think, “I wish I could do all of that!” … stop.  I didn’t start this blog for a comparison game, I promise.  And I can’t do all of this either.  Instead, know that it’s not me, it’s him.  And Him.