Saturday, January 23, 2016

Just starting...

Happy New Year!!  2016 is going to be a great year!  I can feel it!  :)  The holidays were busy, abundant and fun!!

I hope you and yours had an absolutely amazing holiday and are having a wondrous start to the New Year.  I'm thrilled to report that we've been so busy that (as you can tell) blogging has fallen not only to the bottom of the list but off the list entirely.  I took for granted that this year would look just like last year!  HA!!  Was I ever wrong.  However, it's teaching me how to prioritize.  I've also had to re-negotiate (with myself) our actual homeschool needs with the ideal of what I've set for what I WANT our homeschool to look like.  Just because I want it to look a certain way doesn't mean it's going to andddddddddd I have a hard time accepting that.  I'm also extremely famous for staring 8 projects at once and becoming extremely stressed out because I realize I've taken on too much.  While I don't "do" new year resolutions I am continuing to work on becoming the best version of me that I can possibly be.  I know, I sounds trite and new agey but I don't care.  I want to enjoy these days, enjoy my amazing children, enjoy my time and have Ian and the children do the same.  And that's really what this journey is all about for us.

The kids have been amazingly busy.  Schooling is anything but typical but on some days it is very much that.  We're all learning to go with the flow yet still keep our sense of schedule and for the most part, timing.  I've realized that my kids are not the super early risers that they once were.

Kendall rises closer to 8 now (she was always my 6:15 am child) and needs to wake her brain up slowly by playing with Ari, watching a Curious George with him and/or delving into an art project.  I find that if I push her too hard too early the day most often ends up going sideways "mood-wise".  I do keep in the back of my head and sometimes I do remind them that there will be days that I will expect early rising and early work based on our schedule but on days when we have no commitments, no lessons, no classes, no co-ops and no erranding to do I allow them to self-pace for the day.  (for the most part)  Kendall is also a pre-teen and VERY prone to drastic mood swings.  We call this "feeling stormy".  Thankfully I consider myself a gifted hormone meteorologist and I can predict a storm coming a mile away.  (sometimes we all need to be prepared!!)  These self-pace days allow her to just be cranky/grouchy and to learn  how to work through feeling that way.  She's becoming quite a navigator and is able to sometimes catch the storm before it hits and on the days that it does hit she's generally able to ride it out pretty gracefully.  Don't get me wrong.  There are days that tears show up, stomping feet (my personal "favorite"), incredible huffiness and on a rare occasion a door slam.  (they know this lands them in IMMEDIATE hot water so I've thankfully not seen one of those in a LONG time).  These are tricky days and we're always so proud of how Kendall navigates herself through the stormy waters.  One of the many beauties of homeschooling is that she can truly be herself and not have to compartmentalize those feelings and shove them away so that she can get through the day. She's learning to express them and work through the emotions so that she can think and work clearly.
Tyler would honestly sleep until 9:15 if we let him.  He is still, for the most part, very easy going and malleable.  However, I am finding that on some days he'll challenge me.  It's exactly what he's supposed to and while it can be disruptive when I give instruction and he attempts to change the schedule, propose an alternative option, question WHY we're doing what we're doing...I'm proud of him for voicing his opinion, questioning authority and practicing outspokenness.  I want to hear his voice and I tell him that every single time (I explain this to both of them, of course).  Even if his proposed suggestion doesn't happen, I'm proud of him for putting it out there.  And honestly, sometimes I do catch his curve ball and run with it.  Does it dislodge my plan for the day?  Yes.  Am I always happy that we changed our plan and went with his idea?  Absolutely and I let them both know that. It shows the kids that their ideas matter, their feelings matter and that what they have to say is of value and that sometimes it's ok to catch the curve ball!

Ari is sleeping wonderfully still yet his naps are shortening.  But shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  I'll stick with them as long as I can.  ;)  He goes down around 7 and wakes at 6:30 most days.  He'll nap from 11:30-2 and sometimes longer but more often than not earlier.  I've gotten over getting frustrated that he's not napping longer.  He sleeps a ton and I really can't ask for more.  We're all learning to work around his constant motion and he's learning to work around us as well.  He'll play for short appropriate stretches by himself which gives me bits of concentrated time with the children while fostering his independence.  The older kids are also learning how to work independently which is giving them more confidence.  We're not perfectly in balance with it all yet but we're getting there.  Ari is LOVING school.  It's very sweet to watch him enjoying school both in and out of the home.  Next year he'll be headed to a regular preschool program 4 days a week so lest I get TOO comfortable with our schedule now, it will all be changing in a few short months!

Schooling is amazing.  Kendall is working very hard at her piano and sewing lessons.  Her skills in both arenas are growing by leaps and bounds and she's thoroughly loving these lessons.  She's becoming quite proficient in her long division.  She was terrified of this but with constant practice she's rocking it out.  She reads like a fiend and dives into art projects at full speed.  Kendall has always been in love with rocks.  Ever since she was a toddler.  She'd collect them for any and no reason, paint them, draw on them, stick pom poms and googly eyes to them and find shapes within them.  She is independently learning about geology through a vast amount of books she received for Hanukkah and an amazing rock tumbler that she received for Christmas.  The rock tumbler has been going for 2.5 straight weeks at this point.  No joke.  She's cracking geodes on the driveway and seeking out rocks in nature and attempting to identify them.  She digs and studies and observes.  It's FASCINATING to watch.  She's also extremely interested in rocks from a holistic and healing perspective.

Tyler continues to draw and create at a frenetic pace.  Because of his constant practice, he's been able to refine his process so that he produces more with better quality.  His skill and imagination continue to amaze us.  He's loving and has taken to the guitar amazingly well.  He practices and practices.  He's working out tunes by Journey, Nirvana, AC/DC, and Indigo Girls.  We recently got him a strap for his guitar and I LOVE that he loves to stand and play.  He gets his stance on and heads into the playing zone.  I love that it helps him focus more.  He's also always dancing whether in or out of his hip hop class!  As far as academics go he is flying along with his cursive and multiplication tables.  He's reading a ton as well.  He's very into Norse myths,Charles Dickens and joke books presently.  He's definitely more like me and likes to dive into a few books at a time whereas Kendall likes to work on one fully through.  Regardless, I love his eclectic taste and the fact that I let him choose what he wants to read really lets his personality drive his interests so that when he reads he's very "into" the topic.

Collectively the children are heading into another session of ecology with our local Audubon society.  The class meets weekly for an hour and fifteen minute class.  This particular upcoming session is focused on learning about native pollinators and designing an experimental native plant and pollinator meadow.  Personally, I find it fascinating and I'm thrilled that the children do as well.  It's not too far from our house and affords the kids the opportunity to learn from and with others.  We participate with our homeschool community called Garden of Friends whenever possible.  It's a warm, welcoming and amazingly lovely group of like-minded parents that offers the children the ability to visit old and make new friends along with learning and growing together.  There is always an amazingly creative, well thought out and meaningful project to do that sparks the creativity in all of the children who attend.  I have difficulty attending myself due to Ari's preschool schedule but I have amazingly wonderful friends who bring their children and will help and bring K & T so that they can see their friends and enjoy a morning of creating and learning.  Next year it'll be easier for me attend with them as Ari will be in school longer and I won't have to stay as close as I do this year.
The kids have been busy collaborating on writing children's stories together with Kendall doing the writing and Tyler doing the illustrations.  We've also been continuing to travel through the Middle Ages, produce amazing science experiments along with brilliant works of art.  We did a two week extended lesson on anatomy where the children learned the functions of our major organs and where they live within our bodies.  We're working through our Spanish curriculum very slowly as I add it in when we can fit it.  It's a bit inconsistent but the kids love making flashcards and learning new words.  And right now, that's what's working for us.
We are literally outside every single day sledding or playing in the snow.  We have maybe 3" but it's enough to get out and move around!  Ari is in absolutely love with sledding and hurls himself down our hills with wild abandon.  It's awesome to watch!  He just wants to keep up with the big kids!!  He is so classic third child;)

And now...onto the obnoxiously long photo reel!


Thanks so much for hanging in for this crazy long post!!

Until next time!!