Thursday, April 30, 2009

Birthday Daze!

My baby is 3! Seems like yesterday....(ok, I have the right to recount the event, right?) James was born at home in our bedroom. He came much quicker than I expected and Rob nearly missed the event. He was summoned from the shower and when he rushed into the room, James' head was already born. My body birthed James all on it's own. I never pushed. I kept laughing as I held him and saying "I can't believe he is here already!"

So, here we are, anxiously waiting to be DONE with diapers and sippy cups. We are almost there! James is not allowed to go in the front yard by himself because we live by a major road. Rob is always telling him he isn't old enough. After waking up on his birthday, I immediately sang "Happy Birthday to You". As soon as I finished singing, he held up 3 fingers and asked sweetly, "Now can I go outside?" Awww!

James insisted on a Blue's Clues cake. Blue's Clues is very outdated and I couldn't find anything to put on top of his cake. So, we made a "clue"! He loved it!

Did I say he loved it?

The whole gang. I like having simple family dinners for the birthday child. I like to bond together as a core unit vs. the party being all about the friends with the family in the background.

Huffin' and a puffin'.

Ready, set, go!

James is my most expresive child. He is a joy to watch!

His very own umbrella! Too bad we are in a dry spell.

Yay for cups and forks and spoons! (And Dollar General!)

$10 from Papa and Grammie. He'll have fun spending that!

There is SO much I could say about my youngest son. He is a joy. Whatever he is feeling, he'll express it. He loves to tell me he loves Jesus and "everyone". He loves life, laughs deeply and loves wholeheartedly! And I love him! Very much! Happy 3rd birthday, James! And NO, you can't go outside just yet! Maybe next year! Maybe.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Homeschool on my mind.

When "Team A" (Rebecca, Zack and Elijah) was still in diapers, I gave no thought to their future education other than to be excited about them beginning kindergarten. I didn't focus on teaching them their ABC's before school, because in my opinion that's what they went to school to learn! I taught them to color, draw, paint, mold interesting things with play-do, and 21 things to do with glitter. We taught them to ride their bikes, play in a pool without drowning, climb trees and tie their shoes. I don't ever remember focusing on education, though. Homeschooling was FAR from my mind. Kindergarten came for Rebecca and she went to Hobe Sound Elementary. I'm convinced her teacher had Alzheimers. She would repeat herself several times in our parent teacher conferences and I remember thinking, "Is Rebecca learning ANYthing?" The answer was NO! She ended the school year not able to read. In preparation to enroll her in Hobe Sound Christian Academy the following semester, I taught her to read and also to write in cursive in less than two months. I wondered again about the capabilities of her previous teacher. HSCA was great and Rebecca flew ahead in her learning. However, in coping with Zack's newly diagnosed Autism, things were hectic at home and we were ready for a different pace in our education. With MUCH fear and trepidation, we asked a zillion questions from the ones "in the know" about home education. We embarked full speed ahead and long story short, we are now wrapping up year number 7. Rebecca will be in High School next year which is a whole new chapter for us!

But, that isn't the subject of this blog! I want to talk about "Team B", otherwise known as Nathanael and James. Over a half dozen years into being a teacher of my children, I am in tune with their learning styles even at their young age of 4 and almost 3. Nathanael is smart. But I don't think he gives two hoots about "book learning". He is naturally curious about things, how they work and what makes them go. He LOVES God's creation and creatures and will cuddle with ANYthing! Even a dead tadpole. He enjoys being read to and enjoys even more the cuddling that is necessary when one reads a book! My assessment is that he will learn, but he is in NO hurry to get there. I may not begin formal Kindergarten with him until he is six. Unless he changes, he will be a "hands on" learner and won't care much at all for seat work. Fortunately, he doesn't like to be outdone by his little brother, and sometimes changes his mind to follow along with what he previously rejected.

James, on the other hand is completely opposite. He craves learning. He'll be three next week and I can't teach him fast enough. It started with him learning his ABC's last fall. Now we are working on what the letters "say". I'm presenting him with three letter words all from the same family and he is catching on fast. I was astounded the other day to hear him asking me what different letters say. He likes to announce, "Mom, 'A' says aaaa," whenever he spots an A on a cereal box or in a book. He took it a step further and asked me "Mom, what does Q say?"

I enjoy doing all the same things with Team B that I did with Team A. We color, draw, mold, paint but are much more judicial with the glitter. (I guess I'm getting old!) But it's been fun adding the dimension of looking ahead, knowing that I will be the one who will teach them to read. It gets me motivated to get moving and not wait. So, we plunge in and expose them to whatever their minds will accept. Bible verses are recited for every vitamin they chew, lapbooks are piling up full of stories they learned about and explored and every day is an opportunity to fill their minds with SOMEthing! I love it! I wish I knew then (with team A) what I know now! I confess that I prefer teaching this age than I do the current 5th and 8th grades of Eli and Becca.

I'm getting ready to attend the largest homeschool convention in the USA, held in Orlando. FPEA's annual event is much anticipated in the homeschool realms. I have been able to attend only once before and am SO excited that I won a free pass this year! I'll be focused on solidifying High School material for Rebecca. A few years ago whenever I thought about teaching the higher grades, I literally shook in my boots. Now that I'm here, God gives me the grace I need to do it! I'm absorbing all I need to know about this road with ease. The ropes don't feel as rough as they did a few years back. I guess my calluses are thicker!

I hope to blog more about our home education and post pictures of our daily school activities other than the field trips. Yes, we DO do seat work, writing, math and everything else in between. It just doesn't make good blog material compared to a field trip on a ship or some other exciting place.

But first, Summer break!!!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Rebecca and the girls signing "It Is Well"

This song was done in memory of Coby Jackson who went to Heaven last year at 3 weeks of age. The three beautiful girls in the front are three of Coby's four sisters, Danielle, Stephanie and Rachel. Rebecca is third from the left. This is one of my favorite songs that they do.