Monday, April 11, 2016

Raising Gentlemen and Wild Things

I know exactly where the Wild Things are.

They are tucked into their beds right now pretending to be asleep just long enough for me to not be listening at their door.

Then the Wild Rumpus will begin.
"Begin" is the wrong word. I should say that the Wild Rumpus will pick up where it left off. Because let's face it, my life is one continual Wild Rumpus with this group of hooligans.

In the midst of our Rumpus-ing, we do try to learn how to be Gentlemen. We teach them to look people in the eye, to say "please" and "thank you," to hold doors open, and to attempt to have some semblance of table manners.

Occasionally it even sticks.

Just the other day, for instance, we were walking back to our apartment from the pool. I was laden with noodles and snorkels, dripping towels and kickboards. One of my little men ran up to me and insisted that he carry both of my bags for me. I thanked him profusely and asked if he was sure that he wanted to get all of it. I could probably manage one myself.

"No, Mama," he replied. "I'd rather my arms and shoulders hurt than yours. I love you so much, and I want to help you. I can do hard things to make your life easier because I love you."

This led to a brief conversation about why we hold doors for women or pull out chairs or let ladies go first. It's not because girls are incapable of doing any of these things. It's not because they are weaker or inferior in any way. We do these things because we see the value in others and we want to show them how precious they are to us.

"Yeah," says one of the other boys, "but I don't want to do any of that. Because won't that just make my woman be lazy?"


At least one of them gets it.

Baby steps to the elevator. Baby steps to the elevator...

Monday, February 29, 2016

Meg's Homeschool Day in the Life with a 6 year old and 8-year-old twins

Today I've linked up to the folks over at Simple Homeschool for their "Day in the Life" series of posts.

So, here's my "Day in the Life" with my 3 Wild Things, my 8-year-old twins, and their 6-year-old brother.

I like to try to keep things flowing and flexible. My active and silly boys keep me on my toes, and I want to allow them to explore what they love and to foster in them a love of learning.

 If something isn't working for us, we will change it. I'm not married to my routine. And we are movers and shakers who don't like to get stuck in a rut. We do school 4 days a week, usually taking Wednesday to be an adventure day.
Each of our school days around here looks a little bit different. There are a lot of variables, depending on whether we have swim class, speech therapy, or errands to run. Or if I just slept in and didn't get my stuff together until a few hours later than I like.

Amazingly, this day had no extras and I didn't hit snooze 15 times.

6.30 a.m. I am up doing dishes, laundry, tidying up the classroom, eating my breakfast, and having a little morning quiet time. As enticing as the snooze button is, I really don't feel centered without this time to myself every day. I'd like to get up even earlier and maybe work out a few times a week, but I can't seem to make that happen this year.

8.30 a.m. The green light comes on, indicating the the boys are allowed out of their room. No one is up just yet, though. My little guys are night owls and all 3 share a bedroom, so sleep doesn't always come easily. For that reason I try to encourage a late start to the day. We have one of those nifty clocks that changes from a yellow nightlight to a green light when it is an acceptable time to wake up.

8.45 a.m. Little bed-headed zombies begin stumbling out of bed, laden with blankets and stuffed animals. On days that I am not ready for them for one reason or another, They are allowed to watch some PBS Kids. Thank goodness for shows like Wild Kratts and Word Girl. Today, however, I am prepared. No TV.

9.00 a.m. The boys are settled at the table eating their breakfast and already starting shenanigans. After they finish eating, they clear the table, brush their teeth, get dressed, and "make" their beds. Some mornings I have an extra chore or two for them to do, but today it's just making sure their animals are all back in their room instead of strewn around the living room.

9.30 a.m. My goal is to start school by this time daily, but it doesn't always happen. Today is flowing smoothly so far, and I am able to ring the bell shortly after the half hour.

We begin our day with a short devotion and prayer. This helps to center my own heart as much as it does theirs. This morning I pray for extra patience and love, as I have been a bit on the grumpy side for the past few days. We also review the previous day's behavior and dole out any rewards or punishments earned.

We transition into our Bible lesson. We are working our way through the Old Testament this year and are currently wandering the wilderness with the Israelites.

It's important for my very active little men to get some of their energy out in order to focus. So we usually get up and MOVE next. What we do depends on the weather and the rest of our schedule. And how motivated I am. Today we roll balls around the room while singing "Carol of the Balls" & then have a drumming circle to the song "Haida." This is actually one of their favorites, and it's easy for me. Win-win.

Science is one of our favorite subjects, so they never complain when we move into it. We have just finished up a unit on zoology. Today we introduced anatomy and the human body. My 6 year old got so excited he immediately picked up a crayon and a piece of paper and decided he was going to make his very own pop-up book about the body. With that kid, each day has to involve a craft of one kind or another. It's just in his nature.
Math comes next these days. We have been struggling to find a place for this in our schedule that is consistently good. It's not that we struggle with the concepts, or even that we don't like it. It's that we struggle with the focus necessary to make it through. Sometimes we cruise through an entire lesson in no time flat. Sometimes I feel like I'm wading through tar and trying to drag the three of them along with me.

I usually make the older 2 get all the way through an entire "lesson." If one finishes before the other, we have a collection of books or quiet games or crafts he can do while he waits.
The boys are all close enough in age that we treat our core subjects like a one-room schoolhouse, so it's easier for me to wait for the straggler than to end up all staggered in what I need to teach. It's not always the same straggler, either. If it were, I might have to find another plan. Little brother sometimes gets cut some slack, and he only has to do a portion of a lesson if he is struggling to focus.

It's 11.00 a.m. and we are ready for History. Today I am reading a chapter from our History book about the Roman Empire and reading a fun fictional book set in Rome. My active men cannot always sit still for this reading, so if they feel they need help keeping their hands busy, they are allowed to choose an activity. Today one is knitting,
one is coloring, and one is cuddled up on the comfy chair with a blankie and some animal friends. Occasionally you might find the 6 year old standing on his head.
We also like to munch on some snacks at this time.

11.30 Our Spanish curriculum is on the computer for the time being, so this offers me a nice chance to catch up on photocopies or reheat my coffee.

When Spanish is finished, we grab our Handwriting books.

After they finish their handwriting pages for today, they are allowed to read a picture book, play a quiet game, or draw a picture while I prepare our lunch. Today the little one decided to draw a picture, Thing 1 watched a video to learn some sign language, and Thing 2 read some Judy Moody.

During lunch we listen to an audio book. Without something specific to watch, listen to, and think about, complete anarchy breaks out during meal time. We sit for over an hour while nobody eats, and I spend all my energy in correction and redirection. It's amazing how much a book helps. Right now we are enjoying Little Men by Louisa May Alcott.

1.00 Phonics/LA The twins are busy writing sentences with their spelling and vocabulary words for this week. Little brother is reading his phonics reader to me and answering comprehension questions.
1.30 We like to make Geography fun. We sing songs to help us remember countries in different regions and try to locate them on the map. Then we read about different cultures and people groups and spend some time praying for them.

Piano is our last subject of the day. I don't push them too hard in this, but we do spend a little time learning notes and rhythms and practicing some simple songs.

2.30 We are finished for the day. Time to play, craft, run errands, etc. I believe that a lot of learning at this age is done through play and exploration, and I try to make sure that each day has plenty of time for them to develop in ways that can't happen in a structured setting.

On days that we don't do music, we do art. Well, we are pretty much always creating something around here regardless of the day's lesson plans, but we have a focused art project once or twice a week. 
My men are all quite artistic, but the little one is in a constant state of creating. He's the main reason I have to spend so much time cleaning up the classroom every morning. 

Let's keep it real, people. Creativity is intense. Imagination is messy.
Those are legitimate paper and foam Hot Wheels tracks they created and played with the rest of the day. They are counting the seconds until I let them work with wood and metal.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016



According to some, I am now officially "over the hill." Although, there appear to be several other proverbial hills that I will hopefully have the honor of going over along this crazy journey called life.

So, I am standing here at the precipice of this hill. And I have to say, I am enjoying the view.

Behind me are years of insecurity and self-discovery, years of sleepless nights and dirty diapers.

Ahead of me I see miles and miles of not caring as much if I am cool or fashionable or liked. I see the confidence to let loose and just be me. I see a light on the horizon as my children grow into young men who are both capable and independent. As they grow, so will I. I will once again have a little time and energy to devote to my own interests. I can even bask in the fact that for now at least, the munchkins need me less and less but still like to have me around. It's a glorious balance.

Once upon a time FORTY seemed like an impossibly large number. That I would be OLD. That the best years of my life would be behind me.

But from what I've tasted of 40 so, it's pretty sweet. In fact, it has hints of coconut and rum.
if you like pina colada...for your Jamaica
Jamaican birthday with cricket
birthday coconuts
birthday giggles
birthday bouquet bigger than my head
birthday cake with one sweet boy
birthday snow with the amazing twins...squint to make them both appear
birthday shopping spree with my personal fashion consultant
birthday tiramisu
birthday coconut with friends
Here's to the next decade and to ageing like fine wine.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Embracing their Unique Learning Styles

I told the little artist to read and write his phonics words.

His brain interprets "write" very differently than mine does.


At least I know his comprehension is pretty high.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Sprinkles, Sprinkles Everywhere!

Our tree is still up. We were listening to Christmas music just yesterday. Around here we like our Christmas to linger at least until Epiphany.

It's just too much fun to end it all early.

Besides, then we would miss out on the chance to dump all our leftover sprinkles on the Epiphany Cake.
And every kid needs a few more sprinkles in his life. Every grown woman could use some extra sprinkles, too, come to think of it.

The boys performed a puppet show of the magi bringing their gifts to Jesus, complete with all the verses of  "We Three Kings."

We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy Perfect Light

Born a King on Bethlehem's plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again
King forever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign

Frankincense to offer have I
Incense owns a Deity nigh
Prayer and praising, all men raising
Worship Him, God most high

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes of life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb

Glorious now behold Him arise
King and God and Sacrifice
Alleluia, Alleluia
Sounds through the earth and skies

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

If you look closely, you can see a few tiny fingers peeking over the top of the table. I heart these boys.
After the little production, we offered our own three gifts through the World Vision gift catalog. Each boy got to pick one thing to give: water for one person, clothes for children, and a rabbit.

The most anticipated moment of the day is always the slicing and devouring of the cake. Whoever finds the hidden candy piece is crowned Epiphany King (or Queen) and gets to choose dinner and our evening activities. For the past 3 years, a grownup has earned the crown, so it was much coveted by the littles.

Mr. W was ecstatic when a Rolo tumbled out of his slice and onto his plate!
He chose macaroni and cheese for dinner, followed by an evening of video games. Sonic the Hedgehog must be exhausted after all the running they made him do tonight!

It wouldn't be the end of the Christmas season without a rendition of the Twelve Days of Christmas. The boys made this version up all on their own for your reading (or singing) enjoyment:

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
12 cups of eggnog
11 stockings fallen
10 ornaments hung
9 presents opened
8 rainbow sprinkles
7 nutcrackers
6 candles lighted
5 bowls of candy
4 Mitchell boys
3 cookie cutters
2 Christmas trees
and a night full of video games!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...