This is a peek into our lives now that we’ve settled into our new home and begun to establish new routines and traditions and create memories! After the stress of selling and moving, simply living is a blessing.
I have started pre-school home schooling Abel a few times a week, partly because I wanted to see how home schooling would work in the next few years and mostly because I was excited to use the whiteboard and chalkboard Jarret hung up for me!
This usually occurs during Tabi’s nap, starting at 1:30. We gather at the table in the front dining room, which has been converted into a home school room, and start with a prayer, the pledge, reciting our Bible verses, counting to twenty, and singing the alphabet song. Lachlan is able to participate during this time, chiming in with “my cup runneth over!” at the appropriate time during Psalm 23, and other cute comments.
Then Abel practices writing the few letters that we have started working on (A,B,C, and T) while Lachlan industriously “writes” on his tablet. Usually “O” and “Q”. Once a rather good “A”, on accident.
Then we might introduce a new letter, and discuss the sound it makes, or review identifying the beginning sounds of words and writing the letter. Abel usually does one or two pages in his phonics book, while Lachlan colors in his Sesame Street coloring book. More time is spent discussing the colors of the crayons and the fact that they are not broken than actually coloring.
Abel is doing great at identifying all the letters and knows many of their sounds. His writing (as can be expected) is sometimes upside down or backwards, but we’re not worried about it. It’s just fun discussing letters and sounds together and engaging that ever-interested mind!
I’m loosely keeping in mind the classical method of education, which takes advantage of a child’s natural stages of thinking. The first stage, called the Grammar stage, (about 0-10 years) is characterized by the infinite ability to memorize. Therefore, I’m taking advantage of this and will be teaching the boys Bible verses, poems, patriotic speeches and writings, the presidents…the list is endless and exciting! God put this interest and ability in each child and, even if a parent spends no time capitalizing on it, a child will be memorizing “Eeny, meeny, miney moe”. It’s natural!
The following stages, Dialectic and Rhetoric, build upon the framework of facts and memorization to encourage the children to think and reason (the “why” of the facts that they have learned) for themselves and then begin to express those thoughts in persuasive and articulate ways.
My pre-school goals for Abel are: recognize all 26 letter and their sounds, be able to write them, and recognize numbers 1-20, and write them. I am not formally teaching anything except letters and numbers, but I hope to make each day full of observation of nature, people, weather, anything! and talking and telling stories! (About the imaginary Aberon and Labigdan, and their sister, Tamitha, of course, who “coincidentally” have similar life experiences to my kids. ;) This stage of life, where our kids LOVE hearing what we have to say and could listen to stories and explanations all day, will not last forever and I‘m going to enjoy it!
It’s always fun to talk with Abel. His vocabulary, of course, is hilariously grown-up. He always asks to sit on the porch and watch when we’re expecting someone to come over, often a hour too early. This morning he was waiting for Mel to come, but, since it was frosty and foggy, came in early, announcing, “I failed. I didn‘t wait long enough.” Not in a depressed or negative way, just factually. He loves collecting bits of nature in egg cartons which he decorates with stickers, and we like to find things on walks for his collection. He’s pretty bossy with his siblings, but for the moment gets away with it, thanks to the relatively easy going nature of Lachlan. He’s amazingly skilled at bike riding without training wheels, doing tricks like picking up both feet and resting them on the bike’s frame or going “off-roading” with confidence. He’s great at organizing, so often gets stuck sorting toys. He’s getting good at coloring, often meticulously coloring a picture in his coloring book blue–all blue. And then three other pages all blue.
Lachlan always wakes up with an adorable smile, wandering good-naturedly down the hall for breakfast. He is full of imagination, and can usually be found playing with anything–narrating a conversation between two pretzels, or carrying a stick with a few weeds hanging off of it and declaring that he has caught a fish. When he rides his Thomas bike, he can “beast it” if he really wants to, but he’s usually too busy looking at all the interesting scenery to keep up with Mom and Abel. When he realizes he needs to catch up, he leans low, pedals hard, and swings his handlebars right and left with his pedaling motion. He’s almost completely potty-trained now, and seems so much older. He loves to describe his success, so don’t ask him too much about it unless you like details. He has a stubborn streak that shows up now and then, but otherwise is quickest to forgive and never holds a grudge. He doesn’t want to be called “silly” anymore and doesn’t like being laughed at. He looks at you suspiciously if he suspects that you’re laughing at him more than with him.
Speaking of stubborn streaks, Tabi is showing signs of the firstborn girl personality! She knows exactly what she wants, and, although she doesn’t speak much, communicates a lot. She will firmly shake her head “No!” when offered something she’s not interested in, and vigorously motion toward things she wants. She’s very independent, and plays well on her own for long periods of time, often in my cupboards. She also loves to join the boys and trample their carefully set up knights, castles, and horses. If she’s handed a guy and a horse, however, she joins in in the imaginative play and smacks the horse up and down on the counter, babbling. When she wants to snuggle, she brings her blankie and ba-ba to you and turns around, ready to be hoisted up into your lap. She’s a soft little sweetie who loves being tickled and teased. She seems to like clothes, and always examines shirts or shoes proudly that she hasn’t ever seen on herself, and “helps” me as I do laundry by putting Lachlan’s soccer jersey around her neck. Today, she happily “painted” like the boys, using a cup of water for paint–which, of course, she up-ended immediately and drank with vigor.
I mostly get my exercise by running to rescue the toilet paper from curious toddler experimentation, or lifting kids into and out of car seats thirteen times a day, but try to add running a mile or two to the routine to break it up. I’m mildly obsessed with the Nourishing Traditions way of eating, which, in a nutshell, is eating the way ancient cultures have eaten, survived, and thrived for thousands of years. This includes raw, un-pasteurized and un-homogenized dairy, soaked and spouted grains, nuts, and seeds, unrefined sweeteners in small quantities, full-fat everything, homemade bone stocks, plentiful fruits, berries and vegetables, and nothing that comes out of a box or bag, essentially. All these home-made foods create tons of dishes, so I pretty much do dishes all day long. This means the bathrooms, laundry, and other fun housekeeping tasks lie sadly neglected until just before company comes over. And only four rooms in my home are painted, even though I have lived there for five months!! This obsession with healthy cooking is an answer to prayer, since I have spent the last five and a half years of my married life forgetting (more accurately, “forgetting”) to make dinner.
It is becoming more and more likely that you’ll find Jarret in the garage in his free time, either after work or running a few miles on the treadmill at 5:30 a.m. He’s always got projects in mind–castles for the boys or doll houses for the girl—fun things, since he’s keeping our family well away from the home improvement obsessions we have been guilty of in the past! At work, he’s taking on more and more roles for his employer—most recently, drafting. He now draws all the plans in AutoCAD for the company. He has no formal training with this program, but ten years of experience with all aspects of building and a lot of time just drawing plans for fun–either meticulously hand-drawn plans on graph paper, or messing around with CAD in his spare time, so he’s been doing great. He also creates retail pricing for any custom options requests and keeps the jobs on track in the early stages, from the point of sale to the time the foundation gets poured. It can be fairly high stress in these slow economic times, since delays and complications can cost, so he really needs to be on top of his game. With his ability to maintain accuracy in every detail, as well as his skill with design, this new job seems to really fit his personality well.
We’re trying to keep our family life simple in the evenings. Often, we’ll hang out in our back yard watching the kids on the swing set and reveling in the late evening sun, clean the garage together, or bike to Albertson’s or Walgreens for fun. Most evenings we have a dessert ( a big highlight to the boys, of course)– a berry smoothie or homemade ice cream sweetened with honey or maple syrup, before reading from a family devotion book and Little House in the Big Woods. Each Friday, we make a homemade pizza and have natural cream soda floats for dessert. We love to eat! Since we rarely go out to eat any more, it’s fun to have our traditions to look forward to.