Monday, July 30, 2012

Five and ten years

Ten years ago last Thursday, I was in our new house, still surrounded by boxes and half-done home improvements, when I got a phone call in the middle of the afternoon on a Friday. It was one of my mother's best friends, telling me that my parents had gotten in a car accident driving home from South Dakota.

Five years ago tonight, I got a phone call from my mother telling me my father had died. The end of July has historically not been kind to my family.

There's a psychologist with a weekly program on our local NPR station who's quadriplegic after a highway accident where a wheel came off of a semi and came through his windshield. He says the last thing he saw was a big black thing coming out of the sky onto him. As a psychologist, he said he's found that most people have a moment like that, where something huge comes out of the sky and changes life forever. By my mother's accident, we had been getting a steady rain of tires between dying grandparents, health problems and my father's diagnosis. But the accident was the really life changing, derailing event. I went from your typical young adult in my mid-twenties who didn't have to worry about much more than myself and my husband to giving up plans for a second Master's degree so I could take care of my parents. I don't think I have to explain what it was like to lose a beloved father to a terrible disease.

And yet, five and ten years later, life has gone on. My mother lives her life with the help of aides, and has traveled all over the world. I hate how condescending much of the language people use surrounding disability, so I recoil from adjectives like "heroic" or "inspiring," but I do admire her adventurousness and her willingness to travel despite the difficulties. Similarly, I go through my days pretty normally and spent today dealing with one kid getting over sickness, another starting to get sick and a lack of water from the water main break last night (it sent water shooting over the top of three story houses - pretty cool).

I'm not sure exactly what my point is here, except that I miss my father and I worry about my mother. Disaster rains down on us and somehow we keep limping along.

Saying good night

I miss you Dad. I wish you could have met your grandsons. They both look like you.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fall planning

I've been using some of my lovely, lovely free time to do some planning for school next year. I came to the conclusion a while ago that while we like Five in a Row, it takes a huge amount of prep work that I just don't have time or energy for this year. I'm not planning on giving it up, but we'll row less often and focus more on canned curriculum that doesn't require much more than opening the book and doing the day's assignment. I feel like second grade needs a bit more structure as well, which will be easier to do with more of a focus on daily assignments.

So, the plan so far:

Language arts: Daily reading, Reading Eggs, Writing With Ease volume 1, something for spelling (All About Spelling and Spelling Power have both been recommended to me)
Math: MEP 2A and 2B, plus some computer games to help cement basic math facts
History: Story of the World volume 1. I intend to start the year with some prehistory, along with a unit on dinosaurs for science, then move into SOTW. K has a lot of questions lately that would be addressed by covering the Big Bang and the concept of evolution, we'll start there and progress up to humans before getting into recorded history. I also intend to do some heavy supplementing and maybe take some time out periodically for American History, since SOTW volume 1 is all ancient history.
Science: This is the area I don't have plans to use a specific curriculum for. I think we'll spend another year following K's interests. If they tend heavily in one particular scientific discipline, I might look into a curriculum, but otherwise I think it's better to take a broad approach.
Geography/Social Studies: This will partially be covered along with history. We will probably include this mostly with any Five in a Row books we do.
Art/Music: This is the exciting part - there's a homeschooling enrichment center opening right near us! So based on the sampling of classes they had this summer, we'll be able to get Katherine into some good art classes (and possibly something music based, but so far she steadfastly refuses to take a music class). She's also starting ballet this fall.

I've been thinking a lot about what to do with Alec as well. He's doing preschool two days a week, but that leaves three where he needs to be occupied. I don't think three-year-olds should be pressured into academics, but he's really interested in letters and numbers, so it would be nice to find some "school" things to occupy him while I'm teaching Katherine, and also some stuff to do with him while she's on the computer. There are computer games at the library that can occupy him quite a while that he can do himself, so I'm looking for more computer games that preschoolers can do independently. Puzzles can keep him occupied for quite a while, so periodically getting some new ones should help. Beyond that, reading together and books that help him practice the alphabet and counting should make him happy while Katherine is working independently.

I can't quite believe the end of the summer is so close. We need to come to some decisions about our long-term schooling plans, but for now, we have the makings of a fun year.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Oh hi

This time, I actually have a good excuse for going so long between posting - the "a" key on my keyboard broke, and that's a hard letter to avoid. Although I did get pretty good at messaging B without using it, but it tended towards sentence fragments, and paragraphs were problematic. Now, I have a new keyboard so I can write about Aaron the Alligator and his pal Adam the Alliterative Asp until the cows come home.

*As of three weeks ago, Alec was 38 pounds and 40 inches tall, 95 percentile for both weight and height. He's built like a brick. James was 11 pounds, 7 ounces and 24 inches. He's cracked the 32nd percentile for weight but is still 90th for height. He's gaining at about half a pound a week, so he's probably around 13 pounds now. Not too shabby for a baby who was 6 pounds when we brought him home from the hospital. He's theoretically still a skinny baby, but he has an awfully round tummy for someone who's supposed to be skinny. The doctor commented that he certainly didn't look like a baby who's failing to thrive.

*The kids are loving their summer programs, and I'm loving having them out of the house. Katherine has a new best friend, is learning archery, karate and how to swim and is having a fantastic time. And three days a week, I get to just sit and let the bsby nurse as endlessly as he wants to, while I get to watch whatever I want. It's funny: when Katherine was a baby, being home all day with a newborn seemed like the hardest thing in the world. Now, it seems like a vacation.

*I wound up getting the stupid portfolio in with no problem. As it turned out, I put far too much stress in over the meeting with the evaluator. I was worried about Katherine refusing to talk to her, and my portfolio not being detailed enough. Then she answered the door and it turned out to be someone I know from our homeschooling group (whose last name, it turns out, I didn't know). If I had known it would be her, I wouldn't have worried for a second. Instead, we chatted for a while, she took Katherine out to see her chickens and that was that.

Now, I need to submit our affadavit for next year before August 1. This shouldn't be a problem, since I'm more or less planning to print out the one I did last year and change the dates, but I'm having trouble remembering how close August 1 actually is. Plus, I have a glimmer of a memory that our doctor is on vacation until August, which presents a significant problem with the whole issue of get the medical forms dealt with. Ah well, we'll call the school district to ask how to deal with this and likely get 12 contradictory answers, but I doubt they're on the ball enough to come after us for educational neglect before we can get our medical forms in.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Two months


A week ago last Saturday, James turned two months old.

He's a sweet little baby. He's waking up more and enjoys looking at dangling toys and can hit them with his hand. He still loves the ceiling fan and contrasts of light and dark, but also exploring our faces and making eye contact. He's smiling more and more. Alec as a baby is a hard act to follow when it comes to smiles - James isn't nearly the sort of extroverted flirt Alec was, but he still gives us sweet little smiles which are all the more lovely for being harder to come by.

Mostly, he still devotes his time to eating and sleeping. He is a devoted nurser and spends quite a bit of the day eating. He no longer needs a nipple shield, thank goodness, and we achieved a new landmark this morning in church when I finally felt like he's good enough at latching on without crying or other nonsense to nurse him in church (it's not the sort of church at all where anyone would be bothered by my nursing a baby during the service, but my own hangups made it hard for me to try it when I wasn't sure if he wouldn't pull tricks like crying around my nipple for a while before finally latching). I look forward to the day when he doesn't want to spend quite a bit of the afternoon and all evening nursing, but I feel quite a bit of pride when I see his beefy little legs and a chin for every month and know that I'm responsible for every ounce of that delectable fat.

Part of the reason he eats literally all evening is that he's still sleeping like a champ. He's only two months, so sometimes he likes to mix it up and only sleep four or five hours, but he's still mostly doing a six to eight hour stretch at the beginning of the night, and sometimes even nine. He's developing a nice pattern of going to sleep for the night between eight and nine and sleeping to sometime between four and six. It's like magic. I knew there were babies in the world who sleep, I just never thought I would give birth to one of them.


Oh yes, more pictures at the usual place.



A week ago Saturday, Alec turned three years old. A week or so before that, we gritted our teeth and finally cut off the mop of curls, and just like that, my baby was gone and this little boy was standing there.

I won't know his actual measurements until tomorrow, but he's the size of most of the four-year-olds we meet. His language has suddenly exploded in the last two months, and now I hear about dino rexes and monkeys all day long. He knows most of his letters, can count to twenty and makes a mean Lego tower.

He's my big boy. And he's so very, very three. Happy Birthday, sweetheart.




A week ago Thursday, Katherine turned seven years old. How did my baby get so big? According to the doctor last week, she's 49 inches and 50 pounds, long and skinny. She's getting so competent. I feel like she's on the verge of big things in the coming year, where she'll move from being on the cusp of a lot of things to mastering them.

She's fantastically creative, an excellent big sister and an all-around great kid. Happy Birthday, big girl.