Friday, August 31, 2012

Teddy Bear Counters

I am no longer struggling to keep John occupied while Ada does school each morning.  John has discovered the Saxon teddy bear counters, and that is John's Heaven on earth.  What does John love almost more than anything else?  Lining things up.  And so, he is entertained for as long as Ada and I are doing her school.  In fact, he says each morning, "I wanna do school, mama," which translates to, "I want to line up the teddy bears, mama."

 notice the cars on the windowsill...he had to get his cars "situated" before he could enjoy the bears

 on this particular morning, John added the fun element of lining all of the bears up, and then knocking them all down with his train.  He just repeated that process over and over again.
I keep him interested because he's only allowed to play with the teddy bear counters during school time.  Hence his comment, "I wanna do school, mama."

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Second Half of Vacation

We are so back in the real world, that it's a little bit hard for me to know what to say about the second half of vacation.  I know that it was wonderful.  The weather was absolutely beautiful.  Ada and I soaked up every bit of sand, sunshine, and salt water that we possibly could.  Scott and John did too, but they cut it off at lunch time everyday so that John could nap and Scott could have some down time.  It was a special week for Ada and me because we had a lot of time with just the two of us.  At home during John's nap, I use that time to get things done around the house, have some of my own down time, basically, Ada knows that is rest time for everyone, which translates to we each do our own thing for the most part (though we do watch What Not To Wear and The Pioneer Woman Cooks together from time to time).  At the beach, we spent our entire afternoon really being together.  And little Ada never stopped talking.  I mean, non-stop.  It was eye opening to me that if I will take the time to just do things with her that she loves to do--board games being the number one thing that I really don't like and the she always wants to do--I would really hear a lot of what is going on in her little mind. 

And the energy.  Oh. my. word.  That child would swim in the pool--she really took off with swimming, jumping in and swimming about half the length of the pool to me--play in the waves, build sand castles, etc. etc.  all day long, and when I was absolutely worn slap out, dragging myself down the street to our house--which was a good little walk--Ada was usually sprinting down the street.  It was an endless supply of energy until she would absolutelyy crash into bed at night.  Maybe because I was so relaxed and had nothing on my schedule, but I feel like I received new insight into her personality while at the beach.

Bottom line, I am very thankful that we got to go.  Not to be super dramatic or anything, but I got teary eyed when we first drove into the South Walton area and we saw the ocean.  I felt very seen by the Lord.  The trip was clearly a gift from Him, and we took full advantage of a relaxed schedule and lots of stress-free family time.  And a few pictures...

 the walk to the beach

Ada's thoughts on the beach ;)  This girl loves to pose for a picture
 fish tacos in Seaside--yum!!!
 crazy kids
Breakfast at The Donut Hole--again, yum!!!
 ice cream in Seaside--Ada was worried because it was already dripping
 Another GREAT meal--The Seagrove Village Market Cafe...I had a grouper sandwich, and it was my favorite meal of the vacation.  Try it if you're in the area!

A wonderful week!!!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

From the Beach

It is early morning at the beach, and Scott is still sleeping.  Ada is occupied with cereal and cartoons, and John is busy with his cars (what else), so I thought I would steal a moment on the computer. 

The past two days have consisted of rain, rain, and more rain, though we did dash to the beach on one or two occasions when there was a break in the down pour.  In fact, yesterday afternoon at around five, feeling compassion for Ada and her desperate need to get to the beach, she and I headed to the ocean and proceeded to jump in the waves, as rain drops fell down on us.  Whatever--it's all about making memories, right?  And I just couldn't sit in the house when the ocean was a short walk away.  But, there is blue sky in the distance.  I see it this morning, and there is hope that it is only going to get better over the next two days, so yay!!  and thank you, Lord!!  The upside to all of this is we have not had to deal with sunscreen once.

The pool is just a few steps from our house, so we have also been there once or twice because we can always dash home if it really starts to pour.  In those few times, Ada has really taken off with her "swimming."  Now, she won't be swimming laps any time soon, but she is feeling pretty confident and proud of herself and won't even let me take her floaties with us when we go to the pool.  Though yesterday, when she and I went to the pool by ourselves (while John was asleep and it was, in fact, very cold outside and in the water),she said, "let's play Olympics."  So, she put on a princess ring float and her pink goggles, and off we went.  She told me that she was America, and I was Auburn.  That's my kind of Olympics--either way, my team wins ;)  So, we are having fun despite the weather's attempts to hold us hostage inside our house.

It truly was pouring most of yesterday, the kind of rain that soaks you if you even have to run from the car to a store, so in an effort to get out of the house, we went to lunch at a very yummy Mexican restaurant, where I had fish tacos that were so, so, so good and slightly made up for the rain.  Then we headed to the outlets, along with every other vacationer, and I visited Crew Cuts, my absolute favorite children's store.  Oh. my. word.  I told myself I could get one thing for each of the kids--it turns out that Ada now has a very strong opinion about what she wants to buy, so she actually picked out a dress and tried it on in the dressing room, which for some reason, made her seem so grown up to me--maybe because the first time I bought her something from there is was the store's smallest size, a 2, and it was too big.  Anyway,  we bought John a bow tie and a football t-shirt, a nice neutral option for the fall--gray stripes, with a lime green sketch of a football.  So, really he got two things, but the bow tie seemed to not count some how.  And the kids each picked a harmonica for their vacation "souvenir," which hasn't been nearly as annoying as I imagined it would be.  At that point, as the rain continued to pour down, I said that I had to find a Barnes and Noble for some more reading material (I flew through the Pioneer Woman book in the first day since it's been raining non-stop) and I bought a bargain copy of Jane Austen--four novels in one, which should keep me busy for the rest of the trip--surely? 

On that note, Scott is now awake, thanks to the harmonicas, and I think it's almost time to start applying sunscreen.  This post is mainly for family, so I will end with the pictures we have so far...

here's to sunshine!!!

 on our way!

 a stop in Auburn for lunch with a dear friend from college and her family--always good to be with Amy Speakman, who is now Amy Hendrix!!

 a giant bag of bugles to help make it through the last two hours of the trip. I finally had to take the bag away, because I really think he would have eaten the entire thing. 
 And for more proof that I only feed John the healthiest of foods--donuts for breakfast to make up for the rain pouring outside.
 we did get to spend an hour on the beach that first morning when there was a break in the rain--we were trying to take full advantage.
 walking home from the beach, because these clouds were a bit threatening (that's Scott and Ada out in the ocean)

 sand castle building

and my little fish.  She is never without here "gobbles."  Aren't they upside down in the picture?  Okay, off to slather the kids in sunscreen...

p.s. as I was typing this, John was bringing me his cars wrapped in his blanket and then in Ada's blanket, and saying, "here, mommy, car baby."

Friday, August 17, 2012

One Week Down

Can you believe I am blogging again?  I just can't stop.  For some reason, I have all these thoughts running around in my head now that school has started back, and I must get them down on paper.  I don't's weird.

Anyway, I just wanted to quickly reflect on school now that the first week is behind us.

Overall, things are definitely going well.  Ada continues to be very excited about all aspects of school, and she keeps asking when we are going back to CC.  Her favorite part of our day at home is when we do math, mainly because Saxon has provided lots of fun "props" and crafts and things that keep her interested.  Plus, it's been really easy so far, where as reading and writing require a little more thought on her part.  Today was a little bit stressful (that word that I am trying to eliminate from my vocabulary ;) ) because John wanted in on the action, which was distracting Ada, but the only way to distract John from us was to turn on the television, which would also distract Ada.  It was one giant distraction, and I felt very frazzled.  But we got through it, and I'll be honest, we finished school with Dora in the background.  I don't know what was different about today.  The other days this week, John was satisfied playing cars or blocks, but not today.  Today he either wanted to play with Ada or he wanted cartoons, and I didn't handle it very well.  My frustration spilled out all over both children.  Bless their hearts. 

Ada is much more excited about Classical Conversations this year, which is encouraging to me.  I am excited about CC this year because this is Cycle 1, which means we are starting at the beginning with History.  One of CC's "mottos," "sayings," I don't know what term I am looking for, but something I have heard a lot from CC, is that the goal is to redeem the education of two generations--the parents and the children (because not many people our age were educated classically, though some were).  This will certainly be true for me.  Until now, much of the history that I do know--American and World--is just sort of swimming around in my brain with no where to land.  I do have a better picture of American History since I taught American Literature, and you just can't teach literature without discussing the historical context, so I can do a rough timeline in my head, but this year, as we literally look at the world map and start at the beginning--with the Fertile Crescent--and we watch history unfold from there, I am beyond fascinated.  So much is starting to make sense for me--especially as we begin to line up biblical history with world history.  And the most exciting part is that Ada is right there with me.  This week she has learned to look at a world map and pick out Sumer, Mesopotamia, and the Tigris and Euphrates River.  And, thank you The Story of the World: Volume I, she also understands why things began there--because of the water from the rivers.  As we learn that geography, we are also memorizing a timeline--beginning with Creation and the Fall--so the facts begin to line up in our heads.  We call these pegs on which to hang things.  So that later, as a teenager, when Ada really begins to process and discuss and form opinions about these things, the facts are already there.  Our brains can't do both at once--memorize the facts and analyze and process the information--and right now her brain is prime for memorizing.  Are you following me?  I get fired up about this stuff because it just makes so much sense to me.  I am a BIG believer in classical education--in case you hadn't noticed ;)  I just so want my children to be thinkers.  To be able to logically look at information and form opinions and participate in the big conversations of their generation, and I pray they will do that from a biblical perspective--Lord willing.  I often feel lost in many of the political issues that are happening around us today.  I have opinions, yes, but I am easily persuaded because I lack the ability to notice fallacies in arguments from both sides.  My goal for Ada and John? to have the tools needed to logically and persuasively argue truth.  To be able to look at the culture they live in and easily discern truth.  And the starting point is here, in kindergarten, as I begin to provide Ada with the information she will need years from now.  For these facts to be as familiar to her as the ABC's, so that learning facts won't get in the way of really getting down to the meat of things...if that makes sense.  These years are merely stepping stones to the rhetorical phase of learning.  Okay, enough of that...all I wanted to say is that we are loving Classical Conversations ;)  But you can always count on me to be long winded.

And a few pictures from open house...a couple of weeks ago.  I forgot to get pictures on the actual first day of CC.

And a picture of the pictograph that Ada made today--an example of why math is her favorite part of school so far.  She got to use crayons, glue, and scissors.  For reading, she just looked at some black and white letters and sounded them out.  It didn't even compare.

p.s. I am still absolutely blown away by, Give Them Grace, I want to copy half of what I have read so far onto this blog, but I am guessing Elyze Fitzpatrick would rather you go buy the book.  So, do!!!  Go buy it!!!  I can't recommend it enough, and I am only in chapter two.  (or you can borrow mine when I am finished with it)

And one more thing, we are beach bound in the morning.  Excited doesn't even begin to describe this household!!

Oh, and thanks for all of the book recommendations--I think Perks of Being a Wallflower is next on my list, so that I will be ready for the movie, plus I already almost bought it, so hearing that it is really good is just the push I needed...I'll let y'all know what I think.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Books, books, and more books

As you know, I just had a birthday and because my friends and family know me well, I received quite a few amazon gift cards.  Yay!!  So, my list of books to read is long.  Here are a few that I have ordered, and I still have some room left on a gift card...

I always appreciate an honest review of a book before I purchase it, so I thought I would say a few things about each book as I make my way through the stack--with each book serving different purposes, obviously.  But before I even start with the stack above, I thought I would talk about a book I borrowed, rather than ordered--Loving the Little Years.  I had actually been wanting to read it for a while because I can always use advice on how to navigate my way through these young children years, particularly from a biblical perspective. 

The book is a really short and really easy read--which is maybe appropriate for it's audience ;)  It was easy to digest in the midst of the craziness of day to day life.  It's mostly a practical book.  It felt a bit like I was sitting down for coffee with a good friend, who is maybe a few steps ahead of me in motherhood and she was asking, "have you tried this?" and then providing some really good tips for "doing motherhood" well.  At first I was going to say that it is a book to borrow rather than buy, if you can, but the more I think about it, the more I think I might order it.  It really is one to go back to on a bad day for a reminder of a better way to handle things.  Let me give an example, Rachel Jankovic (the author) suggests choosing a word to eliminate from your vocabulary (in theory, obviously the word will come back up at some point).  For her, the word was overwhelmed.  She noticed that she was often using that word out loud and in her head, and she realized that as soon as she "let herself go there," it only made things worse.  As I reflected on that a bit, I realized that my word is "stressed," and it's so true, as soon as that word pops into my head, it is all too easy to slip into a pity party.  If I dismiss the word as soon as it pops up, it is much easier to just face the situation head on and get on with it.  Does that make sense at all?  Bottom line, I really did leave the book with very practical tips for finding more joy in this stage of motherhood.  (She absolutely addresses the heart issue behind all of it, but for the most part, there is a lot of practical take away, which I really liked).

Now, I have moved onto Give Them Grace.  I am only one chapter in, and already I am underlining left and right.  It is so good, so I am sure I will have much to say about that one when it's over, and maybe along the way? 

Like I mentioned, I still have some amazon money to spend, and I would love to splurge on some really fun fiction.  To me, there is nothing better at the end of the day than getting lost in a fiction book.  So, do you have any recommendations?  Please!!  I like lots of different things--The Hunger Games, The Mitford Series, Harry Potter, Jane Austen, Anne of Green Gables, other classics--but nothing too "schoolish,"--so please share some of your favorites.  Thanks!!

And I'll close with some pictures of the kiddos just to mix it up

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Celebrating Ada

I am sad to say that this post would contain a lot more pictures, but I somehow deleted all of them--though I have no clue how.  Thankfully, I had saved a few before the catastrophe occurred (I was in the process of saving them to my computer from a disc, when mysteriously they all disappeared) and Jessica (who took the pictures--THANK YOU, Jessica!!) had posted a few on facebook, so I gathered what I had, and I am throwing this together before I somehow, without even knowing it, delete these too.  Can you tell I'm frustrated?  Anyway, onto Ada's 5th birthday party...

 we played "pin the crown on the princess"
 painted finger nails
 This is Kayla, the one whom Ada said was her best friend in her 5th birthday interview
 decorated cookies

cupcakes!!  And apparently I was giving two thumbs up?!  Now I am wondering if this is a habit of mine, and I didn't even know it...
and this little cutie patootie was also at the party

Jessica also took pictures at John's second birthday, and I have never posted those, so I am going to do that next.  Just a few months after the fact...

p.s. the boys at the party did not paint their fingernails ;)  They decorated shields while the girls were busy with their nails.  And I even had a picture of the boys decorating their shields, but it is long gone.