Joyful September ~ Day 1

The last few days, since the August 28th, my mind has been reliving 2008.  This year their birthday was on Thursday.  Six years ago they were born on Thursday…and this year was a mirror of that year…minus surgery and babies and such.

This year, Thursday brought Nathan’s first football game of the year.  They were born on the first football game of the year.

Saturday afternoon at 3pm I randomly looked up at the clock and realized that it was the same time, six year ago, the boys were able to leave the special care nursery and be with me as much as I wanted.

Today, Labor Day, was the day we left the hospital and came home.

Those days will forever be etched in my memory.

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As we move into September, I know this month will be just as busy as August was.  A good busy.  An exciting busy.  But it will also be draining and exhausting.

But September is also the start to my favorite time of year.  Autumn is coming….it comes slowly in Texas…but it comes.  The days get shorter and the light seems to lengthen and make the world glow in the evenings.  For the first time since we sold our house I am finding myself wistfully missing it.  As the light begins to shift around now, it would glow orange through the window above our door and light the living room.  That light always reminds me of the fall, sitting on the sofa with Nathan, feeding the boys their bedtime bottles.  We would have soft music on and sit quietly with the boys.  But Autumn was my favorite time because I would put out my pumpkins and fall decor, followed by the Christmas decorations at the end of the year.  This time of year was always my favorite in my house.  Now someone else will have those things and I am waiting for the next place to build memories in.

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A few years back I spent each day of September writing about the things I am grateful for….the things that are bringing me joy.  I have decided to do that again this year.  It never hurts to stop and express gratitude and joy.

Today I am grateful for the memories of years past.  I am so grateful for the friends and family that celebrated with us this weekend.  I am happy for the new friends and new memories we are making.  I am feeling content and happy as I sit here, writing and remembering, listening to music and feeling warm from a bath.  Life is good.  These are the things that are bringing my joy on this first day of September.

1st Grade

We have completed 6 days of 1st grade.  We are currently 1 for 6 on good days.

I suppose that isn’t completely fair.  There have been great moments in each of those 6 days, but there have also been tears, angry, frustration, raised voices, and MUCH complaining in those 6 days as well.

Yesterday was probably the worst day yet as I completely lost my temper with Emory, never mind that he was practically screaming at me.  I feel pretty terrible about the whole thing.  I am the mom after all and I should be able to dig deep in those moments.  Emory is…struggling in all areas of life right now.  But it is hard to remember that in the heat of the moment.  And we are all wearing thin right now.  August is definitely the worst month of the year for us.  It is like this every year….I just seem to forget how bad August really is each time it comes around.

I have crammed our school day with all sorts of things.  Our main curriculum this year is Sonlight Core A with Grade 1 Readers.  I knew with the potential for moving at any time during this school year I needed something that was mostly complete for me to follow.  Of course, as soon as I started planning, I started changing things up.  That Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction tends to keep me from just “following along”.  But the core package gives me structure and framework and I do not have the time to reinvent 1st grade!  I have almost completely revamped the History part of the core.  I have rearranges, added lap books to expand on certain topics, and honestly I just totally changed it.  The science portion has remained mostly the same, although I have added in more activities and labs because you know….science teacher here!

(As an aside about the science curriculum….because I was a science teacher I am very particular about my science curriculum.  It is difficult in the homeschool community to find more secular options to science.  We are not creationists.  I have no problem teaching all the ideas and theories in science but I refuse to exclude whole entire scientific ideas (evolution).  I like the Sonlight science program.  They present the information and leave it up to the parents to decide what and how much to teach and explain.  They acknowledge there are different ideas and schools of thought and encourage parents to have conversations with their children about the particular beliefs of their family.  That being said….we don’t study evolution or creationism in 1st grade so we are pretty good for now!)

The Language Arts part of the core I am following exactly.  The Core suggests using Explode the Code to supplement and we are doing that as well.  Reading comes easier for Dean than for Emory so he probably doesn’t need the extra supplement BUT I also think it is good for building a very strong reading foundation.  Emory needs reading instruction in as many forms as I can provide and he also needs the repetition.  His motor planning speech problems extend to reading and it is very challenging for him.  But he is doing great so far.

Our Math program is Math-U-See.  We are currently reviewing some math concepts before jumping back in where we left off in May.

We also have a handwriting program, do Spelling-You-See, and are completing a daily Geography assignment.

Each day looks like this:

Math, Science, History, Spelling-You-See, Handwriting, Explode the Code, Geography, Sonlight Spelling Words for the Week, Sonlight Reading.  Reading and Science also have written work to complete each day.  Thursday is Science Fun! day when we do specific labs and activities.

After the disaster of yesterday I have decided I am going to change some things up.  The boys already get to decide what order they complete their work in.  We always do History and Science together but most of the other things they do separately because they are in different places in their learning.  For now I have decided to drop handwriting and Spelling-You-See.  Last year handwriting was a favorite activity, now it is one of our biggest battles.  So, I am going to set it aside.  They still have handwriting practice during the school day between spelling words, written assignments for reading and science, and other activities.  I am not scrapping handwriting but we are going to set aside the dedicated workbook for now.

As for Spelling-You-See, they really enjoy doing SYS, but it is a redundant item in our day at this point.  I think seeing so many required daily activities on their schedule is overwhelming right now.  I have split our year into 4 twelve week quarters.  We are currently in the Fall Quarter so I am going to move SYS to the Winter Quarter and see how we are doing at that point.

I am still very much a public school teacher and tend to “hit the ground running”.  When I was teaching public school I had so much curriculum to get through by certain dates that we didn’t have any time to lose.  It is hard to switch that person off, but homeschool isn’t public school.  We don’t have to rush and hurry and prepare for a state test.  We get to take our time and explore and really build strong educational foundations.  One of my main goals with schooling the boys at home is to build life learners who love and enjoy learning.  I want them to be curious about things.  I want them to be thinkers, not test takers.  Having 1 good day out of 6 total days is a red flag.  It means I need to tweak and refine what we are doing.  And I get to do that!

I have no doubt that 1st grade will end successfully.  We will find our groove and settle in….eventually!

*I am not receiving anything from the links above.  I have purchased all of our curriculum components.  I am just sharing what we do!*

Back into the swing of things

We are officially back into “regular” routine now.  The boys are finished with church camp.  Nathan is entrenched in football season.  (Although I must admit that hell week doesn’t feel as hellish as it did a few years ago!) And we are back to school.

First grade to be exact.  I marked the day with these:

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It has been a rocky start…two days in and we have had tears and frustrations.  One child has been asked to leave and sit on his bread until he can regain his composure.  They are fighting the new, more rigorous schedule (which really isn’t that rigorous…just more detailed than last year).  Basically we are suffering back-to-school growing pains.  :)

If we schooled year round it probably wouldn’t be this bad….but summer is time for swimming and doing stuff with Daddy and I need my break too.  I don’t think it will take us long to get back into routine and happy again.

As for our curriculum….for those interested….I will be writing a separate post about what we are doing this year.

Teeth

Dean has 4! loose teeth.

He won’t wiggle them but they are progressively becoming looser.

Emory is very upset that he doesn’t have loose teeth yet.

At the end of July we took the boys for their first dentist appointment (yes I know….terrible and all….but severe anxiety on my part and sensory issues on their part just conspired to make it what it was).  Dean is great.  The x-rays showed his bottom front permanent teeth touch the bottom of his baby teeth.  Those two are the most wiggly.  The top permanent teeth were close and now those two teeth are wiggly.  Emory’s x-rays showed he has a bit longer to go.  Cue twin discord.

Emory has two cavities…both tiny….both on the very back teeth on top.  And the odd thin is that they are in almost identical spots on opposite sides of his mouth.  I get the lucky job of taking him back in September for fillings.  We have opted for oral sedation…which really isn’t sedation as he might not sleep.  I am thinking it is like the meds they gave me when I had a colonoscopy….the twilight sleep where you are technically awake and responsive but don’t remember anything at all.  Considering all of Emory’s sensory issues are located from the shoulder up and he had a terrible time teething….I am guessing he won’t be good with mouth pain.  We are hoping oral sedation will be enough…if not then they offer IV sedation.

But let’s get back to those 4! loose teeth…

What kind of craziness is 4! loose teeth?!?!  All 4 of those things are going to fall out and he is going to have a huge gaping hole in his mouth.

I am not ready for loose teeth.

But more than that….I am not ready for those big huge teeth that will grown in to replace those tiny baby teeth.  I am being thrust into this middle-childhood world and I am not ready to go!  I am clinging desperately to my tiny little boys who refuse to be tiny and stop growing.

In less than 2 weeks they will be 6.

6 doesn’t seem so bad….pulling baby teeth seems horrible.

And yet….I cannot stop time.  I don’t really even want to stop time because year 5 has been just as wonderful as year 1 was….and I am sure year 6 will be just as great.  They are growing and learning and becoming more independent.  I love this part as much as I loved cuddling a newborn….maybe I like now even better than then because there are no diapers and no 2am feedings.

Still…this teeth thing is not awesome and it only is partly due to my complete dislike of anything that involves teeth!

37

Yesterday I welcomed my late-thirties with open arms.

I am sure we all remember thinking 37 was just so far away and SO OLD back when we were in high school.

And yet…somehow….here it is.

I know plenty of people don’t like to “tell their real age”.  But I don’t really care.  37 is a number.  The number it self only represents something….it doesn’t MAKE me something.

I feel more in control and more certain of myself than ever before.  I feel settled and sure of my path.

My day was low key.  I worked out in the morning (probably a first EVER on my birthday).  Mom and I went to the quilt store for some browsing and shopping.  After lunch we went to Garden Ridge to buy her some umbrellas for the back porch.  We bought some Christmas ornaments too….

The boys and I went swimming in the FREEZING water.

Let me just say that if you had told me that on MY BIRTHDAY….at the first of AUGUST…there would be a cool breeze and it would actually feel too cold to swim I would have laughed at you for a long time. But yesterday there WAS a cool breeze and it wasn’t sweltering.  And the water was so cold it was uncomfortable…especially with that breeze blowing!  It felt more like late September after the first slight cool down of the fall season.  It was lovely…and odd.  But most lovely.

Anyway, we went swimming with my birthday present….a new waterproof Nikon camera.  That little camera is going to get some serious action!  It will be great for all the times I don’t want to lug my Cannon around but want more than my iPhone.  Plus it can get wet or dirty and handle pretty much anything.

After swimming we ordered dinner in and I made a gluten free birthday cake.

I ended my day, sitting in mom’s sewing room working on the binding for her quilt.

It was a perfect day, spent with perfect people.

Nathan asked me several times if I wanted to go out somewhere special.  I really didn’t.  I wanted to be at home doing what I love with the people I love.  I didn’t need a special meal at a restaurant.

In a way, I feel like how I spent yesterday is a perfect snapshot of my life right now.  I don’t want fancy or overdone.  I want simple moments that create memories and that fill my heart and spirit with joy.  Yesterday was that day.  It was the perfect start to my 37th year!

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Hydration

I have always been a water drinker.  I prefer water to pretty much everything.  I can down a bottle of water in about a minute….which brings to mind a story…

One fall, back when I was in grad school and my best friend and her husband were looking at law schools, I traveled with them to see Harvard and Yale.  The night we were in New Haven I finally told them we had to find a store because I desperately needed water.  My water intake was way down due to all the traveling…going to the restroom on a plane is not high on my “to do” list and I didn’t want to be the person to have us stopping every hour when we were driving around!  So, we found a Walgreens or something and I bought 3 bottles of water…my friend and her husband bought 3 to share between them, then we headed to the hotel.  I proceeded to chug an entire bottle of water.  I was halfway through my second bottle when my friends started laughing….they couldn’t believe how much water I was drinking!  It was totally normal for me though!

Anyway….back to the point of this post…

This summer I have been focusing on my hydration.  Some days I would do great drinking water and some days I would get all the way to dinner and realized I had only had a few sips of water for the whole day.  At the first of July I downloaded an app to help mark my water intake.  The suggestion was to drink half of my weight in ounces each day, adding in an additional ounce for each minute of exercise.  After calculations and being realistic I decided to set my goal for each day at 108 0z of water.  I have a Nalgene bottle that holds 32 ounces which means I need around 3 and a half bottles a day.  I try to divide it up:  one bottle in the morning, a refill for lunch and afternoon, another refill late afternoon, and usually a final refill after dinner that carries me until bedtime.

At first it was ALOT of water!  For 3 weeks I have been consistent and now it doesn’t feel like so much water.  My body has adapted to proper fluid intake.  I have learned quite a few things about my body:

  1. Water is my person key to feeling amazing.
  2. This one might be a little TMI…so feel free to advert your eyes from the rest of this sentence and skip to Number 3….I read once that if you properly hydrated the day before, your first urine of the morning should be light….like lemonade.  I NEVER believed that.  I didn’t think it was even possible!  Well….it is possible.  I was amazed!  And if I do miss out on a majority of my water one day I know it the next morning.  If you have dark urine first thing in the morning….or even throughout the day…you are dehydrated.  Period.  End of Story.
  3. My chronic pain issues are almost completely alleviated.
  4. I am sleeping better than I have in years!
  5. I exercise harder and 6 days a week and don’t feel totally trashed after the workout.
  6. I have more energy.
  7. I have more focus.
  8. I totally believe that water is the key to all those things because if I miss my water I start losing all those things I just listed.

I have also decided, based on my highly scientific method of observing the people I am around most, that most people are chronically dehydrated.  I also think that everyone massively underestimates the amount of water they drink.  I challenge you to measure out your water for one day….don’t try to add any in…just a typical day, what you would normally drink.  I bet you are surprised.  Even on good days I was far from proper hydration!

Our bodies NEED water.   NOTHING can replace good, pure water.  If you want to start drinking water maybe just replace one beverage a day….one glass of tea, one cup of coffee, one soda a day….you can do that.  (Also….if you are a go-for-it, all-at-one-time kind of person like me….expect to pee ALOT for the first week.  And also commit to it for more than one day.  It is going to take a bit of time to get back to proper hydration levels.  Once you do, you will spend less time in the bathroom…not NO time…but LESS time.  Your body adapts and processes your water intake better.)

So…..now you probably know way more than you need to about my body functions….and you also know my feelings on proper hydration.

DRINK WATER!  It isn’t some miracle cure…but then again….maybe it is.  It is for me!  :)

It’s that time again

This morning Nathan’s co-trainer came over.  It was time to plan the schedule for August.

There are officially 2 weeks of summer left…at least in our world.

In 2 weeks high school sports start again and we return to our regular schedule.  The hot weather is far from over and we still have 2 technical months of summer left, but you know…

I am not ready…like always.  I feel like summer has slipped away yet again.  But I do feel like we packed as much as we could into our two months of freedom.  The boys have been to camps and Oklahoma.  They have been swimming almost every day.  We have stayed up late and had way too many treats.  We have seen fireworks and even set a few off (thanks to Uncle Bob).

We still have a few things left.  Tomorrow we finish up VBS (which will be a post coming soon).  Next week they go to one more camp, church camp, that will last until mid-August.

But from now until Christmas, it will be like I pressed the fast forward button on life.  It will blur and speed by and suddenly we will be saying “Happy New Year!” and welcoming 2015!

I have a 6th birthday party to plan.  We will be starting 1st grade school work on the 18th of August!  And just maybe…hopefully…we will be purchasing a new house(!!!) sometime during the coming months.  (More on the house situation later…)

For now, I plan to squeeze a bit more out of my summer.  This weekend I am going to swim with the boys and make real lemonade.  I am going to sew and work on some quilting projects.  I am going to sneak a nap and maybe sleep late.  Regular schedules and plans for August can wait awhile longer.