August 31, 2014

Variations on a Theme

I was picking up and packing up some of the kids' artwork to give us a nice empty space to fill up again with school starting this week. My friend Sierra is really good about taking pictures of her kids' art and posting it on her blog and I keep telling myself I should do that. Really, what I want to do is be good about scanning it in to the computer and eventually creating photo books of their art, but yeah.

I'm pretty proud of myself for remembering to snap a few pictures this time!
I could say I'm super thrilled with both kids' fine motor skills development this summer. With Laithe beginning to write--- again without encouragement because when mama encourages it's over --- but really I'm just interested in their art. I always ask them to tell me about their picture and try to refrain from just saying "what is that?" because that's always kind of crushing isn't it? So these are their descriptions.

girl in fancy dress on the grass. {guthrie}
camping with Tegra. {guthrie}
mom at the beach. {guthrie}

girl on a pier. {guthrie}

all of us at a hotel. we have a force field around us to protect us from the volcano (left background) {laithe}

my hotel and a volcano exploding. {laithe}

my hotel on the beach. by the volcano. it's exploding. {laithe}

"oh hey Laithe! Is that the 5 of us camping? Is that our tent?" "Uh no, it's a volcano. We're running." {laithe}

August 26, 2014

T minus One Week

As you can imagine the weeks are just flying by.

I can hardly believe Juniper is almost 7 weeks old - which is almost 8 weeks which is almost 2 months which is ridiculous.

Completely ridiculous.

It's so strange how quickly the newness wears off, how we feel like she's always been here. Always been part of our days, when really, it's only been a few brief weeks.
Anyways, she's doing great and growing quickly, holding her head up and selectively giving sly little smiles if you watch for them -- and you're the right distance away!

I kind of, sort of, maybe feel like I'm getting a handle on things. Vaguely.

I was keeping up on laundry until we all got sick a couple weeks ago (everyone except Juniper thankfully) and since then I've not gotten back on track. I figure if I'm doing 1-2 loads of laundry a day and 1-2 loads of dishes the rest can wait. Although the bathroom is mortifying right now. You can come to our house, but we'll send you outside to pee. Sorry. It's just better for everyone.

Of course now that I feel like I am somewhat managing it's time to start school. And yes, we could wait, there's no mandate looming, but it's Time. Everyone needs to get back into a routine that doesn't include copious amounts of "there's nothing to dooooo" from a certain 7 year old.

A week or so ago I caught the kids getting into the school cupboard for the first time since May. I commented that maybe it was time to start thinking about school for fall and both kids gave a resounding 'YES' so obviously, this lengthy vacation has done it's job.

Next Tuesday, after Labor Day we'll join the ranks of kids taking pictures on their front porches holding signs, Guthrie's will say 2nd Grade and Laithe's Preschool and everyone will smile until they get annoyed and then we'll head back into the house for the First Day of School.

I'll finish up our plan for the year over the next couple weeks. (I did most of my planning in the spring). Last year I laid out lessons until Christmas and then kind of played it by ear last spring. Not going to do that again. It just gets too overwhelming and I'd rather plan and not do it or plan and tweak it later on than not plan and get crabby. We're going to keep on with the monthly main lesson - which means September will be Math, October Science, November Language, December is always Christmas School, January will bring a return to Math, etc etc, finishing the year at the end of May. I find that having a month long intensive works well for us and gives time for their brains to rest between units. I don't find that we have gap problems -- we don't have to spend much time reviewing each time we return to math or language. Possibly this is because we use these subjects every day in our lives, possibly it's because there's not only one way to learn.

We'll still do weekly art, cooking projects and crafts that are largely based on the season, but I'm adding in history & geography this year. We're going to use Story of the World, which is a favorite among homeschoolers. I was going to subscribe to Little Passports to base our geography lessons on, but I'm glad I didn't pre-order anything because I picked up a set of 50 States flash cards from the dollar bins at Target to base some US geography on and I want to use our world maps as we work through the history chapters so really another geography focus would be a bit of overkill. Maybe we'll need a little excitement in the spring and I'll order it then. Or not. We'll have to see.

Organizing this year was significantly easier. After some initial frustration I downloaded Alicia Hutchinson's Homeschool Planner and molded it into what works for me. I hope it'll be a good fit.  The bulk of my planning isn't daily plans as it is weekly and even monthly lists of what I'd like to accomplish. I do love a good list! We're three years in and I feel like we're finding our way a bit easier.

Other goals I have are:

  • continuing daily circle time - having even a few minutes together is the best way I've found to start our day
  • starting and maintaining a reading log, especially for chapter books. This is my inspiration. And I'm hoping it'll be a gateway to book reports.
  • independent study. that sounds so silly when you say that about a 4 and 7 year old, but I'm asking the kids to choose a subject each month that they want to learn about as the first step in learning how to do research and use the library. September's subjects are cats and submarines. I'll let you figure out who chose what!
  • homeschool co-op and homeschool play group. some friends and I started a homeschool co-op last spring and had a successful trial run in April so we'll be continuing that this fall and spring for 10 weeks each. Which means that on Wednesdays we'll be out of the house from 8:30 until 6:00 at least until the weather turns. I am really, really hoping that any appointments we have will be able to be scheduled in between our stops on Wednesdays, but we'll see. It's difficult for me to have too many days where we have outside commitment -- I can imagine that with 3 kids I'll have to be even more intentional about that. 

That sounds like a lot doesn't it? I'm sure we won't get to it all and I'm sure that plans will change, but that's the beauty of homeschooling. I'm invested, but I'm not so invested that we can't try something else. I'm noticing a change in myself this year. I've always said that we are cultivating a lifestyle by choosing homeschooling, but last year and the year before I also had a fair amount of stress at making sure that Guthrie was "keeping up." That if for some reason we should have a change and she should either want or need to go to school outside our home she would be on equal footing with the other students in her age/grade level. I'm not so worried about it this year, which is really nice!

Now, off to enjoy our last few days of summer!

July 20, 2014


She has arrived!

Juniper Leigh arrived earthside July 11th at 10:55 in the morning.
Weighing 7 lbs 4 oz and measuring 20 inches long. 
With dark brown hair and blue, blue eyes. 

Much to everyone's absolute delight. We are all just smitten.


Oh my heart, how you've arrived and firmly planted yourself in this family in such short order! I think it's safe to say the four of us are pretty in awe of you and there is no shortage of arms available to hold you. 

Your brother and sister! It has been such a privilege to watch them become your older siblings.

It's possible we had some concerns about how that blond headed boy would react to you, but you're pretty much magical and he asks to hold you frequently. And every time he holds you he is sure to count your fingers and toes. Yesterday he got to 12, but he got it under control.

Your birth was peaceful if intense; several people worked pretty hard to get you into this world. And though intense, it was also very low key, quietly sacred, and full of joy.Your dad announced that you were a girl and I think though we didn't know if you were a boy or girl we weren't surprised one bit that you were our Juniper. We marveled that you cried, briefly, so differently than both your brother and sister. 

After you were born your temperature dropped a little more than anyone likes so you spent some one on one time with daddy in the nursery under the warmer and then a bit later you spent a lot of time laying skin to skin with mama. By the next morning you were warm as could be and nursing like a champ. That extended period of chilliness meant we didn't have to give you a bath right away and that was the longest amount of time we've had to smell that truly new baby smell with any of our kids. Mama loved it. 

We are taking the next few weeks to settle in as a family of five and as much as I like a routine my heart keeps reminding me that these days will never come again with you and to enjoy them. Just breathing your newness in and savoring these early days. Allowing Guthrie and Laithe space to explore this as well with little or no outside activities. By the third baby we surely know how fast these days go and we will have plenty of time for regular bedtimes and the busyness of everyday life so for now we're just setting everything aside to honor our newest little addition.

We are so very glad you are here Juniper Leigh!


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