Friday, September 19, 2014

Jack is Seven!

It's slightly unbelievable that I have not only one truly big kid, but now two. Jack has just turned seven. He is in first grade and definitely not a little kid.

Jack decided to forgo a party this year in favor of a special gift, a 3DS. I let him have the day off from school, and I'll be honest. He played it almost all day. He also requested KFC for his birthday dinner, and he helped make his own birthday cake: a puppy made with strawberry cake and vanilla icing.

Jack enjoys swimming, being fast, Legos, riding his bike, playing on playgrounds, and video games. His favorite food is (gag) bagels with peanut butter and cinnamon cream cheese. He is a great brother, especially to Noah, whom he really looks out for and takes care of. His current favorite color is pink. When he grows up, he wants to help Alexander do whatever he's decided to do (which changes daily).





 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Catching Up: August

We decided to start our school year extra early this year. August is just too hot for much outdoor play, so I'd rather be inside schooling, and save our days off for good weather. Here are my handsome students:
 I also took Alexander and Jack on a big boy camping trip with some of our extended family. It was a great success. I missed the little ones, but it was nice to be able to give my full attention to the big boys, and it afforded me the opportunity to allow them to do some things that they wouldn't have been able to do if my attention had been split. We went tubing down the river, thus conquering the bad memory of the previous time we attempted doing so when Alexander was about four years old, and fell in the river, got momentarily pulled under, and freaked himself and me out. They also got to slide down a natural waterslide, go on a few short hikes, ride bikes, throw rocks in the river, play soccer, roast marshmallows, and sleep in a tent! (All of the camping photos were taken by my dad.)


 





Saturday, September 13, 2014

Catching Up: July

When I lived in Rockville with my dad and brother, I earned the distinction for using each of the three bedrooms in the house that weren't the master. I just liked switching things up! I hope my poor children aren't disturbed by bedroom inconsistency, because I seem to be continuing the practice. This room will be the office! No, now it will be Alexander's room. Now it will be Jack's room. And now we will move. Now Alexander will be here and Jack will be here. Hmmm. No, now Alexander will be in this room instead and Jack will be here. Now they will be together! And Kai will be here! No, there! And on... and on... and on. It hasn't stopped in this house, either. We started out with Alexander and Jack in one room, Kai in the second, and Noah in the master with me. Then we moved Kai in with the big boys and Noah into the second room. Later, we moved Kai back into the second room with Noah. This July we decided to move all four boys into the master. The room is big enough that we can fit two bunk beds (right now it's one bunk bed, one twin, and one toddler mattress on the floor), and four dressers. They seem to enjoy being together and they've actually gained some nice floor space to put together train tracks. They have a nice big closet where they can shove all of their dress-up clothes, and they have two sinks that they can nasty up with their toothpaste without bothering us adults. We'll see how well they like living dorm style as they get older, but it's working well for now.

Also in July, I took the boys down to Maryland for a visit with friends. It was our longest visit yet, and I love that they are getting big enough that I can manage something like this a little easier. Not easy, but easier. We visited some of our old favorite playgrounds, our favorite lake (which happens to be one of my "happy places"), saw some good friends, had a great pool fun day with my aunt, and the big boys even got to go to a minor league baseball game. We'll see you again soon, Maryland!









Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Catching Up: June

In June, we completed our second  year of homeschooling. Although it does seem like forever since we stepped foot into a brick and mortar school, it also seems like we've only just begun on this homeschool journey. I have doubts almost every day about whether we are making the right choice for our kids. It's not easy, but parenting isn't easy. Having four little boys is just not easy no matter what choices you make for their education. So, we will just keep taking it as it comes.

Alexander finished up his third grade year, scoring very well on his standardized test, and having truly enjoyed a good many of the things he accomplished. He did not love every activity, of course, but in general I think he found a great number of things that he connected with. He enjoyed learning about Ben Franklin, the American Revolution, other inventors, and electricity, among other things. He continued to dislike writing and I continued to have hopes that, in time, he'll come to find pleasure in it as both his father and I do. He did well in his extracurricular sports: swimming, karate, tai kwon do, and soccer.

Jack finished up a gentle kindergarten year, impressing me with the speed at which he picks up math. He was easily working through second grade math by the middle of the year! He's steadily improving with his reading, although that doesn't come as easily as the math does. He is working diligently, though, and it was a pleasure to see him grow academically over the year.

While I did not do any formal preschool activities specifically for Kai, he picked up plenty just by hanging around. He wormed his way in to many of Jack's activities and ended the year reading at about a second grade level. It's fabulous to see what homeschooling does for the younger siblings. At times I worry that I am not giving the little ones the same amount of attention they would have to themselves if their brothers were at school for seven hours a day. However, they do get the benefit of overhearing some really rich lessons which I wouldn't necessarily think to present to a three or four year old, but that some preschoolers are in fact interested in and able to comprehend. They also get to participate in our art projects, field trips, and playdates, and they get to spend extra time with their brothers than they would if their brothers were at school all day.

We celebrated our last day of school with bowling, which the kids loved.




 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Catching Up: May

In May, I participated in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer for the second time. It was held in DC, so I drove down on Friday night and slept at my aunt's place. Saturday morning I woke up around 4AM and drove in to DC. As with last time, I had a good deal of trouble finding the appropriate parking garage, but eventually I found it and made it onto the shuttle bus. The walk started in front of the Washington Monument and wove through much of DC and Chevy Chase. On Saturday I walked more than 26 miles. It was tiring, of course. I lost both of my big toenails and dealt with several minor blisters. My legs ached. But, it was quite nice to be back in DC and MD. It was peaceful, yet energizing. The weather was perfect and I especially loved seeing the azaleas blooming. That area is just gorgeous and the route took us past many of the popular sites. Towards the end, the volunteers (crossing guards and rest stops) kept saying, "Only 'X' more miles," but us walkers started to think they were outright lying to us. Those last two miles just had to be five. I think I was probably asleep in my tent before 7PM.

On Sunday morning as I walked into the food tent for breakfast, a volunteer placed a pink sash/ribbon in my hand. Every three minutes, someone is diagnosed with breast cancer, so sashes were distributed every three minutes as a visual reminder of this. Over the course of the weekend, an ever larger percentage of walkers wore a sash. One woman, a survivor, described to me how hard it hit her when the volunteer seemed to pop out of nowhere to hand her the "diagnosis." She said she felt it was too similar to her actual diagnosis, which also seemed to come out of nowhere. Her only relief was that it hadn't been her (adult) daughter, who was walking with her. Even though those sashes didn't mean we'd actually been diagnosed, she said she still was relieved that her daughter wasn't handed one.

On Sunday I walked another 14 miles, and eventually just laid in the grass at the end of the course relaxing before I caught the shuttle bus back to my car and drove home. Thanks again to all my donors, who together donated more than $2,000 to help in the fight against breast cancer. 


(Pink because I was in my pink tent)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Catching Up: April

Whew, it's been a long time. The last time I updated was six months ago, so quite a bit has happened since then.

In April, Noah turned two and Kai turned four. We are trying not to crowd our home with more things, so the boys' main present was a membership to the Crayola Experience. Kai had also requested to visit a specific, very cool playground in Maryland, so we made that happen as well. It was a great trip. The Crayola Experience Membership has been great so far, too. I've managed to take all four kids there several times without another adult! That's big time.

Noah is as adorable as can be. He's also T-R-O-U-B-L-E. Well, he's two. He seems to prefer the color blue, likes his Disney Junior shows, enjoys playing with Magformers or being outside doing anything, and has epic tantrums.

Kai is a quirky little guy who likes to play with Jack, listen in on his brothers' lessons, swing on our swingset, and read. He loves to pretend to be a dog named Cupcake. He likes Ritz crackers and pizza as long as it's not homemade. His favorite color is blue and he loves Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggie series. He adores playing Monopoly Junior with PopPop.











Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Sewing!

Last week we invited a homeschool friend over for a sewing play date. The kids were excited to sew their own pillows, but the other mom and I both thought they'd last maybe ten minutes and be bored to tears. To our surprise, our 9, 7, and 6 year old children sat quietly concentrating long enough to complete their entire pillows themselves! I also made one for Kai. They were all incredibly pleased with themselves and their pillows, and I was definitely impressed with their focus!