Houston’s left eye is so normal that I often forget he even has Horner’s Syndrome. Monday, he had his annual checkup with our pediatric ophthalmologist, Dr. Young, who said that both of Houston’s eyes are doing great. Thank you, Lord!
The 3 Amigos brandish their homemade swords. (Click to see April – Part 3 pics.)
There are complications that can arise from the syndrome-caused ptosis — such as a damaged cornea, astigmatism, poor vision due to overcompensation by the right eye — but the good doc told us that as of now, none of that is happening. Unless any problems arise, Houston only has to get checked out on a biennial basis.
Houston underwent a battery of tests, some old hat, but some new-fangled. I sat back and let him handle the questions, hoping he would do fine, if I didn’t step on his toes. Well, I was right and big bro impressed us all with his maturity and courage — hence, the treat at Krispy Kreme post-appointment. Good job, Houston!
“Bearing fruit in wisdom, growing in understanding, soaking in knowledge”
I attended a three-day Classical Conversations practicum in Winston-Salem from 6/11-6/13. It was exciting to delve into the curriculum I will be using to “officially” homeschool Houston in just a couple months, and eventually the twins.
Mommy forces the obligatory cute photo @ RoboFest. (Click to see Part 2 pics.)
The gathering served as a primer for:
- understanding more about CC’s God-centered (not student-centered) method;
- its differences from modern public education, as well as other types of Christian education;
- its core of teaching the Trivium = Grammar (knowledge), Dialectic (understanding) and Rhetoric (wisdom);
- explaining each of those stages of teaching and learning;
- and our responsibility as homeschool educators.
We also did some introductory Latin. The ancient language is part of the curriculum, since it’s structured, logical, deeply connected to Western culture, and the basis for many other languages.
On day one, learning about declensions and revisiting sentence diagramming (for the first time in a couple decades) almost made my head explode. But by the third day, the translations weren’t near as intimidating and I began to see a pattern, proving that my mind isn’t totally atrophied.
The thinking is that since the brain is an organ that was created for a purpose (learning), we must stretch it beyond our comfort zone. So not only will I be teaching my children, I will also be relearning or learning for the first time amazing things (namely for me: the “why” of math), thus, redeeming my own education in the process of teaching my boys.
I’m really lucky I’m starting off with kindergarten, so Houston and I can both begin at square one. We will be laying a good foundation and then building upon that year after year, bringing Gabe and Zeke along for the ride down the road.
Hangin’ with the homeschoolers
Speaking of the twins, we actually met two other brothers named Gabriel and Zeke. Can you believe it? I suppose if there’s any place you’re likely to run into two siblings with such Biblical names, it’d surely be at a Christian-homeschooling event.
Ready to rumble, Gabriel does his best Chuck Norris.
While I did my thing, the 3 Amigos attended an on-site CC camp. They absolutely adored their teacher (an older homeschool mom), her “staff” (CC teenagers), the activities (oceans theme) and hanging with tons of other well-socialized CC kids.
Although Asher was in another camp, we did get to see him, Jacks and Piper during the hour lunch break. And since Miss Christie and Mr. Logan attended the event, I hung with them during the morning seminar and afternoon workshop.
Naps no more
Being that the practicum wasn’t local and the schedule ran from 8:30 to 4, it’s a good thing that Stephen and I had nixed the boys’ naps just prior to the event. Here’s what prompted the major change.
First, the kids’ ultra-naughtiness, as mentioned in the last blog, persisted for a few more painful days after that. With exceptions of their generally good behavior on play dates and most outings, it was as if they had never been disciplined before. Quite shocking, to say the least, and because it was all three of ’em at once, it was quite overwhelming, as well.
By 6/9, we had taken away video games for all, Transformers TV show for Houston, trains for Gabriel and chocolate for Zeke. But we knew something else drastic had to occur. My theory was that the boys had gotten way off their sleep schedule and were simply exhausted, which (strangely enough) keeps kids awake.
Houston proudly performs the butt-in-the-sprinkler move, while Zeke’s not too sure about it.
Two common reasons were that we often found ourselves skipping a nap ’cause the dudes fell asleep for five minutes in the car, yet awoke totally rejuvenated, or someone special would be visiting, so we forwent forcing a nap. But both instances had the caveat that the boys would just go to bed early — or at the very least on time — that particular night. But this rarely happened.
Another reason was that when I was able to get them to nap, I was often left tired and frustrated, needing a nap myself and not able to accomplish anything during this cherished down time. And when I would awaken them, so they wouldn’t sleep too late, whining and bad attitudes abounded.
Plus, on those “lucky” napping days, the boys would still be up way past any decent bedtime at night. So, even with a nap, they weren’t getting the necessary rest. (My research shows they should get anywhere from 10 to 13 hours of sleep a day.) Their fatigue was increasing, as was my patience, so we had to formulate a plan.
New & improved bedtime routine
So, in addition to no naps, I now shuttle them into the bedroom very early at night, which also means starting the dinner and bath regimen well in advance. I get them into chill mode with even more reading and book discussions than had been the ritual.
Then the biggest change is that once it’s “lights out, heads on pillows and no more talking,” I don’t detach anymore. Instead of exiting their room, leaving them to their wild devices, attempting to (in vain) get some housework done, and getting increasingly angrier every time I have to march down the hall to quell an insurrection, I sit quietly and read one of my books.
Stephen helps the boys build a structure of toothpicks & cotton balls. (Click to see RoboFest – Part 1.)
Sure, I still have to keep the peace somewhat, but because I’m right there, I nip it in the bud. So far, the system is working because the drama has been diminished, the boys are getting the sleep they need, and I’m actually getting to read more than I have been able to in years. Plus, our daytime schedules are a lot more flexible as a result of going napless. It’s a liberating thing!
Comedian Jim Gaffigan, who is a father of four young kids, described bedtime this way: “It’s chaos. It’s like living with a bunch of drunk of people. Everyone’s wetting the bed, screaming, it’s like Jersey Shore really.” So true. And here’s his take on having so many kids so close in age: “Imagine you’re drowning … then someone hands you a baby.” Ah, the ingenious insight.
Firsts & (hopefully) never agains
I’m happy to report, that the boys’ behavior is back on track overall, so they’ve earned back their privileges, minus video games. (We think a hiatus from that totally engrossing, sometimes personality-altering activity will do them good, especially Houston.)
In mid-May, Gabriel swung by himself for the first time and has been diligently working it since. He is normally the first twin to branch out on big-boy physical activities. For instance, he had mastered opening doors well before Zeke even wanted to try.
Same goes with putting on socks and shoes: Gabe usually insists on doing that by himself and doesn’t get flustered when he does it wrong. Zeke, on the other hand, must be prodded into attempting such feats, often gets frustrated, and must be coached through the process. Just goes to show how different identical twins can be.
The kids do some post-sprinkler chilling in the back yard.
Sometimes Zeke likes attempting the unusual over the day-to-day. Like a couple weeks ago, he pushed a spherical-shaped bead up his nose — this despite the fact that Houston had put a flat, round bead in Zeke’s nostril the previous week — but immediately confessed.
I was barely able to get it out with tweezers (instead of the needle-nose pliers I had used with the first bead). So, hopefully, Zeke will stick more to the basics from now on.
Big hearts can come in small packages
During a bedtime prayer last week, Houston said he wanted to pray for “that man.” Might it be the professor from current nighttime reading, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe? “No, the guy you gave the coupon to,” he replied. “I want to make sure he gets a job.”
See, the day before, I had given some McDonald’s coupons to a man at an intersection with a sign pleading for money and help. So, considering that our conversation about the needy man was still fresh in his memory proves that teachable moments can come at any time. Wow, what a great heart Houston has!
On Father’s Day, the boys gave Stephen a Daddy’s Notebook, which was adorn with found objects and bling, as well as a hand-crafted measuring tape. Once you pull the tape out the decorated box, it reads “You can’t measure love.” Jessie came up with and implemented both of these clever ideas. Thanks, Miss J!
Good times about & around
Last Friday, Christie and Logan had us over for a cookout at their house. We had a wonderful time having some good adult conversation, in between keeping things as safe and contained as possible amongst our six vivacious kids.
The 3 Amigos are such a great match for Asher and company. Their playing styles are similar, and Christie and I are very much on the same page with walking that middle ground between helicopter mom (too stifling) and raising a completely free-range kid (too scary). We are lucky to have made such great friends with such a compatible child-rearing style.
Zeke finally earns his fancy-dinner celebration. (Click to see April – Part 2.)
We also saw Miss Christie and her posse when I hosted a MOPS play group earlier this month. Although only one other mom and kid showed up, we had a blast playing in the pool and sprinkler, hiking the trails and just soaking in the glorious late-spring weather.
Last weekend was Daddy-centric. On Saturday, he and the dudes went to Chik-fil-A before hitting Reptacular at the Natural Science Center. And then on Sunday, we went out for a Father’s Day lunch after church. The cuisine was Korean and the boys absolutely loved it. “This tastes better than candy!” exclaimed Houston.
I went to visit baby Rorie in the NICU on 6/9. She’s beautiful and doing well, and Greg and Meredith are so steadfast in their faith — what an inspiration! Keep on growing, sweet little girl, and we’ll keep praying for you.
Stuff their into
The 3 Amigos are flag freaks, so Flag Day was the perfect occasion for Daddy to lend his two small Scottish and one Texas flag to them for play. It’s amazing all the different types of fun kids can have with a piece of fabric attached to a pole.
The boys are also really into my old School House Rock! Rocks CD. In fact, the whole family has been jammin’ it out for a couple weeks now, and consequently, we find ourselves singing the catchy ditties throughout the day. I’m so glad my kids can appreciate both Veggie Tales music and ’90s college rock. Cool.