Getting in the groove

Wow, so much has been going on since the last blog entry — namely, my transition into now officially homeschooling all three boys. It has been quite the emotion-laden segue; just ask my ever-patient, always-encouraging hubby, Stephen.

I went from full-on freakout mode the first week to pretty confident mama last week. Getting back in the saddle of homeschooling began with lots twitching, some crying, tons of prayers for help, and then ended with my iPod plummeting into the toilet. Classic.

In contrast, the second week included absolutely no crying, a lot more calm and many prayers of thanks. One day at a time, as the folks in recovery like to say.

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Zeke (my only child who LOVES to pose for the camera) soaks in the final visit to the sprayground for the summer.

At least all my mistakes will make good fodder for comic relief way down the road when the boys are older, assuming that I survive this crazy thing called raising and home-educating the 3 Amigos!

But in the meantime, I am constantly learning and adapting, figuring out the best way for me to to just keep it simple and fun. Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t have structure, lessons plans, checklists, and longterm and short-term goals.

But what it does mean is that if life gets in the way of those to-dos, I try to take it in stride. After all, most of those circumstances have valuable learning lessons embedded within them.

Of if we blow off the slated agenda for the day in order to improv, go off on a tangent, take an unscheduled field trip, enjoy each other’s company or just be, I know the world’s not going to come crashing down around us. In fact, it probably means we’re doing pretty darn good.

When he’s not horsing around, Gabriel can be quite the model, too, especially when he’s donning cool head gear.

But what I must come to expect is that every new school year, there is going to be a learning curve, with new subjects, new expectations, newly matured students, new commitments, and a new mama-teacher with another year under her belt. I should embrace this metamorphosis rather than fight it.

So, having said all that, let me express love and gratitude to Stephen for being my cheerleader (and a great teacher in his own right), my extended family for being so supportive, and my homeschool community for their constant encouragement and sharing of knowledge.

Let me also thank my awesome and inquisitive kids for (almost) always being ready for a new challenge, and of course, my incredible God for calling me to and equipping me for this wild ride called homeschooling. As I always say, it’s never a dull moment!

Houston’s just thrilled to add his new little plastic army men to the boys’ Fort Apache set — totally worth the impulse-buy purchase from Target’s dollar section.

So, CC community kicked off on 9/3. Houston is in Apprentice (stage 2 of Foundations) and Gabriel and Zeke are in Abecedarian (stage 1). I requested that the twins have separate tutors to give them a break for one another, as well as let each be his own person in his own class with his own unique experiences.

I think Gabe and Zeke really like the dynamic thus far ’cause they seem to be thriving doing the solo thing. And Houston, of course, loves having three hours away from bros. Plus, his class is led by one of his favorite buddy’s mom and includes a lot of his friends from last year.

We are in Cycle 2 this year; if you recall, CC has three cycles of memory work during the grammar stage of study. Last year’s history was mostly ancient stuff, but this year’s focus is one the Middle Ages. Obviously, the boys are quite enthusiastic about studying medieval history, knights, feudalism and the like.

The Fine Foursome: Piper, Zeke, Gabriel & Jackson enjoy the last days of summer.

I am making my first attempt at lapbooking this year. For those of you who are not in the know, the gist is that these are hands-on learning tools that are put together by student and mom on a weekly basis, and are supposed to augment the child’s CC memory-work experience.

Sweet Christie gave me a primer on the ins and outs of making a lap book, which entails lots of printing, cutting, folding, gluing and organizing, and even more so when you’re making separate lapbooks for three students. It was pretty overwhelming at first, but I think I finally have a fluid system for getting these things assembled.

The boys first night of Awana was 9/4. I’m excited to get the 3 Amigos involved for the full nine months of the program. Houston is in Sparks, which “ignites the curiosity of … kids to learn about the people and events of the Bible, building a foundation of wisdom for knowing Christ.”

“The Americans are losing, but they’re trying to get freedom,” Asher said to Houston during this battle. But Big Hashy often plays another war game called “Get off my property.” Little libertarians in the making makes for a happy mama!

The twins are Cubbies, which “celebrates the spiritual potential of preschoolers … by helping them develop respect for God, His Son and His Word.” Basically, the difference is a more intense curriculum for the older kids, but still a hefty bit of verse memorization even for the Cubbies.

So far, the dudes are really into it, and are extremely pumped about earning patches for their cool vests. They also get to see Asher and Jackson, and a few other CC and old Westover buds at Awana. Whatever motivates my kids to delve into the Bible and become a mature follower of Christ works for me!

Then on 9/5, Houston resumed piano. His teacher, Miss Julie, was surprised how well he played, considering it was his first lesson since breaking his elbow back in early July. Way to go, Music Man!

The 3 Amigos show off their completed passports from their “Around the World” summer studies.

Speaking of the ol’ elbow, Houston has healed incredibly well. The x-ray at his orthopedist appointment on 8/30 showed this, but his physical therapy sessions prove it.

We had been meeting with his PT, Mr. Scott, biweekly and then weekly. And now Houston has only one more therapy session ’cause he has gained back all movement and mobility of both flexion and extension. Thank you, Lord, for the amazing progress!

8/30 also happened to be my 42nd birthday. Stephen took me out for a fancy dinner, while Miss Jessie watched the boys. Sure, I have my fair share of aches and pains and other age-related woes, but overall, I’m feeling alright and again thank God for good health.

Another proud accomplishment: The dudes completing their Shark Unit. What a nice way to wrap up our summer learning adventures!

We went to Virginia from 9/6-9/8 to celebrate Dina’s, Papa’s and my birthday, as well as Gramsey and Papa’s 50th anniversary! It was lovely family outing, that included hardshell crabs, a riveting cigar smoke with Papa, bonding with Meredith and Gramsey, and Stephen’s and my late-night political rap with Rick and Jacob. Thanks, y’all!

Granny also visited Labor Day weekend. I was able to organize the office (which was still in shambles after the house painting) while Granny took the kids to Chuck E. Cheese. We appreciate all that you do for us, Granny!

Some other fun things …  the boys and I made our last trek to the sprayground on 8/23; went to Dixie’s birthday party on 8/24; gave Houston a faux hawk on 8/26; went to Barnes & Noble to get his Houston’s free summer-reading book and then to Chuck E. Cheese before meeting up with Daddy and the J-Crew for dinner.

Shirtless, shoeless and ready to kick butt, Houston spearheads the backyard wrestling matches with formidable foes, “Double Trouble!”

This weekend was utterly gorgeous, so we spent a lot of time outdoors. On Friday night, we went to a high school football game (it was the twins’ first). And Saturday, Stephen coached the boys in target shooting with the BB gun, as well as with Houston’s bow and arrow.

Today, there was more archery practice with neighbors Dixie and Maddie, as well as a basketball game refereed by Stephen. Thanks for being such a cool, hands-on daddy, Daddy!