Friday, October 31, 2014

The Out-of-House Activities

This has changed a little now, but this is what our week (out of the house) looked like the last month. I just have to throw in here how happy I am to live where we live right now. Not just the city, but the exact location of our house. We are so close to everything! (Except of course Kenny's work...) but it really makes it easier on me.

Mondays Tyler has piano lessons in the morning. I am so grateful for his piano teacher. He has so much fun and she is just a great teacher. She does way more than I expected her to, and he really enjoys it which I'm so glad about. The music store she teaches at is literally 2 minutes away.

Tuesdays and Thursday evenings the older three had ice skating lessons. They were from 5:15-6:00. They offered some during the day for homeschoolers, but it conflicted with something we were already committed to so we had to do the whole "interrupt dinner and the whole evening" thing like everyone else. But I was happy to do it because I wanted us to have something else fun to do in the winters. I couldn't possibly teach them all by myself so it was great to have all 3 in the same class at the same time learning together. They all improved a lot, but Madison was the cutest to watch. The first few times she literally wouldn't move unless a teacher was holding her hands. Then she finally figured out how to "walk" in them. They taught her to just kind of chop, chop along. Then she even learned to stand up by herself after she had fallen. So even though she's not fully "skating" yet, she can manage herself on the ice and that's all I ask. The ice arena is less than 5 minutes away from home. They had 7 lessons from that and now it's over. But the cost of lessons also came with 4 free passes to come skate during their public skate times. So they're excited to go back and practice some more, hopefully "with daddy"!

Wednesday afternoons Tyler and Brynlee go to Mat-Su Central for a few classes. Bryn's there for 3 hours, and Ty's there for 2. It takes about 6-7 minutes to get there. Bryn has an ABC and Me class (they learn a letter a week which is probably more appropriate for Kelsey's level. As far as actual learning it's a pretty big waste of time but she has fun and gets snacks and makes friends so whatever. Makes me wonder if that's what Kindergarten is really like, in which case I'm glad she doesn't go), along with math and music--her favorite. Tyler has math and music. The classes are an hour each, and it's with other homeschooled children so it's a fun way to get to know other homeschooling kids in our community (there are a lot!!)

Thursdays we have our Classical Conversations so we're gone from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.. All the kids agree that CC is their favorite day of the week! So basically Classical Conversations is a community of Christian homeschool families that believe in a classical education. (Click the link for more info about what that means, according to Susan Wise Bauer.) Although I don't buy into that way of schooling 100% and don't follow that model at home, I still think it's a great thing. Since they're all young, they're still in Foundations, in the "grammar stage". So at this point they're just taught to absorb facts, so just memorize a whole lot of information. They don't even know what they're talking about most of the time, but they can recite a whole bunch of stuff. :) The subjects they cover for memory work are in math, history, Latin, English grammar, science, geography (this year it's the United States) and then either art or music. Right now they're learning to play tin whistles, which are just like recorders, and they really think that's awesome. They also practice public speaking by doing a "presentation" each week, which is sort of just like show and tell for the little kids. They get to stand up in front of everyone and talk about whatever topic they chose (often with an accompanying visual aid) for about 2 minutes. That is a great skill to have and it's fun to watch them.

Their favorite things to recite are the timeline song (which goes from Creation to the present day. It's really long so they haven't learned it all yet, but that's their favorite thing to sing, along with the history sentences. I find it hilariously cute to hear a lot of big words coming out of such little mouths--especially Madison. Normally they don't start the program until 4 years old, but I knew that it would be so much easier for me if I could have Madison enrolled with them. She really loves it and feels like a big kid. She's a smart little girl, and has no problem keeping up. Because it's only one day a week, they never are burned out by it. It's still just as fun and exciting now as it was the first week. Maybe even more so because they've made such cute friends in their classes. I never have to nag them or push them to work on memorizing. They genuinely enjoy it. After the 3 hours of work we all eat lunch together and then the kids play outside together for half an hour (like a real recess).

 It's hard for me, because I have to get everyone ready and out the door early with all our lunches packed, instruments, props for presentations, and stuff to keep Kelsey occupied, and a diaper bag. And then I have to stay there and keep Briggs and Kelsey happy and busy the whole time. Parents are supposed to be involved and helping out in the classes so they require you to stay, but I'm not as helpful as other moms :). Some years they have a room where all the little kids can go and they'll take turns watching each others kids. But I'm the only one in the whole group that has children under the age of 3!! Well one other lady does but her mom lives here so she watches him. Anyway, I still think it's worth it. I've also noticed how just hearing about certain things has inspired Tyler to come home and want to learn more about it. It's become a great source or reference for him and he gets really excited when he finds a book about something that is in the timeline song. For example, Alexander the Great, or Sumerians, etc.

Another thing I really like about it is how they preach that the whole purpose of education is "To know God and make Him known". It's so great to have them talk about God in all the lessons. I want my children to have that influence, even if they're different religions. We start off each time with a prayer, and they all pray in different ways. I love that my kids get to have that exposure to other religions. These are all really good families that love God and are doing their very best to raise their children and serve others. I appreciate their examples and support.

Friday is gymnastics day. Tyler and Brynlee are both in it, one right after the other. They're in the homeschool class so that it's during the day. Each class is 1.5 hr. They love it so much, but Brynlee especially has a real natural talent for it.

And that's a little run-down of what gets us out of the house!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Random Catching Up

--The other day the kids were watching Tom and Jerry. Brynlee said, "Aww...poor Jerry." Tyler quickly jumped in, "It's actually poor Tom! He's just doing what he does. Cats eat mice, and he's hungry! Plus the humans are always mean to him. It's not his fault, he just needs to eat!"

--Madison wanted a cheese tortilla for lunch. Since I was feeding the baby I told her to get the stuff out of the fridge, put the tortilla on the plate and put the cheese on it. Then I would come and put it in the microwave in just a minute. She did it all splendidly. When I needed to make another one for Kelsey I asked Madi where she put the tortillas. She said, "I hid them! Somewhere you'll never find them!" (quoting Tangled) I laughed and asked her again. She was sticking to her secret and really wouldn't tell me where they were. Then I saw the bag in the trash and said "oh you must have eaten the last one and threw the bag away! Thanks Mads!" and she just kind of looked at me and kept eating. A little while later I found three tortillas folded/crumpled up and stuffed back behind the vitamix and the knife block. They were drying out and all smushed and gross. It wasn't very funny to me at the time, but it is now a few days later. It was just so random. She's never done something like that and it makes me laugh to remember it.

--Kelsey has been having some more needy behavior issues. I am sure it's just wanting more attention since so much of my time goes to the baby. So I'm trying to be sensitive to that and spend time with her. Kelsey can't say her "S" sound, which leads to some funny sentences. She talks so dang cute. She always says "Mom!" like it's urgent. When I answer, "What?" She smiles and says "Well...." Only her L's are like W's and then she has to think of something to say. She'll do it over and over. She's also a very fast runner! Like surprisingly quick. She puts her little hands up in the air and just powers through her legs and takes short, choppy steps and it's so funny how fast she can go while looking so cute.

--Briggs is huge. He's a big boy and absolutely has my heart. All the kids love to just sit there talking to him to see how many times he will smile at them. Of course they have to brag to each other and make it into a competition, like all things with siblings. But a smile from that babe can cheer anybody up! We all love how he tries to "talk" back to us and he's just the sweetest. I'm taking a probiotic, and giving him one too. Hoping it will help with his reflux. So far it's not helping. I'm going to talk to our nurse practitioner tomorrow and see if she will give us something after all for his reflux. I was trying other options first, but nothing is helping. It disrupts his ability to sleep, which only heightens his fussiness. The kids will often say "please help Briggs to not cry so much" in their prayers. Something's got to change.

--I got called as the primary pianist at church. Not sure how it happened, but in the last 5 1/2 months that we've been in this ward I've managed to get the two callings I've always dreaded the most. Nursery, and now pianist. First of all, I'm horrible at the piano. I stopped taking lessons in like 5th or 6th grade. It's an embarrassing source of guilt that now I have to face. Anyway, I'm not trying to complain it's just that piano practicing is now one more thing to throw into my already very busy days. Our primary program is in 2 weeks and I'm praying a lot for help. It's humiliating to play so horribly and I just hope I can not distract from the spirit. What's funny is Tyler's reaction to it all. When I'm practicing he will holler out things that I say to him when he's practicing his songs. "You're getting better Mom!" "Good job! That one sounded pretty good!" or my favorite, "Just work on that one a little bit more". It's great to have a coach around :).

--I'm going to do a whole post on homeschooling soon (or at least I intend to...) but I want to just say how much I am really loving it! Much more than I ever expected to. When I first got into it, I thought I would do it because we felt like it was the best thing for our family. But I sort of took it on as this great sacrifice I was willing to make or burden to me. And yes of course it is more work than just shipping them off on the bus every morning. But I never thought I would be so happy to be with my kids all day. Really I am loving it and they are too. It's been such a great situation for us. I know that when we can get Briggs happy more often and on a more consistent schedule, things will be even better.

--Back in September (this is horrible that I can't remember the date) I got the privilege of attending the sealing of sweet Alina to the rest of the Sponseller family. Kenny was kind enough to sit in the parking lot with the kids while I attended because I didn't feel good about leaving all 5 kids with anyone. Briggs was like 3 or 4 weeks old. Anyway it was such a sweet experience and made me once again so grateful for this gospel and for the priesthood power that seals us as families through eternity. What an incredible concept.

I'm sure there's more I wanted to write about. Hopefully it won't be so long before my next post.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Family Pictures

A few weeks ago we went up to Hatcher's Pass with Andy and Shalee and took turns taking each other's family pictures. It was just gorgeous with all the leaves changed. I have an empty frame hanging on the wall next to all the other kids' photos. I need to get one of JUST Briggs by himself to fill it. But at least we have a family picture with all 5 kids now. He was not quite 6 weeks here. I think they turned out pretty cute for being done by us amateurs.

He was a little bored with this picture business