Sunday, October 30, 2016

September Pictures and stuff

We went to the Children's Museum in Beaumont.

Every morning Briggs would get up early and come into my bed where I was usually up with Becca. He liked snuggling with us for a little bit before we had to start the day.

Kenny's birthday was Sep. 8th. He turned 33!! We didn't do a whole lot to celebrate, just had his favorite foods for dinner and dessert. We sure love him!

Such a handsome little guy. We bought this cute suit for him in Cambodia while we were there. There's a suit coat that goes with it too, but it was too hot and he didn't want it. Glad I remembered to pull it out of the closet before he grows out of it!

Becca started smiling when she was 4 weeks old. She is such a sweetheart. And absolutely loves bath time (below). She's never cried once in the bath.

 Ty's cheering section at his soccer game. Earlier that morning it was Madi's game.

 Bryn and Madi were asked to sing a song in primary. They sang the second and third verse of Army of Helaman. They were a little shy and nervous, but they sounded great. Kelsey went up there with them, but she didn't really know the words. We'll just call it emotional support. ;)

 sewing lesson with Grandma. She drew straight lines on paper and had them just sew along the paper, no thread or anything at first. They loved it.

 There was a bit of a snake saga at our house, again. I can't remember what day it was now, but I just opened my bedroom door to walk into my room and see this motion on the floor. It's a freaking SNAKE in my room, slithering away from me. I sort of screamed and jumped back out of the room for just a second. I composed myself and went back in, only it was GONE. I seriously couldn't find it anywhere. I had gone out to the garage to get a hoe, and boy was my heart pounding while I was down on the floor looking under my bed and dresser trying to find it. It was nowhere to be found. I closed my door and tried to block the space on the bottom with towels. But hours later Kelsey was in the laundry room, changing her clothes. She started saying that she heard the snake in a grocery sack that was on the floor. I thought that she was just kind of scared and thinking that anything was the snake. So I didn't believe her. But a minute later, she starts crying and shouting that she saw the snake move and it really was in the grocery bag. I went in there with my garden hoe as my powerful weapon. I scared it out of the bag and tried to kill it but it quickly slid under the cupboards that are in there, where my hoe was too big to fit in that space. So I turned it around and tried jabbing at it with the end of the handle. But it just slithered along the edge and underneath the washer and dryer! Obviously I couldn't get it there, nor could I move the machines. We didn't see it the rest of the day. Every time I had to get up during the night with the baby I would turn on my cell phone flashlight and shine it all over the floor before I stepped out of my bed. It was so unnerving having a snake in my house and not knowing where it was. Freaked me out. The kids and I were all on high alert trying to keep our eyes out for it. All the next day we didn't see it, same high stress during the night. The next morning, Kelsey saw the snake hiding under Becca's car seat, in the kitchen. That poor girl has such a keen eye and is really good at finding things haha. Anyway, luckily I had kept my hoe handy and grabbed it. I summoned all my courage (I really, really hate snakes). I quickly threw the car seat off and once it started slithering across the floor I just went a little crazy and started hacking away at it. I cut off his tail and left lots of dents in its body. It was still like hissing at me and opening its nasty jaws in my direction, but he was dying. I used the hoe to pick it up and take it outside and told Tyler to bury it while I cleaned up the blood. It was disgusting but I am SO glad to have that behind us. Thankfully Kenny has replaced the weather seal on the back door, which is how I think they were getting in before. Hopefully we won't have any more snake problems.

 Sweet Ty holds her for me when I can't, like if I'm making dinner or something. She has fallen asleep on his shoulder several times and it's so darn cute.

 We often have frogs and geckos all over the windows, but this morning the condensation made it so that it left perfect marks of the frog hopping all over the window. It was so cool!

Madi and her babies

 Gotta keep these two busy while I'm helping the others with school work. Briggs likes driving cars in his kinetic sand.

One day I made up a nature scavenger hunt for the kids. Kenny did it with them and changed it up a bit. They had a lot of fun and get so competitive with each other.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

What Homeschool Looks Like Right Now

The main curriculum we use is called The Family School. It's so awesome, and I'm learning so much right along with the kids. I'd actually be embarrassed if anyone else realized how much I really am learning. I'm sure a lot of it I was taught at one point in time and have just forgotten over the years. In any case it's a lot of fun and it's going well. There's always more activities and ideas that I wish we could get to and aren't able to. But I love that I'm able to teach to all the kids at the same time, and then give them assignments appropriate to their age level. They also have handwriting pages to complete each day and Ty's doing cursive. He's probably behind a year in learning it, but that's okay.

Either the night before, or first thing in the morning, I write down in a spiral notebook all the things they need to do for the day and draw a little box next to it for them to check off. Specific math pages, or how many minutes to practice or chapters/minutes to read, etc. (This is just for the older three.) It's individualized and done the day of so I have a more realistic idea of what we have going on and what they need to do. I stole that idea from Sarah Mackenzie, she's a big inspiration to me. It gives a clear list of all that's expected of them for the day and they can work as fast or slow as they want, but they know all the things they have to accomplish.

We use Saxon for Math. Tyler's grade level even comes with a DVD where the instructor does a short lesson and then he does the assigned pages. It's so helpful for me to have that video instruction that he can watch and free up some time for me to help the girls.

Tyler's also doing the IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing) program and it's great! Our CC community didn't offer Essentials class last minute (the mom who was going to tutor that ended up moving like the week we started, so they refunded the money but I was disappointed he wouldn't have that class). So anyway we bought the writing curriculum that they would've used. Again, there's video instruction from the fabulous Andrew Pudewa and he's a fantastic teacher and does a much better job at making it fun and exciting than I could.

Classical Conversations is on Tuesdays. I am so glad we chose to do it again this year. The kids are making great friends with such good kids and I love the moms too. It's been a great thing again for us. The kids love doing review for it each day. Sometimes I'll give them 2 candy corns for each question they get right. On CC day we pack up an insane amount of things in the car and are gone from the house from 8:40 to 4:00. CC is from 9:15-1:00. Then we go to the library and the park and kill time until we take Brynlee to her violin lesson at 3:00. They're all up in Beaumont so it's easier for us to just stay up there. It's a loooong day and I'm always worn out by the end. I have to plan ahead to have a super easy dinner because we also have to eat earlier than usual. The kids always have soccer practice on Tuesday evening. Or Madi has it Monday and Tyler has it Tuesday.

Monday afternoon is piano lessons. I always have to wake Briggs up from his nap early to go to that and I hate that. Wednesday is Young Men's for Kenny and Cub Scouts for Tyler. It's easy since they both have to be there at the same time.

Overall it's going really well, but Briggs and Becca make it challenging. They are by far the hardest part of homeschooling. But we get through one day at a time.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

August Pictures

 My brother Tim and his cute wife Lauren were in Texas for the month of August in between semesters at BYU so we got to see them a couple times! They were such good sports to put up with my crazy kids who couldn't leave them alone.

 HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRIGGS!! 2 years old and as cute as can be. Bday was Aug. 12th.

I love these flowers that bloom up our walkway.

Kid Updates

I haven't written an update on each of the kids in a long time. Heck, I haven't really blogged in a long time, and I am sad about that. Life seems to be crazier than ever right now and it's hard to find time to do it. But after a really bad evening yesterday with Becca, she slept all night! So I woke up at 5:30 and wasn't able to go back to sleep. So I'm going to try to take a few minutes and record life these days.

Rebecca is 2 months old now. She is chunking up so nicely :). She is completely adored by everyone. I think the sweetest interaction is with Brigham. He loves her so much, and tries to talk to her and give her kisses often. He always says "I hold it! I hold it!" So I let him "hold" her on his lap and he's tired of it after about 2.5 seconds. My favorite thing is to just talk to her. Her pretty blue eyes just light up and she's so alert and happy and social. I totally teared up the other day when I was just so overwhelmed with love for this beautiful, perfect baby. She has been a challenging addition, but I love her so much I don't even understand it.

Brigham is 2 years old and still really not talking very well or very much. He uses a lot of grunting/mumbling noises and sound effects with a few real words thrown in there to communicate. He has had a really hard time since Becca was born and started throwing the worst tantrums. It could be because it also coincided with him turning 2 years old. Also his inability to communicate effectively contributes to his frustration I'm sure. But whatever the cause, he's been a challenge. He mostly picks on Kelsey and those two fight and scream like you wouldn't believe. They go back and forth between being best friends and worst enemies in the blink of an eye all day long. Their relationship is exhausting to say the least! I sometimes with they would just completely stay away from each other, but of course that's not going to happen. It's way too fun for them to pick on each other. But Briggs can become quite physical and violent. He hits and tackles people and throws things. But can also be the sweetest little boy you've ever seen. That's a 2 year old, I suppose. He is pretty obsessed with cars/trucks/trains/etc. and is rarely seen without one. He loves to hang out on the riding lawn mower and just sits on it all the time. He's also quite into balls and loves to just run around the yard kicking a ball. He is seriously the cutest and most handsome little guy. He's got a shaggy head full of hair that needs to be cut right now but he still looks so cute with his tan skin and brown eyes. He moved into a big boy bed about a month ago and has been doing really well. It was a seamless transition from his crib. He's also sharing a room with Kelsey now, which may or may not be a good idea. But so far it's working out really well. Tyler just likes to stay up late reading every night, so we had to change rooms around. There's just too big of an age gap for them to share a room. He is such a thick, solid, and heavy boy. He's an incredible eater and very independent. He will play by himself outside for so long, just riding his bike around or driving his cars in the bin of kinetic sand I leave out there for him.

Kelsey is 4 years old. She's learning to read and absolutely loves it. She's picking it up really quickly and feels like a big kid. She is in and out with joining us for homeschool, but she always surprises me with what she hears and remembers when I think she isn't listening. She's becoming more self sufficient and loves to make her own sandwiches at lunch and wash her own hair in the bath. I'm happy to let her do these things because it makes my life easier with every little thing my kids can do for themselves. She is such a sweet and loving girl, but almost to the point where it's way too much and I don't know what to do about it. Her love language is physical touch and she's always giving lots of hugs to everyone, and can often be very clingy to people. I feel bad because I know it's very innocent on her part; she just loves them and wants to show them. But I know it can be very annoying for people when she won't get off their lap or leave them alone. Mostly it bothers me as she's acting that way with boys in our CC community!! She is the biggest flirt I've ever seen and she's only 4! It is both hilarious and terrifying. She is somewhat of a picky eater and causes the most struggle at dinner. I've given up the fight and put her back in pull-ups at night time when Becca was born. Sometimes she would go a whole week without wetting the bed, but other times we couldn't go 2 nights in a row and I was so tired of washing sheets every day. I'm pretty bummed about that, but I've stopped trying to fight it and think that I can will her into not peeing at night! She is our most sneaky child. She tends to escape quickly and hide everywhere! Especially when it's time to clean, she is usually hiding under someone's bed or behind a door or something like that. It's pretty frustrating and I hope she breaks out of the habit quickly. With so many kids it's easy to sort of forget about them if you can't see them, and she has figured it out way too quickly and takes full advantage of it. So I'm trying to be more vigilant and demand that she stop sneaking off and hiding. Not a good habit to be into. I'm strongly considering putting her into speech therapy as she still struggles with the letters S and R, and has a few other funny habits that make it hard to understand her unless you're focusing really hard. She loves playing dolls and animals, doing crafts and reading books. She's growing up so quickly and I need to take more time to be with her individually.

Madison is 5 years old. She is still just a really easy, helpful middle child. She has such a gift for seeing things that need to be done and doing them without anyone asking her to. She's much more aware of situations, or people and their needs and just stepping into help. It's really quite amazing. She does particularly well with numbers and math, just like her dad. But she doesn't seem to be making much progress with reading. It's sort of plateaued and I try to not let it frustrate me. After daily requests I gave in and started giving her piano lessons. I think she feels like one of the big kids when she can say she has to do her piano practicing too. She is playing soccer this season for her first time and really loves it. Or at least she claims to. :) If you were to watch her on the field you probably wouldn't suspect it. She's very shy out there and is not a very fast runner compared to the other kids, but she still loves it and has a great time so I'm happy with that. Anything to keep her active and healthy is fine with me. She still loves dolls and takes care of all her babies so diligently. She is extremely nurturing and sometimes bossy :). Madi has such a silly side and loves to joke around and just be silly and funny. She is the one in our family that plays well with everyone (typical middle child I suppose) and is such a big helper for me with Briggs and Kelsey.

Brynlee is 7 years old. She recently started up lessons on the violin again and she's very happy about that. She loves her piano and violin and I never have to nag her about practicing, she just seems to genuinely enjoy it. She likes to make up songs on the piano too and is always asking me to transcribe them for her, which I still need to do. (I'm always putting her off and saying later, but still haven't done it.) She's also been doing dance the last few months but won't be doing it after this month. It's just too expensive for what it is and while I know she thinks it's fun to be in a class, I don't think that she cares that much about dance in particular. So hopefully we can find something else to suit us better. Bryn often gets overshadowed as she's sandwiched in between two kids who love the spotlight. But she is really a great kid! She is kind and generous and very helpful. She loves to talk to Becca and hold her when I'm busy. She is pretty shy in general, and often in her own world. She loves to craft and create, and is always writing stories. She has so much energy and moves quickly from one thing to the next, often leaving a mess in her path. She has found a cute friend at CC that she loves to be with and that makes me happy to see her having such a good time with another good little girl like herself.

Tyler is 9 years old. He is a reading maniac! He recently read the entire Chronicles of Narnia series, and then immediately began the Harry Potter series, and he's currently on book 5. Sometimes it's a problem as I have to constantly ask him to put his book down to eat a meal with the family, do his schoolwork, go to bed, etc. Although truthfully I am very happy that this is the biggest problem we have with him. I'm so glad it't not a video game obsession or something like that. He is playing soccer also this season and really loves it. He's improving a lot and I'm so glad he loves it. He also spends a lot of time doing legos and drawing. He's also made a great friend at CC for which I'm grateful. I've been praying that we'll find him some good friends. Homeschooling is a great thing, and I know it's what's right for us, but it can also be very lonely. He just hasn't found a great friend in our ward unfortunately. Not too many kids to begin with and we live so far away from them all anyway. I would really love if we could find some good kids in our neighborhood. Ty's a great helper and loves to have big responsibilities. He helps with yard work a lot, working with his dad. He also helps keep the pool clean and does a great job with whatever we ask him to do. He still loves to tease his sisters to the point of tears, but overall he is a great kid. He went on a fun father/son outing to dinner and a movie the other day and had fun with Kenny.

I'm pretty blown away at the incredible, wonderful little people we have to raise. They have beautiful, pure spirits and teach me so much. I am so deep in the trenches that sometimes I forget about the outside world and feel like I've lost myself. But I know that a heavy investment in their early years will hopefully pay off in the end. It won't always be quite so intensive, and I feel God sustaining me from day to day. I feel so blessed to have a healthy body to be able to work and teach and serve my family. We have so much to be grateful for amidst all the challenges.