Saturday, April 30, 2011

New Reader

As were are approaching the end of the school year, I am very proud to say we have another reader in the house! We are beginning with simple readers (with a plan to make our own as well). I can't even begin to say how proud I am. We took a very slow approach and I believe that he is just proof at how easy it is to pick up reading when they are ready! Yay!


Nothing says spring more than babies! When we moved in last summer, there were two empty nests on our front porch. One got dismantled and this one remained. A mama finch moved in a few weeks ago and laid 5 eggs!

The day after Easter, I recognized the familiar sound of baby birds being fed. So I grabbed the camera and snapped a picture when the mama had flown off. All 5 babies hatched and are growing like weeds. When I took these pictures, they weren't visible from the porch, but now you can see their heads popping up and even stretch their wings once in a while!

The mama is feeding them more often and they seem to be getting louder! We are lucky enough to have a close up view from the playroom window. Everytime the babies start "screaming", the kids run to the window to watch. MaKenna especially loves to see the mama feed the babies.

We are all excited for the day when they fledge, but I know they will be missed as well! Yay for spring!

Easter Weekend

We were lucky enough to have a visit from Uncle Spencer and Aunt Kristen last Saturday. And since it was the day before Easter, they got to help us dye the eggs. I tend to go a little crazy with the dyes...I think I had 12 different colors?! But that makes for a beautiful assortment, don't you think?

Easter morning, the kids were up early and ready to go! They had all checked out their baskets before we even made it down the stairs, but were patient enough to wait (for the most part) to dig into what little candy they had. This year, they each received a little seed flower kit, bubbles, a felted gnome (made by mama), a book, a chocolate bunny, a chocolate peanut butter egg and some natural jelly beans. It was just the right amount of sugar ;-) The Easter bunny also did a great job hiding the eggs in the house this year. We colored 3 dozen and only lost 2. I ended up finding one of the missing eggs a few days later. I am hoping one of the dogs ate the other one.

It turned out to be a beautiful day and we spent most of it outside. We ended the day with a delicious daddy-made dinner. Jacob told me "this was the best Easter he could ever hope for" and I agree!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Growing Up

I know I say it a lot on this blog, but my babies are growing up way too fast! In so many ways I feel like it was just yesterday when I held them in my arms for the first time. There are days when I wish I could just freeze time and keep them little forever!

weaving a dream catcher

Blake has grown so much over the course of the last year, both physically and emotionally! I have seen him gain confidence in himself in ways that wasn't there before. While we still struggle with motivation when it comes to school, he will sit and devour books in days. His handwriting is beautiful and he has improved so much in his artistic skills. He loves music and sports, especially football and basketball. In Waldorf pedagogy, 9 is a big year. It is the beginning of seperating from the dreamy land of early childhood and waking up more to the world around you. We have noticed this shift in Blake with moments of questioning authority followed up with needed reassurance through cuddling. I won't lie, some days have been difficult, but we seem to be through the toughest moments. To balance this, he has also taken on more independent chores around the house like cleaning the boys bathroom and doing his own laundry! He is still unsure of cooking, but will gladly help if I stay and supervise. I am hoping to help him build his confidence by allowing him to make some simple meals. Recently, he just picked up interest in knitting again. I taught him how to purl and he is reading a pattern on his own. His interest has always gone in spurts so we will see how long it lasts ;-)

searching for ladybugs

Ah, my Parker. Wow, 5 has been rough! This is most definitely the toughest year for us. Parker was always my easy going little helper and while he still is most of the time, we also now have moments of tantrums and talking back as well a bit of sister teasing. This is new territory for me. I know there is a lot of changes going on developmentally with him (he is eating a ton and has grown over an inch in the last month, not to mention he is almost wearing the same size clothes as Jacob now) and I am trying to be the calm, patient mother he needs as we sort through this. But it is not easy! He has also shown a new interest in playing sports with the big guys. In the past, he would just do his own thing while they played, but now he has joined in. I have also noticed him being more comfortable in new situations. He is such a shy kid and would literally hang from my pockets whenever we were out, even if we were with friends we had known for years. Now, he may need me for a few minutes, but then will happily play without my presence. He is such a creative dude and always has us laughing with the things he says. I just love how his mind works. And most of the time, he plays so well with Kenna. In fact, they have quite the special bond.

saying "cheese"

Now this girl is definitely growing up way too fast! Last month, she decided she wanted to pee pee on the potty and thus began our potty learning adventure. She is doing so, so good! She is down to wearing a diaper during naps and bedtime and that's it! As long as I make time for regular potty breaks, she rarely has an accident. I was not expecting this to happen so soon. Her little personality is coming out more and more. She is very independent (and can be quite bossy!). She refuses to let me dress her or even pick her clothes out! She knows exactly what she wants to wear and there is no talking her out of it. Some days she will change outfits 3 or 4 times. She loves to read books and will bring us the same 4 books to read over and over. Her favorite books all involve animals (thats my girl!). She also loves to sing. A lot of times, I have no idea what she is singing, but she has the cutest little voice. Over the last several months, she has gone from being my shadow to playing independently or with her brothers more and more. She still loves to be my little helper, but she also will hang out with her brothers. It is so cute to see her kiss her baby one minute and then attack me with a sword the next!

another knitter!

We are approaching the end of Jacob's first year of formal learning. I couldn't be more proud of how much he has accomplished! He is in the beginning stages of reading (sight words and early phonics) and his handwriting is much improved. He was begging me to teach him to knit, so a few weeks ago, I finally sat down and did. I had been putting it off, debating whether he should learn to knit left-handed or right-handed. In the end, I decided I would just teach him so I would be able to help him if he needed it. I have also noticed a change in Jacob developmentally. Up until recently, we had lots of tense moments throughout our days. It was almost as if he just couldn't control his emotions and now that has seemed to pass...for the most part. He is able to stay calm and in the moments when he isn't, I am able to calm him down quicker. I look at him and see glimpses of what he will be like in a few years, as a young man. He still likes to be the center of attention and will tell "tall tales" just to entertain an audience! And he has a laugh that is so infectious and so genuine!

There are days when I look at these little people and can't believe they are mine. I am so blessed as a mother and cherish every moment I have with them!

Creative Play

One of the many benefits to homeschooling is flexibility in our schedule. While we definitely have a "flow" to our day, we are not limited by the clock. This allows us to approach our time together unrushed and more peacefully, something I feel is very lacking in today's modern society. But this also means there is a lot of time to do "nothing". Over the last several years (I think it has been 3 since we went tv free for the kids), I have been able to witness my children's creative play blossom! This growth was especially noticeable in Blake. Whereas before, his play was limited and very closely tied to media images and story lines, he has since been able to freely imagine anything! It has been such a pleasure to watch him grow and expand in this way. And as the boys are getting older and stepping away from this imaginary playland a little more, I try to take notice and soak it up whenever I can.

a common scene, creating their own books
all four of them have very seperate ideas going on yet they are creating together

Parker is putting on a puppet play involving a lush meadow, flowing river and several gnomes

in the end, he lifted the green silk and unveiled a world full of precious gems

this particular morning, I was a customer at a very tasty (and local) restaurant. Parker loves to use the shoe bench as a stove/oven

Jacob was also the owner and chef of a restaurant

my very tasty fruit soup. While we have play food that they could use, they were able to create using cut up paper.

I am so grateful to be able to provide my children with time to just play! Not only are they creating memories, but they are also learning so much.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Patterson Farm Field Trip

No spring is complete without a trip to the farm! Yesterday, we ventured out to Patterson Farm with some of our homeschooling friends. It was such a wonderful day and we practically had the whole farm to ourselves. We started the day off with a quick video about the farm and then headed over to plant seeds for our pizza garden. Each child got to plant tomato, pepper and onions seeds to take home (yippee!). After planting, we went on a wagon ride around the farm and then headed into the barn to visit with the animals. The kids especially loved this as there were many baby animals! We picniced in their play area and hung out there for quite a while before topping off the day with ice cream and fresh strawberries. All in all, it was a fantastic day and the kids are already asking when we can go back (their u-pick for strawberries opens next week, so I am thinking soon!).

listening to the planting instructions
diggin in the dirt

on the wagon ride

feeding the goats

oh my, I fell in love with this baby goat!

cute little pigs

MaKenna loved this bunny!

more babies!

a few of the peacocks. One of the workers went into the pen and gave the kids each a peacock feather!

driving the tractor at the playground

the kids discovered a little creek near the play area and spent a good amount of time playing in it. They even built a fairy house out of mud. I think this was Parker's favorite thing as he was talking about it all night.

cutie patooties

a great ending to a great day- ice cream!

After the we left farm, we headed over to a friend's house for a quick visit with their baby ducklings. The kids LOVED them (and I am thinking ducks will be in our future, if we ever live near a pond!). MaKenna wasn't too sure about touching them at first, but after a few minutes she was brave enough to pet them. I think she had sooo much fun seeing all the animals she usually reads about everyday.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Kite Weather

High on the hilltop I fly my new kite;

Springtime is kite-time and full of delight;

Kite on the wing, I hold the string;

Pull away, tug away, kite in the sky.

A. Carpenter

Springtime means kite time! Last week the winds were gusty enough to use the kites for the first time this year. Our neighborhood has a lot of trees in it which blocked some of the wind, but the kids were able to get the kite up and keep it up by running up and down the street. I wasn't able to get a picture of the kite way up in the sky, but they did a good job getting it to fly. MaKenna had no idea why we were running up and down the street, but she thought it looked like good fun, so she did too (cutie). I am hoping the next kite-weather day we can go to an open field and really let them fly! There is just something magical about flying kites.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Bits of Spring

even doggies like to smell tulips

our dogwood in bloom new finds in the warm clothes box
lizard taming
and bonding
azalea bouquets at the dinner table
children's garden
more tulip smelling
and spying new friends (do you see the skink?)

Spring has been oh so good to us so far! We have been enjoying spotting mother nature around our house and new finds appear almost daily. This has been our first house we have lived in since having the kids where there are flowers to pick in the yard, snakes and lizards hiding in the tall grasses and lots and lots of trees! Last weekend we spent a good portion of our time just hanging out in the yard. MaKenna always goes to the tulip "patch" to sniff the flowers and then she proceeds to find dandelions or other "weeds" to pick. One day she was carrying two sweet gumballs in her hand and then she quickly dropped them and ran over to a small violet patch we discovered a few days before. She proceeded to pick three violets and gave them to me! I have memories of picking my neighbors flowers when I was young to give to my mom and I have a feeling she will be the same! The boys will pick flowers for me every once in a while, but they are definitely more interested in lizard and snake wrangling. MaKenna and I discovered the anole and the skink on the side of the house and I called the boys to come take a look. Jacob caught the anole and then he told me he was going to put it to sleep and began to stroke it. To my surprise, that lizard was as still as still could be! He was pretty proud of himself. We were lucky enough to witness his color change as well...he went from brown to green within a few minutes. I can't tell you how happy I am that my children share my love for the simple things!