Saturday, August 25, 2012

First Week of School

 Isaac's first day of 1st Grade!
 Eve, insisting on wearing a "packpack" like the big kids
Claire's first day of preschool!
Well, we have completed our first ever week of homeschooling, and I lived to tell the tale.  We started school on Tuesday with Classical Conversations, a homeschool group we've joined here.  The kids LOVE it there, and I feel really grateful for enthusiastic teachers, structure, community, and the "safety net" CC provides.  It may not be a perfect fit for my ideal style of learning (we'll have to wait and see), but it's a flexible program and I'm still in the drivers seat.  So far, we're all happy.  And that's important.
So how does it feel, starting school at home? Exciting.  Overwhelming.  Tiring.  Saturation point with kid-interaction. Fun. Lots of adjustments. Chaotic.  I've been enjoying seeing how much they've learned just in one week, and it's been fun to teach them. On the one hand, teaching with a squirrely toddler on your hip (who is screaming "RAISINS!" and trying to eat your preschooler's skip counting activity) is a little nerve-shattering.  On the other hand, having a toddler sit nicely in your lap while you have Bible time and your older children raise their hands nicely and eagerly answer questions is kind of exhilirating.  Claire and Isaac are really doing well, and they seem to be engaged.  They do not fawn at my feet in utter delight after a morning under my expert tutelage.  They are not blown away by my efforts, nor do they gush to their friends about how much they adore school.  I hope that's okay.  I am not a super "fun" teacher (I hope that's okay too), and I'm glad they have CC as an engaging place where they get to do a lot of activities I don't have the energy to plan out. I know it's going to take a little while to get my feet under me, get the hang of this new schedule, and settle into our new routine.  I'm really glad that it's going so smoothly so far. Part of me misses the excitement of sending the kids off to school, but the other part of me is cherishing this opportunity to be with them and to learn as a family.  There are just always tradeoffs in life, aren't there?  I feel like Claire, Isaac, and I are really learning together as a team, and that's a treasure. 
But I was pretty glad for the weekend, for sleeping in, having my man home, and relaxing with everyone.  Next week will be great too, but I'll take my weekends whenever I can get them :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

First Day of School

 Isaac's first day of 1st Grade!
 Claire's first day of preschool!
Just another day of awesome for Evie! (but with a backpack like everyone else :)

Today was the first day of school for us.  We've joined a Classical Conversations group here, and after their orientation last week, the kids could not WAIT to get to school.  They jumped out of bed, barely ate their special breakfast, obsessed over the packing of lunches and backpacks, and bundled into the car in record time. 

Eve had a bit of a rough start in the nursery class (due to some other unsettling screamers), but she settled down, and I spent my morning in Claire's class.  Classical Conversations is a homeschool program from a Christian, classical perspective.  There is a lot of memory work, but the tutors work so hard to make it fun, hands-on, and engaging.  I was really impressed with Claire's teacher.  It can be hard to bring some of the concepts they're learning down to a 4 year old level, but she really did it.  Claire has memorized the continents effortlessly today, and we learned other things like skip counting by 2s, the first 5 of the 10 Commandments, prepositions, geography of the Fertile Crescent, and Latin cases. Isaac is learning the same information in his class, which makes reviewing it at home really streamlined and fun.  I so appreciate that they set the memory work to music, because that helps all of us (but especially Claire). 

This is our first year of homeschooling, so there's going to be a lot of trial and error I'm sure.  So far though, I'm excited to have a group we're plugged in with that is making learning so engaging and fruitful for my kids, and I like the safety net it provides for me.  I hope it works out in the long run.

The kids were super excited for today.  We still have more fun "First Day" things, like mac n cheese, ice cream, and a movie night.  It's been a great first day.  But tomorrow is really my first day...I hope it goes well! Wish me luck :)
Musical Chairs memory activities

NC Vacation

 We went up to NC two weeks ago to visit with the family and get some vacation in before school and strawberry season hit us with their one-two punch.  We went to my family's first, and got a lot of Austin time.
 Granny and Merle came down as well, so it was a great time with the extended family.  My girls in particular loved doting on the new little guy.  I think Evie was glad to have someone around who was younger than her.  We got to spend a lot of great time with Allie too, and a bit with AJ and Julie, although Ian was sick for part of our visit, which kept them away unfortunately.
 Then we went to Swansboro for "The Cabin Experience".  The Whitakers have an old, turn-of-the-century cabin on the White Oak River, and I had never stayed there.  This year was my chance, so we met up with Vance's parents and sister's family for some beach time.  It seemed a bit ironic to leave the nicest beaches in the US for Emerald Isle, but I realized something as I stood on the shore of the Atlantic:  This is my ocean.  The waves, the sound of the surf, the sand....everything about the Atlantic speaks to me of childhood summers and the awe and wonder of a massive body of water.  The Gulf is beautiful, and I love it, and my kids can play in it without having me in arms reach.  It's wonderful.  But there is something special about being on the east coast for me.
 We also did some fishing, when the weather allowed.  Isaac was very proud of his black drum he caught on the first afternooon.
 There was a lot of laughter, lots of kids, and a lot of relaxing.  Also a lot of eating.  My kids look forward to eating Nana's snack mix every time we visit, and they are never disappointed.  I always look forward to real tomatoes, and Claudia didn't let me down either :).
 My nephew Ben turned one last week, and we celebrated with chocolate.  He approved.
 We also got to visit some good friends in Raleigh.  Joy and I have been next door neighbors, not-friends, friends, basketball teammates, in youth group together, campus fellowship leaders together, and bridesmaids in each others' weddings.  I'm so glad that we're still close friends despite the distance, and it makes me very happy to see our kids growing up together.  There's something wonderful about knowing someone through all the awkward and wonderful stages of life that just makes things real and precious.
Sorry for the out of order (and fuzzy) picture....Papa Frank took us fishing on the boat, and Claire helped us catch this black drum.  We fried up the kids' fishing booty and it was delicious.

All in all, we had a wonderful visit to NC.  It has been a really restful, relaxing, fun summer, and I'm so grateful.  Here comes the fall, with all its busy and fun and active events, ready or not!