Saturday, October 03, 2015

My Guys

Sometimes I feel like my mind spends too much time thinking about the challenges of these guys in my life. I'm preoccupied with how to improve our relationships, how to overcome obstacles, help break bad habits, develop better habits, how to share and live the gospel with my kids, how to continually be a helper and positive companion to my husband. It can be all so exhausting mentally, spiritually and physically.

And then.

And then I remember to just love on them.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

That Hike Was No Joke

We may look happy and accomplished but we just finished one of the toughest hikes. The trail itself is pretty easy if you plan to just stroll along and go up and down the hills. But that's not what we had planned. After a warm up walk about a 1/4 way up, we ran the rest of it all the way to the top. After that we curved back down the hill  and sprinted as fast as we could up another hill. And then to finish that off, we found the steepest grade and decided to run up that one, too. Fastest time got free lunch. I don't think I've ever huffed and puffed so hard. I don't think I've ever felt like my lungs would explode. It was awesome.

By the way, I got free lunch. ;)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Our Homeschool Curriculum

We almost have all our our curriculum, but I'm still waiting on one more. I figure this would be a good time (finally) to share what curriculum we have painstakingly chosen for Ronin this year. And when I mean we, I really mean me and my dear friends who have walked me through this very overwhelming process. I mean you are having to choose what your child is learning and finding material that compliments the way your child learns best. And given I knew NOTHING about how to even begin, my seasoned homeschool moms were invaluable resources. They would listen to my hopes and goals for the year and share with me the curriculum they used in the past and how they worked. I would receive tips on where to buy and how to buy the curriculum. They directed me to other folks who might understand the challenges I was facing, seeking sound advice from others who have been where I found myself now. So, without further ado, here is what "we" ended up choosing:

Language Arts
Writing - Institute for Excellence in Writing - Student Intensive Writing
Grammar - Easy Grammar Grade 5
Spelling - Sequential Spelling Level 1

Math U See - Gamma and Digital Pack
Dreambox (online resource)

Studies Weekly
Assortment of Historic Literature 

Studies Weekly
Project-Based Experiments
Brainpop (online resource)

Fine Arts
Visual Arts - sketching sea animals and dinosaurs 

Physical Education
Wii Fit
Outdoor Time

Additional Curriculum 
Handwriting Without Tears
Following Directions Grade 5-6

In another post, I'll go into more detail as to why I choose each of these and how they are working out for us so far. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

One-Month of Homeschooling

It has been a month today since our first day of homeschooling. And even a couple of weeks since our first meltdown. I've even completed my first learning period with Visions of Education. And through it all, my son is still happy to learn. Thank goodness!

I've had a lot of firsts, too. I taught my first lesson. I ordered my first set of curriculum. I conducted my first math test. I set up a science experiment - and it worked! As much as it seems this would be a time of discovery for Ronin, it really has been a time of discovery for me, too. I've learned that, through Christ, I can do this homeschooling. It does take a big chunk of my day, but it doesn't feel burdensome. I'm not a horrible teacher and Ronin has had some "aha-moments" under my tutelage (thank you, Lord!). And I've found yet another area of life where my organizational skills (and OCD tendencies) can be utilized and appreciated.

I most appreciate how much it has changed Ronin. He is a happier and calmer kid (most of the time). He is enjoying the routine and predictability of the day, but also loves that he can often alter our day's schedule depending on what he wants to do. He is currently enjoying all the online resources he has full access to - like Dreambox and Brainpop. He is having fun learning his state capitals. We have a game we play when we are out where he spots an out-of-state license plate and then has to recite the capital of that state. I find that spending so much one-on-one time with him is not making me crazy. We have more meaningful conversations and I'm learning more and more how his Asperger's Syndrome colors his perspective on life.

We've had our moments. Of course we have. Neither one of us ready to continue with the day's schedule of homeschool events. So, sometimes we scrap the schedule and just complete what we can. Sometimes school continues into the evening. Sometimes, like this weekend, we do school on Sunday while the whole family watches football.  I love how learning is becoming more organic and natural. It's not a time we dread. It doesn't have a hard beginning and end. We just keep at it as long as we can and then we close the books when we are done for the day.

So, homeschooling is turning into a positive addition to our family life. I'm so thankful that God has blessed this and has given me the ability to come along side my son in this way.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Season of Change

These are my girls. We've known each other at least since college, some much longer. We spent four years living with one another. And by God's grace, we have remained steadfast friends! Last week, we came together to bid farewell to our sister Chanette (far right) who is leaving with her family to plant a new church in San Diego. She and her family have been missionaries and have been active in sharing the gospel far and wide. God has now given them an opportunity to begin their own church and we are so excited for them. We spent the time pouring our hearts out (as we tend to do), shed some tears (an inevitability) and laughed until our bellies ached. Distance and time has no effect on our friendships. We wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Mikey's 13th Birthday Bash

Excited to have a birthday party!
 His friends are so kind. 
 Worst gift ever! ;)
 Lots of friends to serenade him. 
 The resemblance is uncanny. 
 The little sister Mikey always wanted. 
 Ninja chef and his sous chef. 
Ribs and cups galore. Now it's a real party. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Homeschooling: Our First Meltdown

I could feel myself getting annoyed. I so did not like that red erasable pen that Ronin used. It was red. But he insisted on using it and always reminded me that it was erasable. I was increasingly growing impatient as I would give him a directive and he would just stare into oblivion. We were doing so well during language arts, why is he checking out now that we are doing his favorite subject? Ugh, I could feel myself getting antsy and irritable. Everything was heading in THAT direction. 

I felt a meltdown coming on. And it wasn't Ronin. 

It was me. 

Before I knew it, I was raising my voice and I could see the tears in his eyes. He was paralyzed with fear and sat stoically doing nothing at all. Which, of course, made me more angry. I was heating up literally and couldn't get a straight word out. My husband walked in and said, "I think it's time for a break. For both of you." My son ran to his room where he cried in frustration. I went to my room and did the same. 

I could not believe it. The meltdown happened. Thirteen days in. And it was not my son. It was me. 

I began the day with all good intentions. I decided to change our routine a bit, because it was a minimum day for my other son still at the charter school.  I thought if we started first thing in the morning we could be done by the time his brother was out of school. 

We usually begin the mornings at the gym where I workout and Ronin completes his independent work in the kids club. Homeschool commences soon after we return home. It seemed that with the routine change, Ronin was less receptive and less engaged. Perhaps too early in the morning? There was a lot of yawning from him and a lot of eye rubbing from me. Either way, it seemed that the early start did not agree with us. 

After I calmed down and collected myself, I did go to my son and asked for his forgiveness. We both agreed to start again with kindness and patience. He asked for a few more minutes alone in his room. I headed downstairs and waited. 

As I waited, I realized that I like routine as much as my son needs routine. There is something very predictable and comforting in it and I chose wrong today for the sake of speed and efficiency. We both were thrown off by the change and I admittedly did not respond appropriately. So, now that I know what does not work for us, we will both be better off because of it. 

I heard rustling behind me and saw my son hiding underneath his favorite blanket. 

"Ronin, are you ready to start again?"

He comes up behind me, envelopes me in his blanket and kisses me. "Yeah, I'm ready." 

Monday, September 07, 2015

Labor Day Fun: Drake's Beach

 The BBQ man never stops. Here he is cooking up the fresh oysters from Tomales Bay. 
 Sweet morsels of heaven from the sea. 
 Digging a hole! What else?
 Buckets of fun at the beach. 
 Shucking his first oyster. What a moment. 
 The natural gathering place - by the food. 
 That water looks awesome in the pictures. 
 The waves were amazing as they crashed on the shore. 
 And took out one kid after another. Hee-hee. 
 With it's biting and chilly waters. 
 I stayed far away from the water - enjoying it from a safe instance.
 Odie, Winnie, Auntie, Summer, Fran and Junior. 
Odie and Junior loving this Labor Day trip to the beach. 

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Fun with Cousin Jared

Over the holiday weekend the boys were so excited to reunite with their favorite cousin from Bakersfield. We all attended a family party the evening before where the extended family came together for the first time in a long time. Jared and his parents came up just for the occasion. The boys had so much fun at the party they wanted to continue it with breakfast the next morning.
 Waiting fo the food to arrive means being precocious boys at the table. 
 Sad that they won't see each other again until Christmas. 
 In the meantime, let's enjoy these funny apps on Jared's iPad.