On December 14, 2012, our day started off as routine a day as one with five children begins. After an unexpected emergency room trip with Nanners, we returned home to get going on school work. My MIL and Mom were already hard at work with Spunky Girl & Baby Big Girl. Nanners and I came in, jumping back into a routine that we know all too well.
Then The Boy called. No greeting. No sweet hello. Simply a stern question "Are you watching this SH**?". Taken back, I tell him we don't watch TV during the day, and I have no idea what he's talking about. Oh how I wish we could erase the events to follow.
We turned on the TV to watch in horror as Sandy Hook Elementary and the small town of Newtown, Connecticut was shaken to it's core. A deranged man, with no apparent motive broke into the small elementary school and killed 20 students and 6 teachers. This was in addition to taking the life of his own mother just minutes before he entered the school.
Hot tears streamed down our faces when we realized as mothers the anguish that those parents must be feeling. The terror those innocent children are experiencing. All I could imagine is what it would feel like to be one of those parents racing towards their child's school. The same school they dropped them off at just hours before hand to finish up their family Christmas ornament crafts, to share cookies and cupcakes with their friends, to master multiplication tables, to be kids. Your school is a "safe zone", some place where you're free to tell things without punishment, where you have people that love you like your parents, where you make your first lifelong friends. Sadly, those 20 children had all of those things and more the day their lives where stolen. Teachers who sacrificed themselves for their students that they love so dearly. Friends who offered support, and gave hugs to comfort one another. Security knowing they were safe, at least until 9:30 that morning. Then the support of their teachers hiding them, helping them escape, holding their hands, and wiping their tears away.
There are no words good enough to describe the loss of a child. No words that comfort like a parent in that situation needs. No words period.
I cried so intensely upon learning that each of the children killed that day were aged 6 years or 7 years old. My Spunky Girl is 6 years old. That is such a fantastic age, fun, full of excitement, energy, joy and happiness. Those children were the same. No parent should ever bury their child. No child should ever feel the fear of death. Siblings should grow up together. They had many forts left to build, presents to be opened, cookies left to eat, and squabbles left to be had. May the Lord comfort the families of those in Newtown through this horrific time. May He continue to comfort them in the years to come.
It seems like I'm constantly rearranging, restructuring, and changing things with the girls schooling to try and find something that fits all of their personalities well enough. Last year I tried at least 5 different ways of doing our school work, some of which included
~pulling books out each time we needed them (something was always "forgotten")
~giving each girl a special spot for their work (the world practically ended when someone couldn't get to their special spot quickly enough - huge pain for me)
~work boxes (I even talked The Boy into buying these special drawers for it, because I was sure it would work, ummm huge fail! I never managed to get their work in the drawers daily, and putting a weeks worth in each drawer was stressful for the girls)
Then I decided that I would make packets like I had in school. My godfather is a teacher, and he makes packets for the kids to work out of. They have a set number to days to complete each packet, and they know as soon as they are done with packet A, they can move right on to packet B. Yay for being ahead!
During the back to school sales when 3 prong folders are a penny each I stocked up, and ended up with only 3 left. Our school periods are broken down into learning periods, which run anywhere from 15-20 days. Each learning period gets it's own folder. I just write on the front of each folder the students name, and the learning period it's for. One key thing is that I choose to have all of their folders match for each learning period, so learning period one they're all red, learning period two everyone gets yellow, and so on. This makes it so that I can glance at what they are doing, and be able to tell immediately if they are ahead, behind or right on track.
Inside the folders they have a cover sheet that has all of their assignments for the entire learning period. After that we have reading logs, I like to keep these up front since we use them so often. Next we divide their work into a daily amount, and each day gets a check list as it's first page. The girls really like being able to have a visual of crossing their work off as they accomplish it. I like that there's no forgetting the easily missed things such as physical education or art. We always do those things, but we often forget to track it.
We made a few changes to our curriculum to meet the needs of some of my eager beavers who need a little more work, and this made the folders too small for our needs. Of course I don't realize this until I buy thirty or so of them. I jump on Amazon.com and start looking for ways that I can bind the work together. I remembered having a binding machine at my Godfather's school, but I wasn't sure we'd even be able to find one in our price range. A few searches later and I round up the Fellow Star Binding Machine. IT IS AWESOME!
A dear homeschooling friend who is also in the same boat as I am, with too many, too small folders, and I agree to split the cost of purchasing the binding machine. (insert happy dance!!) For just about $45 I'm able to get the machine, and the coils. Then I used the front and back of the folders (cutting out the middle piece with the prongs) for the covers. Score for using what we've got on hand! I'm in love! IN LOVE!!
It's fantastic, but it does take some time to get your system down. The good thing is that I have plenty of practice with 3 students. :)
Eight more to go! School around here last roughly 9 1/2 months, and we have wrapped up all of August. Whoo hoo! The girls are doing wonderfully, and are taking on the changes this year with such delight.
With Beanie heading off to high school this year, we have been forced to be an early morning family. In the beginning I thought it would be rough, but it's actually been a rather smooth transition. The girls have all be eager to get their work completed by the end of the school day, and with us being able to use Beanie's days as a guide it gives them a concrete time frame. In years past we have used all types of schedules, nothing really sticking. This one fits perfectly! :)
After dropping off Beanie, we eat breakfast, and hit the books. It's amazing how much faster they want to complete everything when they realize that they have basically completed everything by lunch time! Oh the enthusiastic responses when asked if they like this better than our previous systems. I'm just hoping we don't get derailed by the flu this year! ;)
Nanners is working with her letter tiles to master spelling. We're not sure if this is going to work or not, but it's worth a shot!
Spunky Girl & I are using the tried and true method of writing. She tells me the sentences, I write them down, she copies them from the white board. I save time, she learns the words spelled correctly the first time, and she gets to say all sorts of silly things.
Another summer has blown past us with zero regard to my feelings of wishing time could slow down. The girls have grown even more, their long blonde hair still shimmers in the summer sunshine..and two of them even have a little extra color this year.
As much as I tried, I didn't do any better about blogging through the summer. What I was better about was stopping to read to my girls, to play games on the floor when they asked, to manage my home as best I could. So many exciting things have happened over the summer. Here are some of our favorite summer memories:
June 2012 - Family trip to Folsom Lake
We grabbed our cousins, and MawMaw & PawPaw and drove out to the lake on a whim. It was a simple hey let's go to the lake kinda feeling, not a ton of planning, just fly by the seat of our pants fun. We packed a lunch, grabbed the SPF 50, our favorite chairs and drove out there.
The kids loved it. Warm sunshine, cool water, exploring islands with Daddy and watermelon equal up to a fantastic memory. :)
Our Church Block Party
Our church held our first annual block party in June. The girls helped with all kinds of stuff. They especially loved the face painting station. We had games, live entertainment, vendors, food and more. It was a blast!
July 2012 - Lots of stuff went on during July. Since we had a pretty mild California summer this year, it was nice to be able to head to play at the parks whenever we felt like it. This year both Beanie and Nanners went to church camp. Technically we could say they went in June, but we'll call it July since that's when they returned safe to my arms. :)
Nanner's creating her name tag for camp. She did really well, with only one major scare. Apparently she slipped walking in wet flip flops on her return trip from the pool, and rolled her ankle. Thank goodness one of the camp councilors, Matthew, was a "sports injury" student. He was able to calm everyone down up there, they of course wanted to rush her to the ER, lol! I'm on the phone saying, uh I don't think that's a good idea, let's give her a few hours. He totally agreed with me, and together the village finally agreed. Overall she had a great year, and can't wait to return next year.
You'll notice that there's no picture of Beanie....yeah, she ran off to her cabin as soon as we arrived. No pictures for Mommy. :/ Oh well, at least I get to drive her there, lol.
August 2012 - Whew! If it wasn't hot before, the summer season is officially upon us now! The A/C didn't go off all month. That was quite the bill! :( We did manage to get in some camping finally. We drove up to Rattlesnake Bar and camped for the weekend. Too bad this mommy forgot to empty her flash card before we left. I couldn't delete since they were a customers images, so we're stuck with our memories. It was a lot of fun, we took The Cousins, MawMaw, PawPaw, Grandma & our friends the "W" family. There was a ton of walking up and down hills, a huge dash of dirt, topped off with camp fires. All around a pretty good time. You never really appreciate your home until you're away from it for a few days. The best part was that we scouted some really good spots while we were there, and we plan to return next summer. :)
We decided to head out to the Jelly Belly Factory in Vacaville, it was a last minute plan, but so worth it. The kids had a blast, and they had both grandma's with them. What a treat!
We tour the factory, and stopped in the gift shop for a few treats. Nanners picked out a special coffee cup for PawPaw since he wasn't able to come with us. Baby Big Girl lived up to her name, and insisted on buying scented colored pencils for "her school work". It was too cute to pass up, she just HAD to have them.
Whew! I didn't realize it had been so long since I posted anything. Life is crazy busy for us around this place. Between our 50 and 60 hour work weeks, church obligations, kids, and general household stuff that we can't put off any longer (seriously, there's only so many times you can run out and buy socks before you just have to break down and do the laundry) we don't seem to have time to do anything anymore.
Life is insanely busy, and there's not a visible light at the end of the tunnel. Trust me, I keep looking! I know that some day I'll look back on this time in life with a little tug at my heart strings wishing for even just a moment to have these days back. Right now all I can think is how much they tear me down. I'm surrounded by a great bunch of people, but you know there's no one that can fill mommy's shoes quite like she does.
We've done so much over the past few months, I must have a million pictures to upload. Thank goodness for cell phones, my poor (expensive) camera sits on the desk most days doing nothing. I need to go get some new pictures of the girls for the walls. Wait, first I need to get the ones that are on the table in the garage up on the wall.
Only a few more weeks of school, we're in the home stretch. That will free up quite a bit of time...hopefully! Oh summer I can't wait for you! Until your arrival I will smile, and continue trudging through the crazy jungle of appointments, work schedules, swim lessons, youth group and whatever else I can get my hands on.
The day that changed our lives forever.....for the better. Thanks to a little nudging from some friends, The Boy finally worked up the courage, and made it official. Now 10 years later those memories are still some of my favorite.
He's still the love of my life, and together we have accomplished something that so few do anymore. We are still madly in love with one another after all this time, and we still want to spend the rest of our lives together.
We have known each other for over half our lives, and now could never imagine life without one another. It's amazing how much one person can alter the course of your life.
Amazing & Fantastic!
Happy Anniversary to my very favoritestest boy ever, the only one I want to hold hands with for the rest of my life. I love you JJ!
Nanners was chosen to be the Herald Angel for our annual Christmas play at church, and as you can see she took her role very seriously. She loved evey minute of it, and I love watching her blossom into the young lady she's becoming. It's amazing what a difference a year makes!
While I realize I've kinda fallen off the wagon with the whole Memory Monday thing, I'm trying to get back on.
Here's Jaxon's 2nd Christmas with us. He adores the tree, and I truly think he believes we put it up for him. His favorite spot is right under it, so we wait until Christmas Eve to fill it with presents. This was the last picture we took before the kids were able to open their gifts on Christmas morning.