Tuesday, August 26, 2014

School Ramblings

Another school year has begun. Yesterday has officially begun the 2014-2015 school year. Leave it to me to flake on the first day. It seems that a new year brings new things, such as the need to supply your 2nd grader with a filled pencil box. Since getting back from our beach vacation this past Saturday, I am still dealing with a cold (which I got while on vacation) and have beach brain. I completely forgot to check the school papers that came with the teacher assignments. One paper was a letter from the second grade teacher asking that we send the little one in with a filled pencil box and a book, as well as the little form that needed to be filled in with the child's name, teacher's name, bus number and color. Joel ran to the store last night to buy the few things that we did need such as pencils, Expo markers and a pencil box so Trevor does have it for today. He was upset with me for not having a filled pencil box for him which I completely understand. Hopefully the year will just get better from here!!

I do have good news to report! Jeremy is a happy 4th grader and finally NOT in the same classroom as his bully this year. WooHooo! Daddy was all set to make the call and to take no "ifs, ands, or buts" about it. No need. Jeremy likes his teacher which unfortunately for him will be out on maternity leave from October 10 through sometime in January. Another year with no consistent teacher.... We will see how it goes.

Trevor is a somewhat happy 2nd grader. He would prefer to stay home and would really like to, if not for three things: 1) recess 2) lunch and 3) his friends. He likes certain subjects as of last school year, but isn't sure about any of the subjects as of this year. It is early yet, so we will see how this goes.

I still really despise the bus stop. They have combined the two stops this year to streamline the routes even more, so we now have the few kids that were the "runners" - as in running across the road without caring about cars. I am preparing myself for driving the boys to school if need be, because it isn't my job to try to keep all the kids in line. There are now 11 children at the stop instead of the 5 that we had last year. It will be interesting, to say the least!

We have already had our first day of homework yesterday. Yes, the first day of school brought a teeny bit of homework. 15/20 minutes of reading for Jeremy. Luckily he took to it right off and just began reading out loud when he was told to. There is a huge difference in his reading and comprehension ability since he's started at Sylvan. I can see and hear the difference! No longer is he reading word-by-word, but sentences and laughing at the funny parts, comprehending what he is reading! He is able to narrate back what he's read in his own words!

***** Thank you Jesus for the teachers at Sylvan, and for Jeremy being the hard-worker that he truly is! Please do not let his love of learning be squashed! *****

My big concern so far will hopefully not happen, but with each passing year, I see Jeremy's love of learning, that yearning to really dig into the different subjects begin a slow descent. I love to see the excitement in his eyes when he is truly learning and hate to think of losing that. He has an interest in learning history so that and Bible teachings need to be our focus outside of school because neither will be offered at the public schools.

I don't exactly know when they took out the history subject to incorporate just a smidgen of it into social studies but schools, generally speaking, do not even have History listed on the curriculum or subject listings! Having a huge interest in history myself, I find this to be very hard to take. Jeremy is really starting to feel like he is missing out on a lot of areas of history because of our talks and visits to Philadelphia and Gettysburg. He knew that Abraham Lincoln was president during the Civil War, aka War of the Rebellion, but did not even know anything about the Gettysburg Address or really anything more than Abe being the president who was shot in the head and killed and is also on the penny. (I have since opened his eyes to quite a bit about old Abe, which Jeremy found fascinating!)

On our trip to Philadelphia, Jeremy learned that before George Washington was our first president he was the General of the Army of the Potomac and actually led the troops against the British troops, aka the Red Coats. He knew that George was the first president but did not know that before that he was the General, anything about Valley Forge or the Crossing of the Delaware. He did not know really anything, even though the school "teaches" them about the different presidents around President's Day. He did hear of the Revolutionary War but only the complete bare minimum. (Again, I have since opened his eyes to yet another president and time period that he finds to be fascinating.)

I realize that to some (or maybe even a lot of) people may find me to be overprotective and too involved in what's going on but I will do whatever I can to get the best for my boys. If being overprotective keeps them safe from harm and from experiencing things that they are too young for or just not ready to handle, then yes. I am overprotective. I am very involved in what the boys are learning because I do have high standards. While a lot of things are out of my hands, and I seriously need to work on my trust that God does know best and wants the best for us all, there are things that I can handle and take care of. By golly, I WILL do whatever it takes to get the "best" that I can for my boys. There is a lot of things in the current curriculum that I don't like or completely disagree with - hence my want/need to home school - and I feel that parents need to stay on top of things.
Different families have different beliefs and morals and the schools are completely separate from all of this. Schools need to be monitored and parents need to be involved in their children's education and school life. Children spend most of the day away from the influence of their parents and instead have the influence of the 20+ peers and the teachers at school. How can you not be involved and concerned about those influences? Especially if you are a religious family and your children are in a public school? Even private schools can have the same or similar situations and home life backgrounds. The world is a broken place and our children are being forced to learn just how broken it actually is, in different ways than we may want them to learn, or even before we want them to.

Day 2 began with Trevor having a little trouble finding a seat on the bus. Why is it always my child?! The bus is full again, but according to another 4th grader, it is full of smaller kids.

God's blessings to you and your family.
~Karen

Friday, August 1, 2014

Sylvan and Areas of Work

For those who have not heard, we have enrolled J-man in Sylvan at the end of the school year for reading. His reading level has been increasing very quickly and he was even the student  of the month, I believe it was for working so hard and for the improvements that everyone can see. He loves going which is good because he is also starting math there as well. We are determined to have him ready for this upcoming school year. He is long overdue for a good year and we are doing whatever it takes to prepare him.

My dream of homeschooling both boys is coming to an end because J-man doesn't me to teach him anymore. Not that I have been...... since they were teeny munchkins. Just in case each year I have my plans made, just in case I have the opportunity. I would love to have them home with me, teaching them but we have very different opinions and ideas in this house. As in most homes, we have our disagreements and discussions. These times it is very important to learn the art of compromise.

We compromise on lots things. Sometimes I get my wants, and sometimes Joel gets it his way. Most times we compromise. We are doing our best to work as a team for the best of our family. As Joel is the leader of our household, as God wants the man to be, it is important for him to have our respect even when there are the disagreements and arguments. We have our differences but try to remember to respect the other's opinion. We try to be open to the other person's point of view and to listen to their words, as well as those that may remain unspoken. Trust me, it sounds great on "paper" or webpage, but we are not perfect or even very good at it, depending on the day. The point is to keep trying. Keep praying for wisdom and all.

"Wives submit to your husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church... Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her..." Ephesians 5:22-23, 25

"...each of you must love also love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Ephesians 5:33

This summer we are working on having a right attitude as well as the way we react to things. Times are tough as the children grow and they go through stages. Not all stages are bad, but not all are good by any means. As I was just reminded while getting the boys ready for bed, we are working on obedience as well. All children go through a time of disobedience. They test us to see how far, and how much they can get away with. As T-man is quickly finding out, it isn't far and it isn't much.

There are times when we can all use a reminder of how we are supposed to be acting, especially when it comes to our interactions with loved ones. There are many things that can cause us to lose our joy and we tend to take that out on those closest to us. I am guilty of this. It makes me sad whenever I realize that is what is happening. I find myself snapping at Joel or even the boys for things that has nothing to do with them. This is when a good, heartfelt "I'm sorry" comes into play. For the boys I try to take the time to explain that I should not have reacted that way, said whatever it was that caused the hurt feelings and to definitely apologize. I need to get better at this with Joel. I take it for granted that he will understand a lot more than I should and need to remember that he probably has no clue as to why I am upset since he is at work all day. It isn't his fault that "X" happened and I need to a) realize that and b) apologize and explain it to him.

We have so much power to bring life or so much hurt to others through our words, through our tones. If you make a mistake, apologize. Two simple words that can be very difficult to say. Trust me, I understand.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." Philippians 2:3-4

This year was a big year in just one certain way. We have completed a large project this year that was 12 years in the making!

We now have new counters in the kitchen. We no longer have the ugly yellow wheat stalk printed counters and backsplash!

 Finally it is gone!

Here are a couple of Before photos:

 
 
 We chose the Santa Cecilia stone which is a nice neutral stone.

Now for the After Photos:
 

 


 
We extended the sage green (Valspar Prairie Brush) from the dining area into the entire kitchen. All of us agree on the color so no one is complaining. It isn't quite as "lime" green as it appears in the picture. As you can see in one of the after photos, there is a putty brown color at the top of the walls above the counters. We pulled that color from the tile on the floor.

I am still very excited about the new counters even though they were installed at the beginning of July! It is helping me to want to keep the counters cleared and the kitchen clean. I like a clean kitchen regardless but this helps me to stay encouraged.

The tablecloth is probably going to go away. The green color in it was supposed to be the color of the wall but it is lighter and a completely different green.

Now, I believe that we are all caught up on the goings on in our family... Oh! I did forget one thing. Joel leaves very soon for England and yesterday his international phone for work had dropped and the screen is shattered. If y'all can please pray that he gets a replacement before he leaves...tomorrow! That would be very appreciated. Thank you!

God's blessings to you all!
~Karen

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Long, Fun Days of Summer!

Wow! It has been brought to my attention very recently that I have been neglecting my blog. I have been busy and feeling very uninspired. I suppose you can call this my "catch up post".

Here we are at the end of July, 2014! I've been celebrating the 10th birthday of my J-man in February, the 7th birthday of my T-man in May and my 13th wedding anniversary a few days after T-man's birthday as well as a few other family member's birthdays.

So far this summer it has been fun. It was a slow start but we've been rocking this month! While the boys' daddy works, the munchkins and I have been doing several different little excursions as well as a couple bigger trips to Gettysburg and then Philly for the day. Philly was with Joel, which made the day extra special since we were all able to be together.

Our trip to Philadelphia was planned purely for the enjoyment of J-man. He has been yearning to go there to see the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Betsy Ross House as well as the Ben Franklin Museum. So, guess what we saw? Yes, indeed. We managed to fit all that in, plus a few other spur-of-the-moment adventures such as buying cheese steaks and hot dogs for lunch from the cart on the street. We did a hop into Carpenter's Hall, and the Old Customs House and wandered around for a while. The last thing was enjoying water ices from another cart on the corner of Arch street.

The day was very fun and J-man loved it. He craves learning and this trip satisfied his yearning to learn more about these sites in Philly. Both boys had an absolutely fantastic time in the Ben Franklin Museum. There are so many hand-on things inside that we spent a good chunk of time inside the museum. It was much more of a hit than I expected it to be! The boys learned quite about Franklin and his inventions, ideas and how he lived.

Our trip to Gettysburg was with my parents, aka Nanny and Pop Pop B. It was a very good day with lots of walking and exploring. We made a "quick" trip into the Visitor's Center for a map and information. Then we drove through the southern end of the Battlefield, making several stops to walk around and explore. The boys enjoyed walking around Little Round Top and then Devil's Den. We stopped also at various monuments and memorials. Next visit we want to explore the areas we have not seen yet, the Northern end and Gettysburg Center to see the Jennie Wade House and other building which still bear the marks of the battle.

Joel took the boys to Lake Tobias for a day and they all had a lot of fun and quality time together. They all enjoy seeing the animals, such as the zebras, bears and others. We have all been there before so I did not mind having them go without me, when I was not feeling well. They came back with lots of excitement and stories about their favorite animals. There were goats that were gnawing on the boys' shirts as they were wanting to be fed. There were many, many laughs as they told and retold these stories. Their excitement was too much to contain and was definitely contagious.

We are now preparing for Joel to be in England soon and I have some ideas to keep the boys' spirits up while he is away. There is Band Lessons for J-man, followed by Sylvan (more information on that to follow) and a few specials that I have "planned". At Landis Valley Museum there is a special Hands-On History Day with several things that the children can try their hand at if they'd like. For those who are not aware of what this Museum is, it is a living museum of an early German settlement. There are several buildings such as a blacksmith shop, one-room schoolhouse, etc. I think they boys should enjoy this because they have been there before when they had their annual Herb Fair. They very much enjoyed walking around looking in all the windows and open buildings.

I am also thinking of going to visit Indian Echo Caverns in Hummelstown, PA. The good thing that has come from all the road-trips and long drives to the Outer Banks is that the boys are used to being in the car (or van in our case) for long periods of time. We have even driven to Yellowstone in Wyoming the other year! The first day was about 17 hours, I believe! Shorter drives within the state are usually a piece of cake.

Alas, the days of summer are swiftly passing us by. School begins at the end of August which is coming quickly. We are anxiously awaiting the day when we get notice of the boys' teachers for this new, upcoming year. J-man is in 4th grade and T-man is in 2nd grade this year. They are both excited to see their friends but they are nervous as well.

"Will my friends still like me?"
"What if my friends are mean?"
"What if my teacher is mean...doesn't like me....or ignores me?"
"What if the school [curriculum] is too hard?"
"What if the new principal doesn't care about me?"

These are a few of the discussions that are ongoing in my house. We discuss teachers - at least what we know of them - what we think the new principal will be like, etc. We also discuss the bus, the new times for school (9:00 start, 3:30 end) and what this means for the morning routine and snack time. The new ending time also means that I will probably be picking the boys up from school on the days that J-man has Sylvan.

God's blessings to you all!
~Karen