Saturday, September 23, 2017

I've been wanting to go to our local Farmer's Market all summer, but since Saturday is really the only day Austin can get out and do things, we've always been busy. So, when we were trying to decide how to spend our free day today, I talked him into going to the Farmer's Market. The kids had a lot of fun playing in a splash pool which is a skating rink in the winter. (This weekend is hotter than it has been all summer long, so it was a perfect day for it). There were quite a few booths selling baked goods, art, and jewelry which was fun, but I really wanted to go for the produce. We live in an agriculturally rich area and now is the perfect time for harvest and we got lots of yummy things- I was most excited about the honey crisp apples :) I was also very excited for a stand selling wood-oven pizza! The crust was so thin and it was very authentic Italian! Austin got his half with bacon and goat cheese and I got mine margarita. Too bad for him, the kids liked his half better and he ended up only getting a slice and a half. The kids and I had lots of fun, but since Austin got stuck pushing the stroller most of the time while I explored, he just got hot. I plan to go again in a few weeks when the weather has cooled down some.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

28 Months

Our Heidi is a busy one! She has recently learned how to crawl out of her crib (I've been trying to prevent this for months by keeping her older brothers from climbing around on her crib and picking her up whenever she seems about to crawl over the edge). She now easily gets out of her crib whenever she wants and wanders about her room climbing on anything she can and playing. The first day I found her naked, sitting on her changing table coated in really thick lotion. I've since moved the changing table to Trevor's room along with the clothes hamper and lots of the books she had. Her room is pretty sparse, but she still has a rocking chair, little table, and some toys/books. Just today she has decided that the rocking chair is a good way to reach the light switch and got out of bed several times after I'd put her to bed. She seems to be more likely to stay in bed when Austin is home, but naps and the nights he comes home late seem to be opportune times to explore her room.
Heidi also loves to strip down to just her diaper and if she is left to herself (like at nap or bedtime) she takes that off as well. We've come to the solution of always having her sleep in one piece PJs that have the footies cut off so it can go on backward and she can't unzip it. The only problem with this is that we only have two pairs so it happen now and then that I don't have clean pair because I haven't had time to wash one.
Here is Heidi in her favorite color: Pink! She only has a few pink shirts, but when she wears them she is very eager to also wear a pink skirt or pants (these are also few in number). She looks very silly, but it makes her happy. She also loves these purple boots, even when it is much to warm to wear them. They are too big for her, but she insists on them anyway. I don't mind because she can put them on by herself :)

Monday, September 18, 2017

Field Trips and Projects

We've had a busy year already with field trips and projects. We've ready lots of books and done lots of work too, but I love that we can get out and do fun experiences to help the kids learn.
We went to an orchard where the kids learned about apples and got to pick their own too.

Their favorite part was the hay ride behind a tractor where the owner of the orchard gave them an educational talk about growing and harvesting apples.

They got a bit antsy toward the end of the talk and ended up climbing all over the wagon, but Asher was able to tell me what he had learned when we were all done. The information he found most important was "eye to the sky" which means that you should twist the apple's "eye" on the bottom toward the sky. If it is ready to be picked, it will pop right off, if not, you should leave it because it isn't quite ripe.
The same day, we did a history project making and writing in clay tablets. We spend the week learning about the first writing in Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt so the boys got to make their own clay tablets and write their names using cuneiform characters. They also drew a few little pictures to look like Egyptians hieroglyphs.

Our second field trip was to a local conservation center to learn about birds. I asked Austin to come with us for this one because it involved a couple hours of hiking, which I just can't do with two little ones who need to be carried (although Heidi did walk a lot too). We started out in a classroom where the kids got to learn about birds and see different parts of them.

 The learned about how blue jays watch to see where squirrels hide their winter food supply, then steal it and hide it for their own. Here Asher is trying to find a place to hide some beans the guide gave to him . 
Here the boys are practicing using binoculars by finding what they want to look at before putting the binoculars up to their eyes.
 Here Asher is watching a duck.
 Here Austin and Heidi are learning about an insect.
 Here Leif is looking at another duck. Leif was really interested in this field trip and was always right up in front with the guide ready to learn. Asher liked it too, but is such a social butterfly and sometimes got more interested in playing with the other kids.
Everything was going along just great until the guide stopped with the kids to show them some coyote droppings and Leif decided he was done and wandered off by himself. Austin and I were quite a ways behind the group and by the time I caught up and realized Leif was missing he was long gone. It ended up with the whole group walking around calling Leif's name. Austin went back to where we had been to see if he could find him and I started back toward the visitor's center. Finally, we found him at the visitor's center. A staff member found him there just standing by himself, completely unconcerned. I'm still not really sure what he was thinking- he won't tell me why he left and was unabashed when I explained how worried we were and that the field trip had to be stopped while we looked for him. Oh Leif- our independent little soul.
I hope to do more field trips like this one and Leif is eager for them to be at this conservation center again since he liked it so much. Its just tricky with two little ones (not to mention one who thinks its okay to wander off . . . )

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

9 Months

Our little fat babe is getting so big! I recently had to get out the 12-18 months clothes because the 6-12 months clothes were getting too small. It was a good thing too- being the 3rd boy, Trevor had quite a few really worn out clothes and we were ready for a fresh set. These clothes are used, but not as worn as the others. Asher and Leif were really excited to see his "new"clothes because they like me to tell them about when they wore the clothes (although some of them are from our cousins and were never worn by my older boys) and they like to get to pick out his clothes. I bet you can tell who picked out a monster truck outfit for him :)
Trevor still isn't really into crawling since he is perfectly able to go anywhere he wants by dragging himself with his arms. We have had to be really careful to keep stuff off the ground (impossible with three siblings) and Trevor ends up with all kinds of strange things in his mouth.
He has started to refuse to go to bed at night even though he is obviously tired (fussy, grabbing at his ears, red around his eyes). He falls asleep pretty quickly while I'm nursing him, but wakes up when he senses me putting him down and wails and wails until I come back. He tends to startle awake during the day too when I'm putting him down for naps, but he will usually just cry for about 5 minutes then fall asleep. Not so for night time. He will not just cry it out. I've had to go in there many times to get him to settle down, but he won't go down for the night until its completely dark outside and I've made sure he is completely knocked out before putting him in his crib. Its very frustrating, but the happy side is that he typically only wakes up once during the night, again in the early morning, and in the last few days has slept in until 10 am (allowing me to do the first part of our homeschool day with only one little one tagging along)!
Other than his frustrating sleeping habits, Trevor is a delight! He is so happy and easy-going. He loves to smile and interact with others and puts up with quite a bit from his siblings (especially Heidi). Here are some photos of our little darling:

Sunday, September 3, 2017

A Little Hike in the Woodlot

 The boys were all for camping or hiking again this weekend, but Austin and I weren't up for it since we are both trying to get over a chest cold. There is a woodlot (a forested area with trails) in our neighborhood that we have been meaning to explore, but haven't because of mosquitoes (they have been really bad this year). Since it is cooling down quite a bit, we decided it would be safe to go there for a little picnic this weekend and it turned out really nice. It wasn't the same as going on a real hike, but it was so close and convenient. I've built a whole morning of outdoor time into our homeschool schedule each week (we also go play at parks with friends in the afternoons sometimes) so I will probably take the kids here quite often just to get outside and enjoy nature-something that they wouldn't get in regular school.
Here Austin is showing the kids acorns.
 We found the nest of a large bird and Austin was trying to get Heidi to see it.

 We stopped and had sandwiches and carrots on a fallen log.

Apparently tobagganing is unsafe in the area :)

 Austin has always teased the kids that the rule in our house is "no fun!", so when we found this sticker we had to get a picture.

Our First Week of School

Our first week of school went pretty well! My biggest fears of homeschooling were 1) that the babies would get in the way and make it hard for the big boys to concentrate and 2) that I would have to fight with the boys to get them to do it. Happily, only one of those fears really happened. Of course the babies were distracting despite my best efforts to make it not so. I planned out all kinds of activities that Heidi could do and built our schedule with tons of breaks so that I could attend to their needs. But they are still just little people who didn't necessarily always want to follows mom's schedule. Heidi seemed to want to do only what Asher and Leif were doing, so by the end of the week I had her better taken care of by letting her feel like she was "doing school". We had a few tear-filled breakdowns when she wanted a turn for me to sit with her one-on-one and teacher her something, which I really should have anticipated. So, now I'm trying to make time to do that for a few minutes every now and then. She also had a strong desire to use the dry-erase markers and boards. I did let her do it, but I know its only a matter of time before she draws on something she's not supposed to. Trevor has been very good in general, we just need to work on getting him a better nap schedule. I've tried to make the bulk of Asher and Leif's learning happen during Heidi's long afternoon nap. If Trevor happens to take a nap at the same time, things are really simple and go so smoothly. My other fear that the boys would not want to do school really hasn't been much of a problem. There have been times when one was really distracted by what I was doing with the other or by a younger sibling and I've had to remind them to get back on track multiple times, but they really seem to like school. The tasks that they have to do on their own (math workbooks, writing, coloring sheets) they get really engrossed in and the parts that we do together (me reading literature, history, or science books to them and talking about it) they adore. As you can see we have a couch in our school room and its really fun to snuggle up and read together. Here are some photos of our school room the morning before school started (it doesn't always stay so clean!)

Here is Trevor playing while we work. He usually just drags himself around, but here he did a real crawl for just a few "steps".

Here are my little scholars hard at work!

And here is Heidi entertaining herself while the boys work.