Saturday, September 3, 2011

Proud to be an American

Okay, so we started homeschool.  Most my kids know the pledge of Allegiance but not where it came from or anything like that.  Their history of the flag is extremely lax as well.  I figured at the very least the 4th & 5th graders should know a little about the history since they start their day off everyday in public school standing up for the flag & Pledge of Allegiance.  No.  They did not know.  So, I thought it was time for a quick lesson.  We have books on flags and such & one that was perfect for a quick lesson. 

After discussing it, we decided to go out and paint one ourselves.  This is Alex working hard on his stars.  No, I don't think the 50 will fit on there but he gets the idea for sure. 

Nik decided to give up on the red paint for his stripes and switch to markers.  Need to replenish my paint supply.  See, I collect sale paints throughout the year or at yardsales.  Dump them all in a bin & when it's time to paint, we have quite the color choices.  No, one of the "littles" is not painting stars on his legs, I promise.  

Nik is proud of his flag. He was mad at first b/c one of the "littles" got blue paint all over the front.  I told him it was still beautiful. 

 Alyona.  She made white stars but made them on the white canvas background and just put a blue square there.  Got to love their interpretations. 

Don't know why Alex looks so angry in this picture.  Think I caught him w/ the sun in is eyes.  Can you tell he got lazy toward the bottom of this project?  He worked really hard on the stars though. 

Even one of the "littles" moms commented today that her daughter was talking all about the flag & pointing them out everywhere they drove.  So, little things are sinking in.  Can only imagine when we talk about the sun next week &make our solar oven.  Should be a riot.  I want learning to be fun for them this year.  I want my kids to know history.  All history.  I want their education to be balanced.  We live in America and are fortunate enough to teach our kids the way we want to.  I'm proud they are American for sure and want them to appreciate all the history that went into that.  Don't worry, I also want them to know their native culture.  I'll share our ups, downs, triumphs, and failures along the way.  Still have many decisions to make regarding their education but think we're off to an okay start and can't wait to see what they know at the end of the year.  We're ready.  Going to be a long Labor Day Weekend.  We have lots of cleaning to be done.  Still trying to think of something different and fun to do with the kids.  Beaches here would be packed so that's out.  Planetarium is temporarily closed.  Too hot to hike.  Still thinking.  Have a safe and fun Holiday Weekend.  

Friday, September 2, 2011

Homeschooling & where to start

We decided to homeschool the three youngest here this year.  The three joining us soon from EE will also be homeschooled.  Many reasons went into this choice.  Many reasons.  It was a difficult decision but I now know the best one for our family.  Special education here in this county is extremely broken.  It's not getting better at all.  I've been in the system for 12 years now.  We've seen enough.  We've had enough.  Their education and well being was too important not to do something.  I can not tell you what a difference it is making and only week two!  Had I known, I would have done this long ago.  Some ask when do you get a chance to homeschool w/ all we have going on?

 Easy.  You find time to learn.  Nik is practicing his words at the soccer field. 

Alyona is reading while Alex is practicing.  She's reading 'Go Dog, Go."  She told me she wants to be able to read to 'R' and 'S' when they get home.  She is reading everyday to try to make that happen.  

There are many opportunities to learn.  Homeschooling does not have to be so rigid.  With my kids, it can't be.  I've learned to go with the flow.  I wanted to at first make sure certain subjects were done every single day. Yeh, that's not happening.  But then again, why should I complain that Alex didn't get the writing in the other day when he did 19(yes, that is NOT a typo) pages of math, read a whole chapter of a book & did 2 reading comprehension worksheets?!  I've learned to be flexible about the schedule, how they're learning and where they're learning.  Alex finishes one thing and he loves to go out and bounce on the trampoline for awhile or take a run.  Works out well.  Nik's ADHD is getting more and more noticeable.  I know I haven't mentioned that much.  Why?  B/c he's not "officially" dx'd.  But, w/ a few other kids w/ this, I know. See, I'd hoped he'd grow out or we could work with it.  Now, thinking that may not be possible.  Making an appointment w/ our neuro and we'll go from there.  I try to avoid meds at all costs and try behavior techniques if possible.  Just not working w/ him.  He is SO distracted when it comes to working on things.  Yet, he is getting some things done.  

Some have asked how can we homeschool if I babysit sometimes as well.  Good question for sure & one I wasn't so sure would work out.  Wellll.....

I sat the 7 that I had at home down in the living room.  All listened and answered questions about the American flag.  Then, we all went outside to make our own flags on canvas.  Each had a piece of canvas and was to paint an American flag.  Got one out as an example.  All went well, for the most part.  So, it is possible for sure to learn while different ages are here.  

We are trying to keep things simple and concentrate on certain things.  I am not using one specific program. I tried that for Irina and Max years ago and that did not work.  My kids are on different levels. Not just each one of them but individually, they are on all sorts of levels.  So, figuring out the needs of each.  For Nik, all focus is on vocab and speech.  That's it.  It has to be this way.  It's the only way for him to eventually learn to read.  His speech therapist is coming to the house 3X a week now.  I will work with him every morning for thirty minutes as well only on speech.  We are also determining the best way for him to learn language.  If full immersion is what we need.  We're all torn on what to do.  Drop the sign?  See, he tested the other day & he understands a good, good chunk of what we say.  Receptive language is really blooming.  Yet, lately he's gotten lazy not only on speaking but on sign as well.  Trying to figure it all out.

Alex is the next kiddo.  He desperately wants to know multiplication.  That is going to be our main focus.  That and geography.  Ticks me off the schools around here really could care less about what the kids know in regards to geography.  I think kids should know where they live and just where they are in the world.  That it is a big world.  My now 4th & 5th graders, Alex & Alyona, did NOT know the capital of this country, did NOT know the capital of our state, and did NOT know much of anything about the other states in the US, let alone other countries in our world.  Now, Alex, Alyona and Nik are learning landmarks all over the world, deciding where they want the Boyd Bus tour next summer to go(more on this in another post), and many other things. They are learning at their own pace.

Alyona is way further behind than I even thought before.  Way behind. Right now, I have her doing some kindergarten/ first grade work and she is still struggling greatly.  She wants to read so, so badly. Someone on here suggested a reading program they used and I am definitely looking into that.  We are using some various lapbooks as well for certain things.

We are not using one set curriculum.  A variety of work books from Sam's, some from online school publishing companies, homeschool in the woods, etc.  Just a real variety.  Plan on field trips too.  We've gone to the History Museum last month.  This month, the planetarium since we're studying stars and the farm for pumpkins.  We are building a solar oven next week.  All kinds of neat little projects as my kids are visual learners.  How do they learn?

At their own pace.  Even if it is with spaghetti noodles as manipulatives for math.  Alex has learned so much in just these past two weeks, he has asked to be homeschooled through 6th grade as well!  Do they stay in the house all day?  Umm, no.  We do do our work inside but we go for walks, to the park, story time, soccer, church, etc.  Do they still have friends?  Yepper!  In fact, they're over here right now.  I know my kids are not on grade level.  Most FASers are not on grade level.  However, I do feel confident they are going to learn a tremendous amount this year and be able to tell you about certain things.  We have much planned for September and October.  Can't wait to share.  And, one of the students in Alyona's class last year & neighbor, is going to be homeschooled as well.  We'll be doing some field trips together.  Thanks to all who helped us learn more about homeschooling our special kids and what we could do to best serve them.  Should be a fantastic year!

Flabulous to fabulous

Yes, I've been hiding lately.  Been such a busy, busy week.  I have not gotten back to people.  If you've written me, I do promise to get back to you.  It has just been really hectic here lately and this weekend I'll spend some time catching up for sure.  For now, thought it was high time for this post.  I've been hiding from it.  Not wanting to do it. Not wanting to admit that I failed to do what I set out to do a few months back.  But, here's the truth, time is hard to come by lately.  Lots of kids' events. 

I'll fill you in on a bit since I know not everyone knows.  I want to lose weight.  Yes, want to lose weight like a bunch of other moms out there.  Believe it or not, I used to be the peak of fitness.  Not kidding.  I had to have my body fat measured every two weeks in college.(it was part of the program I was in)  I was in many sports med programs, kinesiology, health & fitness stuff.  In fact, my major was health & fitness specialist w/ a concentration in cardiopulmonary rehab.  It's not like I don't know what I'm supposed to do to lose weight.  I do.  I can teach it.  I can  probably still explain to you the mechanics of it all and the human body.  My problem seems to be time.  It really does. 

Like most moms, my time seems to come last.  Kids come first.  I've come to realize there needs to be a balance.  I desperately wanted to join this jazzercise class.  There was a special & you could do it if you were willing to do a before & after picture.  Fine.  Then came the schedule.  Only had to go three times a week.  Fantastic!  I can do that.  Times available interfered w/ kids' youth group, soccer, cross country, etc.  URGHH~!!!  I do much, much better in a group setting.  I was disappointed but have decided I need this.  My kids need the healthier me.  Yes, medically I'm fine but I need to lose weight.  Bottom line.  I'm one of these people that once I start and commit, I'll keep going.  So, I know it is quite possible. 

So, I've started...again.  We all have to start somewhere. If I can make little changes, I can do it.  They say if you do something for 10 days straight, it becomes a habit.  Well, I want exercise to be a habit.  Period.  But, I have to start small, work out the schedules, the time, etc.  I am very determined.  Though I haven't gone to bed when I want to every night, slowly things are changing.  Breakfast has never been an issue. I always  eat a good breakfast.  I also eat fruit everyday.  Never an issue.  Lunch though needed to change.  Now, Alex & I are hooked on making ourselves homemade vegetable fajitas.  LOVE them and am teaching Alex how to cook at the same time.  We rarely eat out so that's not an issue.  Have started drinking more water.  I have started incorporating walking the dogs during homeschool.  It has become part of our homeschool schedule.  Gets all of us out of the house and into fresh air.  Also, we talk about certain school subjects on our walks.  Helps the dogs and is good for mom.  I also wake up now a tad early.  I do weight lifting and stretching every morning.  Try to do it every night as well but doesn't always work out. 

I know those are such baby steps. But, seeing that they're working, now ready to add back in my cardio workouts.  The issue right now is time to workout.  I can't do it during the day.  Kids are here.  We have soccer or other things after school so cooking dinners late & getting them to bed late.  I am going to try tomorrow to get my butt out of bed and working out early morning. I have to make time.  My mind knows this.  It does.  Saying it and doing it are two different things though.  However, since I've done the other smaller steps, I feel I'm ready to get back to the cardio workouts.  I miss being active.  It is so hard for me to be this way when I used to be the epitome of fitness and loved every minute of it.  I want to lose the weight & get back in shape.  Yes, I take the kids hiking but I want to be able to do a bunch more w/ them.  Take them rafting, take them biking, take them on a 5K, and much more. I want to do physical day trips. 

So, that's where I stand.  I know I said earlier this year I would do this but it never happened the way I wanted it to.  Now, I'm gung ho ready to go.  I will come here to report every week.  Have a goal every week.  I feel if I have to "report" it on here, I'm more likely to stick to it.  I promised myself I'd be 20 lbs lighter when I go to pick up my kids and I intend to keep that promise.  I know there are others on similar journeys.  Keep you posted on my progress every Friday.  I WILL DO THIS!!! 

I have set goals and have to hold myself accountable.  For now, I will measure them on here w/ a post every Friday.  Yes, no slacking.  So, next week, I hope that you here I have worked out everyday,  a cardio workout.  That is the goal I am setting for next week.  That and to work in my yard for twenty minutes everyday. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A new start

I thought it was time to give you some pictures of our kids & their new starts this year.  I haven't taken them all yet.  I know, I'm a slacker.

This is Nik.  He made the sign to represent his first day of 2nd grade.  Oh the things he'll learn this year.  We are concentrating solely on vocabulary & phonics.

 Alex on his first day of 4th grade.  If you look at the 4, you can tell we have processing issues.  The way he visualizes things is even different.  Working on it all this year.  He told me he really wants to learn multiplication.  And he said he wants to learn about guns.  Okay.

Alyona on her first day of 5th grade.  She is desperate to learn how to read.  That's all she wants to be able to do.  Poor kiddo.  We're going to work on that for sure.  

Bojan on his first day of middle school.  He is going to the public school for now.  Not sure how long I'll keep him there.  Bojan is in 6th grade this year if you can believe it.  He's looking forward to band and still is into Egyptian culture.  

That was 4 of them.  The teens get up too early.  LOL.  I am going to get a picture though of them.  So much to learn this year.  I will do a separate homeschool post and let you know what we are doing and intend to do.   Today was an absolute nightmare of a day but I know it can always get worse.  Just seems like a day that doesn't end.  Ever have one of those days?  Alex had soccer practice tonight & Yana cross country.  Many more updates about what's happening w/ the house (yes, we're staying), kids, homeschool, and more.  Just super duper busy this week so forgive the slackness of writing.  Just blog is a backseat as you can imagine.  Family is a bit more important than this thing. LOL.  We're all doing well, just busy which we totally expected this time of year.  I will have time to catch up this Labor Day Weekend and intend to.  For now, got to go. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Nik's drawings

Been such awhile since I posted a picture that Nik drew.  Thought I'd start w/ something mild before moving onto my mini "Stephen King" drawings that my son does.  Those who've read this long enough know exactly what I'm talking about. 

Nik took the paints upstairs & sat at Max's art desk to create his painting.  It is a self portrait of him.  There is a lake behind him and apple trees he told me.  I absolutely LOVE it!  We do plan to do some art in our home school this year for sure.  Sorry, no Stephen King" paintings yet.  Don't worry though, his juices are still flowing.  LOL.  Just thought it was time for a Nik picture. 

Manic Monday

This is truly a manic Monday.  This is going to be one busy week for sure.  We had a really decent weekend though.  Saturday  we spent inside all day long due to the hurricane.  Did not pack any punch which is wonderful.  We were able to accomplish so, so much.  Cleaned the entire house, sorted out closets and even made stuffed peppers for dinner.  Then, watched a movie.  Since all the kids events were canceled, we got to really enjoy an unexpected day off from having to be somewhere.

Sunday came and we went to church after I made blueberry pancakes for breakfast.  Love fresh blueberries.  Going to miss all that summer fruit soon.  After church, came home and had some lunch.  Relaxed a bit and then took the older 4 to youth group outing.  Dropped them off and Warren & I took the younger 3 to Target to get the last of the school supplies.  Decided on an impromptu dinner w/ the 3 youngest.  Enjoyed their company & they were fantastic.  Asked all of them what they wanted for Christmas.  Just one of those curiosity questions.  Got interesting.  Alyona said she wanted a laptop and an alarm clock.  I told her good luck w/ that. LOL.  Alyona wants a laptop b/c her brother Max bought one w/ his money recently.  Alex said he wanted $20 for Christmas.  I asked what he was going to do with that then.  He said "don't you remember? I'm saving for college!"  He was serious too.  Kind of came as a shock though.  Nik wanted a small remote control car.  Apparently, they have these really small remote control cars now that he & Warren saw in Walmart one day.  Just thought it was really fun to see what they were into this year.  Still stunned that the lists weren't a mile long.  But, then again my kids have always been that way.  Love that about them.

We picked the older kids up & ended up staying awhile.  Everyone had a blast.  Yana fell out of the canoe.  Max caught a fish.  Nik loved the giant tree swing.  Alyona tried her first time at fishing.  Everyone enjoyed themselves for sure.  I must say the youth at our church are really great and so glad they accept my kids for who they are.  Makes a big difference.  Came home and tried to settle them down for school.  Was no easy task.

Today is Monday.  I have to homeschool the 3 kids and watch 2 "littles" today. Just came back from walking the dogs w/ all five of the kids.  Let's just say that walk was not our usual long walk to the duck pond.  All in all though, they did well.  Now, after Popsicles, time to do worksheets. 

Let's see.  What does this week bring?  Hopefully, news of a court date.  No idea but one can have wishful thinking, right?  Otherwise, quiet on the adoption front.  School is in full force w/ this being the first full week for everyone.  Yana still has cross country this week.  Everyday.  Alex has soccer on Tuesday.  Nik & Alyona have soccer on Thursday.  Rest of the week brings typical stuff.  Warren is on the hunt for shoes.  See, they stopped making the only pair of shoes he ever wears.  Made by Reebok.  So, on the hunt for those.  Errand running needs to be done but that really is no big deal.  Contractors are coming to the house on Wednesday.  More on that in another post.  We will be here long term.  Though not in the plans, the economy is such that the sale of this house would be near impossible.  So alternative plans are being made. 

I'm making more plans of how we're teaching these three.  Getting Nik's speech therapy set back up.  Making appointments for everyone.  The week is booming w/ things we're going to get done.  Also, in September we'll be taking more day trips and such.  Not sure what we'll do this weekend w/soccer and all but plan to do something.  Long weekend.  The following weekend, Yana has an away cross country thing in Wilmington.  Irina, Max & Bojan are going to the beach with the youth group at church for the entire weekend.  3 younger ones have soccer games.  So, next weekend is definitely busy. 

Working on cleaning up the yard some more from remnants of the hurricane.   Nothing major which is fantastic.  Planning to sell pies.  Getting that together.  Can not wait!  Also, planning to have a gold party at some point in the future.  So, lots to do and prepare for.  But, it's all good stuff so I can't complain a bit.  It's neat going to the activities again for the kids after having the summer off to recoup.  Halloween will be here before we know it.  Well, need to go.  Hoping for a boring week.  I'll have to post some more pictures soon.  Hope everyone has a wonderful week and fared well in the storm.