Kendall Katwalk Trail


Ben took the day off of work today so that he and Molly could squeeze in a daddy-daughter hike before junior high starts next week.  He chose the Kendall Katwalk trail for their hike and the pictures they brought back are beautiful.  Molly wore her swimsuit under her  hiking clothes so that she could take a dip in the frigid lake and they saw the cutest little furry animals that we later learned were called pika.  (Thanks Google!)  The hike was 14 miles round trip and they both came home tired, dirty and very happy.

 

 

 

 

I feel like we’ve been gypped as far as family time goes this summer.  All of July was taken up with the reunion planning and execution and then Molly had to be away so much of August, William had scout camp, Molly had girls camp and Ben had several small and one large hiking trip to take with his scout troop.  Those are all good things, but it meant that we’ve barely been able to spend any time all together as a family.  Now we’ve arrived at the last week of summer and we’re scrambling to fit in as many family activities as we can in between making sure everyone has what they need for the new school year.  I’m so grateful that Ben is able and willing to take time off from work to make these kinds of experiences happen.  This family of ours is the most important thing in both of our lives.  Families are forever.

 

 

Said


“Mama, I need some love.” — Adelaide, said from her sickbed

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“Yes, your baby highness?” — Adelaide, trying to figure out one of Oliver’s demands

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“They really outdid themselves.  They put nostrils on the shark.” — William, talking approvingly of the prize from the dentist

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“We should try putting Ollie in the dog crate.” — William, after a tough morning homeschooling with Oliver the Destroyer

 

Getting Back to School


Let’s be honest.  Last year I totally burned out on homeschooling.  It was about May when things just started to fall apart and we stopped getting anything done.  Homeschooling requires me to be on all day, every day and I was spent.  We loved our co-op experience but it took a whole day out of our normal school schedule and we didn’t get enough done.  The kids were already ahead of grade level (and still are) so I wasn’t too worried, but I still felt bad.  It wasn’t working for me.

Throughout the year and over the summer I thought many times about putting the kids back in school.  The elementary school near us is a good school and Molly was happy there last year.  I signed William up to test for the highly capable program and he did well and made it to the second round of tests though I have yet to hear back on the final results.  I didn’t plan out curriculum like in years past and I pretty much ignored the fact that there was a decision needing to be made.

Ultimately, I decided to give it another go.  About a week ago I ordered our curriculum and it should be arriving tomorrow.  I knew I couldn’t spend another year in a brown cave with naval wallpaper so I pulled everything to the center of the room and started throwing things out.  I also ripped the ugly wallpaper border off the wall.

I used the leftover wall paint we had from the halls and brightened things up a bit and then put our newly cleaned out supplies back in order.  It changed the whole feel of the room and made it feel peaceful and calming.

 

 

 

We started school on Monday.  And you know what?  It felt good.

I took charge of the day.  No more summer boredom bickering.  No more whining.  I got them up and doing chores around the house.  I took them outside and gave them drills and obstacle courses to tire them out.  Then we came inside, had a quick snack, and got to work.  Our curriculum isn’t coming until tomorrow so we used what we had leftover from last year.  There was plenty we needed to finish.  I worked them all day and didn’t give them any free time until 4pm.

It was great.  They worked hard and they liked it.  I’m not saying that we have to work that long everyday, but we need to make sure we dedicate more time to our studies.  All those little days off add up.  It’s not like we were sitting around watching tv all day last year.  Think about it: all the normal activities that you do while your kids are at school, I have to pull my kids out of school for.  Doctor appointment for me?  My kids have to skip school.  Visit teachers want to come over?  My kids have to skip school.  Car breaks down and needs to go into the shop?  My kids have to skip school.  Church planning meeting?  My kids have to skip school.  Dog needs to go to the vet?  My kids have to skip school.  Septic guy needs to inspect our system?  My kids have to skip school.  I think you get it.

I signed them up for co-op classes again this year, but we are making them count: art classes, chess, science, drama, Spanish and history. Those classes start a few weeks into September and the kids are excited.  The boys also started piano lessons last month and will continue on with them this year.

These past two days I’ve remembered all the reasons why I love homeschooling.  I feel like I’m rediscovering something that I used to love.  I love helping my kids learn.  I love watching even the littlest ones make huge progress.  I love doing science experiments, reading history lessons and doing art with my kids.  I love being able to bump my kids ahead when they are feeling bored.

Things have felt great because I’ve taken control.  I’ve planned and prepared and grocery shopped and drawn up menus.  It’s made a world of difference and I need to remember this for when it gets to be a few months from now and I’m feeling overwhelmed.  Preparation is everything.

That being said, I did sit the kids down and tell them that this year needs to be different.  I’m planning on it being my last year homeschooling unless I really feel like we hit a good groove.  It isn’t enough for me to have my kids at grade level if I feel like they are bored and that we’re being lazy.  The kids have mixed feelings.  Adelaide wants to go to kindergarten at public school because she wants a real play ground.  Henry is unsure and William is perfectly content at home.  I’m not going to force anyone back to school against their will, but I’m also not going to continue on if I feel like I’m being a lousy teacher.

For now it’s good and I’m going to enjoy it.

Girls Camp


Molly was able to attend Girls Camp the first full week of August and she had a blast.  Horseback riding, hiking, swimming, rope swings, BB guns, archery, crafts, cooking, obstacle courses, trust falls, faith walks, firesides, nature survival skills, friends, singing, skits and more.  She came home dirty, tired and very happy.  She said she was sad to come home because it was the best week of her life.  I’m so glad she had a great time.  Girls Camp really was tailor-made for her.

William thought it sounded tailor-made for him too and you can see him pouting in the background because he’s not a girl and will never get to go to Girls Camp.  I tried to explain that he’ll get to do lots of fun camping activities with the scouts, but he isn’t convinced.  Some day he is going to look back on this and laugh.

Beautiful Bellingham


We are car hunting right now in an effort to find a replacement for our ticking time-bomb of a van.  We’ve  had the van since we got married and it’s been great for our family, but it’s starting to fall apart and we need a bit more space.  It’s tricky, because that kind of space along with 4wd to handle our neighborhood in the winter, means our options are rather pricey.  Ben’s been working hard to find us a deal and his latest search took him to Bellingham.  The car ended up being a dud, but Ben and William had a great time in Bellingham.  They had lunch with Colleen and explored a beautiful park while they were waiting for the car stuff to work itself out.  They both want to go back and explore Bellingham a bit more.  We’ll have to make a family trip of it.

Hiking with Dad – Mt. Si


It is a right of passage in our house to hike Mt. Si with Dad.  This year was Henry’s turn.  We haven’t done nearly as much hiking this year as we would have liked, but Ben needed to get in a training hike before he leaves on his giant 50 mile hike with the Boy Scouts.  Henry counted down the days until it was time for his hike with Dad.  Ben is Henry’s favorite person in the whole wide world and getting to spend a day with him all by himself was a dream come true.  Ben said Henry did a great job on the hike and he loved feeding the birds at the top and getting to see a snake.

 

 

 

Daddy Daughter Date


We are always trying out new things when it comes to the kids.  Recently, we chose a different trait or skill that we wanted each child to work on and then made a chart to track progress.  We let them choose the reward they were working towards and each chose something very different.  Henry was the first to earn his reward and he chose a trip to a guys night at the bowling alley with Dad and William.  Molly was next to earn her prize and although she had been working towards a trip to the salon to get her hair highlighted, she decided at the last minute to substitute a shopping trip with me instead.  Adelaide just earned her prize and she chose a daddy-daughter ice skating date.  To say she was excited would be a gross understatement.

Ben took her out to lunch for Mexican food and then onto the skating rink.  Adelaide told me all about how she wanted to twirl on the ice and have Daddy lift her up in the air which made Ben a little nervous that his meager ice-skating skills would leave her disappointed.

 

He needn’t have worried though, as she had a fantastic time.  She wore her puffiest skirt for optimal twirling and though she had never been skating before she was determined to do a twirl on the ice.  And twirl she did.  That girl is one determined little lady.

Ben said she actually took to it rather quickly and impressed the instructor they were with.  Go Adelaide!

William is the last one left to earn his prize, but he is getting close.  I think this experiment has gone well enough for me to want to repeat it.  The hard part is picking something for each child to work on that can be quantifiable.  For instance this last time, we had some kids working on good deeds, sitting still for scriptures, reading goals and service.  I should probably make one for myself to chart exercise or house cleaning.  :)