Aug 31, 2010

Mission Possible

8/31/2010 — cori
Ever since his birth, Gavin has fancied himself a super hero of sorts. He believes he has a higher calling than the rest of us mere mortals and vows to fight off the forces of evil using his superhero endowed abilities. He lives as though this is truth (in his world) and the rest of us just haven't realized it yet. Super heroes are real people - even when you're 11 pushing 12.

Thus, you can imagine his utter astonishment when this came in the mail:

His classified documents have finally arrived! A dream come true. All that he awaits now are his orders. He literally gasped when he opened this up and saw the first page:

He is in a state of utter disbelief and shock when he walks over to me and in a voice way too calm and quiet for him says, "Mom. You. Have. Got. To. See. This! Look! They wrote me a letter!!! It says they believe in my courage, imagination and creativity!" It actually says, "Dear Gavin". How did they know??? This is a mystery beyond us. All we know is that 'they' finally found him and 'they' believe he is has what it takes to be the Hero they need.

He read, re-read, and thrice read it over in a 2 minute timeframe. It is now memorized. If it happened to self destruct in 2 seconds, we could ask Gavin to recite it word for word. Whew! Lucky for us. But thankfully, this precious document never self destructed. It is tucked away neatly in a shelf overstuffed with other important hero books.

This just goes to show...when you least expect your dreams to come true...they do. And others around you get to share in your joy.

Aug 22, 2010

First Week of School

8/22/2010 — cori
We made it! One week under our belts. This is going to be a wonderful year if this past week was any indicator.

Excitement was in the air last Monday as I came downstairs to see all my little people already dressed and ready to eat at 7:15am. Gavin was getting my tea ready and Bennett was putting water in the kettle for me. I don't think there is any better way to start a day. Here are the three giddy learners each holding their custom lesson plan books standing next to the note on the white board that Daddy left for them :

At the end of the first day Bennett said, "Is that it? Isn't there more to do? Last year I couldn't wait for the day to be done when I was at school and this year I want to do more." The one with all the answers (Chloe, just in case you didn't know) pipes up, "That's because this is homeschool Bennett and this is where learning is fun!"

But don't worry, I didn't beam with pride too long because by mid week we had a little pot hole in the road and the same excited learner from day one, evidently decided that thinking was too hard and he'd rather not anymore. Some days our lessons are academic, some days they're character building. However, we pushed through and I was so glad to be the one there with Bennett encouraging him and teaching him how to push through when things feel too hard. Last week it was Benentt's turn, another week, someone else will need alot more heart to heart time. That is what I LOVE about my job.

This is the shelf loaded with all the books we get to learn with and use in our pursuit of knowledge this year. But this is only the book learning. I am very big into community service. I want my children to know how to reach out and help meet the needs of those living in the same community as them. I want this to be as normal as 'doing school'. To me, this is love in action. So, we also include Meals on Wheels and the Food Pantry into our "lesson plan" of life, if you will. The friendships we grow, the relationships we make, the joy we get, far outweigh any and all of the time we put into it. And lastly, each child also has their extra-curricular activity of choice. Gavin still loves his piano. Chloe has the opportunity to take violin from an amazing teacher. And Bennett will be playing baseball on the same team with his best friend from school last year.

After one week, this is what the bulletin board already looks like:

Looks like I'm going to need to find room for a few more bulletin boards!

Aug 12, 2010

Nose Observations

8/12/2010 — cori

These are two very random things I wanted to remember that the kids said...yet they have one commonality...noses.

Bennett and Gavin sit next to each other at the table. I think almost every post I write happens at the table come to think of it. Anyways, the boys were sitting uncomfortably close to one another cuz neither of them have any sense about 'acceptable physical boundaries'. They would probably sit on each other's laps at the dinner table if I let them. So...there they are eating when Bennett looks over at Gavin. Since he's only 3 inches from his face Bennett seems to notice alot more detail about his brother. He felt the need to share his findings with us. "Gavin, you're becoming a man - I can see your nose hairs." It's those little things that make a man.

Another day, at the same table, during lunch, Chloe feels now is the time to confess, "Mom, I decided to stop picking my nose." Ok. Evidently she's a closet picker because I've not seen her do it in public - it doesn't fit with her feminine, girly-girl, proper image she's always trying to pass off as. "So, what drew you to this conclusion Honey?"

"Remember a couple of weeks ago we were at Fire Safety Town for that class? Well, the fireman said that picking your nose is bad cuz it makes it bleed. So I decided to stop right then." Thank God for firemen.

Aug 11, 2010

What To Do?

8/11/2010 — cori
The day we thought we were going to have didn't end up turning out that way. Our plans got canceled and left us with a free day on our hands. Nice problem to have. So I asked Chloe, "What would you like to do instead?" (The reason I asked Chloe was because: 1. Gavin wasn't even awake yet and 2. I knew both the boys would rather sit around in their underwear all day and play Playmobil and Bionicles.)

The very first thought that popped into her head, excited out of her mouth in a rush of utter excitement, "Oh Mommy! Can we do science experiments today?!"

Um. Well. I was thinking more along the lines of sitting around doing nothing, maybe reading all day. But sure. That sounds just as appealing.

School does not start till next week. Why on earth would my daughter want to start learning now??

Because you can't always schedule learning. Mommies are always teaching their kids whether they homeschool or not. Science is fun. Learning is exciting. It doesn't always take place in a classroom setting. Learning can be and most often is spontaneous. If you are in the habit of having a teachable heart, you will learn something everyday without even going and looking for it - it will find you. And lastly, each person is responsible for their own learning. I can't force information, concepts, new ideas/formulas into someone's head. That person has to want to learn!

I absolutely adore that Chloe wanted to do science experiments. I told her that it would involve some writing in a science journal like a real scientist does to record his scientific process. She zoomed up the stairs to gather necessary pen and spiral and waited with bated breath as I revealed the experiments I had picked to do with her. Of all things, I started with a chemistry book. But I'd done all these experiments with Gavin before and knew she would be able to grasp these simple concepts and see quick results with her experiments.

After two experiments, she'd had enough. But it was fun to see her brain at work trying to explain new ideas/concepts to me. At one point she even said, "Mommy, I don't know the right words to say [explain] this." I don't want her to be intimidated by science or hard vocabulary or concepts above her comprehension level. We all have to start somewhere.

Now...I think it's finally time for me to go lounge on my chair and read that book I'm been wanting to spend time with. Afterall, I've got some learnin' to do!

Aug 10, 2010

Long Live DUFDN

8/10/2010 — cori
All is alive and well on the DUFDN (dress up for dinner night) homefront. The theme this go around was 'anything from tv or movies'. You see, we're running out of themes, so we're grasping at straws here. This is what we came up with:

Chloe is proudly sporting the Super Target Logo as in one of their commercials

Gavin is is a reporter for the local Channel 8 News (love the comb mustache)

Bennett is one of the Unimind creatures from the Buzz Lightyear movie ("we are one")

Daddy is the NBC logo (again with the head gear)

I am a chef/judge on the Food Network channel (that is one
of the boys very old and small taekwondo jackets I'm squeezed into)

Aug 8, 2010

My Thoughts On Homeschooling

8/08/2010 — cori

When my husband first discussed homeschooling with me, I laughed. I told him that I'd pay to have someone else teach my children at home. At that time, we only had one kid and he was one. I think I had enough time to research and see for myself how hard this was going to be.

But my son ended up choosing homeschooling for us. He was so driven to learn. We just naturally evolved into this method. I had done a lot of reading. You know, I had to know exactly what to do and how to do it before hand so I wouldn't fail miserably, thus avoiding any life lessons that maybe God would like to teach me in my failure. Don't worry. I failed. Over and over.

I tried doing school at home. Didn't work. I tried being two distinct personalities: Mommy and Teacher. Didn't work. I tried doing everything everyone else said and suggested knowing that anyone knows better than me how to do this. I tried relying on myself and left God out of the picture. I tried planning every 5 minute increment of the day. I also tried unschooling and didn't plan one minute of the day. Notice a pattern here? I, I, I. Yep. I was trusting in me and my abilities. This whole homeschool thing has never been about my kids, turns out it was about me trying to do my best and impress everyone around me. Lesson humbly learned.

When I bottomed out and failed because of utter exhaustion, I decided to finally let God have his say in this whole mess. Whew! What a relief. To be led by Him. He cares about my kids more than I do. He knows what they need and he can use me as an instrument to help guide them. He's also proven he doesn't even need me - he can do just fine without me. When I surrender, I'm a much better teacher, parent, spouse, friend. This whole homeschool thing has taught me to surrender my expectations and will completely to him and learn how to be a good listener. Something I'm always trying to instill in my own children - look who ended up needing a refresher course. Mommy.

I no longer panic that I'm ruining my children for life. We actually put them in public school for the first time last year and they did just fine. They learned things there I wasn't able to give them at home. We've also had some amazing learning moments at home that they couldn't have gained in a school setting.

I refuse to put God in a box. If I've learned anything these past seven years of home educating it's that:

1. There is not just one right way to do this
2. It is a sacrifice
3. Learning is fun and messy
4. You will fail and you will learn and you will go on - that's life
5. Sometimes it's fun; sometimes it's hard
6. Homeschooling is not perfect, it too has it's short comings
7. There is a time when it is good and a time when it is harmful - learn when those are

Aug 4, 2010

Burping Etiquette

8/04/2010 — cori

As we're walking hand in hand, Chloe looks up at me and says in her dainty, soft voice, "Mommy, I just burped Fruit Loops."

"You what??"

"As I burped, the taste of Fruit Loops passed over my taste buds. It was good."

As you can see, even ladies burp...and that's not always a bad thing.

Aug 3, 2010

The Human Booby Trap

8/03/2010 — cori

The kids are upstairs playing 'cowboy'. They come down only to check on me and tell me all about the game they're playing. I hear Bennett yelling, "BOSS. BOSS."

Naively, I think they're talking about me. So I cordially yell back, "What Honey?"

"Not you Mom, Chloe. She's the Boss."

"Oh. Why?"

"Cuz we're playing Cowboys and we're fighting the British. And she's the boss."

Head nod. At a loss for words.

Bennett continues, "Mom, my whole body is a booby trap."

Ahhh. I see. How so?

"Do you want to know my powers? Well, my freckles are burning hot spots. My belly button turns into a machine gun. My eyelashes are tenticles. My hair is fire. Skin is water. My teeth turn into shooting missiles and my nose can smell like a dog. See, it's all a booby trap. Oh ya, and my toots and burps knock people out. And I'm not really smart."

That's when Chloe pips in with, "I'm the Boss cuz I don't do anything wrong. My job is to keep them gathered and not let them do anything crazy."

That's when Gavin informs me of his powers, "My name is Super Cowboy and my powers are: can go thru anything, my hat can make me fly, I have a sonic gun, I have a lasso that makes things weightless and I have a flying dragon named Bingo."

Okay. Can I go now?

All I'm sayin is, I wouldn't want to be 'the British' right now.

Gavin and Small Talk

8/03/2010 — cori

It is summer. I spend every waking hour with my children - much to my delight. We do everything together. I take that back, sometimes they'll allow me a 5 minute window to read uninterrupted. But mostly, their little world's rotate around me constantly.

So, it was rather surprising when Gavin sat down to the dinner table last night like he just got home from a long day of work and asked me, "So, Mom, how was your day today?"

Um. Shall I go with sarcasm or pity him with his attempt at small talk (as I wish others would to for me in my ghastly attempts at small talk all too often)? I opt for the latter, "Well, Honey, I've had a fantastic day. How about you?"

"Oh. It's been good, Mom. Mom, I really like your cheek bones, how they go really high up like that and how it makes your cheeks kinda sunk in."

"Why thank you Honey."

"Mom. I also like your eyes."

"Aren't you sweet. Thanks so much" The other children are nodding in agreement with verbal ascents being thrown about cuz nobody wants to be one-upped in the 'lavish praises on mommy' department.

"And Mom. I like your eye brows and those bones up there."

"Well Honey, you are full on encouraging words tonight. Thank you so much. I don't know what to say." I can't wipe the smirk off my face and he continues staring at me all thru dinner.

It's so hard to believe that I'm the center of someone else's world. That the way I respond, the way I look at them, the sound of my voice, can all make or break their day.

The other night Chuck and I were going on a date and I came down in proper date attire. I actually did my hair (as opposed to the common pony tail or ever present clip), put on makeup and a dress. As soon as I walked down the stairs the kids descended upon me, Chloe patting my hair like a pony, Bennett rubbing my elbow and staring at me with stars in his eyes, Gavin bestowing praises upon me.

I'm awed with the gift of these little people in my life - I don't want to waste one valuable second with them. I love Gavin's awkwardness (at times). I love Bennett's flirtatiousness and flattery (yesterday he told me he'd be my servant for the day and said he didn't want me doing any work). I love Chloe's properness (be it in her speech or lady like mannerisms). How can I lavish love on them as much as they do me? I guess I can always start by admiring their cheek bones.

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