Jarvis | SIX & a half

Oh my firstborn. We are a bit behind 6.5, but catching up is worth it. I still can’t believe you are getting so big. It’s true what they say, how the days are long but the years are short. It gets harder every day to remember you as a teeny little thing. Hard to remember that you spent 2 years as our only child. Six, six seems so big. And you are very nearly seven, which seems so old.

jarvis-1Physically, you are still such a little carbon copy of your daddy, with a smidge of mama thrown in. And for now it seems your personality is the same, a whole lotta daddy and a bit of mama. I am so curious to see how this develops as you grow up. How much of our personalities are defined by our God-created natures, our genetics, and how much by our circumstances, siblings, parents, etc? You are so much fun to watch grow up.

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You are becoming a better eater lately, JarvBot. Less reluctance to try new foods, although you still have a very sensitive palate and definitely don’t like anything spicy or with a strong flavor. Your sense of smell goes right along with that. We’ve taken a very hands off approach to mealtime battles and you are making better choices all on your own. Growin’ up kiddo.jarvis-3

You have many nicknames still, mostly given by your daddy. JarvBot, Jarvie, Botticus, Buddy Boy, Monkey. You love nicknames. You don’t love playing alone, at least not most of the time. You are always roping people into your pretend games and creative worlds. You are frequently asking, “who wants to play with me?” At least you have plenty of little playmates around! Joelle is usually the one who joins you, although since you started sharing rooms, you and Jonah play together much more often. You will spend hours buried in the lego room, creating and playing on your own. You are also obsessed with books and will plop on the couch to devour an entire stack after we visit the library. You know exactly where the lego books are at the library! ha!jarvis-4

I keep saying that I have a big homeschool post in the making, and I do, really, it’s just that I haven’t made time for it. So in a nutshell, you would be starting 1st grade this month, but I don’t really concern myself with grade levels. You are pretty much on par with a new 1st grader in some areas, “ahead” in a lot, and “behind” in a few. You are exactly where you need to be for yourself, which is what matters. You are reading, much more than you even realize, although it is NOT your favorite thing to do. You can decode and read most words you come across in leveled books, but fluency is still a area for improvement. You love math and have memorized most of your addition facts up to 9+9. We are now moving into subtraction, and with your strong base in addition, it’s been a breeze. You love poetry and are exceptional at understanding it. You have a keen eye for breaking down a piece of art and are learning the language of art. Science has to be one of your favorites as you love all nature. Your handwriting is improving daily, despite your double challenge of triphalengeal thumbs and being left-handed.  We do an integrated Bible/History/Geography series, and I am constantly amazed at the level of understanding that you gather from a upper elementary level commentary. Plus you love reading through the Bible. Getting started at school work in always a bit of challenge, but once you get started, you do love learning very much!jarvis-5

You have so much responsibility sweet boy, being the biggest of so many littles. But you bear it grace, and absolutely adore your younger siblings. As of right now, you vary back and forth on being some kind of community helper- fireman, police officer, superhero, ninja, ha! I have no doubt with your leadership skills and interpersonal skills that you will grow up to be someone very influential. It’s our daily prayer, sweet JarvBot, that you grow in the love Christ has for you and learn to be a servant leader, just as I strive to learn alongside you every day. jarvis-6

And now- in his words, his favorite-
color: green and blue
food: pizza (but it makes my tummy hurt), pasta, apple
thing to do: walk around everywhere, jumping on the trampoline, legos, bike riding
book: All Star Wars books
song: All Rock N’ Roll (except for quiet ones)
toy: legos
friend: Joelle, Jonah, Jean, and the person who moved away.
show: The Dinosaur one, MinMin and Kate
place to go: Chick fil A
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Jarvis | 5.5 years

How does it happen. How do they grow up so fast? 
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This sweet boy is 5 and a half years old. He is his daddy. With my eyes tossed in. So here’s a quick little snippet to remember you, right now.

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Jarvis loves: cheesy pasta, peanut butter and jelly, any and all fruit, tickles, horse back rides, picking berries with daddy, legos, reading or being read to, letting out the chickens in the morning, doing school, getting Joelle up from nap, bossing people around, going to church, picking sorrell, picking false strawberries, organizing his siblings play, big (adult) forks and plates, his ladybug night light, climbing on any adult who will let him, tinker crates, bible study, playing alone in his room, his bunk bed, batman underwear, his babydoll- Lightening Girl McCown, his leap pad, swinging, exploring outside, library and new library books, race car game on the xbox, workboxes, helping daddy with any project, puzzles with mommy, feeding the puppy, letting the puppy outside, helping mama in the kitchen, math and science, learning, checking the mail, swimming, bowling, being loud (especially during nap) and so much more!

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Jarvis dislikes: anything slightly spicy or flavorful, the dark, biting his cheek, finger, or tongue while eating, chores, cleaning up toys, trying to read, transitions, and sauerkraut.jarvis 5.5-4

We just love the big boy you are becoming. It is so fun to watch you develop and learn and we truly enjoy having you around the house- what a blessing homeschooling is- that you get to be here with us, learning and growing and teaching us. 
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Jarvis | five

What is it about five that makes my little boy seem so big??

This is late. Nearly a month late, but ah, oh well. At least I got it done before the twins birthday!

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Buddy boy,

I was in total denial that you were big enough to turn five. In so many ways it seems like just yesterday that I brought that tiny baby with big bird-like eyes home in the coldest weather I’ve ever experienced. It seems like just yesterday that we stumbled through the first six months, trying to figure out feeding and sleeping and everything that being a parent was. It seems just like yesterday that you would stare into our eyes and “talk” for 30 minutes straight.

But then other days, I glance at those long legs sticking out on the couch, or I overhear you teaching your siblings, and I realized I blinked. How did it happen so fast? How are you so different and yet so the same?

You are a little man now. It’s easy to see glimpses of who you might become, who you might be. You have great capacity for emotion, sweet boy. And no fear of sharing those emotions. Everything is big. From your sweet smiles and snuggles, to your anger and stubbornness.

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You adore your daddy, and your sisters in particular. You have a special spot for your brother, but you two are also really good at getting on each other’s nerves. You can be so very helpful, when you are in the right mood. You love doing your chores (most of the time), and are the primary care-taker of the dog during the day. You can unload the dishwasher on your own, and can get snack for all your siblings. I can’t wait for the day when you can make a simple meal! I have a feeling it won’t be far away.

With your helpfulness comes an age-appropriate swing of emotions. The world can turn upside down on your pretty quickly and it is a constant learning process to accept that you can be upset and angry and can express that is appropriate ways, but that you don’t get to throw fits and hurt others. But then, as we have traveled this road more with you, as you develop more and more ability to control yourself, it’s become clear to us that this learning process never stops, as even we are adults face the same challenges. And with this process comes a lot of grace, a chance for us to give you a tiny taste of the Grace your Heavenly Father bestows on us.

This is also the age of growing independence. And with that comes a fine line or allowing you to make choices and deal with consequences. You understand more and more everyday, and are learning to take responsibility. Just more evidence of the maturing of your character. There’s still so  many areas to work on, but so many of these are also because mama and daddy are learning right along you. Thanks for putting up with us, precious boy, and always being willing to extend some grace.

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Some things you love:

  • preschool with Mrs. Katie- she has the best set ups with all sorts of new things to explore!
  • legos! Lately you have really gotten into creating your own buildings and people and stories and will spend an hour in your room talking to yourself!
  • you leap pad! there are some really awesome educational games we have been able to get lately, and you are learning so much. We have to limit your time on it, as you would play all day if we let you, but it’s great for those times during nap when we are done with school, I need to get something done, and you need a quiet activity for a few minutes!
  • books. all books, any books. alone, looking through pictures for hours, or if someone will read to you, that’s even better.
  • Joelle- like I said, she’s your best friend, hands down, and your willing partner in crime.
  • daddy. You love mama, but boy are you a daddy’s boy. He’s your favorite, especially when he will give you horsey rides on his shoulders or fly you like an airplane on his shins, or tickle you til you ask him to stop.
  • playing outside. Despite the very cold weather lately, you still love to be outside and go at for a while every couple of days. I know you can’t wait for spring!
  • imaginative games- I love when you embark on one of these and the twinkies play along. Yesterday you all were puppies and owners and mommies and daddies. You had beds and food bowls and nap times and all. So fun to see the things you learn played out.
  • learning. I have a big post brewing on homeschool- the first year is such a learning experince! But overall buddy boy, you just love to learn. You love new information and are always asking questions. Your little brains longs for connections and concepts. It’s so much fun to be around!

I asked daddy for a few words to describe you when I was drafting this, and I wanted to share what he wrote, since so often this blog is just my words, ” he’s so big, so helpful, but so moody. He’s a leader, and hard headed, with a sweet heart.”

So happy fifth birthday, my biggest boy. May you never lose the exuberance that fills you up. You are such a joyful part of our days, and we just love having you in our family- even when you don’t listen!

love, mama

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mom’s morning out | milestones

 

I have a bunch of posts in the making… several half written. But for now, I just wanted to pop in and share a few pictures of the kiddos. They are enrolled in a once-a-week Mom’s Morning Out at the church where I attend MOPS. It’s four hours for one morning a week, and they get to play, do some art, learn about God, and eat lunch! There’s just something super exciting about eating out of a lunchbox I guess- they all said that was their favorite part!

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They were THRILLED to start, and thoroughly enjoyed it. No tears or hesitation at all on their part. In fact I had to interrupt their play to get kisses goodbye. There’s certainly no lack of independence in this household. The only tears were from Jean when I made her leave with me. She thinks she is a triplet- no doubt. As evidenced by her photo bomb below when I asked the kids to smile.

Also, please ignore the state of dishabille the youngest is in. I managed to get the big three dressed, fed, loaded up with backpacks and lunches, AND have time for pictures. The baby was fed, but sported bed-head and dirty pajamas for drop-off. And I don’t even care. Overall that’s a successful morning!

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 My goal in sending them isn’t academic- although I’m sure they will learn with such caring teachers, but really it’s just good to have a little break from each other. One of the reasons I am so excited about homeschooling is more time together, rather than just a few hours in the evenings, so it’s a bit funny to be so excited about four hours once a week, but it’s good for all of us- something a bit different to look forward to! So it’s just Jean and I for a few hours, which is nice for errands and such.preschool-5

Especially since Daddy is missing for a while for some training. Just me, the ankle biters, and the animals! (Plus one very edgy guard dog and my gun- in case anyone gets any ideas, haha!)

 

homeschool | the why

Well, we are really excited to share that we will be starting homeschool kindergarten with Jarvis this year! I wanted to share our plan, our reasons, and our experiences as we go. We aren’t sure where this will lead us exactly, but we have decided it is what we are being called to do for our kiddos and our family.
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So let’s start out with the big question. Why? Why are we choosing to homeschool? Especially as a former teacher, who spent years learning how to impart curriculum knowledge in a large group setting, why are we choosing to disengage from the mainstream way of educating?

I believe the majority of educators do the best they can. I believe that teachers truly want to inspire a love of learning and a passion for knowledge in their students. I believe that many kids can learn and come out just fine from the public school system (obviously, we did!).  However, we also believe that one on one learning and curriculum application can serve a student even better. We believe that the majority of children are unable to meet their full potential in the current set up of the public school system.

The current school design was established in the Industrial Revolution, with the main goal to produce a literate, rule-following workforce who would contribute positively to the economy and culture. Students are exposed to a huge variety of topics at a very shallow depth. This isn’t all bad thing. There are lots of positives in these goals. However, we believe there are some important elements missing, ones that we feel we can best offer at home.

Our goals are:

1. To provide our children with a life-long love of learning. And the skills necessary to seek out knowledge as they desire or as needed. This means that we will work on developing the ability to learn, process, and apply information; not just the ability to regurgitate facts from many areas.

2. To facilitate their ability to view the world through the eyes of God, to acknowledge Him as their Creator, and to process information and decisions through that lens. With the ultimate goal that they seek out a personal relationship with Him in their own lives.

That’s what it boils down to. We do think that parents can help their children to become Christians themselves even if they attend public school. However we believe these purposes can be fulfilled more easily and effectively at home, with significantly less time wasted. With the added benefit of more time as a family and more time to learn through self-driven play and experiences which is the stuff of childhood.

One of the big questions I get a lot is about “socialization” and if my kids will be able to cope as adults. Quite honestly, this is not something I am concerned about. We spend plenty of time interacting with other people. Plus, as quoted in this Washington Times article, homeschoolers apparently end up more “socialized” than their peers!

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So, now that we have given you a very brief reasoning behind our choice (believe me, we could go on and on!)- now onto the facts of what we are doing!

We consider this a family effort. Although I, Chelsea, will be doing a larger portion of the more structured learning because I am home with the kids, Jace is just as much a part of this endeavor. He will be taking the lead in some areas that are his strengths and passions, and I will be taking the lead in others. We also intend for each child to have their own responsibility for their own education and we view this as an opportunity to all learn and grow together.

We have filed with the state; Maryland is noted as a requiring “moderate regulation.” However in reality, they are bordering on the high regulation threshold, at least in our county. We must notify yearly and we meet to evaluate progress and workload twice a year. Initially, this means bringing all workbooks and keeping really careful and thorough documentation of activities and evidence of regular instruction. For elementary we are required to show thorough and regular instruction in English, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Art, Music, Health, and Physical Education. We are permitted to choose our own curriculum, specific areas of studies, and scope and sequence for the school year.

We did a bunch of research when it comes to curriculum. As a former teacher, I think curriculum selection is a blast! There are so many awesome programs and workbooks and studies; the homeschooling curriculum world has really exploded in the last decade. Ultimately, I wanted to be able to pick individual curriculum pieces for each subject that would allow me to tailor them to  his needs, learning styles, current knowledge level, and goals. There are a lot of really good comprehensive programs that lay out the entire scope and sequence for the year and have set daily goals and that require only a single bulk purchase. But, as I mentioned before, we want the ability to tailor and pace curriculum based upon his needs.  A good friend pointed me towards the website Timberdoodle, which is an independent (non-publishing) company that gathers and reviews homeschooling curriculum from many different publishers. Ultimately, I was able to use their recommendations and selections to hand-pick what curriculum we were going to use. Here’s the “short list” of the curriculum’s we are focusing on; my scope (content breakdown for each subject) for the year is 4 pages long, I’ll save you from that! The titles listed are a mix of workbooks and resource books.

English: The Reading Lesson, Bob phonics books, and a lot of read alouds.

Math: Mathematical Reasoning

Social Studies: Bede’s History of Me, Beginning Geography, and selections from What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know.

Science & Health: Big Bag of Science in conjunction with the Messy Science e-book (this is a experiment based curriculum), First Illustrated Science Dictionary

Art: Big Book of Drawing, self-initiated art projects, and selections from What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know.

Music: self-initiated experiences, and selections from What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know.

Physical Education: no formal curriculum, but weekly “grab-bag” of activities teaching various skills. Plus, tons of free-time in the backyard! image

In addition to the more structured items in each area, we also plan to explore things through play, through more in-depth books at the library as interest develops, to utilize field trips and hands-on learning for real-life learning, and to be open to needing to slow down for certain concepts or speed up as necessary. This is one of the joys of home instruction. We are free to tailor our curriculum and plans as necessary for each student, or for the family as a whole!

As of now, I plan for part of my documentation process to happen on the blog: perhaps with a post twice a month with pictures and anecdotes from what we have been learning and experiencing. Perhaps something more, or maybe we will decide to post less frequently. We aren’t sure what their journey will look like, but we hope you will pray for our entire family as we start out (more formally) in this journey of learning and discovering that started the day our children were born!