Saturday, October 31, 2009

Three Little Ghosts

Once upon a time, there were three little ghosts. They lived on an island. It was Halloween and it was 7:00 at night. The little ghosts went trick-or-treating with their little ghost friends. Then it was 8:00 at night after they had gone to their friends' houses. Then they wanted to get home; they knew the way. They took the path with nut trees. They found paths. They all had coconut trees. They didn't know which way to go. So they tried to go back, but they only got more lost. It was then 9:00. They forgot which path lead home. Tree after tree after tree they got more lost. They were too lost, but then they found their way home! The End.

~ told by Will, age 7

*added note: I believe this is the first story he's told that didn't contain trains!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Oliver's Labels Discount Code!

A couple of weeks (ok... months) ago, I was contacted by Oliver's Labels to review their allergy labels (scroll down when you get there) and to also offer my readers a discount to their store.

Although they only show individual allergy designs, they offered to add more as necessary. I requested NO DAIRY, NO EGG, NO PEANUT with Witt's first and last name on it. And that is exactly what they gave me. Quickly. They have a 24 to 48 hour ship time!

The labels are waterproof! I've had one on Witt's plastic sippy cup for about two months now and it's still there... no fading or tearing off.

They also sent me a large bag tag with the same allergy design. I haven't attached this to a bag, but it came in very handy as a "necklace". Let me explain... We were attending a fellowship meal at my in-laws' church congregation and very few people there know about Witt's food allergies, so I strung a long string through the large tag and tied it around his neck. He happily wore it all day long.

The tag was a good conversation starter, but I realized that although people were noticing the tag and his name, they were not noticing the cute little designs indicating his food allergies. For this purpose, I would prefer to have just had "FOOD ALLERGIES!" written in place of his name (or above it). The designs are just too cute and were getting glanced over as decoration only.

I am really happy with their products and they have held up well for the couple of months we have used them. If you would like to purchase some labels of your own, Oliver's Labels is offering you 10% off! When checking out, just enter the coupon code "OLIVERSFRIENDS".

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Unplugged Project: Change

I created some posters to help us get started with our mornings. Although I was the one that made these posters, the boys will be the ones using them and changing out the different options.

The first chart holds our options used to "fill in" the second chart. It has a full calendar with days, date, and months. The seasons are lined on the left side. Daily chores and weather options are below the pink calendar. Below that is a plastic envelope containing pictures for special days, ie Valentines Day, Birthdays, Independence Day, etc. On the bottom left are the different subjects Will is/will be learning about. (click to enlarge pictures)

We will gather each morning to change out the date, weather, and daily responsibility.

All of the options from the first chart are on velcro tabs and have a corresponding place on our second chart, the "Today" chart:

The pink section holds the day, month, date, year, and a spot if it is a special day. This is also where the season and today's weather will go. The blue section is like a vertical "clock". The times are listed down the side with our daily activities out to the side of the time. The flag is a reminder for us to say the Pledge of Allegiance. :) The Responsibilities section is a picture list of what we need to do each morning (get dressed, make bed, put clothes away, stretch, etc.) The extra Daily Chore will be placed over the sunshine on the bottom right hand corner.

As for the vertical clock, my plans are to show Will the subjects that need to be accomplished for the day and allow him to place them next to the times in which he wants to do them.

I am NOT keeping this as a rigid schedule, it's just a way for him to have some control over his school day and add some structure as well. When he completes the subject, he'll remove it from the vertical clock and place it back with the list. Once all of the subjects are back on the list, he will know his school day is complete and will be rewarded with some computer time. (He likes to watch Thomas the Train YouTube videos, play on, and watch shows through Netflix.)

Hopefully these charts will change our days from "extremely-relaxed-might-not-get-it-all-done" into "Hey-we-accomplished-everything-and-learned-a lot!"

For more Unplugged Projects on Change, visit Unplug Your Kids.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Boys in the Bedroom

I spent Tuesday afternoon rearranging the boys' bedrooms in hopes of quenching Witt's separation anxiety. We now have one bedroom (literally only beds)

and one playroom. Sorry I didn't bother cleaning before I took the pictures... I'm sure you understand. :)

The first night, it took at least an extra 30 minutes to get them all settled for bed. Wittman cried and cried still wanting me to stay in the room with all of them. William continually got in trouble for talking and Nathan just kept a bewildered face, not really understanding what all the commotion was about.

FINALLY, Witt accepted the fact that I was going and his brothers were staying. They all slept through the night!

The next morning, I woke to hear Will and Witt talking (at 5:56 am!). I went in there and they were both on Wittman's bed playing with stuffed animals. I motioned for them to come out so Nathan could continue to sleep. (They are usually up around 6:20 am, so it really wasn't that much earlier than usual.)

The nap time transition was much better than the night before. I usually only require Will to lay on the couch for some quiet time while the other boys nap, but since they were up late AND up early PLUS we had bible study that night, I wanted Will to take a nap, too. So, after a story and about 30 minutes of them settling down (plus a few swats on the hiney for getting out of bed), they finally all took a nap. A full nap, too!

Last night was even better. No crying and only once did I have to go in there to tell Wittman to quiet down. Again, they all slept through the night!

Wittman woke a little after six, with Nathan not far behind. Surprisingly my early bird, Will, stayed in bed until 7:00!

So far, combining bedrooms has worked wonders! I am SO THANKFUL!

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Separation Anxiety

Poor little Witt.

2009 has been a year of change for us all, but he's taking it the hardest. Daddy is gone many days a week (sometimes full weeks) and the family left for a week's vacation in June without him.

When we returned from our vacation, he began crying for me to sleep in his room. I would lay in the spare bed that was in there until he fell asleep and then sneak out to go sleep in my bed. When he woke in the middle of the night, he would cry for me because I wasn't in there. I finally started bunching up the comforter and pillow to make it look like I was still in bed and that worked for a little while.

Then we moved to a new home which landed him a new room. We've started attending a new congregation which means new classmates, new teachers, and a new classroom. He literally falls apart if we leave him alone in the class, so my MIL has started staying with him.

Last month, he decided he wanted a new bed. That wasn't a problem for a couple weeks, but then...

While Nana was here, I made a quick trip to the grocery store while the kids were napping. Little did I know that Witt woke up as I was leaving. He watched me leave and cried the whole time I was gone. He rarely let me out of his site after that.

Then, on Friday, I took both Nathan and Will to school and a field trip. Although Witt loves staying with his Gran, Nathan has always been with him when Will has on-campus days with school. My MIL said that he would look around every so often with a, "Nay? Will?" looking for his brothers.

So now, he's back to BEGGING me to sleep in his room. A few nights ago, I began by laying in bed with him, but then decided to just sit on the floor instead so I could sneak out of his room easier. He did not like me sitting on the floor. He wanted me in that bed next to him, but I wouldn't give in and he finally fell asleep.

The next night I brought in a chair and sat on it. There was a little less argument. The following night, I moved the chair into the doorway. The actual door was between he and I so he couldn't see me, but he sure kept asking, "Ma? Chair?"I reassured him that I was still there and he finally fell asleep.

That night he woke up crying and I made the mistake of letting him come to bed with us (Jeff finally made it home from California!!). That night he wanted to sleep in our bed. Not happening, though! Jeff and I have just never been ones to have a child in bed with us.

So finally, last night, I had the chair out in the hallway next to his door. He went to sleep with little reassurance and slept until 1:30 when we heard a blood-curdling cry. We both hopped out of bed and ran to his room. There stood Witt staring at the empty chair freaking out that I was not in it.

I slept the rest of the night in his bed with him until he woke me up at 6:30 telling me he wanted to get down.

So, where to go from here? Well, I have one last option. Today after naps, I am moving both Will's and Nathan's beds into Witt's room. I am hopeful that the extra company will help him. I know the boys will enjoy being together, too. Plus it will give us a playroom for all the toys.

Jeff is working locally all week this week and I don't want to be spending my nights in Witt's bed.

I want to be sensitive to Witt as I know it is an honest fear for him, and I certainly haven't been intentional about leaving him alone. I suppose a little extra attention during the day is in order. I just really don't know what to do next that would be a good compromise for the both of us. I am a mom to two other little boys and a wife as well. I can't be at Witt's beck-and-call every moment.

So, any suggestions on dealing with separation anxiety in a 2 1/2 year old? After moving the beds, I'm out of ideas.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Nathan Goes to School for the Field Trips

Our church school planned a field trip for the pumpkin patch this past Friday, so I brought Nathan to campus that day so he could come with us. (Witt stayed the day at my in-laws house. He loves his Gran!)

We had our normal schedule of History, Art, Chapel, Lunch, and PE. Nathan had a hard time sitting still in History, but did fairly well in Art since they sit on the floor and are able to draw. He enjoyed the lunch of chili cheese nachos, while Will ate his sack lunch of the standard PB sandwich.

The kids gathered around the piano during lunch.

Some actually played well, while others just played around. :) Here's the only shot I got of both boys while on campus that day. Nathan is trying to figure out how the piano works and Will is just playing around. :)

Nathan joined in during PE fairly well since I partnered with him. I helped him do all the stretching excercises and he got a real kick out of that. "Me exercising! Me exercising!" :)

We headed for the pumpkin patch after school where the kids played in huge pile of hay (oh joy!), we took a hay ride, and picked out pumpkins. There were also goats, ducks, and geese to feed.

We had a great time, but it was a full day! Nathan snoozed the whole way home and Will fought off a nap, but yawned the entire time. If I wasn't driving, I'd have napped too!

Witt was happy to see us when we got home and I gave him his very own pumpkin, too, that I had picked out during the hayride. Just didn't want you to think I forgot about him. :)

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009


My mom, who lives in Washington State, came for a "grandbaby tour". My brother, who lives in Atlanta, had a new addition to his family (Welcome, Dustin!) so mom came down. She visited with them for a while and then went to visit my sister and niece in Augusta. After that, she came here to see us!

Although Nathan and Will saw her and my dad this past summer, Witt doesn't remember Nana. He saw us all give hugs and kisses, though, and joined in fairly easily. (He doesn't warm well to strangers.)

We shopped, played, went to the scout store, did school work, cleaned, and just had a really great time. Mom brought some books for the boys and they really enjoyed them.

This is the only picture I took the whole time mom was here! I can't believe it. At least I have some proof that she was here! :)

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Shut Eye

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

How Our Homeschool Co-op (Church School) Works

By request... :)

Homeschool Co-op is not an unfamiliar term for most people that know anything about homeschool, but many don't know exactly what it means. I know I didn't. I had a clue, but didn't know the full extent to what it could mean.

In fact, there really isn't a clear definition because not only do states differ in their requirements, so do the individual co-ops. Some are merely for socialization, some include education, some religion. Some meet twice or more a week, some meet once a month, some meet less frequently. The individual co-ops are about as different as individual homeschooling families. Some have outrageous dues, others have small dues, or possibly none (although I don't know of any in that category). Some require a statement of faith and proof that you are an active member in your home congregation... some don't.

With that said, I am going to focus on Alabama because that's where I live and those are the laws I know. To find out what the homeschooling laws in your state are I suggest visiting HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association). That link will take you to a map where you can choose your state to find out more.

In order to homeschool in Alabama, there are only two choices:

  • 1) Be a certified teacher
  • 2) Join a cover school that is governed by a church... generally referred to as a church school.

So for general conversation purposes in Alabama, co-op, cover school, and church school are all fairly interchangeable.

As for our cover school, we meet twice a month on a Christian university campus. The children are split into two groups K-3rd grade and 4th - high school for two classes (currently history and art). Then there are other classes for the high school kids (currently auto mechanics (with a college professor, I believe) and something for the girls... can't remember right now). There is also a PE class that is separated by age.

The art and PE classes are taught by the same teachers at each meeting (the teachers are HSing moms). The history class changes teachers (more moms) at each meeting. As a first year homeschooling mom, I am not on the teachers list, but am on the assisting list. If the teacher needs something, the 1st year moms help her out during the class.

Our on-campus days also include lunch together (can bring or buy) and a devotional time with the university staff and students. There is also a bit of free time after lunch where the kids play on the campus playground together, too.

It is a very family friendly atmosphere. There are families that bring their non-school aged children for the day as well. Personally, I enjoy the one-on-one time with Will and my MIL enjoys having Nathan and Witt for the day, so I currently only bring Will.

The parents (and other children) are welcome to sit in the back of the classrooms if they like or are to congregate in the lunch room if they want to socialize.

We also have after-school activities: field trips, 4H club, and annual staff. I believe there are two school parties each year and an end of the year awards ceremony/graduation. The mothers can also participate in Secret Sisters. One of the mothers has also organized an organic foods buying club! OH MY! I was SO excited to hear about that!!!

As you can see, our on-campus days are FULL of exciting things! It is an hour drive each way for us (but I really enjoy the drive with just one child! He is a good traveler and an excellent conversationalist!). Some families travel longer distances, some shorter. There are closer church schools, but this one seems to fit all of our needs and beliefs. So far, we are very pleased. Very pleased.

Now, our church school isn't just about meeting twice a month. They also take care of records, transcripts, etc. All the families are required to join HSLDA. Alabama laws are very lax. Let me repeat... VERY LAX. You know those teaching options I mentioned above? Those options coupled with a 180 day school year requirement are it. That's all. There are no required subjects, no standard testing requirements, no meeting with an appointed person to make sure your kid is learning requirements. Nothing. It's actually kinda nice, but I can see where some people might abuse the openness of the laws.

HOWEVER... that does not mean that we won't or don't do any of those things. We keep records of his school work. This blog would also serve as proof if anyone ever takes me to court for not teaching my kids. The church school keeps records of our curriculum and activities. We also assign and keep up with grades (that are assigned by the homeschooling parents). I haven't heard anything about standardized testing, but I'm sure we could get it if I wanted it.

HSLDA is the go-to place about all the laws regarding homeschooling. When our church school was set up, they consulted heavily with the HSLDA folks. We have many more requirements than other church schools in the area, but I like it that way. I like knowing my bases are not only covered, but above and beyond what the law expects. I feel safe that way.

So, I think I've covered everything on how our co-op/cover school process works. I'm happy to answer anything that I might have missed or elaborate more where you'd like me to. What questions do you have?

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

stArt: The Little House

As part of our unit study on community, we read The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton. It is about a little house in the country that was built so well that the owner never wanted it to be sold. Seasons change, generations go by and the house sees the countryside change as the city comes in and takes over. At one point, skyscrapers are built all around the little house. To find out how the book ends, you'll have to read the book yourself. :)

I was "lucky" again this week as Will took it upon himself to do something based on a book we'd read. Here he is with his skyscraper... "many stories high," as he said. (The paper he's holding is an award he gave himself for the world record in skyscraper building. LOL!)

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Rice Box

I don't know where I picked up this idea, but once I heard about it I knew it was something I wanted to try. It just sounded like great fun!

Basically, you take a box and put dry rice in it. Then add toys, cars, scoops, spoons, whatever. There are lots of great things about a rice box.

  • It works on the skills of dumping and pouring.
  • It gives a different sensory experience from regular activities.
  • It's a preschool teaching aid: Find all the red objects or all the circles, etc.
  • It's an elementary teaching aid: Put some plastic letters in the rice and tell the student to spell the word "home" (or whatever).
  • Use measuring cups and teach math. Have them count how many 1/2 cups it takes to fill up a whole cup.
  • If more than one child is playing with the box it teaches sharing. (I just gotta laugh at this one! You'll see why in a minute...)
  • It teaches them that some things are not meant to be eaten without being cooked, too! LOL!

It's also great if you just need your kids to be well occupied for 30 minutes or more, too! :)

Today I just put a few odds-n-ends in the rice box to let them get acquainted with it and just let them play. Will and Witt were given the first opportunity to use it as Nathan was still taking a nap. The box shown is a 12 L box and I think it has about 10 lbs of rice in it.

At 1:55 PM I brought it out. Notice the lack of rice on the floor. They played nicely with it at first. Will was digging around searching for the little nick-knacks while Witt was happily scooping and pouring.

Once Witt saw the little plastic frogs, though... the niceties were over. Two year olds don't share very well and he as a *thing* for frogs. Mama should have known better! I brought out another box and separated the rice.

Here's they are at 2:00 PM.

At 2:20 PM:

And at 2:31 PM:

I had to get the broom at this point. Cleanup was really quick and easy, though! (Be sure to start with a newly swept floor if you do this inside so you can sweep up the rice and dump it back in the box; otherwise, you are going to be sweeping dirt in with your rice and won't be able to reuse it... please don't ask how I know. LOL!)

Nathan woke up and was very excited about the rice box, too! He got to play with both of them by himself!

But, only for a little while... :) Here they are still playing at 2:45 PM (before the monster trucks were brought in):

I didn't take another picture, but trust me... by the time these two were done with the monster truck, there was rice all over the floor. At least this time when I swept I was only sweeping rice and not dirt and rice. :)

What other applications can you think of in using a rice box?

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What's Up With That Face?

When going through our Labor Day swimming pictures, this series of photos cracked me up!

Nathan is a boy of few words, but many facial expressions.

He cracks me up! He even laughed when he looked at these pictures!

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Monday, October 5, 2009

"There's Bread in My Ear"

Those are the words I heard from Nathan (almost 4) from the backseat of the truck on our way home Saturday afternoon. We had stopped for burgers and apparently he plucked off some bread from the bun and put it in his ear. Then while trying to get it out, he pushed it even further down the canal. AGH!

We got home and I grabbed a flashlight. I could see something, but I wasn't sure if it was the bread or a blood clot. We know he has a blood clot that has formed on his ear tubes in that ear. I just didn't know how big it might be. I was very hesitant to do anything because of that.

I thought about putting hydrogen peroxide in his ear because I've heard of other mothers doing that when objects *mysteriously* get lodged in ears. (ha!) Since he has tubes, though, I couldn't put liquid in the ear canal. Plus, what would H2O2 do to bread? Would it just expand and make it harder to get? Or would it disintegrate? I just didn't know, so I sucked it up and called the on-call doctor (who is not our regular doctor).

He said if I didn't feel comfortable using tweezers that it could probably wait until Monday or if we wanted to, we could bring him in Sunday morning to their office as they would be open.

I took a deep breath, asked Jeff to hold the flashlight and I grabbed the tweezers. With one hand I held his ear open and with the other I grabbed that little piece of bread that was wedged way down in there. Nathan jumped, but only to say that it tickled. I told him to let me know if it hurts. He never said a thing and guess what???

I GOT IT! :)

I'm always the one behind the camera... :) Here's Jeff showing off the results of our teamwork!

I asked Nathan if he's ever going to put things in his ears again and he said, "No." Knowing Nathan, I'm not going to hold him to that promise. LOL!

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pull My Tooth

About 10 days ago, I decided to check Will's bottom teeth to see if they were wiggly at all. He hadn't mentioned them, but I knew it was getting close to the time for them to be falling out. Sure enough, the bottom two were a little wiggly... one more than the other. That really got Will excited and he was constantly playing with his teeth from then on.

October 3rd he came up to me after lunch and asked me to pull his tooth. I checked it out and it was ready, but I wanted him to be the one to pull his own tooth. I suggested he try to twist it around so he did. He jumped, startled for a moment. When I realized he was going to have it out any minute I told him to stop so I could get the video camera.

I turned around, walked less than 20 feet away, grabbed my camera and turned back around. I looked up at him, he held out his hand and smiled, "Mom, I pulled out my tooth." :)

That little stinker!

The Tooth-fairy came that night, leaving $5.00!!! She told us that the first tooth is special and that we should expect the rate to go down for the remaining teeth. LOL! Good thing, too, because if you notice in the picture... that other front, bottom tooth is about to be gone soon as well! Hopefully the Tooth-fairy won't go broke before Christmas! :)

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