Monday, October 26, 2015

Punkins and Their Pumpkins

Two and a half weeks ago, my punkins carved their pumpkins (yes, I am just now getting around to it!).

Their MawMaw got them one of those little pumpkin carving kits that has all of the carving knives and templates included.  So they each picked out their template (which the directions said to adhere to the pumpkin by wetting it and then wrapping it with plastic wrap . . . NOTE TO SELF: plastic wrap is totally worthless!  Next time, use tape.).  I honestly wasn't sure how well this was going to go over.  This is the first time we've ever carved pumpkins.  Yes.  Don't judge.  I'm excited to say it won't be our last though!
Look.  I was nervous.  Mason and sharp objects don't usually go together.  But it wasn't that bad, and I was able to remain "hands off" until he asked for my help.

I was really proud of Mason.  He doesn't usually hang in there with tedious projects.  But he did this time.  By the time he was done, the template had slipped off and ripped and wasn't lined up properly, but I was able to "fix" his pumpkin with just a little cut here and there.  Mason's design was a happy bat.
Hannah Kate was really into this (as was Ellie).  She spent an hour carving her pumpkin and did it totally all by herself.
Again, she had the same issue with the template and the plastic wrap.
When it was all said and done, her design was an upside down bat.  Just go with that.  She was super proud of her work.
Ellie picked out a crazy face for her pumpkin.  And then yours truly carved the whole thing!  But, honestly, I didn't finish it.  I left off a couple of things because, by that time, I was pretty much done.  This was also the day of the deer.  The thing kept wanting to eat our pumpkins (he'd already finished off my garden!) so I had to keep shooing him away.
And here are my punkins with their pumpkins!

Monday, October 19, 2015

It's Monday. Do you know your helping verbs? (a video)

I thought long and hard this morning about taking a fall break this week.  But I thought the same thing last Monday.  And I'm sure I'll think the same thing next Monday.  And the Monday after that.  And the next one after that.  And . . . you get the picture.
Sundays are so full and busy.  And I've just never been a Monday morning kind of gal.  Mondays are our busiest days this school year.  We wake up super early and leave by 6:45 to take Mason to "school."  The girls and I are usually home by 8:00.  We eat breakfast and do our school work and then leave again at 11:45 to pick Mason up.  We go to the mall food court for lunch (because that's something that EVERYONE (except Mama) can agree on).  And then we go pick Abbie up in carpool.  And then we spend OVER THREE HOURS at the dance studio.  And we are home around 7:00.  And then it's supper and bath and to bed.  Mondays are long.  And I really was not looking forward to this one.

Honestly, I've been struggling with homeschool lately.  Not that it isn't going well, or I don't like it, or the kids are hating it.  None of that is hardly close to the truth.  As a matter of fact, homeschooling has completely removed the burden and the stress that school once was.  But it is still A LOT to do and keep up with and plan for.  It keeps me very busy.  But there are some things that just aren't what I'd hoped they would be.  I'd envisioned science projects and art projects galore.  I'd envisioned baking together in the kitchen and going on nature walks and laying outside after the sun goes down to see what constellations we could spot in the night sky.  And that is HARDLY the way it is.  I mean, some days, yes.  But most days, no.  Either we do not have time for those things or I'm just too tired to make it happen.  Mostly the latter.  Too tired.  And I always wonder if I'm doing enough and if my children are truly learning what they're "supposed" to be learning and if all this is really going to be worth it all in the end anyway.  Of course, I already know (in my head) all of the answers to those questions.  But my heart isn't feeling it these days.

After we dropped Mason off this morning, I decided that we would not take a fall break this week so we got to work.  Ellie had already informed me that she did "NOT want to do school today, Mom."  That's been a big challenge lately.  Distractions don't phase Hannah Kate one bit, and I'm ever so thankful for that.  Because there are LOTS of those these days.  I was finally able to convince Ellie to color until I could get Hannah Kate to a point where she could finish her work on her own.  She started talking to me about her colors.  I looked at her and thought, "Well, she sure is cute.  I should take a picture.  That way I can remember she was cute on a Monday."
And because I took a picture of one cutie, I had to take a picture of the other one.  By this time, I was thinking, "I'm really glad we didn't take a fall break today.  This is a pretty good school morning."
I think I've already mentioned before that one of my main goals in teaching my children is that they are able to speak well, read well and write well.  Mason and I aren't always on the same page with reading and writing, but Hannah Kate and I are.  So grammar lessons are very important around here.  I love our grammar curriculum.  Several weeks ago, we learned a chant (Don't worry.  I didn't make this up.  That's what they have teacher books for!) to help us remember our helping verbs.  And we review the chant a couple of times a week.  So Hannah Kate and I reviewed this morning.  And then I realized Ellie was chanting and clapping the helping verbs, too (even though she did NOT want to do school today!).  So if you ever need help identifying verbs, you can ask my three year old!  I mean, not that a three-year old needs to know her helping verbs.  Besides, she doesn't even know what helping verbs are!  
For this mom who was a little down in the dumps about homeschooling, it did make my heart laugh to hear my three year old chanting the helping verbs.  And then a bit later, I looked down, and she was "teaching" the helping verbs to her baby.  Because I'm sure all children sit under the table and teach helping verbs to their babies.  The cutest thing was when she had her baby's hands and was making her clap, too.  But I was too late to capture that.  Who knows . . . maybe Ellie will have mastered 2nd grade grammar by the age of 4!
After we got our lunch at the mall food court, the kids asked if we could sit outside on the balcony today and eat.  It was such a beautiful day that I really couldn't resist.  Because I'm thinking, "Yes, this is Monday.  And it's a pretty good Monday so far.  So I need to take a picture so I can remember."  I didn't realize how goofy their faces were until long after this had been taken.
And as if that wasn't enough, they were giving FREE rides on the carousel today.  I don't even know how much they usually are.  I think $2.50 or something crazy like that.  And that would be why we NEVER ride the carousel.  But we did today!
Ellie LOVED it!  I didn't realize until Mason pointed out how ridiculous this horse is, but whatever.  She was so excited and kept telling me, "I want one of these at our house, Mom!"  Y'all.  Mom confession.  This is the FIRST TIME Ellie has ever ridden the carousel (unless she has done so with her MawMaw).  (Don't judge.  Because $2.50.  Times 3.  To ride a plastic horse.  For 2 minutes.)
After we picked up Abbie, arrived at the dance studio and got dressed, I noticed that Ellie had climbed up in Abbie's lap.  And I felt the need for another picture.  Monday was still going pretty good.
But after that, it started going downhill.  It's never fun entertaining a 3-year old in a public place for over two hours while waiting on big sister to finish dance lessons, especially when it's been a long day, and everyone is tired.  I also have to say that Mason is a real trooper and so patient on dance days!  It's hard for 10-year old boys to spend that much time at the dance studio, too.  We finally made it home.  Ellie had fallen asleep in the truck for the second time today.  The first time was when we went to pick up Mason.  That really surprised me because she NEVER falls asleep in the truck in the middle of the day.  She rarely sleeps when we're riding anyway.  She has to be very tired.
And then, as the night came to a close, I was reminded that it was, indeed, Monday.  I was frustrated.  Several of us were frustrated.  Just little stuff that seemed like big stuff.  And then I needed to apologize.

But it got worse.  It ended with the sad spoon for one of them.  In that moment, I was so tempted to ignore it, to pretend like it didn't happen, like I didn't hear.  I was already tired, too tired for disciplining and training and correcting.  It was bedtime.  I didn't want the day to end like that.  But, as hard as it was, I had to explain that I love too much to not use the sad spoon.  I was having a conversation last week with some friends.  We were talking about how very hard it is raising godly children.  Because there's a difference between raising GODLY children and raising GOOD children.  It is the hardest thing I've ever done!  And I know I'm messing it up a lot.  But I'm just thankful that my God is so much bigger than that, and He can fix my messes.  But it pretty much sucked the rest of the life out of me, not that I had much left over anyway.

When I finally crashed on the sofa to mindlessly browse social media, I immediately noticed Ann Voskamp's post from earlier today.  When your life feels all wrong and your friends lives look picture perfect.  Yes!  That's it!  That's exactly how I've been feeling . . . my homeschool feels all wrong; and every one else's looks perfect!  So I immediately read this, and it was so encouraging.

And then I saw this.
This is exactly what I taught my Sunday School class yesterday.  We're studying the book of Genesis, and we are now talking about Abram . . . his radical obedience to leave everything he knew, to take a CHANCE on God, to OBEY.  I'd already told my youth that this was one they NEEDED to be there for, NEEDED to hear (because, as much as I don't like adulting some days, I just can not imagine being a teenager in these days!) . . . I asked them . . . what's going to happen if you obey God, even when He calls you out of your comfort zone?  But perhaps the bigger question is . . . what's going to happen if you DON'T obey God?  I am very well aware of the fact that this homeschool thing was not my idea.  It was God's idea.  And, because it was His idea, it is a GOOD idea, and it is the BEST idea.  And the results of this whole thing aren't up to me anyway!

I also noticed a friend was asking for prayer requests.  So I decided to send him a message about a prayer request that I've been praying for exactly ONE YEAR now that has gone unanswered, a prayer request that I pray daily just begging God to answer, a need that brings sadness and discouragement to my heart.  I hadn't sent the text yet because I noticed I had new email.  So I clicked over to that and found not exactly an answer to my prayer request but a very unexpected email that could potentially lead to the answer.  Ah, yes, Lord, I knew you hadn't forgotten, but thank You for reminding me!

For some reason, I also checked the mail today.  That usually only happens once a week. But I'm so glad I did.  Because this was in there.
So, as tired as I am from a (mostly) not-so-bad Monday, I'm going to curl up with the pages of my favorite edition of one of my favorite magazines before laying my head down.  And look forward to Tuesday!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Field Trippin'

When we began homeschooling, Mason was very concerned about opportunities for field trips.  Well, we've definitely taken care of that during the past few weeks.  Today was our third field trip in less than a month.

Today we visited the LSU Fire & Emergency Training Institute.  We met the Captain and about 10 of the trainees.  It's a 14-week course for firemen, and it is intense.
We learned about the firemen's uniform, and four of the trainees had a race to see who could get suited up the fastest.  They are required to suit up in two minutes, but most of them can do it in under a minute by the time they finish the course.  They also stressed to the kids not to be scared when they saw a fireman in uniform.
We took a picture with Blaze (the mascot).
We got to tour two of their firetrucks.

And this was Ellie.  At the beginning of the trip, they showed a video of what the trainees do and how they are trained at the Institute.  Ellie got scared.  She thought we were actually going to be in a fire.  She was in melt down mode the entire time we were inside, the entire time we were interacting with the firemen, the entire time we were checking out the uniforms, the entire time we were doing ANYTHING.  And then when we went outside, she stood there the whole time with her fingers in her ears!  THE WHOLE TIME.  I don't even know why.  They didn't sound the alarms or sirens on the trucks.

The firemen were so much fun, and they did a great job interacting with the kids.  They encouraged the kids to explore, crawl around, sit in the truck, ask questions.  

Mason's favorite part of the truck was the weapons.
I tried to get Ellie to take a picture in the truck as well, but she refused.
I have a new respect for firemen now.  I mean, this training course is NO JOKE.  And they were so excited to be there, smiling the whole time even though they were wearing 30 lbs of gear and covered in soot after a recent training exercise in the 90 degree heat.
When it was time to leave, Ellie finally took her fingers out of her ears and was willing to take a picture.
I was very impressed with this field trip.  It was very interesting and quite entertaining.  I asked Mason what he learned, and he said he does not want to be a fire fighter because it's too dangerous.  Both Hannah Kate and Mason said they enjoyed today but their favorite field trip was when we went to Port Hudson last Friday.
The main reason it's their favorite is because they got to witness the firing of the big canon.
We rotated through seven different stations that day.  The first was about the soldiers' uniform and weapons.  This was actually a Union soldier's uniform.
Ellie enjoyed the boat demonstration.  

There was a cooking demonstration.
And, I have to say . . . much of these field trips are a bit much for a 3-year old.  But Ellie really does quite well.
And then they explained how the canon works and fired another smaller canon.
During the medical demonstration, Mason was chosen as a wounded soldier.
The initial "surgery" didn't work.
So they "amputated" his arm.
We ended that field trip with a picnic with our friends.

And then three or so weeks ago we attended a field trip in our own parish (county).  We learned some of the history of our parish and also how the locks system worked.
Their favorite part of this field trip was up close encounters with several creatures from the Bluebonnet Swamp nature center.

And Mr. Gene was there with his alligator skins and wood carvings.

The thing I enjoy most about field trips is that it gives the children opportunities to learn more about the world around them . . . how things work, why things work . . . conversations and interactions with people who've had some really interesting life experiences . . . and even to explore what they might want to do some day.  It's such a great, big world out there, and the possibilities are endless!

Of course, Mason has suggested that Hawaii would be his idea of a fun field trip.  I mean, wouldn't we all!