Monday, November 26, 2012

Interview with Olivia

Olivia, age 8

Hi Olivia.  How are you?
Well, good.

How do you like homeschooling so far?
Well, it's good but I miss a lot of my friends at school even though we have a lot of playdates.  But, it's really fun.  And we get to finish early so we get to do all of these fun things.

Like what?

Going to the park.  Kidstown.  The zoo.  Chinatown.  Visiting my grandparents.  Stuff like that.

So what do you miss about going to school?

Pizza Thursday. The Olympics.  I liked watching everyone in the talent show but I was never in it.

Do you think you are learning a lot in our homeschool?

Yes, because everyone in my old school is not learning everything that I'm doing.  And I'm learning everything so quickly that we might do 2 years in one!      

Okay, just one more question about school.  How can we improve our school?

Pizza Thursday (giggles)!  Getting a pool in the backyard...

Ask Dad about that one.  Okay, I will change the subject now.  How do you like being 8 years old?

I just feel like all my friends.  I just feel like how everyone feels...

What do you imagine you will be doing with your life when you are a grown-up?

I want to be living with Nickie and Dave (aunt and uncle), and I don't know what I want to be yet.  Maybe I'll have 2 kids.

Do Nickie and Dave know about these plans?  Anyway, what do you like about being the oldest in our family?

I hate it! I have to take care of everyone.  Dad asks me tons of favors and I get the most work!      

I thought I said "what do you like about it?"

Oh, well...I love having a cute little sister.  I like getting to do things first, like reading.  

Okay, that's it.  Thanks for answering my questions today!

You're welcome! 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

He did it!

I have read many times that one of the best rewards of homeschooling is watching your kids reach a milestone.  And today that is just what Nicholas did!  He finished his first reading book.  What is most significant to me is the transformation that has taken place since September:  from a very reluctant reader to one who begs "Mom, can we do our reading first today?"  Wow!

I am so proud of you, Nicholas!  Oh, the places reading will take you!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Cousins: Lucy, Ellie, and Ruby (clockwise)
 This was the first Thanksgiving that John and I have held at our house.  It was so fun to have the whole family together -- 20 of us in total.  YiaYia and Papou (John's parents) cooked up a storm, leaving only a few tasks for me (and Olivia) so I can't complain at all.  What a blessing to be able to give thanks for all that we have with all of our blessings in our home!  It was truly a special day.

Two years ago, John, Nicholas, and I left for China on Thanksgiving morning.  We were on our way to meet our new baby girl, Ellie.  While it was sad to not spend the holiday together, we were so excited to finally meet Ellie after waiting for her for 5 years (she was only 13 months old at the time, but we had told Olivia she was getting a baby sister from China when she was 3 years old...instead she got 2 brothers, but she was patient and finally got what she always wanted!)  Anyway, we will always associate Thanksgiving with our trip to our precious daughter and will always be thankful that we get to celebrate this holiday together.

Papa and Nicholas
dancing Lucy

cousins Peter and Lucy
my sister Natalie and my squishy niece, Lucy

yum yum - the feast begins

Theia Nickie with Peter, Olivia, and YiaYia

Natalie, George and their gorgeous kids

John's cousin Spero and his cute son, Gerry

Ruby is hysterical

Nicholas loves Ellie so much.  A bond that first began 2 years ago when we met her in China.

So very very thankful this year!!

"The thankful receiver bears the fruitful harvest" - William Blake

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever." (NIV)   -- Psalm 107:1

Monday, November 12, 2012


Hurricane Sandy and then a subsequent snowstorm kind of threw a wrench in my perfectly mapped out curriculum schedule.  We lost power for 6 days, but that is nothing compared to what some others had to endure (some still have no power; some lost their homes entirely).  While we were able to do a bit more school than most (the schools were closed; ours is never closed), we did not get done as much as I had originally wanted to.

Then, we were hit with a snowstorm.  And while this really shouldn't have affected our school day at all, I just had to let the kids play in the snow.  And play they did, all day.  I wish I had taken a picture or two.  But I think I was still catching up on all the laundry that had piled up during the power outage...

One of the best lessons of homeschooling so far is flexibility and learning to manage interruptions.  When you school at home, you are not in the same cocoon-like environment offered by a school building.  The phone rings, the delivery guy shows up, the dog throws up; life is just all around us.  We have to just bend with it and redirect.

When Olivia was born, I simply had no tools for dealing with interruptions.  I was so angry when things did not go as I planned.  Olivia was a horrible sleeper.  She did not sleep through the night until she was 16 months old, and she simply did not nap unless I was holding her.  Even when desperation lead me to the Ferber method (i.e. I let her cry it out), she would cry for 30 minutes, nap for 15 minutes, and then wake crying again.  This would send any new mother into crazy-land, but I was beyond crazy.  I was just so utterly frustrated that I could not clean the house, or read, or work out during her naps as I had planned.

So I stopped planning.  I just gave up.  it was my way or the highway. I stopped working out, stopped reading, stopped cleaning the house (sorry John).

This was not the answer.

If I had applied this way of thinking to homeschooling, I would have quit long ago.  Every day, something doesn't quite work out the way I planned.  But, I've learned that when one child is resisting reading on one day, often she is quite willing to do double on another day.  If one child struggles with a new math concept and I simply cannot push him any longer, when he gets it, he can zip throw a worksheet. I find that if I look at the whole week, rather than at what I wanted to do each day, I am much more encouraged.  We usually catch up by Friday.

This cannot be said for last week.  We got a week behind.  Instead of panicking, as I am prone to do, I just will try to look at the month instead of the week. We'll add a little more in each day -- or on most days -- and hopefully we'll be where we should by Christmas.

I continue to keep learning alongside my kids.