An Exciting Day for the PTA

staples steal

I mentioned on my recent post, about Caleb and his ADD diagnosis,that my friend Maureen sent me a thoughtful note in the mail that also included a Staples gift card. (Thank you again, Maureen!) I thought this was so cute. She said to consider it a donation to our PTA. :)

So…..tonight I cashed in. Check out these puzzles that I found for…….du du du………Woot!  50 cents a piece!!!

You might say I was kind of excited about this. I bought one of each kind of puzzle, two of the US states ones, since that is something we are working on a lot, and I happen to have two boys that are both learning their states and capitals.

Receiving an unexpected gift from a friend is something that will just make your day, isn’t it? Even a note or an email–just knowing, hey, there are people out there who are thinking about you–it goes a long way. This is a good challenge to me to make sure I do thoughtful things for others too!

As you can imagine, I’ve been thinking about the ADD thing a lot lately. You can bet there will be a post soon on good teaching strategies for ADD students. In the meantime, I’m experimenting.  I’ll tell you what doesn’t work: standing up at the board and talking to them…….total waste of air…..Joshua is excellent at concentrating on his work and staying on task. He just has a listening problem. Caleb, however, I’m still trying to figure out.

Today I decided to just ask him.

“Caleb, do you have trouble concentrating on what I’m saying when I’m talking to you, like at the board, in school?”

“Yeah! It just hurts, like right here. Right here (pointing to his eyebrows), when I’m trying to look up at the board it just hurts, and I can’t see it good, and I just can’t do it.”

hmmmm  Now there’s another thing that I should mention here. Caleb has sinus troubles. They come and go constantly, and they are definitely aggravated right now.

I also have sinus issues, and when I do, I get a headache in my forehead, in the eyebrow/nose bridge area. So, I can relate to what Caleb is saying. I’m going to need to give that poor boy some tylenol and some Mucinex before school. Tylenol is no problem, but I don’t have any Children’s Mucinex right now. If only going to the store were easier!!

I should probably also look into getting Caleb’s vision screened. We’ve had Joshua’s done, and his is perfect. Phew!

I think that Caleb, like Joshua, learns more by doing than by listening. I’m going to have to drum up some more hands on activities for Classical Conversations. CC has a lot of memory work, and that is hard for someone who doesn’t listen. There are two things that Caleb needs help with right now:  CC work (memorizing capitals, Latin, etc.) and Spelling. I switched his spelling program to It’s free, and I was able to pick a list that is right for his level. That has helped a TON. The thing is, I’ve noticed he doesn’t internalize the word spellings from writing them, only from really discussing them with me, and spelling them out loud.

Don’t discount Caleb yet, though. He has many subjects that he excels at. He aces every math assignment I give to him. Goodness knows he LOVES science, and he has caught up on reading, too. He’s also really good at puzzles, cursive writing, and art. Caleb makes very clean, straight lines. His thoughts are very organized. For example, we gave the boys these design-your-own toothbrushes. Joshua’s looks like mine would look: a mess of stickers all over the place in all directions. (I understand, Jman, I do.) Caleb’s looks like Alan’s would look: everything on it is in parallel lines–perfect–no tape that stuck to itself, no disorder at all.

Here’s a cute picture that Caleb drew this week. He drew this just for the blog. It’s a scene from his FAVORITE book series, Elephant and Piggy:

“Caleb A (as in he gave himself an A–ha!)  Let’s Go for a Drive”

So far this is what I’ve learned about ADDish kids:  They don’t learn from listening. They learn from doing.

If I’m at the board, they do all the reading and writing. I just tell them what to write. My part has to be pretty minimal.

I’m learning more every day about this. It’s exhausting. Some days I randomly get these mystery fevers. I have no idea what’s wrong with me. I’ve started tracking it on my calendar and have found no pattern, other than sleep deprivation. Alan’s mother said that she used to get fevers when she was sleep deprived, so I’m seriously wondering if that’s my problem. Have any of you ever dealt with this sort of thing? It’s been going on since during my pregnancy with JD, but happening more lately.

I’ll leave you with this photo of Caleb, hard at work. I make them do all of their most consuming, not fun, work first thing in the morning, while they are still fresh. That has worked really well. They do their math worksheet, writing, spelling, and character lessons during the 9-10am block, every day. I’m starting to find ways to ease some CC memory work into their writing assignments.

Of course, Daniel finishes anything I give him, crafts included, in 15 minutes and then asks me for more work. This kid will be starting his K4 books in January. I don’t care if he is still 3. He is ready. Don’t you love his war paint? It’s just part of the package, ya’ll!

Okay. Now I really must go do this:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

Matthew 7:7-8

A Pelican Feeding Frenzy

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The greatest thing about moving to California is definitely the nature watching opportunities. I can’t tell you all the wonderful things  my eyes have seen since we’ve arrived! I will do my best to show you what I can, though!

Perhaps tonight I will finally download all the kayaking pictures we took using Alan’s cell phone. Kayaking with the seals, sea otters, and sea lions was incredible, and we managed to get a few photos of them. Wildlife fascinates me.

One thing I have always loved about the beach is that it’s different every single time you go. On Monday, it may be covered in sea weed, or kelp, as is the case here. On Tuesday, there may be less of it, but lo and behold, a dead sea lion has washed ashore. The next day, you may see him again, not looking so great. A week later, all of that is gone, but there are billions of tiny shells and rocks everywhere. It is always different.

In the past 3 months, I have seen:

-a sea gull harassing a sea otter, in hopes of obtaining some crab scraps

-a sea lion, just as interested in me as I was in him

-A seal was stalking us when we were kayaking, for a while–freaked me out a little bit…

-sea gulls devouring a family’s McDonald’s picnic, as they posed for pictures by the water…….Poor family.

-homeless people sleeping on the beach

-a dead sea lion washed ashore, with a giant hole in his side–a little disturbing

-billions of tiny, molted crab shells

-seals, leaping out of the water

-one humpback whale, leaping out of the water—-If awesome weren’t such an over-used word… how to describe this…It was a breathtaking sight that I will never forget.

-two sea otters mating….while the baby chased them, squealing at the top of his little lungs….haunting and embarrassing…

-jellyfish–thankfully from afar……I was stung as a young teenager. That’s something I’ll never forget.

–and just the other day……a pelican FEEDING frenzy. There were literally hundreds of pelicans. Pelicans are favorites of mine, so I was delighted to be there!








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Of course, this sea lion buddy was there too. You can’t go to Monterey Bay without seeing a sea mammal!  I love it.






I wish this picture were clearer. These birds have such long beaks.






By this time, it was getting darker. After all, I have to wait for my childcare to get home from work to do things like this. :)

Come back soon for sea otters and redwoods! Hopefully, I’ll get those up by the end of the week.

Update on Caleb:  The “coke in the morning” was a complete disappointment. He acted more like a caffeinated child than a medicated child. That would point in the direction of this NOT being ADD that we are seeing in Caleb. I may not want to try the caffeine thing again!

Meanwhile, the baby just woke up from his nap, so this is one momma that needs to become a lot more like the caffeinated child…..Where did I put my coffee cup…..

5 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Matthew 6:25-27


Attention Deficit Disorder. It took me by surprise.

I have a need to document this day on the blog. Today, Caleb was diagnosed with ADD. We faced this issue last year with Joshua, but we never finished the testing process, so he was never diagnosed.

I really didn’t expect this with Caleb.

Caleb had his regular neurology appointment today. This was a new doc for him, since we just moved. Therefore, I had to go over the back story on the epilepsy for what felt like the dozenth time.  If you’re new here, you can find that story here: Childhood Epilepsy.

My irresistibly darling husband took time out of class to wrangle the other three children so that I could give Caleb and his new doctor my full attention. I’m so thankful he did.

During the interview portion of the visit, Caleb was quiet and just laid on the hospital bed, listening. Eventually, he got bored, retrieved my tablet from my giant mom bag, and played on it. Once his turn came, he handed it back over, and went into happy/goofy 7-year-old boy mode.

Perhaps it was a good thing he was able to feel so comfortable that he was acting like he was at home. He darted around the room, he did not follow the light well during the eye exam, and it was all a little stressful for me.

So……we left with an ADD diagnosis for Caleb. She said I could come see her when we’re ready to try meds. She was nice and all. It was just all sort of funny because I had described Caleb as “nonchalant” and prone to being a “couch potato.”

Ya’ll!!  My frame of reference is so messed up. First, I have Joshua, who has way more energy than Caleb does, but he knows when to use it and when to sit still and do what the doctor says. But at home, Joshua is the one with the boundless energy.

I have no quiet, calm children. I don’t even know what that would be like.

Caleb’s favorite part of the examination was the part where she asked him to run up and down the hallway. The doc said, “He loves this, doesn’t he? And he’s your couch potato??” We both laughed. I can’t explain it. Sometimes Caleb is as limp and phlegmatic as can be!

She decided the Keppra could be causing some of the drowsiness, so now Caleb will only be taking Keppra in the evening. I’m rather excited about that.

It was a good visit, except that I was feeling frustrated with Caleb for going into full hyper/silly mode, but that’s the way it is with Caleb sometimes.

I just wasn’t expecting the ADD diagnosis. I really wasn’t. That does explain a whole lot of our schooling issues.  You know, back in the day, ADD was around too, just as much as now, only back then they called it “highly spirited boys or girls,” like Caleb, or “daydreamers,” like Joshua.  It’s a funny thing, though, because both Alan and I were pretty well focused and didn’t really struggle with this. Actually, I’m the worst day-dreamer ever, but I can reign it in when necessary.

Tomorrow, Caleb is going to be pretty stoked. If I took nothing else away from my short stint in graduate school (for psychology), it was this phrase, “You got an ADD kid? Give ‘em a coke in the morning.”

Caleb loves Coke, so he’ll be happy. See ADD brains work a little differently. Stimulants help them focus.

By the way, seeing the way she evaluated Caleb for ADD, I’m not positive that this is the same problem that Joshua has. I think Joshua was just bored with school. For him, I feel like it’s more of a behavior modification that was needed, and I have seen a huge improvement this year. He’s actually able to work independently now, and he finishes his work quite quickly.

I think the true test will be to see if the caffeine in the morning helps. I will let you all know!

Now I’m off to cook dinner and clean my house– not my favorite jobs–but I am happy to be able to serve my family.

“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”   Jeremiah 33:3

OH!!  And thank you to my friend Maureen!!  I received the most wonderful note of encouragement and a Staples gift card today, just out of the blue. That made my day, especially since this one turned out to be a tough day. God’s timing. Thank you so much, Maureen. Our PTA (Alan and me) will put that to GOOD use. What a blessing!

pelican feeding frenzy

12 Things I’ve Learned from Home Schooling

12 Things I learned

We have officially made it through our very first QUARTER of home-schooling!!!  To me, this is the biggest deal since accomplishing the cross-country move. Oy. What a year!

So here we go……12 things I want to remember from our FIRST quarter of 2nd grade, 3rd grade, and Preschool here at Pacific Christian Academy:

1. It’s really all about me.

No, you read that right. It is almost always the case that how well THEIR day goes depends very much on ME. If I’m in high-strung, sleep deprived, easily-alarmed, impatient April mode, no one will feel happy, successful, or productive. Our hardest week was our first week, as I was busting at the seams from the stress.

When I am chill, they are more chill. Every day, I just have to give it to God. I don’t have the calm personality that I need, to have patience with squirmy, fun-loving, Caleb or Joshua when he’s having an attitude, BUT God does. I have come to the end of myself here. I am in over my head, and I just have to depend on God to give me the resources and patience to teach and manage four little boys….

because a whole lot of the time, our house looks like this:

or this…..

And you know the last thing that they want to hear is….. “Everyone come to the school room!”

2. I need a bell.

3. Clothing really is optional, and that’s okay. Yes, it is. We are at home.

Boys. They are who they are.

4. Throwing them a few bones during the day, to break up the non-fun school aspect of it all, goes a long, long way.

My boys LOOOOOOOVE art, so paint day was a huge hit. It was messy too. Boys love messy. Messy activity = great activity.

That’s Chaos, of Skylanders, and yes, it is the creepiest thing any of my children have ever painted. He also did this one:

Don’t worry. Joshua is a very happy almost-nine-year-old. It’s just that boy art typically looks nothing at all like anything I would ever do myself.

I gave JD vanilla pudding to “paint” with, during this activity. Then I took him, touching as little of him as possible, and carried him upstairs, and gave him a bath.


I only recently discovered the power of “fun sheets”. I include this into their day now, and they love it. Any work sheet that includes something from a lesson in the form of word searches, connect-the-dots, coloring, or holidays is considered fun!

I’ve found great stuff on several websites, to include:

the Classical Conversations connected website

Google! For example, I just google “Kentucky dot to dot” and bam! Instant fun sheet. I make them label the capital, and I can’t tell you what a hit this has been!

Target! In the front of the store, I found a Halloween activity book, it included math problems written on ghosts, word searches, and stuff like that. They loved it.

6. Latin Game:  Best idea I’ve had in a while!

This provided days of Latin review work. First, I went to this website and printed out leaves:…abcteach.jpg

She has cut-outs of all different kinds, for different seasons and themes!!

Then I wrote Latin words and English definitions on the leaves:

Then I had the boys color them. I made like 10 sheets of these, each with different Latin words and definitions.

This was a big hit. After each boy colored a sheet, I put them through my new thermal laminator–so excited about this thing—and then I made the boys cut the leaves out.

Once all the leaves were cut out, I spread them out, and this is a Latin learning center. They just match the Latin word leaves to their definition leaves. We did this today, and I gotta say, they are getting really great at Latin!

7. Rewards, Rewards, Rewards

We have a treasure box. We hand out award certificates. We celebrate success! The harder someone had to work for a success (like Caleb and spelling tests), the more we celebrate! Kids are motivated by praise. They really are. I remember one time, several years ago, when Joshua was in K4, and he worked ahead of where I had instructed him, I said, “Joshua, no, no, no! That’s not how you are supposed to do that. Why did you do that? You weren’t even supposed to do that yet.”

My poor children. I am a perfectionist when it comes to academics.

Joshua, nearly in tears, said, “I just wanted to make you all excited!”

Bam! It felt like an arrow to the heart. I apologized profusely, and I finally understood. It was a great reminder. Children have young, young, young, tender, tender hearts, and they just love feeling like they’ve done something great.

sooooo I learned that:

8. Words of praise go way further than all the punishments I can dream up.

However, when kiddos are disobedient or disrespectful, there does have to be consequences. I have definitely had to punish boys for that this year too.

But when I set the tone of the day with positivity and have activities planned in advance, the kids are better behaved. It really goes back to that old phrase, we all love or hate, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”  ;)

9. Preschool counts.

I treated this like an after-thought at the beginning. “I’m really schooling the big boys. I’ll just throw a few fun sheets at Daniel, and give the baby some toys…”


An uninvolved toddler + a bored preschooler = no school for anybody. They will take over the school, easy as pie.

Planning activities for this guy is of the UTMOST importance. Thank you, Aunt Amy, for this little wipe-off book. This has saved us many days, and he can now trace his entire alphabet. I was blown away. I didn’t realize he was ready to do that!

Thankfully, this one still sleeps through most of the real teaching hours.  :)  Thank you, JD. Thank you, Lord!

10. We should really get out more.

I did drop one glass ball this quarter: signing the boys up for outside activities. We are isolated. Thankfully, there are enough of us that we are not bored or lonely. However, I do feel like we should be a little more connected to our community. How can you contribute to society, if you never even visit it?

11. My boys are definitely smarter than I realized.

I think their problem areas in school last year (Joshua in math, and Caleb in reading) had a lot more to do with their personalities than their brains. Joshua had to learn how to pay attention. Caleb needed motivation, confidence, and maturity. I can’t give him maturity, but I’m doing what I can for motivation and confidence.

For a first year CC student, I feel like Joshua is on FIRE. He is soaking his lessons up like a sponge. Just ask him the capital of any state, east of the Mississippi. He is a history/geography super star.

Caleb is a science and Latin fan. He actually helps Joshua through the science questions, and he beat his older brother on their science test this week. Best of all, he’s reading like an average 2nd grader now, so I am just as pleased as punch.

12. Believe it or not, we are actually having a lot of fun with this!

And for the moments when I have had all the “fun” I can take……Alan comes home, and I run away to the beach! :) My happy place!

Yes, it’s overwhelming sometimes, but with a little elbow grease, and a whole lot of prayer, this is definitely doable.

Actually, I could think of a lot more than 12 lessons….maybe I’ll write another of these soon!

Roll Tide, ya’ll!  This weekend the Tide is going to stage a come back. Wait and see!  Have a great one!


The Gulpers

So apparently, Joshua borrowed my computer and published this photo and title, so to all of my email subscribers: I am so sorry.  :/

Here’s the actual post….

Joshua is the world’s greatest researcher. I’m completely serious. Don’t get too excited, though. He spends all of his precious research skills on…..Skylanders.  The amount of information in his brain about this series of video games probably occupies 90% of the space in his brain.

When we were kids we played video games like this:

Us:  Mom, can we play Nintendo?????

Mom: Okay.

Us:  Yes!!!!  And we’d play until we got mad, bored, or restless.

Then next time we’d have to start back over at level 1, so it was rare to ever win a game.


Kids: Mom, can we play Wii???

Me: Okay.

Them:  Yes!!!

They play for a few minutes.

Joshua:  *running upstairs*  You keep working on it. I’m going to go find out how to get past this level!  Mom!!!  Can I borrow your computer??

Me: Okay.

Joshua:  YES!!!

He spends 2 minutes on the internet, obtains the info required and runs down to tell Caleb. Then they “team work” kick the villain’s rears. Then Joshua runs outside to jump on the trampoline. Caleb starts as another character,  until I eventually make him quit playing.

Therefore, they beat every new video game within 2 weeks of purchasing it. Every. single. time.

They are only allowed to play a little bit per day. Don’t worry about that.

These two are the dream team, Joshua, the researcher, and Caleb the tireless gamer. That boy never gets frustrated. He just keeps going until you make him quit!!

The whole research thing has been going on since Joshua was younger than Daniel. Do you remember? First, it was whales. He knew more about whales than almost any adult by the time he was 3 1/2. He could tell you the differences between belugas, narwhals, orcas, and humpbacks even before he began using forks properly.

After whales, it was just animals, or as he used to say, ‘angimals’, in general. He used to watch polar bear documentaries every day. Every day. We still have them. I highly recommend Arctic Tale. I put it in a couple weeks ago, and we were all still mesmerized. That love is still there, it comes out every once in a while, but he doesn’t research it anymore.

When Joshua was still 3, he used to pretend to be a polar bear pushing on the ice to get to the seal underneath all the time. It was so cool. He carried about 4 animal beanie babies around with him everywhere he went, and Diego was his personal hero.

Then we moved to DC. He met other kids, and by the time he turned 4 LIFE was all about Batman. When he turned 5, a friend of his even gave him the cartoon of it. So now we know all of this useless Batman trivia….That love is still there a little too. It comes out in his drawings sometimes, and his Bat cape is still one of his treasured possessions.

After Batman, we did K4 home-school, and he returned to his love of animals. This time he was primarily obsessed with badgers, raccoons, and opossums. We would go to the library for pre-school hour, and Joshua would say, “Mom, I only want books about badgers. Badgers, Mom. No, we read that one last week. Aren’t there any new ones?”

So we read every book that small town library had about badgers, raccoons, opossums, or fenec foxes (It’s a desert fox with large ears). Nonna was teaching science at the time, and she brought him books called things like “Strange Animals of Australia” and “Extraordinary Mammals” and “Marsupials.”  I feel like I could pass a zoology exam, all thanks to the year I pre-schooled Joshua.


Joshua and his animals


Joshua’s 5th birthday cake was all about Batman. (I was pregnant with Daniel!)

Once we returned to Virginia, and entered regular school, the rage was suddenly all about Ninjago and other Lego things. Alan would call from Afghanistan, and Joshua would tell him, in detail, about every single Lego set he’d read about in advertisements. Poor Alan.  ;)

First grade brought us Mario and Luigi. SECOND grade brought us Skylanders, and here we are, one year later, and still stuck in this same obsession. When will it end???? It’s like the Skylander people know about us because they keep releasing new video games on Joshua’s birthday.

This year it’s “Trap Team”.  Yesterday, Joshua found a website that had a song for each individual villain on Trap Team, and he and Caleb have been jammin’ out. Sheep Creep has this bluegrass-y theme song, and Joshua was like, “I don’t like this one. It’s weird.” I laughed because it’s all banjo, and I told him his Granddaddy would love that one.

So they formed a band. Joshua and JD played drums, Caleb made a football, two pencils, and a ruler into a guitar…..which broke pretty quickly…..and Daniel SLEPT though it all. Amazing.

Isn’t he cute? I know. The number of rugs is ludicrous. We are trying to save the carpet from these renters who have a whole lot of little boys…..yeah, that’d be us.

So the boys have been very seriously discussing the name of their band. I’m not allowed to tell you what Joshua wants to name it b/c he’s a little bit blog shy, but Caleb wanted to call it the Gulpers, only his brother wouldn’t let him.

Hope you all have a great weekend!  We’ll be rockin’ out to the tunes of Skylanders…