We Love Sea Lions

I love going to Point Lobos State Park. You are always guaranteed to find sea lions.

I love going to Point Lobos State Park. You are always guaranteed to find sea lions.

To kick off Alan’s big week of vacation time, we’re enjoying a big, fat staycation. First stop: Point Lobos State Park. I took such a ridiculous amount of pictures that I will have to split it into two posts. No surprise there, eh?


There’s something extra exciting about seeing ocean waves crash into mountains of rocks!! Point Lobos is situated on the north end of Big Sur, and I cannot wait to explore Big Sur further this week!!

happiestkidever hikingPointLobos runningPointLobos sealioncloseup sealions

The boys had so much fun climbing on the big rocks, wading in the water, and running the trails. Even John David got down at the end of the day. He sat down in the pebbles and just dove in. He literally laid down in the pebbles and rolled around in them. It was adorable. Unfortunately, my camera battery was dead by that point…

Caleb keeps asking to go back. I wish, Caleb!!! Soon!!!

“Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.”        Isaiah 1:17

Hope you all have a great week of doing well!!!

Centers for our Homeschool

Centers for home school

We just completed our second week of Classical Conversations, and man oh man, is it a lot to memorize for some little ‘fellas. Now most people as “computer oriented” as myself would go to the CC website or to halfahundredacrewood.com and grab some ideas. I really don’t know why I haven’t gotten around to that yet. I’m a little embarrassed to admit, I’ve never even visited the CC Connected web page. How can this be?  I know. I know. I need to get with it.

I tend to waste away my computer time playing with my blog and reading other people’s blogs….not doing a whole lot of other productive things.

You know what? I don’t even really apologize for that. I believe all people should engage in sanity time at the end of their day. I’ll put acquainting myself with the CC website on next week’s to do list.

I know for sure these learning centers have already been thought of by people much more experienced than me, but when my back’s up against a wall I just let whatever creative juices I have go and see what comes of it. I had a good time putting this stuff together.

Last night I had one of those moments of, “Hey! Wait a minute! I KNOW how to make this more fun.” I remember from my very short teaching experience in Texas, many many moons ago, that elementary kiddos love learning centers–the more hands-on “Kinesthetic” learning the better!

It really didn’t take me long to get it all set up. None of it was super fancy, required special craft tools, Martha Stewart engineering, or anything like that. It was so easy, and just as I figured, they really loved it. I think it was the best day of school we’ve had yet.

Messy though. Very messy…..but that was really because Daniel pulled one of my craft supply boxes out of the storage closet and decided to make that his center. There are google-y eyes, jingle bells, and pipe cleaners everywhere.

See what I mean? He and Caleb ended up stringing jingle bells on pipe cleaners to make bracelets that jingle. Caleb also made a really awesome jingle bell flower. Such artsy boys I have. I’ll have to remember to take a pic of Caleb creations to share with ya’ll. The boy is both an artist and a scientist.

So here’s a little of what we did. A little of it was really just marker board activity, as usual, but since it was broken up between other activities, it still passed as a “center.” :)

This served as the road map. Of course, no one actually went in order. The centers also helped the boys to move at their own pace. Joshua flew through them all and was done in no time. Caleb kept taking pit stops at Daniel’s self-created Pre-school centers…….so his took a lot longer.

Center 1: Sing the timeline song. Then sort the timeline cards that we’ve memorized into the proper order. They really enjoyed this. it’s been so fun to be to get acquainted with these ancient civilizations. It’s awful interesting how there is no difference at all in the Bible timeline versus the secular timeline when it comes to civilization. Hmmm..so no record of civilized people before the Bible claims there to be PLUS so many ocean creature fossils found in the middle of the USA…..almost as though there was once a flood that covered the whole continent…..how very interesting……

I had actually set the tangram center up for Daniel, to keep him out of the big boys’ way, but Daniel snubbed it. However, Caleb had a great time with it. Sigh.

WE are learning the 4 major bones of the axial skeleton this week: cranium, sternum, ribs, and the vertebrae. I simply went to Google image search and found a skeleton printable. The big boys had to label our four bones that we’ve learned.  Daniel was supposed to color it. Instead, he found googly eyes in the craft box and started glueing. Pretty cute idea. Kids do the most adorable things.

their completed works:  Joshua’s says, “I come in peace.” Haaaahahahaha

Okay…..I just realized the 20 must have fallen off of the table….OY!!

This is the one I’m probably going to use the most often. My boys feel very intimidated by counting by 4s and did not learn this well last week. The thing is that I’M also learning what they need to spend more time on! This worked great. I took this photo after they were done with the center. Hopefully, the 20 was a recent casualty….

I just used sentence strips and made a bag for counting by 2s, one for counting by 3s, and one for counting by 4s. I gave the boys the numbers (for example this set above), all jumbled up, and they had to put them in order and then say them to me.

We do some sort of map drawing/labeling every day, and we usually use the CC Trivium Tables. My sister-in-law found me a whole tablet of these, so I put them to use. All they had to do was label the 10 states that we’ve learned so far. I gave them a “word bank” at the top, with the correct state abbreviations. After all, when you are 7 or 8 years old, these concepts are all very, very new.

my boys hard at work

In the background, in the floor, you can see the “state capital” center. They just had to match the correct state to the correct capital.

Yes, at our school, sometimes we get to have popcorn while we work. Pacific Christian Academy rocks. :)

Last, but not least, on our easel, I had written the 7 Latin words we’ve learned, and they just had to write the definitions. I forgot to take a pic of that.

reading Fly Guy Frankenfly when he’s not supposed to be…..I can’t even pretend to be unhappy.

This was really fun!

Even more fun: Alan took his last final exam today, and he has this whole upcoming week off to hang out with us! Wahoo! Big Sur pictures will be coming soon!!! I suppose we should also finally unpack the garage….o quit your judgin’. It’s really only been 5 weeks since move in day, and garage unpacking is just no fun at all.

Mommy Brain: Probably the Result of Sleep Torture

Look closely. That was Dan, not JD. He was 20 months old, and he was apparently causing me to lose lots of sleep–not a good situation when you are pregnant.  (Noooooo, I’m not pregnant now. Stick with me here. This was 2012.) Daniel is 3 1/2 now.

Dan was such a good baby. I did not have to ‘sleep train’ him. Yet, somehow he gradually developed a bad pattern, and we had to work on it.  What is it with our toddlers??

The funny thing is I TOTALLY forgot that I ever had to “sleep-train” Dan at the ripe old age of 20 months. If you would have asked me, before I found this old blog post from 2012, what kind of sleeper Dan was, I would’ve said, “wonderful.” HAAAA!  The Mom Brain is a funny thing, full of selective memories.

I totally blame the sleep deprivation.

Don’t despair when you tell your woes to moms who are out of this phase. They have selectively pruned most negative memories, and they may think that you just don’t know what you’re doing. Don’t worry. That’s not the case.

So what gives with these babies? Sometimes you just need to examine the circumstances surrounding your toddler.

JD carries around his polar bear or a dinosaur everywhere he goes. Shout out to Amy and Sean for the dinos! Thank you!!!

We’ll get to what I did for Daniel in 2012 in a minute. First, let’s talk about my current toddler, J.D. This summer JD gave us FITS in the middle of the night. He still had to have a bottle. He still had to be rocked.  Some nights he would wake up every couple of hours. It was miserable.

Did I let JD cry it out? No. No. No.  This isn’t rocket science. In this case, I firmly believe the right thing to do was to suck it up and just be there for my baby. JD was in the middle of a domino-effect of life changes, and he was only a 12 month old. To ignore his cries actually would have been pretty mean because he needed some extra reassurance. We were out of our ordinary routine, moving from place to place, from the beginning of June through just a couple of weeks ago.

Guess what happened? Well, let’s NOT count our chickens before they hatched, but I THINK it worked itself out on its own.  We’ve had two glorious full nights of rest. Who knows–he may wake up once tonight, or he may sleep all night. Either way, this is not bad.

Honestly, I could never let a little baby just cry and cry without consoling them. I can’t do it for too long for a 20-month-old either, but apparently I did cave and let Daniel cry a while. I knew there was nothing wrong with him, and he was getting cuddled all day long, so it really did pay off.

For my first two munchkins: I re-sleep trained them any time it was necessary–pretty much just used the “Ferber” method. We would put them to bed, and then flee the room. We have always found that having an established bedtime routine makes a huge difference.  Once we left the room, if they cried without stopping, we’d go in there after 5 minutes, pick them up–yes—pick them up, console them for a bit, and lay them back down. I’d do this in increasing intervals. The truth is, I’m a softie, and usually by the third interval, my “consoling” would put them to sleep. This all worked just fine.

However, Dan gave me enough trouble that I had to get tough with him. In November 2012, I resorted to some longer intervals:

This is what I wrote in 2012 about sleep-training the Dan Man. He was 20 months old. Also, I should tell you, that Daniel was quite the mischief maker during the day. I described that too….

“-Daniel is still a sleep challenge. THANKFULLY, he DID finally sleep through the night last night. However, as we speak he is in the crying it out process in his crib….

Daniel, November 2012

-(About my missing wedding rings–sadness!) I still haven’t found my wedding rings. I am pretty sure they were flushed. I have good circumstantial evidence pointing in that direction.
-Daniel went to sleep!!!!! Hallelujah! Sleep training= letting them cry it out, but never more than an hour. After a couple days of that, they decide crying for an hour is just not worth it!
-His current goal is to put his shoes on by himself. I find him practicing all the time. OH! Also, he said “Joshua”, actually “Yoshwa”, and “Caleb”, “Cay-cay”, this week! We were so excited!
-Tonight I walked into the boys’ bathroom, yes at our house there is actually a boys’ bathroom, to find Caleb putting toothpaste on Daniel’s toothbrush for him. Dan was leaning on the sink, waiting patiently.
-About Daniel’s name: I like Daniel, Dan, and Dan-Dan, even the Dan Man, but I do not like Danny–I really don’t like Danny at all. Just wanted to make sure everyone knows.
-Yesterday I wanted to shower while all the boys were running loose in the house, so I paid Joshua and Caleb $1 a piece to keep Daniel out of trouble while I took my shower. Best idea I’ve had in a while, and money well spent!”


And now look at us, 2014, and dealing with so many of the same issues all over again!

We’ve read Babywise and tried that. We’ve Ferber-ized. You name it; we’ve done it. I also read that if you want to keep your children from waking up in the middle of the night, you should be sure to spend time talking (NICELY) to your spouse each day. Make sure your kids are watching while you chat with your spouse to really build up security points!!  That gives them security, so they wake up crying–or walking to your bed–less at night. I will say, Alan and  I were in two different states for half the summer, so that also could have contributed to JD’s insecurity.

They call the parent-talk time “couch time,” and I do think that’s a great idea. Google it.

So, in summary:

1. Different times call for different measures. You choose what works for you and your baby.

2. These are not hard and fast rules. There are none. Even if the American Academy of Pediatrics put out guidelines about it, you’d still need to go with common sense.

3. There is more than one way to skin a cat.

4. Every kid is different.


Quote of the week:

Alan: I’ll put the trampoline together right now if ya’ll can tell me all the states and capitals ya’ll have learned.

Boys:  Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

Alan:  What’s the capital of Vermont?

one of the boys:  Massachusetts!!!!!!

Alan: This could take a while.

:) They’ve got it down now, and the trampoline was a life saver today. :) Roll Tide. Yep. It’s that time of year again.

Caleb’s New Reading Plan


I mentioned in my last home schooling post that Caleb is struggling a little with reading. I also mentioned that he started off really well, but now he’s crumbling. In fact, he pretends like he’s going to sleep when he is reading to me from his “reading book”.

What changed?

Well, the first week of school, you have the excitement factor going for you, so there’s that. However, I think it’s more than that here. Caleb doesn’t enjoy reading yet because he doesn’t think he’s good at it. Therefore, reading four pages about making hot dogs was just killing him. It really was. (Believe me, I was hanging on for dear life too.) Therefore, we have retired both  A Handbook for Reading  and The Story Tree, both 2nd grade readers from the A Beka curriculum. Those are just the introductory readers. There is a whole year’s worth of reading books.

These books actually were not too hard for Caleb. They were too boring for me to survive listening to Caleb.

Meanwhile, at least I know he is reading out loud at school every single day. Surely great progress is being made!

I took him to the library and MADE him pick out books, rather than sit and play blocks, like he usually does. We usually come home with a few Mo Willems books for Caleb and then random, sweet books that I have picked. That’s not cutting it. He has read every Mo Willems book there is, I think, so we needed some more material.

We came home with Frog and Toad (Yes!) and a whole lot of Star Wars and Angry Birds. We also happened upon another favorite author of his:  Doreen Cronin, and Caleb read every one of her books that the library had as well.

It isn’t that Caleb can’t read. He can read.

It isn’t that Caleb hates reading. He likes reading what he considers to be good books.

It’s just that he loathes reading anything “boring” or “too hard.” Tonight I plan to peruse the second grade reader that comes after Story Tree, to see if it is any more interesting. Joshua’s third grade readers are full of excellent literature, historical stories, and admirable poems. If only Caleb’s book could be so interesting!!!

What brought about all these new thoughts on Caleb?  Well, we were at the library, and I heard a 1st grader struggling through trying to read a page of one of Caleb’s favorite books: I Will Surprise My Friend. That’s when I realized, “Maybe I’m selling Caleb short. He does sound way better than an entering 1st grader.”

He’s kind of a lazy reader, if that makes any sense. He doesn’t ever want to be bothered with sounding things out. That’s kind of hard to work with.

Today I replaced his usual reading with a book about the Disney Planes movie, and it was much smoother sailing. He didn’t pretend to fall asleep, throw up his hands and quit, or whine once.

Meanwhile, there were other issues in our little school house today, and my nerves are so frazzled right now, I’m using this blog as therapy and to keep from doing housework. The house work seems to be building up an Army to defeat me entirely.


But not so fast!!!  I may win yet!!!  Alan built the trampoline, as soon as it arrived,  last night!!  Things are looking up, ya’ll!!!