The dentist and pumpkins

Another successful dental appointment with no cavities for anyone. The big girls have been in charge of their own teeth these past 6 months, only reminders from me. They are doing a good job but the hygienist did give them some pointers. Lela made sure to keep a watchful eye on her twin during the cleaning, I will never understand their unique bond but I am grateful for it.

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After the dentist we headed out to Vertuccio Farms for some pumpkin patch and 7 acre corn maze fun. We met up with our friends and spent a couple dusty hours sweating and having fun.

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Two wheeler

Phoebe is determined not to be the baby on the block. We have a one year old next door and Phoebe wants to make sure that Jesse stays the baby. Along this line Phoebe was determined to get her ears pierced and learn to ride her bike and she did both! After a brief 20 minutes she was tooling around the block on her big girl bike! Way to go Pheebs!!

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Pinetop

The whole fam damily headed up to the white mountains of Arizona for some fall weather. It was a packed minivan with 4 kids, two adults and 3 dogs!

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We had a great time just hanging out. We met a domesticated wild cat that kept the dogs entertained, we hiked and rode our scooters around the lake, we went horseback riding, ate at our local faves and relaxed.

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Ears pierced

The last two got their ear pierced just days apart. Landis had been contemplating it and Phoebe surely doesn’t want to be left behind.

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It was a bit of a life lesson for Jason and I. We were reminded that if we don’t stand for something we will fall for anything. What I mean is that we have to make decisions now for rules we will have for the girls in the future. That way when someone says, “I want an iPhone,” we will know how to answer. I do believe that each circumstance and child is different but we have to have some guidelines so we are parenting by the seat of our pants all the time. So in classic parenting by the seat of our pants here is my last child with her ears pierced.

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Big week

Next week is going to be the busiest week we have had all year and I am both looking forward to it and dreading it all at the same time.

Monday we have a dentist appt and then we plan to head out to homeschool day at Vertuccio Farms and pumpkin patch. Tuesday morning are filled with music lessons and this tuesday followed by two doctor appts for mom. Wednesday we will do our math work and we have gymnastics. Then Thursday we are off to the Challenger Space center for a class on space and to view the solar eclipse. Finally Friday we will be decorating cupcakes at Landis old school and attending the Halloween Carnival!

Phew! I’m tired already!

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So many little things

I remember when one of the twins would do something and I would blog it and be so proud of myself! Ah…the memories. These days life seems to go so fast and there is so much to laugh at that it slips away as fast as it happens. Our children are a constant source of amusement for their parents. From the witty comebacks from Landis, the funny faces from Phoebe and Lela, the dry humor that radiates off Piper and even the door slamming, eye rolling and “it wasn’t me” back talking from the oldest two, comedy surrounds us.

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Be an observer

This year we are working on our observation skills. Mostly because in the 9-10 age range children are able to see outside themselves, experience the world and try to find their place and how they fit, the go from being inward beings to outward beings. I read an article about how a father taught his son to be an observer and it really struck home with me on how important this skill is and will be.

Being observant keeps you safe, helps you with travel, expands the mind and a host of other things. To that end the spot the states game, the spot the yellow car game and other spur of the moment games have really helped the girls to see what is around them instead of going on autopilot. We also play a look around the restaurant (museum etc) and then close your eyes and tell me what you see game. Hiking allows Piper to focus her mind and be an observer, I think that is why she likes to go out with me. She is a lot like me in that the mind needs to be engaged in something for true peace/meditation to occur. I think that is why I can run for long distances, it is in those times that I am truly at peace.

Learning History through reading

I have readers and thank the stars for it. In this homeschool adventure we are on I am learning that learning comes in all shapes and sizes. History is a good example. I for one am a big fan of historical fiction, LOVE IT. Today I just realized that there are a host of historical fiction books out there for kids! I know I should not be surprised but I kind of was, surprised and excited. So we are off on our adventure with loads of historical fiction books and I am happy to be reading right along side them. We have already read the Little House on the Prairie and Cassie Woodlawn series and are excited to dig in to some more!

Contrary to the blog

We are alive and doing awesome even though the blog doesn’t reflect much action! I have to say that I am LOVING the easy breezy schedule that most days afford us. I was sitting next to a couple moms at gymnastics and they were lamenting how busy this time of year gets. Last year and all the years since the girls started school i would have agreed but this year I am approaching the holidays with actual glee!! We are not beholden to umpteen school events and other peoples agendas, it is bliss.

Homeschooling

We are finding our way within our homeschooling regime here in Arizona.  Going in I knew what type of learners I had and where everyone was at, I knew what type of homeschooling I wanted to do and I was sure it would go as planned.  HARDY HAR HAR.

What I have found is that the type of education I wanted to bring to the home, Waldorf, doesn’t really work for me in the home environment.  I was surprised to see how disengaged the girls were from the Waldorf methodology once they were removed from it. So we have had to adjust there.  I still like the principles and we are still using much of the Waldorf feeling to our work but we have added more structure in the math department. We are trying Math U See because I could tell the girls had not mastered any of the math concepts they learned.  They knew the basics but could not consistently get answers correct.

We are also using a supplemental spelling workbook.  Like a lot of things children learn I think it is driven by the parents expectations.  For example Jason and I decided the girls would play a musical instrument, no question, no arguments just music was part of the deal when they signed up to be our kids:)  Math is part of the deal and so is proper grammar and spelling.  So we are working on those areas and adding in lots of science extras.

Once a month the girls all do a science lab and get a months worth of science material to work on.  We are also taking exciting classes from the Arizona Science Center.  Some of their upcoming classes include Catapults (where they make a working catapult of their own), Chemical Reactions and More (more hands on mixing of chemicals), and Measurement Matters (where they study the different types of measuring).

Last week Piper and Lela came up with a calendar for themselves and they started 3 clubs.  One of them was “story club.”  When it is club day they write and illustrate a story for their younger siblings.  This was soooo coool.  They did it on their own, I didn’t even know they were doing it.  They wrote stories, included quotation marks and proper punctuation and drew pictures.  Then they read them to their assigned little.  This is because they are READERS!  They are learning all those annoying grammar and punctuation rules just from being readers.  How awesome is that??

I recently signed the girls up for Khan Academy.  I did not intend to use the computer for learning (other than research etc.) but Lela needs more material and she loves the computer.  So we are going to give it a go.  I am even learning some new things on Khan Academy!  Lifetime learning is good for you, at least that is what my mother in law keeps telling me (she is learning Spanish right now!).

Another development that I did not expect is that Phoebe is learning math.  She knows all her numbers and is successfully completing the beginning math book in Mathusee.  She cannot identify her letters but numbers seem to be her thing (I blame Jason:).  I like the gentle approach to education (hence the Waldorf) allowing the child to really be ready to learn.  Lela is the only one who is really ready for her cup to be filled but she has been about 6-9 months ahead of Piper.  Piper is getting her cup ready and I think in another 6 months she will be ready, so for now I work with her and encourage her and she gets her work done.  Lela on the other hand seems to be a cup I can’t fill (which is awesome and why I am adding Khan to her bag of tricks).

All in all we are doing great and loving homeschooling.  Piper, Landis and Lela are all taking piano from a new teacher that they adore, Landis and Phoebe are taking the “Let’s Play Music” class that Piper and Lela took.  Piper, Landis and Phoebe are all taking gymnastics and having a blast.  Lela feels somewhat left out of the “sports” bag but as soon as it cools down she will be back to hiking with me and I think she will find that running/hiking is her solitary sport (just like her mom).  We may give family golf a go this year too, we have a great children’s course right down the road.  Plus we may find a new horseback riding place closer to us that will allow her to do more with horses.