Monday, January 26, 2009

Homeschool Retreat

I am pretty pumped about homeschooling right now. I attended a conference on Saturday up in Ridgecrest and went away feeling excited and not overwhelmed (which was what I expected to be) about it all. Let me share some of the things that I learned.....well, not all of it was new info to me, but what great reminders! The first thing that comes to mind was this:
Do not do for your kids what they can do for themselves. Now that is a lot harder than it may sound to enforce and go about doing. For example, I made the boys make their own sandwiches for lunch today (under my supervision) because they need to be able to do that. They already do a lot around the house to help like taking out trash, unloading the dishwasher, vacuuming, and general picking up because I have a new recent rule that when I clean, they help. I guess those go hand-in-hand with the idea of not being their "mommy-servant". Teaching them these life skills makes them better people and me a happier mom.

Of course I was convicted of my poor organization and got a few pointers to get going in the right direction. Simplify and make lists. That sums it up.......And try to stick to a schedule.

We also got a lot of information on the different homeschooling methods and curriculum. Good stuff. I had always worried that I tend to concentrate on my favorite things (reading and history) but found out that it is OK and I do have to factor what I enjoy into our choices. (Don't worry, we will still do science.)

My sweet moma gave me some money for books so I picked up some history cds for the van rides to Black Mountain, a book about learning styles, For the Children's Sake (all about the Charlotte Mason method) and our Science text book. The kids love the cds and didn't want to get out of the car when we got home this afternoon. I am learning a lot from them too.

Another theme that I found interesting was the idea of a joyful home and making learning fun. Although I struggle in the organization department, a strength I DO have is creativity and doing things a little weird to change up the mundane. One of my main goals in educating these kids is that I want them to love learning and want to know more about life. As I have said here plenty of times before, boys need more than sitting at a desk to learn about things.

Speaking of goals, one of the first things we did in a seminar was to make a mental list in our heads of what kind of person we want our children to be when they are 20 years old. When we got home we were supposed to write it out and post it on the fridge to keep us grounded and set on the ultimate (eternal) goal. I haven't gotten to that yet, but hopefully by the end of the week I will have it done. Hhhhmm, maybe I will start here:

What I want for my 20 year olds:
1. I want them to have a personal relationship with the Jesus and saving faith in Him.
2. I want them to love others.
3. I would like for them to be able to pursue their goals whether it be college or something else.
4. I would like them not to care what others think of them so much, but instead focus on caring for others and loving them.
5. I want them to love learning and see value in going to class at college even if the professor doesn't take role and they could probably still make a C.

Is that too much to ask?

So, I have cleaned everything out and made lists and goals. Everyone needs to pray that this energy lasts because I know one thing for sure:
I cannot do it alone and in my own strength.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I am trying to keep Face book from killing my blog, no matter how much it wants to.

It is just so much easier and takes so much less thought. (though sometimes I don't feel like I put much thought into my posts) Of course there is all the feedback one gets through face book versus blogging. I can't tell you how much I love to get comments on my blog no matter what they say. On face book, all you have to do is say "Julie is hoping for a great day." (or something like that) and boom, you may get a couple of comments. Folks can write on your "wall" for no reason at all sometimes so that is always interesting. I have gotten closer to a number of folks by chatting back and forth here and there because of it too. (they are people that I see through the week anyhow mostly at the gym) On the other hand, I found a few very dear friends that I have totally lost touch with as well. It has been good....... but it is addictive. And if something is addictive for an average person, it will probably be 10 times as addictive for me.

so there you have it. My reasoning for less blogging lately. I only have a certain amount of time for the ol' computer and if I go there first, I don't make it here.

So thanks so much to Becky for recommending face book to me, you have enhanced my life!

Moving on to other things. We went to the Wayensville Rec center Monday to swim. Emily and Taylor, our neighbors, came along. The chlorine worked wonders on the boys' poison ivy. It was fun but even though Annabelle can't make it at a pool as long as the others. Thank God for a pacie and some snacks!

Then that night the guys played in the snow as it fell. It was so cold and I said to Seth, "do you really want to do this at night?"
He replied, "Considering it only snow about once every three years around here, yes..... we will outside if you need us."
They had such a good time sledding down our mulch slope out front. Annabelle and I chose to just watch out the window in the warmth of our house. They also completely revamped the fire pit to get rid of any remnants of poison ivy lurking around there. Seth made a very cool bench that I will have to venture out and get a picture of sometime. (It looks great from the window!)

Annabelle loves to help me cook. (too bad I hate to cook) We were making pancakes here. Boy, we made a mess! She prefers to live life in her diaper alone. I hope it is just a stage.

I thought I had the whole potty training thing figured out until Annabelle came along. My philosophy was this: do not push, do not try some intricate system, just be patient. When they are ready, they'll get it. Caleb taught me that (about other things too) and pretty much decided one day to start wearing underwear (he was well over three though). Adam did the same at 2 because I told him he would get a toy bobcat tractor when he potty trained. Neither of them were interested in it before and neither of them ever peed in their pants. Like I said, I had it all figured out.

Now there is Annabelle.
She has been interested for a loooong time now. She is dying to wear panties (though I think mainly for the fashion of them) but pees in them most of the time when she does. Plus there is the fact that she is sitting on the toilet (boys were outside) and touching everything and trying to wipe. It is a mess! SO there goes my "when they are interested, they are ready" philosophy.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Late at night when your sleepin'........

Yesterday Caleb's face started looking kind of red and splotchy around noon. "Hhhhmm, that is weird. No big deal though.", I thought to myself. By that evening it was worse. Then we discovered that his torso was also covered in this familiar-looking rash and that there was even a visible hand print right on his stomach just the size of his own little hand.

What in the world? How could he have that much poison ivy in January?
Surely it has to be something else.

After some interrogation, I learned that on Wednesday, when he and the neighbor-kid were having a campfire in our backyard fire pit, they decided to tear a few vines off the trees and throw them on the fire. I will admit that they had gotten my permission to build the fire.....I was watching them out the window, they had the hose out just in case, and it entertained them for HOURS. I just missed the whole burning poison ivy thing somehow. Caleb's top half was covered in it and Adam had a patch on his back.

After a good dose of benedryl ( which was a whole 'nother know the Caleb-medicine struggle) the boys went to bed and fell into deep sleep.
Then at about 4am, I heard Caleb at my bedside saying, "Mama, I can't see."
"uh, turn on the light."
"I already did."
Yep, his eyes were little swollen slits at this point. Poor guy.
He really didn't seem too uncomfortable so I put him back to bed and laid awake worrying until morning about what I should do with him. There was no way I could get him to the doctor for some sort of shot on my own, because we had check-ups this week and the boys got flu shots. Caleb had to be held down by four nurses and I was very worried that he was going to injure at least one of them in the process of it all. The kid is 57 lbs of pure muscle and fight when he wants to be. So, anyhow, a shot seemed like an impossibility.

After talking with the doctor and a few more doses of benedryl, the swelling has now subsided and he just looks like a regular kid........ with poison ivy all over his face.

I am finding this is how life works with two sons.

It's always somethin'.


Poison ivy is contagious.
Reality: You can't spread poison ivy by coming into contact with a person who has it, unless that person has urushiol on their skin. You can, however, pick it up by touching a dog that has gotten poison ivy on its fur, or by touching the blade of a weed whacker that you just used to cut down the plants.

**I would also like to add another interesting poison ivy tidbit. I started getting it constantly the summer after I had Caleb (along with other allergies as well). Someone told me to eat a new leaf in the spring because it works something like a vaccine and you won't get it that year.
I did it. I did not get poison ivy for four years straight and have only had a couple of patches since. (I only ate one leaf one time) Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Monday, January 12, 2009


It is good to be back into the swing of things. Homeschooling is going well these days. Caleb has shown a lot of improvement lately which is basically due to the fact that he is simply getting older. For example, Caleb's reading improved over the month of December..........however, we did very little schooling during the whole pneumonia bout. For the longest time he and Adam were just about on the same level in reading and math, but suddenly the gap has gotten much bigger. It hasn't made things harder for me to teach them together though. They just read different books, do different workbooks, and I give Caleb harder math problems than Adam.
All in good time, my dears!

This semester, our co-op class is doing Zoology. We will be doing a unit on the flying and water animals (the fifth day of creation). It should be fun. Botany was good and this will be similar. We have also started making weekly trips to the big downtown library every Wednesday. Mimi watches Annabelle for us because she earned herself the nickname "Sabotagiiiieeee" last time she came along. We borrowed some books on cd for our trips to Black Mountain and it has been wonderful! We just finished up "Across five Aprils" which is one of my personal favorite books. we learned so much about the civil war and enjoyed a really great story at the same time. There are many other things that I want to do with cds in the car as well. The boys are such a captive audience at this time of the day so I am really trying to take advantage of it. We also plan on getting back to the Wednesday night kid camp at our church this week. They will be doing pottery and then a catechism class.......should be interesting to see how the pottery works out.

So there is a little update for anyone interested in the education process of Caleb and Adam Harrison.

Here is a little video of Annabelle to finish out. She is looking a bit rough, but oh well. She loves hanging out like this. Uncle Jonathan says she looks like a little hippy boy when her hair is down.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Heck yeah, it is January!

I am being serious. I love this month because I am always ready for the holidays to be over and life to be back to normal. (I do love Christmas while it is here though.) The Christmas tree has been burned in our annual blaze (That is probably not the "green" thing to do, but the boys love to burn things and it makes them excited about taking down the decorations) and the house is plain and under-decorated once again which is a good change. Another reason I like this particular January is because I feel so darn good now after experiencing my worst December ever with the sickness and all. Then, of course, I usually have something extremely cool to wear from my Christmas gifts so that helps as well. But mostly, January is a good month because everyone goes back to the gym and my classes are packed. I know, I am a weirdo. I have embraced that at this point. So happy January everyone!

Oh my, I didn't even think about how much I love New Year Resolutions. I like to make a looooong list in hopes that I may achieve at least a few. I am going to write them out and then publish this before going back to read last year's list from the blog. I am pretty sure there may be a few duplicates since I still struggle withe same stuff, but I want to compare.

JULIE'S 2009 RESOLUTIONS: (in no particular order)
1. Run a half Marathon.
2. Make the children help more around the house.
3. Get up earlier....go to bed earlier.
4. Feed my family healthier and make dinner more often.
5. Never play that pathwords game on facebook again. It is addictive and I see it playing in my head all day.... just like I used to see Tetris when I got addicted to my brother's game boy in high school.
6. Learn four more picking patterns on the guitar.
7. SELL THIS DARN HOUSE, and move to Black Mountain!!!!
8. Do not spoil Annabelle.
9. Be able to do 25 push-ups on my toes.....something I could do at the end of November.
10. Stay on top of the paperwork for Harrison Homes and be more helpful to Seth in that area.

This link will take you to last year's post if you feel led to compare:
Last Year's Resolutions

Alright, since this post was just all about me, I will go ahead and leave you with a few pictures from New Years Eve:
Fun night, fun night.