August 26, 2009

Getting Ready for Back to School!

I know most kids are back in school already, but here at the "Hutchinson School for Boys," (no girls have yet been admitted) my kids are enjoying one more sweet week of summer. But, it's speeding by...that is for sure! Our first day of school is going to be next Tuesday, September 1st...because school is meant for September, not August!! Jack will be doing a little bit of school this year, mainly just learning his letters and numbers, but Noah will have lots to do! But of course he'll have plenty of fun! I'm ready to get back into the "school schedule," meaning getting to bed at a descent time and having a bit more routine to our day.
I've been doing tons of research this past spring and summer on different ways to home school, especially the techniques taught by Charlotte Mason, an educational reformer from England in about 1900. I love what she had to say about children and the way they learn. Her main guidelines for education are:
  • use "living books," such as biographies, historical fiction, basically the opposite of dry textbooks that give information in snippets
  • give short lessons of each subject, like 15-20 minutes tops
  • have the afternoons free to do hobbies, play outside, and entertain themselves
  • use local resources for education
  • no grades or written tests, everyone learns at a different pace and should be praised by words only for a job well done and "testing" should be the child narrating to you what they have learned at the end of each term

She has so many fabulous ideas and so much wisdom. I've decided to try to use her method of teaching in our home school this year. I've also been doing a lot of book shopping...with a Charlotte Mason education lots of books are required!

This is a list of what we're planning on studying this school year. It might look like a lot, but keep in mind each subject is no more than 20 minutes and some are only 10 minutes, so we'll actually be done by 11 or 11:30 everyday and we won't do every subject every day.

  • Bible: study of the bible and devotions
  • Math: Noah's least favorite :)
  • American History: early explorers, 1100, thru 1775
  • World History: the Hebrew people
  • Grammar
  • Phonics
  • Penmanship
  • Science: each quarter we'll study a different type of science (earth, health, physics, and biology)
  • Nature Study
  • Poetry
  • Composer Study (we'll study around 2 or 3 composers per quarter
  • Picture Study (they'll get a new famous painting to study each week or so)
  • Geography
  • Art (drawing, painting, etc.)
  • Spelling
  • Literature
  • French (super simple phrases...merci :)



August 22, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!


It's my birthday!! Yeah! I'm 27 today. Everyone keeps asking me if I'm 26...should that make me feel bad?? Oh well, three more years till the big one!! Yikes!

I've had a great birthday already. I went out to dinner last night with girlfriends. It was so nice to just sit and not be "needed" by any little ones! They all got me such great gifts: cookbooks, Starbucks bucks, Amazon.com gift certificate, an iron (that one was kind of a joke-y gift...Robin hates my iron and it did need to be replaced :)) I have such sweet friends! And today, I'm off to do one of my favorite things, birthday or non-birthday...antiquing!!


Well, I'm off...good day to all and happy birthday to me!! :)






August 18, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jesse!!

Happy Birthday, Jesse!
Today my little brother turns the big 2-0! From the looks of this picture, it would seem he's not too mature for his age, but he really is :) He's actually grown into a great man...if I can say that yet...I don't really want to consider my brother a man...it makes me feel old!
Jesse, I hope you have a fantastic day and a fantastic 20th year, for that matter! I'm looking forward to you moving back to Aberdeen and being our new NEIGHBOR of all things! I love you bunches, even if you are still a pesky little brother!! :)
Here's a few little things I wish for you on your birthday:
-that you would have a successful year at NSU and that you would...
-easily transition with all the changes this year
-that you would take big risks, but still....
-be at peace with the "everyday"
-good hair days everyday with your new "shave"
-safety on all your crazy motorized "toys"
-listen to the Voice that loves you!
Happy Birthday!!





August 14, 2009

Random Conversations with Jack

Jack says really funny things...ALL the time! Here's just one of the very silly conversations with Jack:

Jack: Dad, you're cool...
Dad: You're pretty cool yourself, Jack.
Jack: Yep, and I'm pretty cute because I have short arms and a little head.

So, there you have it...if you have a small head and short arms, you're good to go!! :)



Summertime and the Livin' is Easy

Yesterday...the perfect summer day...kids woke up late, enjoyed a late breakfast, we casually (not the normal frantic speed) ran some errands, ate an early lunch (no one was hungry), and we headed out to our private club..."Club Russo" for a little fun in the sun. My aunt and uncle have a fabulous pool that they graciously let us frequent whenever we want. It's so relaxing compared to the public pool, where I'm trying not to panic as my three kids run off in three different directions, blending in with the rest of the other 200 kids!
This kind of day is what summer's all about, right? Toes in the pool, Popsicle dripping down your hand, sunscreen slathered on your nose! Life isn't simple enough, but summer is the time to do just that: simplify! What's simpler than a t-shirt, shorts and a pair of flip-flops or laying on your back watching the clouds? Yes, it's almost over and school is right around the corner, but that just means we need to soak up every bit of Vitamin D we can! Wishing you all a Popsicle-licking, flip-flop wearing rest of your summer!

August 10, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jack!





Happy Birthday, Jack!

Even though, your party was last night, the celebrating continues, as today is your actual, factual day of birth.

Four years ago today, your daddy and I were at the hospital waiting for you. That day I had a check-up at the doctor and they checked my tummy with their ultrasound machine and when they checked, they were worried that you didn't have enough amniotic fluid around you. So, Dr. Carlson said, "Get to the hospital right away!" At the hospital, the nurses gave me medicine to make you come out faster. You were my first experience with an epidural. (which was absolutely fabulous, by the way!) You finally came into the world at 9pm on the nose. You were such a sweet baby, Jack, I just stared at your sweet little face forever. (and I still do)



That was one of the three happiest days of my life! You are such a joy to me and such a sweet blessing to our family. I just thank Jesus that He shares you with us. I love you, little man... and here are my...

4 Birthday Wishes for you on your 4th Birthday:

1. That you would never lose the tender heart you have

2. That you would choose integrity over the ways of the world

3. That you would live your life according to the plan your Father has for you

4. That you would love God with all your heart

Love,
Your Momma

Four Years: A Ho-Down

I love birthday parties! More specifically, I love planning my kids' birthday parties. We've had a space party complete with a rocket ship, a pirate party with a "ship cake" complete with cannons, and a baseball party with baseball cupcakes and peanuts and crackerjacks.





But yesterday, to celebrate my sweet cowboy's 4th birthday, we threw a Wild West party! Minus, the rain at the beginning, it went off without a hitch. Jack invited a couple little friends plus his cousins and, of course, his brother and sister...and they had a blast...or should I say a rootin'-tootin' good time! Here's a round-up of the Ho-Down:
The Grub:
Burgers and Chicken Legs
Chips and Corn/Black Bean Salsa
Corn on the Cob
Coleslaw
Baked Beans
The Entertainin':
Potato Sack Races
Pin-the-Tail on the Donkey
Horseshoes




The Decoratin':


Decorating for the party was so much fun...Mom and Dad pulled through for me with a ton of old stuff to use, like wagon wheels, 100-year-old barbed wire, and wooden ammunition boxes (for chairs for the kiddies). They hauled all their stuff up in their pickup and helped me set up...thanks a ton you guys! You helped make it look very authentic! So authentic in fact, as I sit here typing, there's two empty eye-sockets on a cow skull staring right at me!!


We also used tons of bandannas, "Wanted" posters, cardboard cacti, bales and barrels. The mood was set by a soundtrack of the Wild West blaring over the backyard, courtesy of Uncle Art. We aren't quite sure why he owns this, but a bit of "Rawhide" and "Bonanza" theme song fit in quite nicely!
(totally unrelated side note: Mr. Sparrow is sitting on the "bandanna garland" outside my window right now! Very sweet!!)

The Sweets:

My dear friend Robin helped me figure out how to make this o-so-sweet cactus cake. We used toothpicks for the pokes...no one swallowed any, thank you Jesus! We also tried our hands at our very first fondant flower...very fun!

The boys helped me make homemade strawberry ice cream that was soooo good!

The sugar cookies were just something I whipped up in case they didn't get enough sugar!



It was such fun night! Did I mention I love birthday parties??!!
Happy Birthday, Little Cowpoke! I love you dearly!!




Yes...that is a pink holster and in her right hand (not pictured) is a pink pistol!





My three little cowpokes!


August 5, 2009

Impromtu Art Time




I learned something about Sophia tonight...she LOVES to paint!!! We were outside trying to quickly finish some "props" that I started making earlier today for Jack's Ho-Down birthday party coming up. (more on that later...) I was making an outhouse and some cardboard cacti out of refrigerator boxes. I was putting the finishing touches on my cacti and set the paint down, when I noticed my darling one-year-old watching me intensely. She had that look in her eye...you know, the one like Curious George gets when he's getting curious... So I thought, "hey...what the heck...we're outside...let her have a go with the paint."
OH MY GOSH...she went to town!! I decided to just strip her down to her diaper, since this was non-washable paint. She painted the inside of an extra box I had sitting in the grass, then she moved over to the outhouse I was working on and painted the inside of that, then she painted a bit on her own face, which was quite funny. She kept holding out her bowl for more paint! Too cute...she did end up getting quite a bit on herself, but it was nothing a little soap and water wouldn't fix.
Note to Self: Buy Sophie finger paints on my next trip to Target!

August 4, 2009

Weekend Away...

Just got back a bit ago from a busy and fun weekend in Minneapolis. A few months ago, Jesse, my cousin Trent, and Uncle Pat, and I signed up for a Half-Marathon (the Urban Wildland race) in the Cities. We ran on Saturday and all had a great race. Jesse and I both got PRs (personal records), so that was exciting, even though I am still walking like I'm 80 and I think I may lose two toenails...it was all worth it! The run was really pretty...we ran by lakes and the "wetland" and lots of wooded areas...it didn't feel like we were in the middle of the city at all and it made running 13.1 miles a little more enjoyable!

Me, Jesse, Uncle Pat, and Trent before the race....

..and here we are after the race!! Whew!!



It's always great to see their little faces when I'm done!


Of course, a trip to Minneapolis couldn't be complete without LEGOLAND!! We took the boys to bum around at the Mall of America after the race. I have to say, the MOA is not one of my favorite places, but Noah and Jack were so excited, it just made you smile!! :)





On Sunday, we took advantage of a beautiful day and enjoyed the Minnesota Zoo. It's a really nice zoo...I think the adults enjoyed it as much as Noah and Jack.























Grizzly Bear!!
We had a great weekend, but we were glad to get home and see Sophie, who we left with Grandma. She was so happy to see her brothers too!!
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