Sunday, November 30, 2014

Getting out and about

We've had such a busy couple of weeks.  Between all of us getting a cold (I lost my voice for 4 days....I am sure that was the highlight of the  year for my children :-)), and trying to keep up with everything it seems we have been going non stop.  Not all of us were sick at once, so we had different sets of people going out and about at different times.  We are finally all getting better and we were able to meet up with some friends at a nearby botanical gardens.  Below I have a hodgepodge of pictures from different days and events.  I don't have a lot of time to spare, so I will just post captions (and I do believe my cations are paragraph length anyways!!).

PS, not just a few days ago Jonah woke up and came up to me to give me a morning hug.  I immediately could tell that this same child I had just hugged last night had grown since the night before. It was so obvious.  I looked to see when the last time we measured his height and it had only been 20 days prior.  I stood him up to the door that we measure everyone at and he indeed grew at least one and a half inches!  If not two!  I didn't have a ruler with me, and I meant to get a picture of the lines on the door.  But alas, no proof for you :-)  Kids really do grow 'over night'...if not in 3 weeks time.

 Little miss getting better and better at balancing on two legs.  She will get very upset if we pick her up now.  She used to want to be held all the time, now she wants to be down exploring all the time.

 Ooohhh, I love baby faces!  Don't you just want to squish those precious cheeks?

 She was nodding her head back and forth quickly, making this face.  Too funny.

 This is one determined little girl.  If she falls, she may cry a bit, but gets right back up and tries again.

 Yay, yarn!  I have been dying to get my hands on some yarn.  Between a sale and a 'teacher' discount, I was finally able to buy some.  I think I had only bought two other skeins of yarn this year, and that project turned out wrong!  We plan on using this yarn for various projects.  Right now I am working on a cowl and some wraps for hot water bottles.

 We had a wonderful day weather wise the other day.  We took advantage of it by getting outside and then heading off to the botanical gardens.

 When you get to the gardens you have to sign in, in case you get lost I suppose.  The gardens only have two paths.  We walked one path last week, and the second one this week.

 The boys turn.  We were waiting for some friends to arrive.  They came on our walk last week and really loved the park and asked that we go back to walk the second trail.

 I loved the sun coming through the trees.  Right before I took this picture it had thundered.  There were some gray clouds before we left, and we checked the weather, but nothing showed up on the radar.  Thankfully it only thundered twice, and no other incidences occurred.  It totally freaked out Jonah, who wanted to run out of the woods.  I can't say I blame him, but we were exactly at the half way point and had no choice but to go through the woods to get to our van (the whole trail, save the pond) is in the woods.

 All of the kiddos, except my friends youngest and our youngest (who were each attached to their respective mommies).

The highlight of the walk was the bamboo forest.  The kids LOVE this little place.  It has a little water fall as well.  Flannery, Saoirse and their friend Dasha spent the whole walk scouting out video and photo shoot spots for their Breyer horses. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Growth Spurts....all around

It's always fun when kids have growth spurts.  The noticeable ones are the most fun.  But as fun as it is to see kids growing up in stature, I find it more fun to see their growth in other areas of life.  We seem to have had a lot of growth with multiple children recently.  From oldest to youngest:

Moira has been wanting to get a job to earn money.  She tried for babysitting jobs with no luck.  There is a tea room close by that she heard good things about.  She asked if she could see if they were hiring.  She first called to see if they were hiring, and it seems that they are.  So we took off to grab an application.  When we got there, we were told that they were looking for people to work during the weekdays.  Most people make their money on the weekends since they are busier then, but this would at least get Moira 'in the door' to start.  However, they did not have any applications on hand, and we were asked to come back the following day.

So yesterday we took off to get an application.  However, they were too busy at the time (we were not thinking about it being the lunch hour!), and again asked to come back later. Moira told them we could come back in an hour, but that was before speaking to me.  We were not able to make it back an hour later.  On the way home Moira commented that her drama club experience really helped her be able to talk with her potential employer without completely freaking out :-)  She said that the drama club has given her more confidence since she has to get up in front of people and act/sing.  This alone was a noticeable growth, but what happened later was more so.

Like I said, we couldn't come back an hour later.  Moira was openly lamenting that fact.  She kept trying to convince me we would have time (I have a wonderful friend who had called me earlier in the day and said she was coming over to help me get my house cleaned up!), but I knew we didn't and told her she would have to ask Jeremiah to take her after he was done working.

She was not too happy about that.  And she was getting antsy later in the day when it looked like they may be too late to get there before closing.  They did make it in time, and 'it just so happened' that there was someone there they knew (a customer).  This lady was with a friend.  They came up to Moira to chat with her and they found out she was there for an application.  Turns out that the lady's friend is personal friends with the owner of the tea room!  She said that she was going to email the owner that evening and give her a good report on Moira!

Moira learned that God does indeed work things out for good, even when we think they have been ruined.  (In this case what she saw was a lost opportunity)  We are praying that God would direct her in her pursuits of employment.

I've written before that Saoirse has had difficulty with reading.  She is ten and still not reading well at all.  So far it works the best if we work consistently for few weeks, then take a few weeks off.  Otherwise her learning ability seems to take a sharp downturn and she becomes *very* frustrated.  I've taught reading to 3 other girls so far and know that frustration in the process will only negate any efforts put forth.  When we come back to lessons I always start a few lessons back and then we are able to move forward again, until our next stopping point.

A friend of mine suggested that maybe we get her tested for dyslexia.  She has a lot of experience with this as a mom, and was relating what she has read and learned.  I do think it is interesting that Saoirse has more of the 'global' learner mentality, which is what a dyslexic person would have.  But like most things, I think there is a sliding scale, and I believe that Saoirse is on that scale, but more towards "normal" than "dyslexic".  (I hope that made sense.)  For example Saoirse has a hard time sticking with a task. She really needs a check list, or someone to tell her the next thing to do.  With her reading, she needs me to cover up some of the word because she is trying to see the whole word, instead of breaking it down into readable chunks.

I decided that we would give it a gung ho try this past month to see if she just needs more time, or if intervention is required.  I am happy to report that Saoirse was able to read the whole Series 4 Bob Books to me in the past two days!  Still below a level of a ten year old, but a huge achievement for Saoirse.  I think we will continue on with what we have been doing, knowing that it will take more time for her to 'get it'.  At this point she is making steady progress, and has even had a jump in progress, so I don't think intervention is needed at this point.

I always thought that people with dyslexia have problems in all areas of schooling, but that is not so.  Saoirse is very good at math.  And she has some great skills when it comes to playing Sets :-)  That girl can find sets in lightening speed!!!  Sets is a game of trying to find a set of three cards that have all the same, or all different qualities in four categories.  The categories are shape, color, number and pattern.  We made our own Sets game per THESE instructions.

Jedidiah has been two years behind in pretty much most things.  He is very intelligent, and in some ways on target or ahead...but ONLY when he figures it out himslf.  I might have to explain that a bit.  I just realized myself this morning that I believe Jed still has issues with auditory processing.  He used to have big issues in that department, but since it had improved so much I didn't think it was a concern anymore.  However, it seems that when we are *trying* to teach him something, especially through words only....he doesn't get it.  But, if he sees it, or does it himself, he gets it right away.

Two examples.  The first being his ability to narrate.  The backbone of the Charlotte Mason method of education is narration.  You read (or the child reads) the passage, and they tell you what they read.  Seems simple enough, but this is something that needs to be learned.  Most of my kids have picked up on this very quickly.  Jed?  Not so much.  I would read a paragraph and ask him what we read.  Blank face.  Then he will sit there saying, "Ummmm, ummmm."  all while tapping his chin.  So I started reading just 2 or 3 sentences to him and asking what we read.  Same thing happened...'ummm, ummmm.'  If there were pictures he would look at those to see what the story was supposed to be about and make up something!  Although creative, that is not narration.

So I took to reading one sentence at a time.  Bingo!  Finally he was able to tell me what I just read.  The only problem is that now he stops me after EVERY sentence to tell me what I just said.  Ha!  I'm just glad that he got the concept and from here we can build on.

The second example is in counting.  He has always been into counting, though it was mostly 'his version' of it, and not the standard numbers.  Well the other day he came to me with our 100 number board.  He asked me to count with him (again, here we are talking he has a visual aid, instead of us just counting out loud).  He has been getting the hang of the teen numbers lately, so we worked a bit on those.  He did not know the 10's (20, 30, 40, etc).  Well, it all clicked!  Although he needed help with the 10's he figured out that after each ten the ones numbers started over!  Big light bulb moment for him.

Jonah has been growing in so many areas by leaps and bounds.  It seems he has spent the past 6 years growing physically, and now he is growing mentally.  Jonah has always been a bull in a china shop, though a very sweet bull :-)  And though he was never behind, or dumb, it just seemed that there wasn't a bright light in the attic.  Well, let me tell you!  He is exploding with light right now.  His ability to narrate is amazing (for his age). Much, much better than any of my girls when they started off.  And they were older when we started!  He seems to be making connections all the time.  He's really into cooking, and remembers what we need for a recipe.  He has been trying to build a fort and bench, by himself.  It is amazing to see his plans for those things.  The list just goes on.  So many connections and abilities that he has gained in the past couple of months.

Well, being a baby, there is always noticeable learning going on it seems.  But her most recent advance has been really cute.  Along with learning to clap, give five, and wave bye-bey/hello she is 'talking'. Well, her talking that is.  For a few months she has been saying maaamaaaamaaamaaa, or daaadaaadaaadaaa.  But never 'mama', or dada'.  So we haven't been sure if she is really calling our name or not.  She has started almost saying "kittykittykitty" when the girls take her out to visit the cats. (though her version is more of a 'titta titta titta'.  And after she says that she does this clucking sound with her tongue.  She does this every time she sees the cats.

For the past few months the baby has joined me in the daily feeding of the animals.  She really enjoys going outside to see the animals.  So much so, if we open the door and don't go out, she cries!  Though is is certainly easier to feed the animals with two free hands, I bring out with me because she enjoys it so much.  She started to try to 'fling' the chicken feed to the chickens!  Not much of a fling, but she knows what to do.  Yesterday before we got dressed to go out, I asked her, "Merida, are you going to help mommy feed the animals?"  And to my surprise she says "titta titta titta' and does her tongue clicking!  Too cute!!!  She totally understands what I am saying!  I know, after 7 other kids you would think this would be old hat, but it's NOT.  I love seeing my babies (and all my kids) 'get it'.
Well that was pretty long!  Sorry about that.  Like I said, lots of kids having learning growth.  What are your children learning?  (And, just because some of my kids were 'left out' of this post does not mean learning hasn't been happening.  Some of it is more personal, and some is a bit harder to put into words, and as a parent I am sure you understand!)

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Merida...getting so big!

The past couple of days have seen us spending lots of time outside.  After tomorrow we will be getting more cold weather.  So we are trying to soak up what may be the last of our nice days.  It is hard to tell, as weather here in NC can be a bit wonky.  But, it is November after all, so we got ourselves outside.

Jonah has taken to building a fort in the back yard.  The other two boys spent a bunch of time fighting on the trampoline.  Silly boys.  The girls spent some time with their friend from next door.  Merida was awake this time, so I decided to get some pictures of her.  She is growing, growing, growing.

I was thinking of an incident that happened about 4 years ago.  Someone was trying to discourage me from having any more children.  I was told repeatedly that I was too old.  I needed to get on with my life, and be done with the baby stage.  This person went on to tell me that my eggs are old, and that means that any babies born would be getting the short end of the stick.  This person described a talk they had with another older mother, whose son did something...not smart.  This mother's response was, "Well, what do you expect...he's from an old egg."  In other words, my babies would be on the stupid side.

Now, don't get me wrong.  Since sin has entered the world, things do not go as they should.  Eggs do get old, there is no denying it.  But that doesn't mean I'm going to have a stupid child because of it.  There are any number of issues that can pop up with having a any age.  I know plenty of people who had a first child with problems, and I know people whose last child had problems.  No one is completely immune to the possibilities.

But one thing is certain.  Every child, every. single. a gift from God.  No matter how young or old my eggs have been, or are.  This brings me to Merida.  Out of all of our children, she is the most intelligent (as babies go).  She figures things out very fast.  You can see the wheels spinning.  And that's just not me saying it.  I've had countless people tell me that they can see her figuring out the world around her.

Merida is one smart cookie.  I feel blessed beyond measure to be her mommy.  And that goes for all of my children.  My smarter ones, my challenging ones, my loud ones, my sweet ones....all of them are amazing.  I truly can not imagine if I decided to not have another baby after Aubrey.  If I had been given a glimpse of who Merida was before having her, if I decided to end my childbearing years....that would have been torture.  I could not imagine spending my days without her.

And so, here is our smart little cookie...and her brother...and a few other random things:

The first time I have ever put her down, while outside.  She was looking at me like, "What is this?"

Hmmm, I think I like this.

 Of course hanging out with my big brother makes it even better.  (how cute it this picture!!!)

 Oooooh, lots and lots of *little* put into my mouth.

 Maybe I'll take this one over here.

 Who, me? I'm not doing anything I shouldn't be.  I have no plans to pick up this small rock and put it into my mouth.  Nope, not me.

 (Jonah handed her a leaf)  Um, I'm not sure what to make of *this*.  What is it?

Look at her hair growing :-)  And, by the way, she did try to eat a small rock, and did try to eat the leaf.  She didn't stay on the ground for long!

 Jonah found this!  Jedidiah was very upset that he caught it.  He was on the verge of tears, saying, "But *I'm* the bug boy!"  I told  him, bug boy or not, Jonah caught the lizard, and that it was ok.  Jed didn't think so.  Mr. Jed got some inside time for having a wee fit about the whole lizard thing.  Oy.

 Jonah snuggling with Miracle.  This is the kitty that we thought wasn't going to make it, having been completely paralyzed for a whole day.

 A little bit of 'making do' by the girls.  Need a bike basket?  Use your brother's wooden tool box.  Makes sense.

A couple of chickens hanging out in the front yard.  Still some bugs out there, despite the weather being warm, then freezing, then warm, then.....(although Aubrey still asks me nightly to go out to catch fireflies)

 After getting the mail, all of the boys heading back down the hill to our house.

Remember these?!?  We did.  We brought these out to light last week.  We found the candles to put inside, but we didn't have any working lighters.  We finally bought some, and had one night of soft light beauty.  Then we left them the rain.  Some of them made it, some...not so much.  The layers of tissue paper were held on with white glue.  Not exactly water proof.  Thankfully most of them will see another night.  The boys and I had a lot of fun sipping hot cocoa, looking at the stars with these candles spread out along our porch banisters.

It is getting late.  The baby had a rough evening, so I am going to turn in and catch some Z's before she may need me again.
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