August Recap

For the month of August, we threw the schedule out and just played, a lot. There was so much fun, but now I am exhausted. Haha. School (even homeschool) can’t start soon enough. We (I) need a schedule…
So this is what we did-

1. Late night trips for ice cream
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2. Late night walks to the fountain on campus

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3. Colonial Williamsburg with friends

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4. Zoo with friends

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5. Dog Sitting for a friend

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6. So many days at the Y with friends

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7. Adventure Park with friends (a terrifying day!)

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8. Soakin up days at the pool

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So much fun. So many friends. So thankful.

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5 things I need to start the school year

All summer I work bit by bit towards the next school year. Curriculum is researched and purchased. Co-op classes are registered, and city class fees are paid. In August, I really get busy prepping by planning units and quarter objectives. These are a few of my favorite planning tools:

1. My new laminator
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Purchased of Amazon for $17.99, this machine has already earned it’s place in the office. I have mostly used it to prep PreK activities for Addison, but I’m sure I will use it for the boys as well.

2. Bestvaluecopy.com

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I uploaded 10 documents that needed printing, some bound, and some 3 hole punched. The cost of over 500 pages printed and shipped was $30. What a deal!

3. A lesson plan page that works

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I finally got Hubby to design a page that would suit our family. After looking at it for a few weeks, it needs some tweaking, but for the most part, I really like it.

4. Online Shopping
Most people think that homeschoolers don’t need back to school supplies. However, we need notebooks, crayons, scissors and glue sticks just like everyone else. We try to reuse as much as possible, so we may not spend as much as others. In addition, all 3 of the kids needed backpack and lunch boxes due to a neighborhood backpack thief. My favorite online sources for school supplies are target.com (I can return what we don’t use!) and childrensplace.com (all 3 backpacks and lunch boxes were under $40 with shipping). I love online shopping because it was done in 30 min from my phone during rest time.. Much less stressful!

5. A flexible attitude
This week there was a mild bit of drama regarding Hudson’s school situation. Apparently, the district switched his school without notifying me. I was only made aware by a bus driver calling regarding pick up time. After a week of receiving the “run around,” I was finally able to meet his teacher. She spent an hour talking with Hubby and me. The para played with Hudson. We feel good about sending him.
Speaking of flexible, sometimes as a parent, I am really flexible and let Hudson get a red Mohawk at a friend’s birthday party. He loved it!
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Of course, Addi needed a pink sparkly pony tail!

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Family Fun in Raleigh, NC

Early August, we went to Raleigh, NC for a family reunion of sorts. Hubby’s family was there from AZ and IN. We all met there for a party and some family time. We spent the first 2 nights with my aunt and uncle catching up with them, then the next two night at a hotel near the rest of the family. After the party on Saturday, Sunday found us at the Marble museum in downtown Raleigh. This is a wonderful place for toddlers and preschoolers. It is really busy because it is only $5 admission and amazing! Aunt Rebekah and Vellani, Grandma Paula and Papa Paul went with us while Hubby wrote a paper for school.
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On Monday we went to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science which is 2 buildings with 3 floors each. This was another amazing deal as the admission was free! Geared for elementary ages and older, there was also several exhibits that the littles enjoyed, especially the dinosaurs. We were there for 3 hours and only saw about half of it. They also had a preschool area with many hands-on activities. So the littles did that, while Tyson did the Rainforest exhibit.

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After the museum we went to hang out with the cousins at their house. Many hours were spent playing trains, watching the Lego movie and playing outside.

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After going out for breakfast on Tuesday, we went to this great park in Cary. There was a nice playground, trails to walk and paddle boats to rent. We ended up coming back later in the evening to rent the boats and all had a good time.

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The best part of the trip (for me!) was that Hudson FINALLY consistently used the potty all the time. We MAY have spent $30 on Thomas trains as we rewarded him for every time he pooped in the potty, but as Hubby pointed out, it is cheaper than 2 months of pull-ups and SO much less stressful. We haven’t had an accident since….

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Hudson’s 4th Birthday

Last month we celebrated Hudson’s 4th birthday. He loves the pool so we just did a simple pool party with a few friends. We swam and jumped in the pool (over and over!) for a little over an hour. Then had a picnic in the grass. I found these little sand buckets at Party City for 99cents and put each child’s name on it. Then we filled it with his/her lunch as well as sunglasses and a small beach ball that read “Hudson’s 4th Birthday!” When I asked Hudson what he wanted for his party, he said, “balloons and party hats.” So the morning of the party we stopped at the Dollar Tree and got balloons and party hats. I think the whole party cost under $100, and everyone had a wonderful experience.
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Vacation: Family, Friends, Fun and Potty Training

This summer we went to Orlando, Fl for our summer family vacation. We decided to drive down over the course of several days since it is a 12+ hour journey. We left on Friday afternoon as soon as Hudson got off the bus and drove 3 hours to Wilson, NC. We got there early which left time for dinner out and pool time. It was during pool time that Hudson recognized the need for a bowel movement AND used the potty… TWICE! We have been working on this FOR A YEAR!!!
Next, we headed to my Uncle Mark’s house in Ludowisi, GA (middle of nowhere!). He and his wife rolled out the red carpet and took great care of us. We spent a relaxing 2 days there. (Though Hudson had a potty accident there!)

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Next day we journeyed to Orlando where we spent the night at our condo. The next day we are up early to drive to Sebring, Fl to visit friends. Have u ever met someone and bonded over heartache and loss? Kinda weird, I know. This is how SB and I became friends 3 years ago: telling each other our miscarriage stories. We spent the day chatting, watching our kids play and eating. It was good for my soul. Oh and she also has a 2yr old lil girl… So much cuteness!

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Wednesday was spent at the Central Florida Zoo. Then we went to see my Grandmother and Aunt in Lakeland, FL. They had never met the littles. I think they made quite a dramatic first impression.

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For a little bit, on most days we would see my parents, Grandma Gail and Papa Mike who were also vacationing in Orlando. We ate at their condo and went to the pool on Tuesday: they joined us at Grandma Bo’s house on Wednesday night: the littles spent Thursday at Chucky Cheese and ChikFila with them. It was great that they are able to form a relationship with each other. One of the favorite activities was singing with Papa Mike and his guitar. He even let Hudson play some.

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On the last night, we realized that Hudson hadn’t pooped in a couple days… This is usually bad… Very bad! I will spare u the details but he went 3 times that night IN THE POTTY! It’s like he understands, so now he does it.
Now… To get his sister on board…

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5 Best Moments in NYC: Decade Birthday (part 2)

When Tyson turned 9, we asked him where he wanted to go for his birthday. His response was NYC. Immediately, we decided that we could not go as a family. The city with 2 little ones (ages 2 and 3) seemed like a nightmare and would cost too much money. So we set aside some money and purchased bus tickets. Then Hubby met a guy who supervises the mission house NYC for the NY convention: discount hotel! So, late Monday night after spending the day at the aquarium, they were off on their “trip of a lifetime!”

1. Visiting the Statue of Liberty

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This was his #1 priority. They took the tour and climbed the pedestal.

2. Shopping and Time Square

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Tyson was most impressed with a 40lb Hershey bar. He also brought home presents for his brother, sister and cousins.

3. The Museum of Math

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Yep. The country’s largest math museum just opened in NYC. Go to a show? No way. Math Museum? Definitely!

4. The Discovery Center’s The Art of Brick

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I am so glad they found this. I had heard of it but could not figure out the details. I knew he would love it. The sculptor recreated famous paintings using Legos, plus much more. Apparently they spent almost 3 hours at the exhibit.

5. Food!

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This trip was NYC on a budget so they couldn’t spend a lot on food. Thankfully, there was a Trader Joes across from the hotel where they purchased bagels, cream cheese, fruit, granola bars and water. This is what they would eat for breakfast and lunch each day. Then they would eat a snack ( hot dog, donut, etc) on the street in the afternoon and go out for dinner.
The exception to this was on Friday morning when Hubby took him to restaurant, The Edison, for pancakes and blintz. This was significant because Hubby was taken there by his mom when he visited NYC with her!

Tyson got to do many other things: Museum of Natural History, visiting Harlem and lots of shopping. These were his highlights.
After he returned, I told him that his next big birthday will be 16. I then asked where he might want to go… His response… Paris! I can’t wait to see how God works that out.

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IEP 2014

That time of year again. This year Hudson’s meeting was held the Tuesday following Memorial Day at 8am. The previous day was a blast filled with cook outs and beach time. So the next morning I put Hudson on the bus, grabbed some much needed coffee and headed to the school.
For those who aren’t familiar with IEP meetings, there are several purposes: discuss progress, formulate goals for the next year and decide placement for the coming year. His teacher, SLP, OT and I were all present. His teacher had already sent home a preliminary copy of his IEP, so I knew her thoughts on his progress. Needless to say, we are thrilled and quite thankful for his growth. In the last 12 months his developmental age has grown from 24mo to 40mo. Tremendous!
Building his goals for next year was also fairly painless. We developed 8-9 items for him to work on. A few were a bit fluff: better use of scissors or ask a friend to play, but I was ok with it.
The longest part of the meeting surrounded placement for next year. We were deciding between a self contained special Ed class or an inclusion class. Hubby and I had decided that if the team thought he would do better in an inclusion class, then I would probably homeschool him for preK next year, but I didn’t want that to sway the decision. All parties were torn as to which was a better option. I think they were concerned that a special Ed class may hold him back in some way while an inclusion class may be over stimulating (18-20 kids!). In the end we agreed to place him in a special Ed class. I am pleased with this decision. I am hoping that 1 more year in school will get him caught up developmentally. The best part of the meeting was when the speech teacher (the same one who told me last April, ” he is so non-compliant. He hates me and runs away when I enter the room!”) looked at me and said, “I could cry if I think about how much progress Hudson has made. He greets me when I enter and willingly does everything I ask. His language skills are now appropriate with just a few issues.”
I just smiled and tried not to cry myself. These meetings always make me want to cry.
This is Hudson’s sweet teacher, Mrs. Joyce. She brings in gluten free snacks for Hudson and just beams love and affection on him. So. Very. Thankful.

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Tyson’s Decade Birthday (part 1)

Alas, the first born turned 10. We had so many fun things planned that this will be several posts long. On his actual birthday (Saturday), he wanted his cousin to spend the night so he did and the next day we went to Hampton for “Touch a Truck.” This event has many different large vehicles with their operators available for kids to climb up in and around. All the kids loved it.
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On Sunday afternoon he and I went to Water Country. It was a chilly 70 degrees, so the park was somewhat empty. We rode every ride in 2 hours. We had fun, but were thankful for dry clothes for the ride home.

Monday found us at the Virginia Aquarium. We studied oceanography this semester, so I thought it may be fun to set up a field trip. We went with 5 other families and the weather was perfect. We saw an IMAX about penguins and saw so many amazing animals. We ate lunch with our friends and walked the grounds and saw a snake and bald eagle. Around 2pm, we headed home. We had to finish getting ready for his big trip to NYC ( next post).

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Field Trip: Virginia Beach Farmers Market

Hey! It’s the last week of school so what better way to celebrate than a field trip? The Virginia Beach Farmers Market has an educational center that teaches children about agriculture. Both Tyson and Addison went. It began with a lecture on farming and the importance of agriculture in our daily lives. Addison was standing near me. Then she climbed into her brother’s lap. Adorable.

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After the lesson, the kids did several centers where they made soybean necklaces, washed clothes, churned butter and milked a cow. Lots of fun.

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The trip concluded with a tour of the market which included a butcher shop, creamery and bakery. Afterwards, we had a picnic lunch with friends. Great day.

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Tot School

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In January, I started researching ways to be more intentional regarding spending quality time with Addison. I am not very good about playing with my kids so if I don’t have a plan, it doesn’t happen much. My findings led me to 1plus1plus1equals1. A website/blog dedicated to early home education. The author has created a “tot school” program as well as pre K. The tot school is loosely based on the Montessori approach but also includes literacy based activities and print ables. The best news… It’s free! So I thought we would give it a try.
In April, I decided to start. One Monday, I told Addi, “it’s time for tot school. Time for your lessons!” Her little face lit up! I placed the 5 activities in containers on the counter. She gets to choose the order.

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We go from one activity/lesson to the other. She loves it. I think she enjoys the 1 on 1 time and that she “does school” like Tyson.

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The website includes a planning page and an assessment page ( in case you are goal-oriented, like me). It takes me about an hour to prep for her 3 day program. Tot school itself takes about 45 min to an hour.

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As an added bonus, my friend gave me this desk/easel. She loves to sit at it and do her work.
My goal for her is to learn to be focused and diligent. Right now, she is doing really well with it. Most of all, I want to instill a love of learning.

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