Today was such a good day. I never want to forget. 

You smiled most of the day. Your eyes sparkled. You joked, danced, sang, spun and jumped. You threw back your head and laughed hard. A lot. 
I loved watching. 

We made our lists of to dos, and wants. We did some school and ate breakfast a couple times. We snuggled our dogs in our chairs at the table. You played between studies. I cleaned and readied. 

I took you to gymnastics for open gym. I shopped while you played. When I picked you up we decided to go cosmic bowling. We had the greatest time at The Gutter. I felt like I was with an older you, a more-comfortable-in-his-skin you, more confident-in-his-stride you, a looser, funnier, more humorous you. 

I looked at your hands - halfway there, between child and man. The way you move them, how they curl... I thought about what things they might do one day. I watched your eyes - I still can't believe He gave me you. So much you will see, and discover, and find here. So much light and life in your dancing eyes. 

I loved how you did the robot for me in front of all those people - the people you referred to as "the public". I loved how you tackled me in the alley and didn't mind one bit what anyone thought of you laying on me, laughing - not even all those kids who were watching. 
I loved how you bowled seven pins and in the second half of your frame you missed the remaining three altogether, and so you stood, motionless, staring down the lane for what felt like forever. You made me laugh like, up until now, only my brother could. 
I loved when you said, "they call this an alley you know? We're in an alley... Only it's cleaner here." and you searched my face to see if it worked - if you made me laugh. I've never seen you do that before, try your own hand at comedy. 

You're so kind. You've always been so kind, but it's growing up with you. A bigger kindness. 

And you're neat. Always interesting. Always bringing something fresh and new to the table, into perspective. And it's always smart - like "why didn't I think of that" smart. 

And now, you're funny. You are SO funny, and I laughed so hard it was hard to forget you were my son and not just a friend I was out having a good time with.
How big you are getting. 

And your sweet. I love how sweet you are. Opening doors for me, slipping your hand into mine when we walk, asking me if I'm okay when I stub, or snag or shock myself. 

Thank you for today. 
I've never forgotten your every stage, and I'll forget you like this. 

I love you,



What I'm Learning from Home School

I honestly wonder regularly, who is learning more here. Me or you?

I was so excited about our new plan to shorten the times per class from your "simulated public school week", and carry on with our new and more outlined homeschool days. I loved the way the structure really amped up your responsibility and respectful attitude toward school, and even me. 

Then came Monday morning, and as we began our new approach on a lower key, everything crumbled around us. You were upset, which usually doesn't happen. You seemed frustrated, unhappy, distraught really. You even cried during your second class of the day - just sat over your workbook, pushing your pencil, and crying. 

After talking, cuddling, and deciding that this could just be a rough day for you (we all have them) we wrapped things up and called school off early.

The next day, school went better, though it still didn't seem quite right. 

While speaking on the phone with another mom about her own homeschooling dilemma, I was led to call our ILT (Independent Liaison Teacher) through the Public Charter School you have been enrolled in for the past two years. I needed to ask her some questions about the requirements before I could move forward in supporting and advising my friend. 

During that conversation the ILT shed some light on my own homeschool requirements, expectations, and schedule. I brought this up to her, asking her respected opinion and advice, and she really helped change my understanding and perspective. 

I think that homeschooling can be tricky. While a generally laid back homeschooling parent might not meet the standard with their children on a regular basis, a more A-type person might have their children going way too far and above what should be expected of them. There's really not a good way to even know (in Wisconsin) how your homeschool children academically compare with public schooled kids. That can lead to questions and feelings of doubt that either bring on ideas of failure or an overachieving focus for a homeschooling parent. 

We were definitely of the latter mentality. When we slimmed our schedule down for this week, we actually went from five hours of table time a day (table time being active lessons and practices at the table) to a shorter four hour table time. I thought this was lenient of me. :(

After speaking with our ILT, hearing the requirements and expectations of the state, what the public schooled kids aren't learning, the ratios and statistics, the challenges and obstacles they are up against, and the environment they are supposed to be growing in, I realized that you are way way way far and above what most kids are academically being exposed to today. I also remembered that while our homeschooling is about one-on-one, specific learning to your strengths and style, choosing what goes in and monitoring what comes out, and cultivating your character from a healthy launching pad, it's also about being able to feed your individual and personal growth rate appropriately.

While, there is no doubt (especially when you score off the charts in the standardized public school testing) that you are extremely intelligent, we are and have been doing WAY too much school. Which would explain why you are in 3rd and 4th grade curriculums at a 2nd grade age. 

And don't get me wrong, I'm not about to let the opportunities we have to enrich your education and lean into the areas of your strengths slip away. But we are done with four and five hours of 10 to 12 one-on-one lessons and pencil pushing every day. 

We are finished turning you right off to learning. 

We are going to do five to six classes a day. We're only going to spend 2 to 3 hours in scheduled one-on-one table lessons. 

We are going to the library more and renting more books for you to soak in at your leisure (since, you read more in your spare time than anything else). We are going to go on more field trips and plan more playdates. We're going to make more fun kid deserts and meals, and do more arts and crafts. We're going to watch Bill Ny the Science Guy and Modern Marvels, start projects, and play more games... we are going to PLAY more! 

And as our ILP advised, we can find other areas to amp up the structure that you reacted so positively toward. It just doesn't have to be in school. Your responsibilities and our expectations of you can come up a little, while we rightfully lessen the intensity of your school load.

I'm sorry that I forgot you are eight. I'm sorry for putting you through a middle-school-like schedule.

I promise to protect you from losing these fun and free days of your youth. 


What I Learned From "Public School"

There's been a lot of whining and complaining at the school table the past... few years. I especially noticed it has been getting worse of late. I was adamantly administering the well known empty threat of a homeschool mom, asking "do you want me to send you to public school so you know what it's like to have something to complain about?" 

Of course, we never would,
and I'm sure you knew it. 

So onward with the whining, and grumbling, and arguing... and next came bossing, bullying, and disrespecting me - your mom and teacher. 

On a cold morning, after having to flex the schedule a bit to hit the grocery store before starting school, I had heard about all the ungrateful complaining I could take as you stuffed your spoiled face with a Long John donut I was regretting. It was at that time you shouted up to me in exasperation that your mom-drawn chariot was just "WAY TOO WARM" for you. 

It was at that time I honestly considered pulling the car over on the country side road and dropping you off (not before stealing your sprinkled frosted donut for my own cozy quiet ride home). I thought better and pulled myself together, promising to make a change. 
Something had to give!

I spoke with your Dad (who, by the way, advocated sending you to public school for a couple of weeks) and this is what we decided upon: to simulate a public school environment as best we could at home for one week-minus, obviously, the masses.
We began this week, and we were all surprised at the results. 

You were expected to wake up every morning in time to "make the bus". 

You dressed, ate, brushed your teeth and hair, and got your homework and bag lunch packed up to go. You put on your shoes and jacket (and even umbrella one day), kissed your mom good-bye, and walked to the end of the driveway to wait a timed 5 minutes for your pretend bus to arrive. Then you came into the house to sit in our leather chair for another timed 10 minutes on your way to school (I call this lenient).

Once at school you had a designated locker for all of your things. You were given a schedule indicating the time and order of each class, including a recess, lunch and study hall. 

In classes you were asked to sit in a normal seat at the table and mind as you listen to me teach and instruct you on each lesson. You were given 10 to 15 minutes to begin working on the assignment for the next day, and then you had 5 minutes between classes to put away and gather your things for the next period. 

I thought this would really show you.

I thought you would see how much less fun it is to get up on time, to wear jeans and be responsible for so many things. 

I thought you would hate sitting down and listening to lectures and lessons at the chalkboard. 

I thought you would really pout about having to eat a sack lunch or what ever the "school" gives you. 

I thought you would beg back your cushy little life of privilege and pajamas.  

But the opposite happened. 

You actually love school this way. 

You love the structure, the schedule, the expectations, the higher standard, the responsibility, the lessons, and accomplishments... 

You love that we have handed all of this to you with sure confidence that you could achieve it, and you are well aware that you are excelling even more so under these circumstances that you were on cruise control with a demanding lip. 

You have certainly risen to the occasion, and I am truly humbled by what I have seen and learned. 

You were doing very well before, but you were sassing and smarting off and wearing a pair of pants too big for your own size. And not just during school.

All along I thought it was just you, when in fact it wasn't you at all. It was me. It was how I was doing things; just you and me, fun and family, snug around the dinning room table, laughing in our sweat suits and tangled bed heads. 

It was fun. It really was. And I don't regret one second of it.

But in hindsight I can see how we got where we did.

And looking to the future, there may not be pretend busses or bag lunches after this week, but not too much else will be changing around here - and the funny thing is, none of us are sorry about it.


A Day in the Life

I kept a record of this day... I'd like to do this more often once in a while. 
I would love to have these from when I was a kid. 

6:55  you woke and came down to climb in bed with us - we gave your Dad a sandwich cuddle

7:10  your Dad got up for his shower and we snuggled another few minutes

7:15  you got up to draw at the kitchen island (you’ve been drawing every morning this week)

7:30  I made the bed – your Dad made you eggs and toast – I made us all green drinks

7:45  Your Dad and I had our morning slow dance to James Morrison’s, You Make It Real

7:50  We waved your Dad off to work at the front door (everyday, we stand in the front door -all window- and as your Dad drives off to work, he rolls down his window and waves to us. It’s a tradition you started years ago.)

7:55  You went back to your drawings while I put the dogs out, fed them, and cleaned the poop out of Frank’s kennel L

8:10  I gave sassy Frank a bath in the kitchen sink and then disinfected the sink and counters

8:15  I tidied up the rest of the house (not much to do)

8:30  We started homeschool with four pages of addition practice in Math – a light day today, because you have done extra each day this week, working until 2 and 2:30 each day!

8:45  You did a few worksheets while I started a game of Canasta online.

9:15  You wrote out the answers to some of the questions in your Science book from our experiment this week.

9:30  You took a break

9:45  We watched your lesson for the day in Institute for Excellence in Writing – Created a Story Sequence Chart

10:20 We snacked while finishing IEW – PB toast & water

10:40 Typing lessons

11:00 You did Spanish while I prepped for dinner

11:30 You did art while I watched my devotional

12:00 We had lunch – pizza, honey crisp apples with cinnamon, left over goat cheese mac w/ bacon and gf panko, and baked beans

12:15 You played while I got ready to go out with you for the afternoon

12:45 I set up the Robot Vac to clean the floors while we were gone and we left for Susan’s house

1:00  I visited with Susan while you played with their dog, Grace, in the backyard

2:30  Went to the Once Upon a Child for some costume pieces for your play – got them

4:00  Went to Smart Cow - yummmmm

4:30  Went to costume fitting for play

5:00  I put dinner to finish while you put dogs out

5:15  You and I played Super Nintendo

5:30  Your Dad came home from work with beautiful flowers for me

5:45  We played some more while he showered and dinner finished

6:15  We all ate and watched Little House on the Prairie (we're in Season 5)

7:15  You brushed, washed, had your water and said good night to your Dad while I put the dogs out one last time for the day and tucked them into their room

7:30  I brought you up to read (Battlefield of the Mind for Kids and Tom Sawyer), pray, talk, cuddle and tuck

8:20  I am heading to bed for devotions with your Dad, a little Modern Family or Duck Dynasty, or X Factor


Eighth Birthday

You asked to go to the Tundra Lodge again this year for your Birthday. We went for your sixth as well, and you loved it. We decided that you could bring more friends this time, because we weren't going to stay the night. You selected Jaymee, Zach and Logan. No surprises there. :)
Uncle Tony also joined us for the day.

You decided you didn't want a cake this year. You just wanted Smart Cow.

Knowing that you would all need to eat, we started the day at Moe's (your favorite restaurant). You all ate lunch, and then we headed over to Smart Cow, where we had ice cream.

Finally, we went to the Tundra Lodge. It was a super fun time. I wore earplugs, which proved to make a much more pleasant experience in the long run. Something about that giant water bucket that dumps all that water ever 2 minutes...

I kicked out your Uncle Tony and your Dad a couple hours in. There was no reason for us all to sit there the whole day. They went to our house to play video games. :)
I plowed through a ton of photos I needed to edit for work.

Around 7:30pm we packed up and headed out. Logan's parents came and got him, we dropped Jay off at home on the way by, and Zach came home with us where Aunt Pam came and picked him up around 8:30.

They stayed to watch you open all your gifts as we also skyped with Gra and Pepere. You got every Playmobil thing you asked for, including the mansion and all the furniture. You got your first real knife and sheath from your Dad. And you got the fort builders that Jaymee has, which you love.

The day was a success. You are eight! 
Good night. 


Good Day - Fun Play

Today, you are having such a good day. Your mood and attitude are amazing. You're positive, fun, dedicated, kind, honoring (even when I asked you to empty the dishwasher), friendly and cute!

You've been diligently plugging through school for five hours now, with only one 20 minute break for lunch. You're having fun and even adding your own things to your studies (i.e: can we look up bats and Ibis? can I do Fire Typer - after your typing lesson)  I'm not sure what is up but I wish I knew what determines that you have such a day. I'd make it happen more often.

Yesterday, you started rehearsals for the play you were recruited into. Miss Teresa, the director of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, with Evergreen (our top local theater production co.), thought you would be perfect for the part of a student named Hobie in the play. 

You just asked me a couple months ago if you could be in another play. Your last one was years ago when you played the Cheshire Cat in Alice and Wonderland through the YMCA. So, when this opportunity came up we were grateful for it. 

Your first rehearsal was adorable. There are lots of kids, from about your age to high school students. You all had introductions, a lesson in projection, warmups and a full read through of the script. It was awesome. I'm so proud of you. And the first thing you said to me when it was over was that you wish you had even MORE LINES!!! Shocked me out of my shoes. This is not like you at all. We'll seeeeee!

Your rehearsals are twice a week for an hour and a half each day. The studio happens to be right next to a scrapbook and card making store/workshop. So, I will be toggling between having dinner out with your Dad (who works about a mile from your rehearsals and gets out of work just as you begin) and making cards with the ladies during your rehearsals. Your Dad and I love a little alone-time-date-night, and I could sure use some mama-hobby-time, too! Perfect all the way around. 


A Day to Remember

Today, I don't want to forget:

how you did school so well, and I'm pretty sure I learned more than you. 

how your dad was home with his second round of the cold he gave me that I can't seem to shake. So, at noon we ate lunch, and then we let you play minecraft while he snuggled me and watched a movie and I napped. 

how you got a "Paper Pumpkin" card making craft kit in the mail from Gra, and you and I had the nicest, easiest, most conveniently fun time creating them after dinner. 

how during dinner we all watched another Little House on the Prairie together. 

how you and I played Playmobil, and my people had dinner with the campers across the river. the way they hit it off and are going to build some furniture, go fishing, and have dinner together again tomorrow. how one family will buy a puppy from your pet store, and how your son is going off to warrior school for two weeks! :)

how we decluttered your room, cleaned your fish tank fresh, replaced all the light bulbs as dimly as we could, and started a new (hopefully successful) night routine to help you fall asleep better. 

how I will stamp the date and write a brief line of todays memorable moments to read next year on our new memories calendar, and then I will climb into bed next to your sleepy daddy for more snuggles and a show before we pass out for the night. 

how I love you and our little sweet family so much. 

I love you Zeek. 


Sept Update

We're a couple of weeks from your eighth birthday. You're getting so big. You're more loving, sweet, kind, patient, funny, intelligent, and fun to be with than ever. You've really come a long way this year. 

Some of the things I think you'd like to know about or remember when you are grown:

You used to be kind of haughty and sassy toward me around others. You aren't anymore. 

I have had quite a few people tell me that you are such a good boy. At one of our Homeschool gatherings, a mom who observed us throughout the day later complimented me on how polite and respectful you are. And one of my closest friends thinks you are the best kid ever (this is NOT the only reason she's one of my best friends). 

You are a read-a-holic. You read books that are way above your grade level. We just finished reading together, "The Ship's Cat Doris" by Jane Simons, and we are now reading, "Beryl, A Pig Gone Wild" by the same author. You are reading a book called "Bulldog Won't Budge" by T.T. Sutherland. You are also into a book series called "Doyle and Fossey Science Detectives". You read about 3-5 medium length kids' novels a week, not including what you have to read for school. 

You are a pretty picky eater. I blame your parents. You really only like to eat pizza, tacos, chicken nuggets (thankfully, I've nailed down a homemade recipe you actually like), cheese burgers, ham and cheese sandwiches COLD ONLY, hot dogs, apple sauce, any berries but blue, bananas, apples, pear, carrots, peanut butter and jelly sometimes, meatballs (meatball sandwiches), meat loaf, cereal, pancakes, muffins, lemon poppyseed anything, french toast, waffles, and your absolute favorite... eggs benedict. 

That may seem like quite a list, and I'm sure it's missing an item or two, but this is NOT a lot to chose from when it comes to feeding time. You don't even like spaghetti anymore!
I honestly don't worry much as long as you keep drinking your green drinks.

After hating Frank almost as much as you hated Apple when she was a puppy, you finally love Frank, almost as much as you love Apple now. You'll never love any dog like you love your Pug Doug. She is your princess. You make her a special bed of pillows and blankets in whatever room you are in, and she sleeps with you every night. You have about 100 "pet" names for her. 

We'd all still like a teacup Chihuahua. It's a sickness - this dog thing. 


You're doing brilliantly in school. Well, if I'm going to honestly gush on and on about how amazingly genius you are, I will honestly add that you aren't great at math. Mainly subtraction... I've never seen you pick something up and not wax with it by the end of a lesson. Math waxes you more than not. I'm not stressing over it though. You're so young, and there is plenty of time (and brain development) for catching on. 

Back to how well you are doing... 
You are in an accelerated writing curriculum. I basically had to train and test to even know how to teach it to you. It's INSANE! I'm learning so much. And you are treating it like it's baby stuff. Sometimes, I even double your lessons (like today) just so you're not board. 

When I was a kid I studied and memorized things for tests, and then as soon as the test was over I forgot at least 80% of what I "learned".
You learn stuff, and it's like you love it. You act like you've gained something from it. Like you got a new toy. And your retention is out of this world. 

For example: last week, two of your 12 vocab words in Geography were biotic and abiotic. You aced the vocab test in the first try (not uncommon) and then today, you were playing and you said, "Stop that you crazy thing... I am not a thing. I am biotic. Not abiotic."   

Your vocabulary is vicious. Your Dad and I love it. 

I wish I found more time and motivation to write here for you. I'm less guilty over not keeping up now that you are of an age that you will likely remember. 
I am having you post here this school year now and then. 

I'm sure I'll be back now and then too. :) 


First Day of Third Grade

Today I did Bible, math, science, spanish, art, gym, and reading. We got class room pets this year. HEMIT CRABS. Totally unexpected.   



Since They've Been Gone

we've been closer - all three of us - we've been us again in the same way but with a little bit new

we've been cuddling - how i missed all this cuddling 

we've been reading - The Ship's Cat Doris, to be specific - it's better than the movies

we've been talking again - there's nothing like really Knowing you

we've been laughing - last night we laughed so hard, about what i don't remember... biting and chewing maybe?

we've been playing - playmobil mostly 

we've been going out together again - every outing is like a special date - lunches - parks - playdates- even shopping is so much fun with just you

we've been getting ready - for third grade - for fall - for whatever God is bringing us to next

you've been different - you laugh more and move easier, you breathe like water flows and there's nothing trapped inside about you now - it all comes out

you've been a kid

you've been showing more and more signs of eight - i can't believe you're almost eight

your wrists are almost as thick as mine - your face is growing up - you are so beautiful - i love to watch you grow and smile - smiling and growing... two best things on earth

since they've been gone


Door County - August '13

These photos are in crazy random order... but it's no matter. 

The point is, a couple of days after Jada, Kaila, Leo and their Mom headed home from our place,
you, your dad, and I headed north for a little vacation alone together, away from it all.

It was one of the best times we've ever had. Period.

We discovered the fun that is Geocaching.
And we pretty much filled in all the gaps between swimming, eating, and playing
with GPS coordinated treasure hunting.

It was SO much awesome. 

Each Geocaching adventure led us to a new place we had never been before.
We climbed, hiked, scaled rock walls, trekked through woods, walked docks and beaches...

We registered and chose the family name 

We took our pictures at ever site we found. 

We uploaded one from each place to the Geocaching site.

We also shopped for our own box of swag for trading.

Seriously, ridiculous fun.

We ate at Al's every morning. And the Wild Tomato a couple of times too, of course.
We also tried Casey's for the first time.
You had ice cream from Not Licked Yet, and I from The Creamery.
And we visited Bea's (Geocaching) where we got some delicious jams and baking mixes.

You and your Dad swam ALOT.

Even At night. It was very sweet.

And, as usual, we got crazy at the Confectioners.

We finally wrote on that big Anderson barn/warehouse.

We barely watched any TV the entire four days... 
although, we did watch Jurassic Park for your first time.

We played Playmobile and took hot whirlpool tub baths at night.

Your Dad and I celebrated our wedding anniversary on our last day of vacation.

It was a time away, apart from the dogs, jobs, home and our lives
that your Dad and I will never forget.