Thursday, September 30, 2010

Learning Notes::Wk1:2010

It took us a while to get over summer and vacation and such and get back to school. Most of the summer we have played with school now and then but come fall it seems like it's time to get down to the business of 1st grade.

Learning Our Faith:
  • We continued to learn the catechism by heart. John is pretty good at the 1st through 5th commandments and this week we added the 6th, there were some interesting signs to learn.
  • We read aloud First House and First Sin from A Child's Garden of Bible Stories.
Learning to Read - John is perhaps more interested in this than any other subject at this point and can often be found riding around in his chair with a book, looking through the pages and if asked tells us that he wants to learn to read big books like this, lately it's been Canterbury Tales.
  • Phonics from Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading we added K and L. Vowel recognition continues to be a struggle but he is getting better every time.
  • Phonemic Awareness - we are reading Rhyming books and while working on the poem Twinkle Twinkle Little Star we are emphasizing the rhyming words.
  • Dolch List - John is working on the green list and was able to actually read 7 words this week.
  • Teaching Reading with Children's Books - we have been rereading Here Comes the Cat and John has been working on spelling out 'here', 'comes' and 'cat' with his magnetic letters. John has also enjoyed Fox on the Box and I Want a Pet. We've repeated these enough though that we were both ready to see them go back to the library and as he progresses in Phonics I'm guessing that the importance of this aspect of his reading education will decrease.
Language Arts:
  • We did the first 2 lessons in First Language Lessons and John did great with all the new signs and the concepts, well there is plenty of time to work on them.
  • John continues to enjoy doing a page in his Handwriting Without Tears workbook. Writing is a huge challenge for him, but he continues to try and he loves doing it.
  • John is working on memorizing poems, he has Twinkle Twinkle Little Star pretty much down and he is getting better with BINGO.
  • Reading aloud is perhaps the biggest part of our school day and the part that all of us enjoy the most. This week we finished the third Magic Tree House book Knights at Dawn, started Stuart Little, and continued reading poems from Favorite Poems Old and New
Math:
  • I want to use Singapore Math 1st Grade and we will get there, but I realized that John has a problem with the concept of counting. This is frustrating because I have counted to him over and over through the years because I love math, then it dawned on me that I have counted to him and that he has not been counting. So right now we are working very hard on the concept of counting. This has some challenges as John is currently unable to make the signs for 6, 7 and 8 but by the end of the week he was rock solid on the amounts 1 through 3, with 4 and 5 being better, these are also the signs that he does the best and I think that goes hand in hand, no pun intended.
Music
  • John LOVES music, loves it! So we have decided to start with some music appreciation and will eventually move into piano lessons too, but that has difficulties of it's own. This week we started reading Bach by Wheeler and Deucher and listening to Bach's music. John has enjoyed both the story and the music.
Art
  • We will eventually move into Drawing With Children for this week John took the introductory art test again. The first time he took it several months back he had no understanding of putting a copy of the drawing in each block, this time the concept is there and a few of them he even got pretty well. We will continue to do the art test from time to time, at least once a week, until he has a little better mastery over it and then dive into this book. He loves to draw and draws for me all the time and his drawing is getting to be more and more understandable so this is something that we are both looking forward to.
Therapy At Home
  • This is done all the time, John walks off and on through out the day and everything he does is helping to train and strengthen his fine and gross motor skills. This week we played with playdoh and clothespins intentionally, the rest just comes as a consequence of life.

And the total was...

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...2 times on the boats (this was his first ever carnival ride)...

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...2 times on the little ferris wheel (the first with his friend Kristin, the second by himself during which he stood the whole time hanging on the cage like a grinning monkey)...

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...2 times on the bugs (the second time with his hands in the air like the big kids do :)...

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...and 3 times on the tanks (each time enjoying them more and being less ready to leave).

By the time we took him home, after 9p, he had asked to get on each of the big rides and was particularly put out (not ill behaved just intent on he really wanted to ride) about not getting to ride the zipper, I'm not sure what attracted him to it, but personal experience and the over-abundance of screaming teenagers on it made sure that it was not happening this year!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The only thing better...

...than doing your schoolwork is getting to show it to dad!

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Just Like My Cousins

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John came screeching around the corner with the toothpick in his mouth and the serious look on his face, I asked him what he was doing and he told me cousins, well of course, they are the only two that he's probably ever seen with a toothpick in their mouths. It was a nice reminder of how even across all these miles Wyatt and Joseph can influence their little cousin, we love you both!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Do You See What I See?

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Well according to John this is a man with a head, hair, nose and back, um that's exactly what I see. So I've been toying with starting Drawing With Children with John this year, and maybe working through some Ed Emberely books with him, hmmmmm, seems like the time might just be right :)

***Later in the day, Mark came home and John was so proud of his pic and that dad was wanting to see it, and showed him the ears and back and such. Mark wanted to know who the pic was of and through some signing and talking and back and forth John told us that it was him when he grew up to be a man like dad.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Family

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We find as the years go on and one obligation or another keep us from seeing family as often as we would want that the miles between us seem more and more a burden and less and less a blessing as in our youth we thought them to be. According to Google maps, Mark's dad, Papa, lives 861 miles away, that is at least 861 miles too darn far! So we enjoy his company, relish his stories and love his presence whenever he is able to come our way or we are able to go his. This past week we were blessed to have him stay with us, what with the miscarriage, gigantic enthusiastic puppy and such it was a stressful week in our house, but Papa's presence made it better and in the end helped us get through the stress with a bit more sanity in tact than otherwise would have clung to us. Thanks Papa, we love you!

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Papa inspired pie, mmmmmmmmmmm :)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Face of Determination

As each day goes by we see John more and more determined to find his independence, physically as well as other ways, lately it has been to initiate and work on his own physical therapy routine :)

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

John 3.0

There are times when we go to clinic and think things will go great and they are scary, like last time, or when we go and think things will be scary and they are great, then there are times like this where we just don't' know what to expect.

The docs were floored, the nurse coordinators were amazed, and at one point the surgeon just sat there staring at John in amazement and told us that we are now looking at John 3.0, something new and GOOD! Mark and I have known from the first moment of John's life that we were on a journey of miracles where in we would live and love and be forever different than anything we had ever been before or ever known we could be. Over these past almost 7 years we have had times when this sense of 'something way bigger than us' has been heightened to an almost palpable state, some of those times have been marked with tears and fear and yet peace knowing that John was in Christ's hands even if he wouldn't remain in ours and at other times it's been with smiles and laughter and amazement that he had survived yet another health crisis.

Today is a smiles and laughter time, it is the first time John has ever been sent home from clinic without labs due every week or every other week, he has no need for labs to be done until we return at the end of October. The first time that the doctors have ever been floored in such a good way that they were scrambling trying to figure out how this is happening and what to do and then realized that while a little med tweaking is in order (steroids reduction and such) that there really is nothing to do but let him eat and play and see him in a month. This is the very first time that we have ever been sent home with directions to please email them with weekly weights so that they can watch and make sure he doesn't gain too much, yep, gain too much is what I said! They are turning his tpn down a little trying to keep him from getting too fat, that's just amazing to even think about. He is actually on the growth chart, 10th percentile for weight for his age, he's never hit that curve one time in his life.

We are floored, we are stunned, we are thankful, we are overjoyed and we are humbled to know that God has put this amazing gift in our arms to love and cherish and teach and enjoy.

Read Me to Sleep

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Attitude Trumps Size Any Day

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If you will notice the dog is about twice the size of the boy, yet it is the boy who can get a hold of one end of the dogs leash and lead her anywhere at any time without her pausing or pulling. It is also the boy that can sit with her and hold her without any argument from her. His attitude seems to say, you're my dog, and the dog seems to realize the truth of the matter at hand.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Inevitabilities

If this life some things are just inevitable. Like when little boys eat spoonfuls of butter for supper...

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...and then go get on the potty before getting ready for bed, the dog likes to help...

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...everybody loves butter.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

'Tis Better to Give...

...than to receive. A phrase that children often hear and a reality that seems to be truly only grasped by adults. As we watch our son grow he does not even realize how much he truly gives to others, his mere presence seems to bring joy and peace and meaning to life, not just to us but to all around him.

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Lately we have been helping a young friend get a better handle on life and as the days pass we see glimpses of him learning this amazing truth in life, on this night, after some really difficult conversations he spent some time letting John help him sand some boards to make shelves to store John's school supplies on. It was amazing to see just how much it meant to our little boy to have this fun time together and how much the older one realized that giving is truly better than receiving could ever be.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Look Mom...No Hands...Well Almost

Getting John ready for bed is always entertaining and interesting. This night he was showing me how he could hold his power toothbrush in his teeth without hands. Once the camera was involved he was able to get close but couldn't quite do it again. Lol, of course by the time he was done he had bitten the running toothbrush so hard and so many times that it now resides in the trash and he has moved on to new toothbrush territory.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Reading to Myself

I was wondering what all the jabbering was about. When I came around the corner, there was John, who had been happily walking back and forth holding onto the bookshelves reading to himself. This seems like such an important pre-reading step, and it's just a delight to hear him jabbering away page after page.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Valley of the Shadow of Death

Is not meant for us to walk through, as much as people say that death is a natural part of life it is not, it is inevitable, but it is alien to our new nature in Christ and an affront and an offense each time we walk through mourning a loved one. Mourning an unborn child is no different than mourning a loved one with whom we have spent much time here on earth, no different other than it is darker and sadder because there are no shared memories, no happy times, no joys or smiles or peals of laughter to remember. Thank you to everyone who is praying for us, encouraging us, and helping us through this walk through deaths shadow. Mark chose to name this baby Helena, after the mother of Constantine who connected historical sites and scripture and is celebrated on Holy Cross day, the day on which it became evident that our Helena had entered heaven before us and is now one more connection with heaven and one less with this earthly life. Come Lord Jesus, Come quickly, but in the mean time Lord Have Mercy on us and all the broken hearted.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sometimes it's more than it seems...

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...and sometimes it's just fun. John loves turning circles in his chair, turning circles in his chair while Steven rides circles around him on his bike is even better. Steven came to live with us for a second chance in life, you'll see him in more pictures as time goes on. He has moved into a role as John's big brother, one which seems to be beneficial to them both and brings smiles to all around.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Lessons despite no school...

...ok so I haven't gotten back to school yet, but John is certain that he is still learning stuff all the time. Today it was to find the proper size screwdriver to fit through the hole in the wall of dad's study.

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Oh and then to come get mom to take his picture :)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Wedding Pictures

Ok, so I finally have the wedding pictures cropped and uploaded. There is one picture of the whole wedding party, but mostly it's pictures of John with his cousins, John with his uncle and cousins, John with Mark, well okay I will admit it I like taking pictures of John. I'm sure one of the others will come along with 'real' wedding pictures at some point, the photographer is the same one who did the engagement pics so they will be wonderful when you get to see them. For today, here is John at Wyatt and Brooke's wedding.

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In the end he mostly just wanted his dress clothes off and his shorts back on so that he could sit and stick his feet in the pool. Thanks to my friends who have shown me that real mommies can do anything in a skirt, I sat right next to him and we dangled our feet in the pool and played with the flowers that were floating. I love getting to spend time with my buddy and when he was ready to get rocks from the landscaping and throw them in the pool we knew it was time to take him back to the hotel!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ah, the ocean :)

I have never had a desire to be around the ocean other than one time just to see what it looked like. When Mark and I were first married he took me to Myrtle Beach, um, ho hum, not too impressive, but mostly because I'm a mountain girl and the ocean is pretty boring from the top. But while in California I wanted John to see the ocean so that when we looked at an ocean on a map this school year he had a good picture of what we were talking about. Even thought I'm not really an ocean person, I do realize that it, like mountains, cannot be adequately describe through words or pictures, nothing is like the real thing. My nephew's Sergeant suggested Huntington Beach which turned out to be the perfect place to go. So the morning of the wedding, my mom, Mark, John and I took off for the beach - we could have been helping with the wedding, I know, but really a 6yo on mischief juice is not helpful, nor are the parents that spend their whole time chasing him and fixing what happened in his wake.

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We were all a little shocked at just how cold the water was when it got on our toes, but oh it felt good. The temperature when we left the hotel was already well over 100 degrees, but at the beach it was a nice cool 79 and the water was gorgeous and clear.

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John was wanting to build sand castles, and some day we will have to go back and do that. He was happy to bury his legs and feet in the sand for a few minutes and then we were off to get ready for the wedding. Lol, several showers later there was still sand in the motel bathtub from the little sand monkey.