Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sven Speaks

SVEN:  I want more water.

ME:  OK.  [I get him some water.] 

SVEN:  There.

ME:  The polite thing to say is "thank you".

SVEN:  You're welcome, Mommy.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Birth Announcement

Leif Solomon Duede
January 10, 2015 at 10:00 pm
6 pounds, 1 ounce and 19 inches

Monday, December 22, 2014

Soren's Seventh Birthday

Soren is seven!  Whoa!

Because his birthday was the day before we left for our long car trip to Illinois, I thought that it was pretty stressful and probably not much fun for him.  But he seemed very pleased to have reached the austere age of seven.  Here is what we did to celebrate:

1.  I offered to take him out for donuts for breakfast but he informed me that he didn't want any sugar, that a normal breakfast would be just fine.  This has been a thing on and off with him for the past couple of months: he refuses the idea of sweets but is usually perfectly happy to eat them when they are actually there.  I took him at his word; we didn't go out for donuts but had leftover cake from Scott's birthday.

2.  Scott stayed back from work for about 1/2 an hour in the morning while we ate, which was more special than donuts anyways.  He gave Soren his birthday present: measuring tools!  There was a balance, a set of beakers, and a tape measure.  Soren was so delighted; he spent the morning measuring things.

3.  I asked Soren a few days before his birthday if he would like to have homeschool or not.  He opted not.  But when he woke up on the appointed day, he changed his mind.  "We should have school today," he told me, "because I felt my brain growing in the night."  I didn't have any big plans but we did do a read-aloud.  He was very proud of his narration.  He told me that he could remember more details because he was seven.  Apparently, seven is a big deal.

4.  With so little schoolwork to do, Soren spent most of the morning playing with legos.  He made a lego replica of his balance and asked me to take this picture of it:

5.  For my gift, I gave Soren a joke book after lunch.  He read it while I taught Kindergarten and then regaled us all with actually amusing jokes during our walk around the block.  For our Kindergarten art project, we made Christmas cookies (full of sugar but also happily devoured).

6.  Dinner was one of the best parts of the day.  When Scott got home, Soren opened a present from his grandparents (a build your own remote-powered car).  The package also included a bunch of birthday decorations, which I was soooooo grateful for.  I had been too stressed about packing, daycare, and homeschool co-op to put up our traditional birthday banner. But with my mom's foresight, we were able to celebrate in style!  The boys played with balloons and a variety of little doo-dahs while I put up the decorations and finished dinner.  Then, there was chicken pot pie!  And, since Soren asked me not to make a cake (that has sugar in it, you know), we put a candle in a bowl of mixed nuts and sang "Happy Birthday".

7.  After dinner, we went to the ward Christmas sing-along.  It was dark as we were walking but Soren told me that his eyesight had improved now that he was seven and so he wasn't scared of the dark.  At the sing-along, everyone sang "Happy Birthday" to Soren and the Fetzers made him a cake.  And in the last five minutes of the evening, he caved and ate some.  Everyone in our ward loves Soren so it was fun for him to talk with all his adult friends on his birthday.

8. When we got home, it was off to bed, with the promise of a long car trip in the morning.  And a couple of days later, at the end of our long car trip, Soren got his birthday present from Nan: a digital microscope.  He enjoyed using it to take close up pictures of his nostrils and fingerprints.

Happy Birthday, Soren!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Potty Training Sven: Week #2

Number of accidents: 3
Number of successes: 2

Number of accidents: 4
Number of successes: 4

Number of accidents: 8
Number of successes: 7

Number of accidents: 1
Number of successes: 7

Number of accidents: 2
Number of successes: 3

Number of accidents: 2
Number of successes: 7

Number of accidents: 1
Number of successes: 5

I really couldn't be happier about the results of my two-week potty training experiment.  Sven really seems to be getting the hang of this.  Well, at least the peeing part.  Since Tuesday, he has had no pee accidents!  So I think I will keep him in underwear and call this a success.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Homeschool in November

This month was much better than last month.  We got right back into the swing of things and I didn't feel behind at all, which is very encouraging.  There is a lot of flexibility to homeschooling and I am grateful that.  The amount of work we get done can ebb and flow according to the energy level in our home.  On high energy weeks for me, we can do extra readings and projects that require more preparation.  On high energy weeks for the boys, they can take charge of their own projects and bug me until I get the bare minimums done.

I took on two day care kids (age 2 and 4) this month and the older one has been doing Kindergarten with Carl.  He has also joined us for Morning Exercises, which has made that time more fun.  It's surprisingly easy to incorporate the two extra kids into my routines and hasn't thrown us off at all.  And I'm always glad to get more "socialization" for my boys.  Sometimes the apartment does get noisy, though.

In Kindergarten

Stone Soup - I think that Megan and I were both really excited about Thanksgiving cooking this month because we both did stories about food.  For her unit, she told the story of "Stone Soup".  I actually used that story in November two years ago but I don't think Carl remembered it and I know that Megan based her telling on a different adaptation than I did.  On one of the Kindergarten days, all the kids helped to make a stone soup.

The Magic Porridge Pot - For my unit, I told the Grimm's fairy tale of "Sweet Porridge".  I accompanied it with rhymes about cooking ("Peas Porridge Hot", "Bat, Bat, Come Under My Hat", and "Pat-a-cake") and hymns about Thanksgiving ("Come Ye Thankful People Come" and "Because I Have Been Given Much").  On our walks, we got to enjoy the autumn leaves and unseasonably warm weather.  One of the picture books I got to accompany this unit (The Magic Porridge Pot) has become a favorite of Sven's and he asks me to read it several times a day.

In First Grade

This month, we finished our first term with Ambleside Online.  Very little actually changes term to term but we will start studying a new composer and a new painter next month.  For the past three months, we have been listening to the music of Hildegard von Bingen and enjoying the paintings of Fra Angelico, two religious medieval artists.  I was pleasantly surprised by how much Soren and Carl enjoyed being exposed to their works and how easy it was to apply Charlotte Mason's ideas about Composer Study and Picture Study in our home.

For Composer Study, we would listen to a new song every week.  Usually, we would listen to it while Soren did his handwork (knitting) but sometimes the kids would want to just sit and listen.  Nothing else is required to fulfill Charlotte Mason's expectations of a successful Composer Study.  There is no need to give information about the composer or require a response from the child.  They are supposed to forge their own relationship with the work, whatever that may be.  In spite of that, I did begin the term with a short story about Hildegard von Bingin, who was an extraordinary woman.  Soren was impressed that she called herself "a feather on the breath of God".  Carl said that the music was beautiful.

For Picture Study, we would study a new painting every other week.  I would bring the image up on the computer and Soren would sit at the table and look at it.  I set a timer for 5 minutes and told him to look at the picture and memorize the details of it until he could see it in his mind with his eyes closed.  Being quiet and looking at a painting for five minutes was much harder for him than being quiet and listening to music for five minutes.  His eyes and mouth would begin to wander off-task.  But I could refocus him easily.  At the end of 5 minutes, I would close the computer and ask him to tell me everything he remembered about the picture.  Many of the paintings we studied were very busy and so there were lots of interesting details to look at and remember.  And after he had listed everything he could remember, we opened the computer and looked for three more things that he had missed.  Soren liked that all the artwork was religious in nature and about stories from the scriptures that he knew.  I wanted to do a project at the end of the term from the book Discovering Great Artists but we didn't get around to it.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Potty Training Sven: Day Six


Number of accidents: 0
Times ended on the potty: 0
Times started on the potty: 8
Times self-initiated: 0
Times peed on Mom: 0
Ounces of Tang consumed: 20


Today couldn't really have gone any better.  I just went back to normal life, albeit with the added responsibility of taking Sven to the potty every once in a while.  And guess what?  He was dry all day!  Woot!

From past experience, I know that this is not the end.  Your first "dry all day" is always a fluke.  But it's still an encouraging fluke.  Today gives me the motivation I needed to keep going next week.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Potty Training Sven: Day Five


Number of accidents: 8
Times ended on the potty: 0
Times started on the potty: 6
Times self-initiated: 4!
Times peed on Mom: 0
Ounces of Tang consumed: 22


Sven is slowly, but surely, "getting it".  I'm feeling hopeful.  Although, I must admit that I was feeling hopeless this morning.  I was totally ready to give up.  That's when Sven, for the first time all week, told me that he wanted to go pee.  And he was right!  When I helped him with his undies, he sat himself down and peed.  Huzzah!