This stage of life is much more full than previous stages. (I refuse to say “busy” because that implies we’ve put too much on our calendar, which we intentionally haven’t). It’s full because we are in a stage where grades count (high school transcripts), we’ve added a more rigorous writing component to our school day, and homeschooling four kids with a new crawler around the house is always an adventure. Not to mention that we’ve never participated in co-ops (to avoid the “busy” feel) and this semester we’re in two. Giving this a trial run!
Because of the above we have decided to step out of soccer and PWOC… both of these things are fantastic and we wish we could fit them in, but we are all grateful for the rest as the evenings belong to us and not the soccer fields! With two afternoons out of the house for co-ops, we’re grateful that we don’t have a third morning away from home with PWOC and our Saturdays are ours.
We are still involved in Chapel and the boys go to youth group, so we are all growing in our faith, it’s just without PWOC for this season. I totally intend to jump back in at some point.
So when I start to feel bad about all the things I used to do and all the people I want to call and chat with and all the letters I used to write and all the activities I used to participate in, I remind myself that at no other time in my life have I homeschooled a high-schooler, two middle-schoolers, and a first-grader all with a baby in the house. I’ve never done a co-op, let alone, two! I’ve never taught a writing-intensive course for three students, and I’ve never had to grade as many writing papers as I do now. I’m thankful that I am still able to teach FPU but that is about all I have time for in my current stage of life. And I love it. Our days don’t go perfectly and we’re still working on a good rhythm (because Anna’s sleep patterns keep changing), but I wouldn’t change anything!
Little-one mastered getting from a lying position to sitting… but it is taking her a while to figure out how to get back down. Sometimes I’ll have to go in 5-6 times to lay her down at nap time. It has wreaked havoc on her nap schedule.)
I am beyond proud of my bigs. They are really doing well in school and I am very pleased with how our first eight weeks of the year have gone. I am seeing a vast improvement in all three of their writing skills. I was always afraid to teach writing because it is such a subjective activity. IEW helps remove some of that, turning it into a more objective activity, and I can see that they are thriving with this method. In fact, I’m even starting to see them increase their creativity and the “rules” are becoming more natural and fluid. (Instead of going back to add in the dress-ups, they’re finding themselves writing them in the first draft AND having more than necessary. The process is working!)
Parker is getting so excited about “reading” by Christmas. What that means to him is that we will be done with the yellow book (100 Easy Lessons) and he’ll be reading the books on our book shelf. I have decided that once we finish 100 EL we’ll move into Level 1 All About Reading. I don’t see any evidence of dyslexia but I do think the program (AAR) will help him be a more fluent reader.
I can’t remember if I shared here that Bailey was identified as dyslexic over the summer. We had him evaluated and it was apparent… no questions asked. A few weeks after he was identified we took him to a specialist to have him assessed the CALT therapist was amazed that he is reading on grade level despite the dyslexia. I showed her the All About Reading materials and she was floored. She was really impressed and attributed his success to the fact that he was never made to feel behind thanks to homeschooling and the AAR program. It teaches in a methodical way that is proven to follow the steps that dyslexics best learn. (“Evaluation” determined THAT he is dyslexic and provided him with an official 504 and the “Assessment” determined where he is academically.) He struggles with handwriting and spelling, but those are much less important than the skill of reading, so he’s way ahead of where the therapist would have expected a person of 12 to be, having not been diagnosed until that age.
Of course, our lives don’t revolve around school, even if we do spend much of our time doing school. Our lives really revolved around this little princess:
That is a new face she started making about a month ago and while she rarely does it anymore, for a while it was her standard expression to anything that made her happy. Her curls are really starting to come in and they are absolutely gorgeous!
On August 16th Anna pulled to standing for the first time. Since then she has taken off and pulls up on everything! Last night (9-16-16) she actually let go for a split second and stood.
The above pictures were taken in our hotel room in Austin. We made an overnight family fun trip just because we could. She slept just fine in her hotel crib. The first day we went to an indoor trampoline park and the second we went to the Austin Aquarium. Anna loved the Stingrays.
With the products that a little girl requires we needed a bit more shelving. Matt helped me get her hair-care station set up. I can grab her bows and other products while she’s sitting on her changing table. No more carrying her to the other side of the room to find a matching accessory.
In August Matt officiated the wedding of a couple of Apache pilots he deployed with in 2014. I adore this image. I was going for a fun shot of the table setting and the dancers, but I had no idea until afterward that I captured one of our friends dancing with his daughter.
Anna at her first wedding with her dad.When it was time to dance, Matt and Anna had a precious moment. Below this picture I’ll insert a video. I had tears streaming down my face as we have waited so long for this little girl. It really hit me that we have a daughter when I saw them dancing together. And of course, I was fast forwarding to her wedding day in my mind!
(Oh, and she was not taking the dance nearly as seriously as I was!!)
Anna’s first time down the slide.
In honor of our Adoption process being completed we celebrated with a “Happy Hamrick Day.” Anna will always have both birth certificates and both Social Security Cards. She will always have had the last name of her first mom. It’s a name I want her to be proud of. I never want to take that away from her, and having a new last name does not in any way change who she is, where she came from, or who her first mom is. I just want to put that out there so that anyone reading will know that, as happy as we are that our adoption is finalized and that we are celebrating Anna becoming a Hamrick, we honor her first last name and who gave it to her. In addition, she was given the name “Madeline” by Mama Kim and she will carry that with her for her whole life. Here are a few pictures from the small celebration we had in August.
Carson designed the following and let Anna tear the display down. He didn’t have enough “As” to make Anna’s name at the same time so he came up with a creative workaround in the third image.