Wow! I can’t believe it’s already May, and I haven’t posted anything since 2012! So much has been happening and so much change is on the horizon for us – I’ve had less than zero blog time lately. Luckily, my amazing hubby has taken the boys for the day as a Mother’s Day gift to me, so I am taking the opportunity to sit, relax, reflect and write. I’ll start with a recap of some significant events over the past few months.
Worst December Ever
In December 2012 my then-18-month-old niece was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma, a rare form of cancer. By the time the aggressive tumor in her right eye was discovered she had lost all vision in that eye, and drastic steps had to be taken to save her life. I can’t even put into words what our family went through, in terms of emotional turmoil and pure fear. We were all in complete shock over how fast everything moved from discovering something was wrong to processing the required treatment: enucleation. If you don’t know what that procedure is you can Google it.
My niece, Olive, is a kind-hearted, hard-headed, sweet, beautiful, inquisitive little spirit and she endured all the trauma of this process with strength. I’m awestruck by her. I can’t even begin to imagine the suffering that Jess and Robert (her mom & dad) endured, but the long story short is she is now cancer free and we are gearing up to celebrate her 2nd birthday next month. Jessica has started a blog about the ordeal in hopes of helping other families dealing with Retinoblastoma. When her site goes live I’ll link to it here.
Both my husband and Jessica had birthdays the week we learned of Olive’s condition, so neither of them even wanted to think about celebrating anything. Christmas came and the kids had a great time. We had a good Christmas, considering.
The highlight of January was Dax turning the big five-oh! I still can’t believe my baby is five. He’s an incredible help now – I really think turning 5 was the Magic Transition. He is so helpful and he really wants to do right by everyone. Dax is obsessed with The Power Rangers Samurai and idolizes Jayden, the Red Ranger. He loves to show off his Samurai moves and karate kick & chop any stationary object (doors, appliances, bath tub, car tire, etc.). We are going to try out a martial arts class this summer, just to see if it’s something he wants to really learn about or just play for fun. He loves to climb any tree he can find, and he also loves making “snacks” which is basically combining several unappetizing ingredients together in a bowl and adding some kind of liquid, lots of sugar that David uses for his morning coffee, and then stirring it all together and soaking it in the fridge until he forgets about it.
Jace has been changing and growing every day, quite literally. He has been having severe growing pains in his legs at night, and he has outgrown almost all his 3T clothes! He loves baseball-type activities, role play games of hunting monsters and bad guys, and sparring with swords and light sabers. My favorite thing about Jace right now is that he’s totally in this “I love you” phase. I think he tells me that he loves me 700 times a day. This is like a night and day difference from this time last year when I could seldom get a hug from the kid!
Speaking of affection, I simply adore our Thursday homeschool play group. We have found the most amazing group of kids and parents, and I absolutely cherish all of them. In
February we got together for a Valentine’s Day party and everyone got a big bag of special Valentines cards, all unique and adorable. The boys were thrilled, and I was ecstatic to be a part of that group.
In February we also made the trip to Missouri to visit my dad and his side of the family. It was great to see the kids play in 6 inches of snow, and also visit “the farm” – a place dear to me that has changed very little since my childhood.
We visited my 108-year-old Grandma and stayed with my Aunt
Anna Lynn and Uncle Lynn. I’m extremely grateful for that visit because since our visit both my Grandma and my Uncle Lynn have passed away. We visited the Science Center, the Museum of Western Expansion, the Arch, and saw the childhood home of Mark Twain (and the infamous Tom Sawyer fence!).
Also in February we joined our Little Texas Homeschoolers group on a trip to Inner Space Caverns in Georgetown. Thank goodness my mom came with me. I have no idea how I could’ve managed that without her. The kids had a blast, and we enjoyed the tour of the cavern.
As if February couldn’t get any crazier, I came down with the flu, suffered a case of walking pneumonia, and also found out some pretty heavy news!
We’re expecting a baby in October! My head was spinning from about mid-February until mid-March, when I finally came out of the fog of all my various illnesses. It’s hard to be excited about being pregnant when you’ve just been hit with a stomach bug, at the same time as your two kids! Everyone’s excited and happy about the news, including me now that it’s sunk in and I’m not sick anymore. We’ve had a series of tests done and now at 18 weeks I can say the baby is perfectly healthy in there. So far, so good!
March was fun because we were able to get back in the swing of park days and hanging out with friends. Some of our favorite parks to visit in Austin:
Circle C Park
Dick Nichols Park
Austin Nature Science Center
Play for All Abilities (Round Rock)
Mueller Lake Park
Mary Moore Seabright Park
Bull Creek Park
All these parks are great for just spending the afternoon just playing and having a picnic lunch. March was full of birthday parties and park days, and basically I’m considering the whole first quarter of the year to be our Summer Vacation, since we’re about to ramp it up with the curriculum this summer, for real.
The best part about April was the camping trip we went on with our Camp Fire group! Six families set up sites at McKinney Falls State Park and we had the greatest time just starting fires (er, watching them get started by someone – I didn’t start any) and eating potluck dinner, roasting marshmallows, hiking, swimming and watching the kids run wild like feral children. It was a fantastic trip and I swear I slept better out there then I usually do in my own bed. I can’t wait for the next trip with this group!
Also in April I turned 36, but nevermind that!
We’re officially starting a homeschool curriculum for Dax this summer, so I’m trying to iron out some kind of morning schedule, which we’ve never really had. I go back and forth on our homeschooling “philosophy” and to be honest, I’m still trying to figure out their learning styles. Jace is very drawn to the computer, but I’m not being too serious about the effectiveness of his screen-time academics. He’s obsessed with ABCmouse.com, and
thankfully, it’s just fun for him. He’s 3 years old; I’m not worried about curriculum at this point. I’m thrilled that he can count as high as he can and he likes to ask about how words are spelled – I’m not even going to make that seem like work for him!
Dax is ready for more challenging stuff. He couldn’t possibly care less about ABCmouse.com, or any other online learning tool (Time4Learning was a yawn as well). He needs more face-to-face interaction and encouragement. We are getting
through Book B of the Explode the Code primer (Get Set for the Code) and I just received our Summer project: Saxon Math level K. I’m confident that he can breeze through at least half of these lessons, so I’m being ambitious and we’ll try to get through it over the summer. My goal is to be ready for first-grade curriculum by the fall. I can tell already what won’t work for us: Waldorf (I guess I
won’t be buying Oak Meadow), Christian-based curriculum such as Abeka, Sonlight, and most Charlotte Mason resources. I say most Charlotte Mason because I think I’ve found a happy balance that we might start in the Fall called Build Your Library. It seems like everything I love about the Charlotte Mason approach but without the religious aspects. I’m searching for more reviews but unfortunately it’s fairly new and not much out there in the way of input. I’m also a fan of Critical Thinking Co, and we’re considering Calvert for the upcoming grades but not at this point. So, those ideas plus lots of BOB books, and “twaddle” reading are what I hope to work on with Dax in the coming months. Maybe I’ll scrap all that jazz and we’ll just keep ‘unschooling’. Who knows. For now, everything is so far, so good!