Our Family

Our Family
Benaiah, Justin, Melinda, Abishai, Keturah, and Jared

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Year 2, Day 31: I Can't Keep Smiling!

Oh, boy!  I haven't been THIS excited in awhile!  Today the three younger kids and I went for most of the day to the local Classical Conversations community day (similar to a homeschool co op) to see the group "in action."  How do I put this? It's like God was confirming all these dreams and goals that I have had for years and years for our homeschool! I don't regret our journey so far because every homeschooler (unless they've done research before their kids reach school age and even then they change their education styles often) goes through these process of discovering how everyone learns the best and what they need and their philosophy of education evolves over time.  However, I WISH I had looked into Classical Conversations a whole lot sooner and had saved myself some anxieties, especially over Benaiah's schooling.

I'll try not to go into details, but I will say this that it's not for everyone that homeschools.  It's pretty rigorous, especially in the 7th-12th grade years.  It's not for those with learning disabilities, at least when you are doing it with a community.  The kids aren't meant to catch on to everything the first time around, and that's the point, but still, I think it would frustrate some.  But for us, (and I'm not bragging), I think we can handle it.  My favorite part is what they teach in the upper grades, which includes Latin, debate, the sciences of course, YOUR choice for math curriculum, and they use the Institute for Excellence in Writing for language arts.  It's an international Christian program which has developed some of it's own curriculum, but also uses outside curriculum like IEW.  You can also choose how deep you go in your history studies, so we can still use our current curriculum.  Anyway, it's not your typical education and it has elements I have wanted to teach the kids, but I'm not quite sure how.  I understand a lot of it, but I don't know how to communicate it.  This program has tons of training along with it, and paid "tutors" who spend one day a week with your student(s) that are trained by the program (for free!).  Also, my nieces, Everly and Nora are in it, AND since it is nationwide, everyone does the exact same thing during the year so the kids can quiz each other! And if we have to move, we can just pick another group and keep going.

So, for our day, the kids LOVED it!  After the first 30 minutes, Keturah says, "I want to come here next week!"  There are several girls her exact same age and a couple of guys and girls exactly Justin's age that like the same things he does, Star Wars, Minecraft, Pokemon AND a guy who loves that neon green color!  Everyone was super nice and helpful, too.  Abishai even had a total blast with 3 or 4 kids his age (the 4-6 year olds also have a "class" in the morning, so it was the 3 and under crowd)!  It is all day, and I won't have a babysitter for the afternoon for naptime because it's on a Tuesday, but we'll manage.  Keturah will go 9:30 to 3 and Justin will go from 8:30 to 3:30.  His class will require a lot of preparation, like 3 hrs a day, and then they discuss it in class.  Keturah will just do review work after they learn it in class, plus some language arts homework.  And me? Well, I get to sit in on class and "help."  Or become a paid tutor.  Or watch little guys, or do whatever.  Plus the work at home of course.  I'm going to have to do some major rethinking and revamping of our home schedule (i.e. keep the field trips to one a month!) to make sure we aren't missing things like handwriting (which has been sorely lacking in the last few years).

Ah, I guess you all might not understand my excitement and that's ok.  I know my fellow homeschoolers do!  And other teachers of course (nothing against them, I just can't stand the environment they are forced to teach in and what they are required to teach and how they are to teach it.)  I can't wait to learn Latin along with Justin, too!  Yup, I'm the weird geek/nerd whatever.  Knowledge is power, right?  The program is more expensive than other books and programs I have bought over the years, but still a fraction of what even Benaiah's school costs (and it's super cheap!)  Ah, if only my parents were here to see it!  Mom would have totally understood my excitement over Logic, Debate, and Latin!

And once again, as I have stated on Facebook and to friends multiple times already, there is nothing wrong with our current homeschool co op!  In fact, we've made some great friends, learned some great material, learned how to deal with other people in difficult moments (minor kid stuff, don't worry), learned how to stick to someone else's schedule, etc.  That group serves their families well and is super well organized and solid.  But I did know going into it that it wasn't my favorite way of educating my children.  We will continue to put our best effort into our studies for the rest of the year, of course.  We'll keep in touch with a lot of those families as well I'm sure.  I will recommend it to families that are looking for that type of group.  It has helped us transition this year as we get our feet back under us.  It's just not my preferred style.  And THAT my friends, is one of the benefits of homeschooling....if it isn't working for YOUR family, then you can change it up!  It will work for other families, and obviously it does because there are been many, many kids graduating high school from that group!

Ok, I was trying NOT to make this post all about this, but, since it is a humongous part of our lives, it's important to include, right?  The kids are exhausted from two full days of people time (my poor little introverts!  except Abishai, he'd go every day all day!)  Thankfully tomorrow and Thursday are pretty calm days.  We have some appointments on Friday afternoon and then it's Bible Bowl competition all day on Saturday, and Keturah's auditions for a speaking part on Sunday.  We'll have to hit the books pretty hard in the morning, but that's ok.  One of the benefits of being out for two days is that the house is NOT a wreak of toys and dishes everywhere! Phew!

Just a couple of pictures, because I was so intrigued with the day, that I just didn't think to take many pictures!

Justin got right into the class and did a show and tell of his drawings when the other kids did mini presentations as well.  This part is get them used to being in front of the class and as they get older, they will critique themselves and each other, as well as the teacher will help them improve their speaking skills.  You also see behind him their memory work of the week which all kids from 4 years old to 11 years old (6th grade) learn on the same day.  The older kids will go more in depth on the same day.  It's straight up memorization without a bunch of explanation at first, so that they have something to "hang" other ideas and concepts on later on.  They do most of their memory work to songs that come on a cd.  Keturah's going to love that part!

I know another kid started this, but Abishai finished putting all the cones in the middle of the hoop.  Then he said, "Mom, mom! (I think he said, "See!" too).!  

I know he also said, "All done!" when he finished!  Oh, at the beginning of their day, the CC group has a family do a presentation on themselves so you get to know each other better and then they lead the group in the Pledge of Allegiance and the Pledge for the Christian flag.  Justin was embarrassed because he didn't know either one.  It just hasn't been a focus for us at home, so I haven't taught them either one of those.  Oh well, he'll catch on to it quickly.  No biggie.
So, hopefully it's an earlier bedtime for me tonight, if I can quiet my mind down a little.  And, I just went to a meeting with the CC director on a whim, just to find out more about CC so I could at least recommend it to others even if we didn't join.  It's always good to find out more information even if you might say no, thanks.  You just don't know what you might come across!

Year 2, Day 30: Playing Secretary

Some days, I feel like I spend more time coordinating our life and not enjoying those events and times together when they do come around! February is proving to be a very tricky month to manage, so I'm going to need to be patient with myself and the kids.  Lots of deep breaths.  Plus, I think the B6 supplement I started needs to be cut in half because it's causing some stomach upset and anxiety of all things, kind of like drinking a Starbucks drink.  So, there's that.

It was a fine day otherwise.  I got some compliments about Keturah and Justin and how attentive they are in class, which is not the case at home, but that's ok.  But they each had their quirks today, too.  Keturah was a bit moody and poor Justin was being teased when one of the girls his age encouraged the younger ones to go after him to get his basketball away from him.  I know they were just teasing, so I tried to work it out with him on how to deal with those kinds of situations.  Justin did get a $5 gift card to a gas station because of having a perfect score on his states' postal codes quiz!

Jared had to work at home today so that the handyman could fix the sink, so he kept Abishai at home until Grandma came and got him.  Jared also hadn't had much time with Abishai, or the other kids, since he was gone all weekend.  And now that he goes to the church to work, there's much, much less time together.  Abishai of course had a great time, and when Grandma brought him home, he threw a huge fit about me taking off his coat and boots, especially when I mentioned Daddy would be home soon.  Abishai also took his nap at Grandma's house without his blankie and paci because they were forgotten at home.  Wow!  It's good to know that he can do that!  And the boy ate some of the 7 bean chili I made for co op today.  I was pretty impressed because it was mild but it had beans, green beans, ground beef, corn, and tomatoes in it.  Very nice!  Benaiah had school of course, and then he went to church to do some volunteer work.

Tomorrow, the 3 kids and I are going to check out that Classical Conversations homeschool co op/group while they are actually meeting.  The middles aren't crazy about having to go out tomorrow, but that's life.  We will come home by naptime, so we won't see everything, but I really just want to talk to the families there.  I also did tell our current group that we are not coming back in the fall.  It's not because we don't like the families there, but I want to steer the kids in a different way educationally.  I know a couple of them read this blog, but I can be honest here.  The group is great for those who want a more traditional school method, but at home.  They have a great group of high schoolers and are great at making sure everyone gets their high school credits and graduates on time.  The younger ones have learned a lot, too.  I just prefer a different focus than that.  I will recommend our current group for those in the area and are looking for that criteria.  Oh, and it's not about the drive either.  We are hoping to move closer to the church, but the current location of co op isn't that much further than now.  It's hard to tell people you aren't coming back. I'm a very faithful, committed person, so it feels like I'm letting someone down when I say no thanks.  But I'm grateful that we've had this year as we've transitioned back to the states.  We've met some great people, too.

Two of the teachers for the littles couldn't come today, so I was with them all morning.  Not an issue because Abishai wasn't with me.  I let them play a ton after my lessons with them because they play so well together.  And, I've been reading a lot about how kids learn through play, like how they can self regulate and come with their own rules so the game is fair, etc.  Anyway, we were getting a little bored, so another mom brought over this game.  You have to match up roads, railroads, and rivers together and each card is different.  Sometimes the roads end and sometimes they turn a weird way.  It's very hard actually.

But this little guy, who can get frustrated at times, was very diligent with it, especially when the girls gave up.  He kept telling himself that he knows that there's a solution to it and he can find it.  And he wasn't saying it arrogantly, it was more of a pep talk.  It was so adorable and awesome!  And he DID get it done!  I was so proud of him!

Just one card was wrong in the whole thing, but I didn't have the heart to tell him!  He called the town "Co-op-ia" in the country of  "India."  Totally cuteness overload!

So two of the girls who stay for afternoon classes and their teacher, who owns the game, fixed that last little piece.  It looks like it took some time though!  Plus they worked on patterns with Connect 4 as well.

Incredible game that was made like in the 1990's by Ravensburger, the awesome game/puzzle company that we have all kinds of puzzles from.

These guys really do cheer me up.  I'm not joking.  Maybe subconsciously the Doctor reminds me to use my mind and Green Arrow reminds me to use my physical body for good.  I don't know, they just make me smile sitting there staring at me.  Yes, I know, I'm weird.

I put the bud that fell off the big flower a couple of weeks ago in a cup with a little bit of water and it has started to open!  Cool!

Abishai finished up his chocolate cars, and he's going to be upset when he asks again for one and they are all gone!  But he did have fun with the wrapper today.

I came home and found all these things on the counter today.  Hm,...I think the boys had a little too much fun while they ate breakfast together.  Also, I forgot to mention that I gave him the small bowl of  chili and walked away.  Well, he was able to get down, with the bowl of chili and walk into the living room to eat it at the coffee table while watching TV without spilling a single drop!  And then he ate it without getting on his clothes!  Wow! I'm pretty impressed that he could do that!

Our newest ritual is to "read" all these books twice a day in this chair.  It makes nursing time longer, but I'm glad to have something to transition, too when he doesn't nurse.  He was really upset after I took this picture and picked him up to put him to bed.  But, he's a typical Johnson with a stack of books, just like his Daddy, and Grandpa, and probably great Grandparents, too.  We LOVE books!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Year 2, Day 28: It snowed BIG flakes!

Wow, it actually snowed all day!  Huge, wet snowflakes!  We didn't have to go anywhere until this evening, and Jared can drive us down to the church if need be.  Kids' choir starts up again this week, as well as youth group.  Keturah wants to try out for a speaking part!  No singing solos though.  So this morning and afternoon, I worked hard at getting the house prepared for the week.  From a load of laundry done, to a meal prepared, to the Christmas decorations put away, phew!  Bags are packed for co op.  Chili ingredients are ready to dump in the pot tonight for our lunch at co op tomorrow.  Lots of good stuff.  The men made it safely home, despite the snow.  They had been up further north this weekend.

Then, at church, we all got to see Jared's new office!  It's not totally furnished, but it's starting to look like "home."  It was kind of fun to watch Gary buzzing around cleaning this or arranging that.  He likes to have things done yesterday, if you know what I mean.  Jared and I are more laid back, and we know it will all get done eventually.  I guess I was pretty giddy about it all because I think it's interesting and awesome that Jared gets to work in the same building he grew up in.  I mean think about it.  Gary and Leah and the boys moved to Indianapolis when Jared was around 10.  When you think about being 10 years old, your mind usually can't imagine being in your late 30's and where you will be.  Ok, I confess, I had lots of dreams of being in my 30's and none them came true in the way I thought they would.  Anyway, I think it's awesome that after you've gotten through the raising of a child(ren), you hopefully get to see who they are and how they've matured, and it's all worth it.  It give me great hope that no matter how much my teens get on my nerves, someday, they will be grown and hopefully serving God in whatever job they have, secular or ministry.  I think we can get so stuck in the here and now and forget the end goal of raising children: competent independent adults that provide something to the culture/society and having embraced your belief system, right?  Kids won't be teenagers forever.  As a friend said to me, they are "adults in training."  It's just so exciting.  Not many can say they are working with their Dad.  And it feels so right.  I know many of you have been praying for me to accept what God has obviously laid out for us, and I can confidently say that I have.  We're looking to move to a home closer to the church.  We are permanently resettling.  I don't know.  It's hard to describe.  I'm just so excited and happy for Gary and Jared!  What a blessing!

That's about it, so here's a few tidbits I forgot to put in the last week or so's posts.  Today, I was randomly kissing Abishai's hands and cheeks and then I kissed one of his toy cars he was playing with.  He thought it was a new and interesting game, so he had me kiss every car! (about 20) And you gave the biggest "cheesy" grin and said, "cheeeesssseeeeeeee" when we bought a container of cottage cheese last night, lol.  Abishai now can shake hands and give high fives!  We just hadn't taught him yet.  A couple of weeks ago, Abishai walked backwards into the bathroom and said, "Beep, beep!" like trucks do when they back up!  I think he probably dreams he's a truck, or a car, or an airplane, maybe a boat!  He also will try to sing the "Thomas the Tank Engine" song if he sees a Thomas character on anything, like a plate or cup.  And lastly, I might have said this before, but there was a family walking by our house a week ago, with a baby in the stroller, and Abishai said, "Giggle, giggle!" And then he got upset and sad when they kept walking.  Which reminds that he can almost say the word, "Friends!" He woke up groggily for his nap yesterday, so I said, "Do you want to go see your friends at church?" "Friends!" he said (or something close that) and he lit up like a Christmas tree.  Social butterfly!

Abishai and his breakfast arrangements.  He loved the monster trucks and bulls!

Bare ground!

A big more covered!

Keturah put plain cinnamon on her toast, without butter or sugar, so she didn't finish it at breakfast.  She picked it up again for lunch, but only after heaping a ton of sugar on the bread first!  Oh my word!  That's like the amount of sugar in a can of Mountain Dew or something!  She's got a big sweet tooth, just like me!

I said I put away the Christmas decorations.  I did NOT say I was putting away the tree!  Lol!  The kids weren't impressed.

I plan to decorate it for Easter, too.  Not in bunnies and Easter eggs, but as a "Jesse" or "Jesus" tree that tells the lineage and story of Jesus' birth, death, and Resurrection.  Why not, right?
Abishai loves the fishes at Meijer!

Not completely done, but it's getting there!

Desk space!


The whole gym is getting a makeover and they are making the classrooms that we used to meet in and Benaiah and Justin had Sunday School in for Kids' Rock into offices!  It's the same walls, but feels different!  Grandma took Abishai for a little ride.

I have my collection of stuff and Jared has his collection.  Not sure what the poker chip means, but I like the Charlottetown Islanders hockey puck, Benjamin Franklin fake $100 "bill" stress "ball" thing, and Bible together!  

The youth group got a Gaga Ball pit!  It's all the rage in youth groups and youth camps these days.  We had friends who made one for their kids by hand (no kit) and they also made one at the summer camp at Canoe Cove, again, with no kit.  But down here in the states, there are actual kits you can put together and disassemble to move to a new spot. Gaga ball is a form of dodgeball.  Fun times! 

Year 2, Day 28: A Choice of Two Titles

Well, we had two fun things happen today, so what title do I give the blog tonight?  I don't know since it's already 10pm and I just sat down at the computer and I'm just hoping I can put down enough words that make sense.  Anyway,....

The BIG news is that Abishai's Certificate of Citizenship of the USA came today!!!  It only took SIX months! I was getting a bit nervous with all the things President Trump has signing lately.  So, now, Abishai has his Canadian birth certificate and passport and a document that proves he's also a citizen of the United States of America.  NOW we have to apply for an actual social security number and THEN we can get him an USA passport.  Without the SSN, I cannot claim him yet on the taxes.  Bummers!  But at least we get to keep him on this side of border, right?  Praise the Lord, Hallelujah!

We got the mail right before we left for church, so it was a mad dash to open it, but it helped to put a skip in my step and get me out the door.

We had already been out once today because I took the kids to the Who North America store/museum in Camby, IN.  Yes, Doctor Who.  It's the largest brick and mortar Doctor Who store in the world! They have some interesting older toys and figures that are part of the museum side of the store, which must have come from someone's private collection or they have purchased over the last few years.  They plan to expand that part of the building and are working on restoring a full sized Dalek!  One of the gentlemen said that they've had visitors from Anchorage, Alaska, as well as Morocco.  Some visitors have told them that they like this store better than the famous "Doctor Who Experience" museum in Cardiff, UK, where the show is filmed.  Of course there's a ton more props on display at the DW Experience place though, so someday we might go see it if we take a trip to the UK.  the Who NA did have a TON of everything you could imagine a fan would want and then some.  There were things in there that I have never seen on a website anywhere.  Anyway, we had a blast, and we picked out a couple of small things to purchase, mainly because I appreciate "small" businesses.  The brick and mortar store has only been open for 10 months.  They've had an online presence for a little while longer though.

#10 Doctor, David Tennat, stuffies (stuffed dolls)!  And it talks!  Abishai loved them!

No joke, they sell a couple of styles of the jackets the Doctor wears!  This is #10's jacket.

Knitted dolls of some of the doctors and some other memorabilia.

You can buy any of these stand up characters!  Some people like to buy thing like this and dress them up.  I have one of Michael W. Smith I bought off of eBay when I was a teen.  Never really got to display it though.

The store had two games on free play for the kids.  This is I believe an original pinball machine from the 70's/80's because it just had the doctors #1-7 on it.  Justin couldn't get enough of it!  It played the theme song and said all kinds of things.

This was a Star Trek Voyager shooting game.  I even gave it a try!

You just had to shoot the bad guys and reload again.  Pretty simple game from the 90's.

Abishai had to touch the buttons himself of course!

Located in Camby, IN, 30 minutes from our house!

You know you are a Lilla Rose stylist when....you don't wear anything but Lilla Rose products and your daughter found a unique use for an old barrette.  Lol.

This was a line said by Matt Smith, Doctor #11, when he was locked into a personal library.  He then proceeded to have everyone look through the books.  I can't remember what happened next though.  I put the poster next to one of our bookshelves of course.

This little guy is only about 2 inches tall.  I've been wanting a "Pop" figure for about 3 years now, so I compromised and got a mini one that is also a key chain.  Of course this is #10, David Tennant, my favorite doctor.  I'll add him to my Green Arrow Lego figure, Ironman, and Ninja Turtle.
Keturah used her own money to purchase this poster of Matt Smith, #11.  Lol.  It's her first poster of an actor in her room.  I laugh because I guess, well, you typically find some Hollywood actor on kids' bedrooms walls, or singers, in my case, not a sci fi show.  We are such geeks!  Except Jared.  He's pretty normal.

All the flowers were open today.  Gorgeous!

Gorgeous color!

Abishai just adores his sister!

He wanted to sleep with Keturah in her bed tonight.  Of course we said no.  But they did get to read together.

Yes, I let them all get in the crib for 1 minute.  So cute!

Abishai is an official citizen of the United States of America!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Year 2, Day 27: Busy, busy!

Yup, back and forth, chaos, mood swings, tickle fights, yup, that's only a sliver of what you get with 4 kids, two parents, two grandparents, and a dog in the middle!  Yikes!  It's always hard to write a post when you've had a rough go of it with one of your kids.  That was yesterday.  I won't elaborate.  And I have to put that aside for now, because it's another kid's turn, or a Lilla Rose Boutique/party in this case.  So, I'm writing the blog earlier in the day because I know I'll be home super late tonight.

Yes, today we got a little school done, I got the rest of my stuff prepared for tonight, Jared and Benaiah got packed up to go on a men's retreat with Gary, we discovered another leak under the sink, etc.  My back feels terrible and no concoction of pain meds are doing the trick.  We DID have a DUSTING of snow this morning.  It's now pretty much gone of course.  I joke when I see the weather  app on my phone when it indicates snow with a snowflake or two by saying, "Oh, look, we are going to see A snowflake!" Yup, still not over the lack of snow, sorry...time will heal those "sorrows."

Staying on task is one of the hardest things for us these days.  From schoolwork to eating at the same time for meals to chores.  It's so easy to go play a game or watch a TV show with Abishai.  Gotta make more lists and check them often.

Keturah put her shawl on Abishai and he just left on without a fuss.  The word "papoose" comes to mind.  And yes, a kitchen full of cars, ugh!  So...tired..of...cars...everywhere!

He looks like he has a monster arm.

He loves his hooded towels as well. 
Just playing together for a few minutes between activities.

Abishai's favorite breakfast is cheese nips, animals crackers and vanilla wafers.  So, today, he finished off the cheese nips and said, "All Gone!" Then, when I wasn't looking, he poured the rest of the animal crackers in the bowl, emptying the box and again said, "All Gone!"  I said, "Um, no, you can't have all of them" and took some back.  He was not pleased with me.

Snuggle time!


Gorgeous flowers!

Many flowers!

Even the broken flower wanted to bloom!  I probably should put it in a cup with water and see what happens!

Justin is now the car carrier.

Funny story.  I asked Benaiah why he had this sticker on his sweatshirt and this is what he told me.  His class, the 9th graders, in English, couldn't put vocabulary words in ABC order, no joke!  So, Mrs. McCollum had them put the months of the year in ABC order.  The kids jokingly said, "It's Kindergarten Day!" So, Mrs. McCollum gave them stickers like they were in Kindergarten.  Oh my goodness.  Really? I don't know how she can handle these kids because I have no patience for this stuff.  She laughs with them and loves on them anyway.  It helps that she has two teens of her own.

Having a quick Bible homework check before the men head out for their retreat.  Yes, we need a bigger couch, and room to put it.  Too many long legs! Lol!
Well, I'm off to go have some styling our hair with Lilla Rose flexiclips, headbands, bobby pins and hair sticks!  If you need a girls' night out (or in) let me know, and we can set one up!  Good night!