Our two child things (5 and 2) are currently in Hawaii, but we are a military family, and we live where the Army tells us. This blog is designed to keep us in touch with our family and the friends we have made along the way, to offer insight into our turbulent military lifestyle, and to share our experiences as we try out "homing school." So glad you stopped by!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Little Girls Are Army Strong, Too

It's been over two weeks since mid-tour leave ended and Scott went back to Iraq, and we are starting to get back into the swing of things. Admittedly, it took me a while to adjust back to my self-sufficient lifestyle. Talk about spoiled! While he was here, I got to go to the bathroom without company, I got to cook dinner without screaming children hanging off of my legs and I even had help cleaning the pool. A girl could get used to that!

Though the adjustment was a little rough for me, I am so, so proud of how the child things have done. The baby is probably too young to realize what's going on. So, though he definitely enjoyed having another male in the house, he didn't seem to mind/notice when he was gone. But his sister...she understands. She's 4 1/2, and she's getting to the age where change can be traumatic, but she hasn't thrown any tantrums or fits, she hasn't whined, she hasn't "acted out" to get attention. All in all, she's probably taken it better than I have. The only sign of the turmoil I saw in her was that for the first week or so, she asked me for her bunny at bedtime. A few months ago, the bunny stopped being a requirement for bedtime and started being optional. But when Daddy left, I guess she needed the comfort. She is so tough, isn't she? She may be a little sad or a little confused, and she may be missing her Daddy, but she "bucks up" and doesn't let it slow her down. She may snuggle with her bunny to make her feel better at night, but when morning comes, she is happy and helpful.

Like I said, I'm very proud of them, and especially how adaptable child thing #1 has been in this turbulent situation. Way to be Army Strong, sweet girl!

Friday, January 21, 2011

What We're Learning: Our Fave "History" Books

Our history curriculum is...well, non-existant, really. But, despite that, the child thing has learned a lot about history so far this year. Kids don't need structure to learn...at least that's my excuse for being disorganized.

To cover history, we pick out a couple of biographies or historical fiction books geared toward pre-k or elementary aged children every time we go to the library. And it is amazing the discussions we have after reading these books...the child thing is full of questions, so reading the books are just a jumping off point. She will learn the story of an interesting person, and while doing that, she'll also learn that long ago, women never wore pants was, for example. So even if our history lessons aren't structured, she is definitely building her knowledge of the past. And in pre-school, I think that's all you really need.

Here are some of the best "history" books we have come across this year:

I Could Do That: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote - A very interesting and inspiring story about an American woman I had never heard of (I'm learning here, too!).

The Legend of William Tell - I love, love, love this book! The story of a Swiss hero, written in verse (beautiful verse, at that) and gorgeously illustrated. Read it!

Abe's Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln - This stands out from other biographies about the 16th president because it is infused with his quotations. And I never realized how many good ones he has! This book may be better for older elementary kids, though, because the child thing didn't love it quite as much as I did.

Johnny Appleseed - The child thing was fascinated with this book, as was I. A classic story with wonderful illustrations...how could you go wrong?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What We're Learning in Pre-K at Home: Food Pyramid

We took a loooong winter break from "homing school," as the child thing calls it, to celebrate Christmas, New Year's, and then Daddy's mid-tour leave, but we are back in the saddle now. What Your Preschooler Needs to Know has a science section on staying healthy, and since healthy eating does not come naturally in our house (I know someone who would consume marshmallows for 3 meals a day if she could), we expanded that to include the food pyramid.

Here's how we went about studying the food pyramid, if you're interested:

I printed off this food pyramid, and we colored each section a different color as we talked about the different food groups and identified the pictures in each group. Then I cut out the pyramid, glued it to a piece of construction paper, and I asked the child thing to tell me the names of each group as I labeled them.

The next day, we drew a bigger version of the pyramid on a poster board, and again, I had her tell me the names of the food groups to write on the poster. Then we sorted her toy food set into the groups and placed them in the proper section on our poster. She did a great job with the sorting, and after that, we played restaurant. I was the customer, and she was the waitress. Instead of ordering a specific food, I'd just say I wanted something from the vegetable group, for example.

Normally, we don't include snack time into our homeschool, but when you're learning about food, you gotta eat! So, we gathered ingredients from each food group.

Bread/Starch: crackers or mini rice cakes

Vegetables: cucumber slices, shredded carrots

Fruit: raisins, berries

Dairy: cream cheese

Protein: peanut butter

Using the cucumbers or crackers for a base, the peanut butter or cream cheese for spreading and the rest for toppings, we assembled the ingredients into a variety of snacks, counting how many of the food groups we could include in one snack.

I also asked the child thing to help me plan and prepare a meal, keeping the food pyramid in mind. One guess what she picked for the starch.

It's important to teach kids about healthful eating, and it's never too early to start good habits, but here's a word of warning: if you choose to teach your child about eating a healthy, balanced diet by consulting the food pyramid, every meal you serve them from then on will be under scrutiny.

Oh, and she picked macaroni and cheese.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My Sleeping Baby

What is it about a sleeping child that touches my heart so much? Against the advice of the sleep experts, whoever they be, I rocked child thing #1 to sleep every night when she was a baby. And I so don't regret it. I loved snuggling with her as she fell asleep, and those days are over too quickly.Child Thing #2 never liked the rocking chair much, but sometimes I sneak in his room at night to check on him, and when I do, I admire how perfectly sweet he is when he dreams.

My sleeping children move me to pray, and I usually pray something like this:

Lord, I thank you for creating this child. He is formed so perfectly that his very existance brings honor to you, as our creator. And thank you for giving him to me; I love him so much. Thank you that I get to experience a parent's love...it is amazing. And now I know why you refer to yourself as our parent. I know that you love this child, too, and I ask your blessings over him. Bless every step that he takes every day of his life. Bless him with passions and interests and gifts that he can use to reach his full potential in your plan for him. Bless his relationships. Bless him with safety and with health. And bless him with salvation. As he grows, may he come to know and understand you and accept the salvation that you offer through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.


Monday, January 17, 2011

There are Two Types of Goodbyes

This year will be our 6th as an Army family, and in that time we have done lots of goodbye-ing. I have found that there are two basic views on goodbyes in the military community. The first is the "Savor Every Last Moment" goodbye and the other is the "Get it Over With" goodbye.

I tend to believe that the "Savor Every Last Moment" goodbye is emotional and psychological torture perhaps on par with water boarding. Maybe that's an exaggeration. But it's awful!

The appeal of it is understandable. You're not going to see your spouse for months on end and you want to permanently stamp in your mind those last few seconds together. But uggh, to drag it out like that...and in the military, we're talking hours...it's torturous.

We prefer the short and sweet method. I already have plenty of memories engrained in my mind, I only need to hear "I love you" once, and I'd rather cry like a baby in the privacy of my own home, thank you very much.

Because I'm a cryer. And it's not pretty.

I'd rather give my soldier one last kiss and one tight hug and then get it over with and move on. I give myself a little time to be sad, and then I take a deep breath, find strength, and keep living.

R&R Highlights

Scott has been here! Six months into his deployment, he finally got to come home to us. We spent two marvelous weeks together, and he flew back to Iraq this morning, so today is what I like to call my recovery day. Basically, on recovery day, I allow myself to curl up in the fetal position and bawl, ignore the ridiculous amount of dirty dishes and eat ice cream for dinner. And lunch, if I so desire.

But...instead of dwelling on the sad idea that it's over, I'll think back to the fun things we did on mid-tour leave.

-a living room campout with a tent and fire for roasting marshmallows

-a little two-steppin' for mom and dad (it's been a loooong time)

-taking a drive to check out the acreage we are buying

-Children's Museum of Houston

-Lots of visiting with family

-Super exciting one: the kitchen was cleaned NOT BY ME!!!

*Sigh* It was a WONDERFUL time, and I would now like to publicly praise child thing #1. She has done SUCH a good job adapting to all these changes in her routine. She adores her daddy, and was beyond ecstatic when he came home, but she has taken his leaving again really well. On the drive to the airport this morning, she said several times, "I don't want Daddy to go back to Iraq." And she cried a little when we left, but mostly she has just been helping me. Apparently I'm more of a crybaby than she is.

As I said, this is my recovery day, so I am apt to randomly burst into tears. I really, really try to keep that under control in front of the kids because that just makes it worse for them. But, I was caught in the act once by child thing #1. When she saw my tears, she said, "I know what I'll do, Mommy." and ran out of the room. A few minutes later, she emerged with a hand-drawn family portrait.

"I made a picture of Thomas and me and you and Daddy," she held it up for me to see. "Any time you miss Daddy, you can just look at him in this picture."

And it was so sweet it almost got the waterworks going again...but she was trying SO hard to make me stop crying I was able to contain myself.

How blessed am I to have such a wonderful family?! And I'll be waiting for the day this summer when we are all together again!!