Sunday, October 31, 2010

Kezia's Birthday & Halloween

My sweet Kezi-boo turned one last Tuesday! With a home birth, a difficult recovery, and 4 days at Primary Children's, it's been an eventful first year... and I wouldn't trade it for the world! She is so precious to me. Her smiles, laughs, babbles, and signs are treasures in my mother's heart. I am so thankful for her!
It was also an eventful past week with 4 Halloween parties, 2 birthday parties, and the actual trick-or-treating last night.
Below are a few pictures of Kezi's birthday (and some scrapbook pgs) & Halloween.







We were going off the "James & the Giant Peach" theme this year, since we read & loved the book. Ireland was the ladybug, McKinley was the spider, Kezia was the centipede, I was the giant peach (you're going to have to watch the monthly slideshow if you want to see that pic :), and Jason was supposed to be James. I guess he was if James dressed like Jason normally dresses. Anyway, it was a great Halloween & we all had loads of fun!





Thursday, October 21, 2010

Swing it!


I did it. I signed Jason & I up for a dance class.
And he didn't even know what was comin'.
Picture this: Jason gets home from work. Late. Tired. Poor guy.
7:30 rolls around (giving him just enough time to eat dinner). I tell him he needs to get changed into casual clothes cuz I'm takin' him out on a date & the sitter is going to be here any minute. He looks hopeful! She comes. We leave. I drive (which is highly unusual). He's sitting there trying to guess where we're going. Movies? (good guess... -and don't you wish!)... now I'm turning right on Redwood Road - the Army/Navy Depot? Uhhh.... nope. I turn into Taylorsville HS. A play? I'm being pretty neutral the whole time.
We walk into the HS hand-in-hand. Jason wonders if we're late because he can hear a play going on. I say "you don't think I would drag you out to a musical now do you?" (he hates musicals). We get to the commons & there is a security guy there & asks us if we're there for the swing dancing class, wherein I reply "yes, we are," wherein Jason pulls me toward the nearest exit. No - I didn't let him get far. We eventually made it to the gym with 5 or 6 other couples. I think he felt more at home there, seeing all the other guys with nervous faces & clenched teeth. While we were waiting for the class to start, he went to go get a chair. I admit that I was a tad worried that he wouldn't come back. Thankfully, he did. I even asked him if he wished I really was taking him to the musical. No comment :)
So - we learned some steps to the East Coast Swing. It was actually loads of fun. And I KNOW Jason had a good time, too. How can you be a grouch when you have big band music in the background and you are learning something new with your sweetie? It was fun to meet new people. It was fun to dance. It was fun to GET OUT.
Truth be told, Jason likes to dance. He did some dance in HS. We both took a ballroom dance class in college (though not at the same time). Last February we went to a stake Valentines dance & I'll admit - our dance skills were p r e t t y rusty. I've always wanted to take a dance class with my sweetie - and I'm excited I finally just did it! And surprised him! (Okay, so... most of the reason for that being that he probably wouldn't have agreed if I would have asked). In the end, he was glad I dragged him out & we both had a great time.
Here's to 3 more weeks of a standing date night and learning something new!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Homeschool learning follow-up post

Yes... sigh... I'm FINALLY getting around to posting a follow-up to THIS post. I'm almost glad that it's taken me some time to get it done, though, because some things have happened in the mean time (which I'll explain later in this post).

First - THANK YOU to all who responded. Between here, Facebook & e-mail, I got over 20 responses. Great questions, valuable insight - thanks for taking the time to respond. It's apparent many of you are passionate about the education of your children.
I wanted to do a follow-up post because I wanted to answer some questions that were posed & also maybe dispel some myths:

1. Yes, if you are having a wonderful experience in a public school and feel like your child is getting individualized attention in a wholesome environment, this probably wouldn't be for you.

2. I believe it's absolutely true that the more parent involvement in your child's education, the better your experience will be. However, there is a limit to a parent's power in public school. For instance, my niece was in a class with a difficult teacher. She is bright - and was not challenged in her classroom. My sister was very active in her education & volunteered frequently, but was seeing her daughter have a negative experience at school. She tried talking to the teacher and the principal, but the issue was not solved. Then she tried every avenue to get her transferred to a different teacher in that school, but was told there was nothing she could do. She ended up homeschooling her daughter for the rest of that year. This same niece has had a teacher quit or retire every year from kindergarten to third grade in the same school. Right now my sister is struggling with trying to get the new teacher, who yells a lot, to challenge her daughter even though the teacher is specialized in gifted and talented children and should already know how to do this. So - while being involved is important, it doesn't always solve issues that may arise.

3. A few of you brought up the social aspect. First of all, there would be plenty of socialization in a classroom with 10-13 students. Secondly, it's generally a myth that homeschooled children are lacking in social skills. Here is a study disproving the myth of lack of socialization. Most homeschooled children are not stuck in an isolated vacuum. Their parents make sure they have plenty of opportunities to socialize and problem-solve. From soccer to church, and from homeschool co-ops to playgroups, there are plenty of opportunities available and conscientious homeschoolers take full advantage of these opportunities.(See Becka's comment in my original post)

4. As far as the academic question goes, homeschooled children consistently outperform publicly schooled students. From one study: "homeschoolers, on the average, out-performed their counterparts in the public schools by 30 to 37 percentile points in all subjects."

5. People varied in their opinions about whether a teacher with a degree was important, but the majority said if they were going to pay someone, they would want them to have a teaching degree. If we did this, we would find teachers that had degrees AND were absolutely passionate about teaching and have the children's best interests at heart.

6. Some people mentioned that maybe something like this would be more important in the Jr. High/High School years & not so crucial at the elementary age. I disagree. I don't believe a child all the sudden falls behind when they are older. It's a gradual downward spiral & if they are "left behind" (and I mean that in all aspects) early on, it's only going to get worse later on. I believe in starting a solid foundation from the beginning. I actually think it's actually more important early on to make sure that their education is positive & then when they are older (probably HS), they have that foundation and are able to make better choices.

7. Charter schools are GREAT. They are a true blessing. There are just not enough of them. And, for me, I would be willing to pay a little bit more to have my child's education be gospel-based. To be able to have my child talk about God, to learn through Gospel principles, and PRAY in school would be an amazing thing.

8. Different ages of the children. Yes, it would be difficult, but homeschooling teachers are able to navigate a lesson with varied ages. They can give the basic topic, and then give different assignments related to that topic specific to the differing age groups. This is called differentiated instruction. For example, a teacher might teach a lesson about dinosaurs. The younger students would focus on the letter "D", the middle aged students would write sentences about dinosaurs, and the older students would complete a report. Of course, this is a very simplified example, but it contains the basic principal. Also, when you think about it, a normal Kindergarten classroom has such a varied skill level that they are dealing with the same issues. There are kids who can't even say their ABCs and kids who are reading at 1st grade levels. Teachers have to find a way to reach each student at their level and that's what a homeschool teacher would do.

So - there you go. I love that there is a discussion going on - whether you like the idea or not - and feel free to comment either way. The reason I am glad that I waited to respond to this is because of my current situation. My 5-year-old daughter reads at a 1st grade level, but she just misses the deadline for Kindergarten. She is getting "left behind" in a different way. The public schools won't even look at her until next year. This would be a PERFECT solution for her needs.
Right now, our choices are:

1. Send her to preschool again this year (Tried it. Not working, she is not learning ANYTHING new!)
2. Send her to a private school (we are currently looking into American Heritage - comment if you know anyone that goes to the South Jordan American Heritage)
3. Homeschool. Which at this point is looking more & more do-able if we're not going to be able to afford private school.
4. Try to create this homeschool school led by a teacher who would conduct it in his/her own home.

Some of you expressed that $350 was too much. Would you do it for $250? (with discounts for additional children) Just wondering...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

August & September Newsletter & Slideshow

So - I realize how far behind I am in my monthly newsletters - this one is for August & September, so needless to say this is going to be a ridiculously long post. Between the Potts family staycation, 2 races, 2 funerals (and putting together slideshows for each), a birthday, preschool starting for McKinley & Ireland, Lagoon, and just everyday life, let's just say I'm a "little" behind on a LOT of things! Still, hope you enjoy these!
:)

AUGUST SLIDESHOW

video

SEPTEMBER SLIDESHOW

video


FAMILY PICTURES 2010


AUGUST NEWSLETTER

McKINLEY:

-One day McKinley was trying to tell mom something, but she had a rough night & was zoned out. McKinley said “Don’t be a statue mom!”

-Michael was over one day & they were getting bored, so mom said they could watch Nick Jr. McKinley turns to Michael & says “Yeah Michael! Nick Jr! It’s like preschool on TV!”

-Mom asked McKinley one day what she wanted to be when she grows up (it changes a lot). This particular day McKinley said “I want to be a doctor and a fire-fighter, so if they need to be doctored then I’ll doctor them & if they need to be fire-fighted then I’ll fire-fight them!”

-McKinley’s imagination is getting better & better. She will constantly say “Let’s pretend that…”

-At breakfast time, mom went to give McKinley some golden puffs cereal. McKinley said “Mom – first ask me which one I want.” Mom: “which one do you want?” McKinley – “this one.” (points to the golden puffs)

-At pretty much every prayer time, McKinley will say “I want to say the prayer! Pleeease! I haven’t said it in a realllllly long time!”

-We were at the This is the Place Monument for the Potts staycation & were walking around the monument. There were some people there that spoke a different language & McKinley heard them. She said “Mom – I hear those people. They’re speaking Spanish. I know how to speak Spanish! Uno, Dos, Tres! Can I say hi to them?” Mom – I don’t think they speak Spanish, sweetie.” I think they speak Chinese. McKinley “I know Chinese from Kai Lan! Ni Hao! – Can I tell them mom?” Mom – “OK.” We walked past & McKinley got shy. She finally whispered “Ni Hao” as we walked by to no one in particular, but mom was proud of her for trying to reach out to people from different languages & backgrounds!

-One day we were playing pretend downstairs & mom was the patient & McKinley was the doctor. Mom was laying down & McKinley was checking her & shaking her head. Mom asked how she was. Dr. McKinley sighed & said “Well, you’re gonna hafta stay here until you...die.” Hmmm – mom was pretty sure she was going to say “until you get better,” but apparently Dr. McKinley is somewhat pessimistic.

-McKinley & Michael have been playing this army game & if you ask McKinley to do something, she’ll salute & say “yes, sir!”

-Mom was downstairs & came up to find McKinley on the couch. She said “Hey mom! Do you want to play this game – put tape over your mouth – it’s really fun!” Hmm – as much fun as it looked to put scotch tape over the mouth, mom declined at that time.

-After mom’s triathlon with Aunt Kim on the 20th, McKinley got to stay in Richfield with her Grandma Devenish. They had a great time baking, talking, running errands & having Sedona sleep over.

-Mom was pretty pleased one day when she heard McKinley say the prayer: “…and please bless the food cuz my mom’s the bestest cooker ever…”

-When mom is cuddling with McKinley & mom has her hair in a ponytail (which is 90% of the time), McKinley likes to stick her finger into the rubberband.

-McKinley got a few dollars from Michael for her birthday. She was so excited & said “Look mom! Now we have money so we can be happy!”

-Mom was trying to get McKinley to do something & McKinley was not complying. Mom said “McKinley, I know you can do it – you’re so smart!” McKinley’s reply: “I think I’m running out of smart-ness.”

-When McKinley cries, she gets puffy red eyes & cheeks just like her momma. She hates it & won’t go anywhere until she doesn’t look like she’s been crying. She will say “mom – is my face red?”

IRELAND:

-Ireland has been doing a GREAT job with her potty training! She’s even dry at night! One day, Mom asked her if she needed to go potty & Ireland said “No! I have an owie!”

-Ireland is in a major hand-washing phase right now. Which is good, but she loves to use lots of hand sanitizer. Mom loves her name for it, though: HANItizer. Really…makes it much more simple.

-Ireland is quite funny in public bathrooms. First, she has to check out the potty to see if it’s a “scary potty,” which it usually is until mom convinces her otherwise. Then, after she’s done, she wants to flush the potty – and every other potty in the restroom.

-When we were up at Snowbird for the Potts family staycation, we were at the top where the gondola drops you off. There was only a port-a-potty, so mom went in with Ireland, but she was not going to have anything to do with it. She looked inside the toilet & said “it doesn’t flush very well.”

-It’s so cute after Ireland does something that she’s proud of – like going potty – she runs out & yells “I DID IT!”

-One day, mom walked down the hall & saw Ireland going potty… with a flashlight… trying to see the pee come out. Hmmm…

-It took Ireland a while to realize that McKinley was gone when she was staying at Grandma Devenish’s. She sure missed her, though & prayed at night for her sister to come home.

-For some reason, if you ask Ireland a question, she will automatically say “I don’t know.”

-Ireland loves to go grocery shopping & whenever we go, she wants a little cart. The funny thing is that she loves to push it around, but she won’t let mom put anything in it. She likes it empty.

-Before Ireland puts on her panties, she says “I found the tag!” Mom is trying to teach her to put the tag in the back, but often she’ll put them on sideways.

-Mom has about been pulling her hair out with Ireland lately. She will change her outfit 5 times a day – usually one good outfit, 3 different sets of PJs, and 1 or 2 different swim suits. It’s driving mom crazy with all the messes & laundry!

KEZIA:

-Kezia turned 10 months at the end of this month – and she FINALLY got that first tooth! Now her mouth is working overtime trying to get all those pearly whites to pop through. She’s been pretty good considering all the teething she’s going through.

-Kezia can blow raspberries & her sisters get in on it & she just starts laughing like crazy!

-Kezia’s hair is finally long enough to put in pig tails! They’re so cute when they’re in, but when you take them out, she looks like a little devil because her hair stays sticking up.

-Kezia can now go up the stairs! Mom was downstairs one day & realized Kezia was gone & lo & behold, she had made her way up the stairs with no problem!

-She is full-time into big-girl food. No more baby food for her! She LOVES spaghettios and mac n’ cheese!

-We have to watch Kezia with the toilet water. She thinks it’s fun to splash in!

-Kezia has now entered the obsessive computer stage. Any laptop or keyboard that is around is not safe! She LOVES to pound on that keyboard.

-Kezia is not sure about swings or being thrown in the air. You have to really go slow or she gets these huge, terrified eyes & starts whimpering.

-Kezia has also officially entered the “squealing stealing stage” where if you take something away from her you WILL hear about it! Or… if she sees something she wants, she will squeal to get it.

-Kezia signed milk & fish!

-When mommy’s feeding Kezia, she likes to reach up & put her finger through mom’s little hoop earring… which is fine…until she PULLS!

-Kezia is still pulling up of everything & is starting to let go for a few seconds.


SEPTEMBER NEWSLETTER

McKINLEY:

-After getting the mail one day, McKinley noticed a piece of mail from Disney. Mom told her it was for her (it was just one of those mail-ads about Disney movies) & she opened it & was SO surprised – and excited! She ran around telling everyone that Mickey Mouse sent her mail! She was so excited that she wanted to send him something, so she drew a picture, put it in the business reply envelope & put it in the mailbox. I bet whoever opened it was a bit surprised! About 3 weeks later, there is a fake credit card in the mail with Mickey Mouse on it. McKinley said “oh look! Mickey Mouse sent me something else because he got my letter!”

-McKinley was so sweet on the day that mom found out about Aunt Al. She walked around with her sobbing mom & said “mom. It’s ok. I feel in my heart that I need to stay with you.” And at the viewing, she gave tissues out. It was so sweet when she went across the room to give grandpa some tissues to dry his tears.

-McKinley had a fun 5th birthday! She was awakened with a happy birthday tune from Grandma Potts and her guitar (which was the way Heidi got woken up on HER birthdays growing up!), then she ate her breakfast of choice – ebbelskeevers, and went on a present treasure hunt while we sang Happy Birthday to you. That afternoon, we had homemade pizzas & then made McKinley’s birthday cake using a recipe out of one of her new cookbooks. It turned out yummy! For dinner, we headed to McDonald’s with McKinley’s cousins & had a great time & then it was back home for cake & ice cream & gifts (here’s a short list of gifts she got for her bday: apron, hat & baking cookbooks from mom & dad, camera from Grandma DeeAnn, play guitar from Grandma Potts, a game, some money from her cousin Michael, crafts), & then she let go of 5 balloons for each age. That evening Laralyn & Amylyn came over & gave McKinley a cute princess doll. That night, McKinley got to stay up late while we looked at pictures from the past year & talked about how special & important McKinley is to our family! Happy 5th Birthday McKinley!

-after her birthday, the first thing McKinley would say to anyone is “I’m FIVE!”

-McKinley sang “Whenever I hear the song of a bird..” in sacrament meeting with mom. We practiced quite a bit & it showed! She did terrific – and got lots of compliments! The person who spoke after her song said what a beautiful, brave girl she was.

-Tiarra gave McKinley a pillow pet for her birthday. McKinley was so excited because she’d been asking for one because she’d seen the commercials. After she got it, though, she was disappointed. She came to mom & said “Mom – I didn’t fall in love when I hugged it!” (as the commercials say). Mom had to talk about not believing everything you hear.

-McKinley started preschool the day after her birthday. She gets to do preschool on Monday, Wednesday & Friday and then after preschool on Monday she does dance & on Wednesday she does tumbling. She’s learning a lot!

-Mom heard McKinley yelling outside on the deck & came out to investigate. She came out & said “hey McKinley – what’s all the yelling about?” McKinley said “mom… I’m just trying to yell to Sedona & Camri to say hi!” Mom had to explain that her cousins Sedona (Richfield) & Camri (St. George) live a little too far away to hear her.

-Mom & dad were both a little stressed trying to get out the door to our family pictures. Dad said to mom “you’re killin’ me!” mom said to dad “You’re killing ME!” McKinley said “Hey- you’re both killing each other!” It lightened the situation a bit J

-On the way back from Vernal we had some Laffy Taffys & mom was telling some jokes, like “what did the ____ say to the ____?” Well, McKinley wanted to try her hand & said “Hey mom – what did the cactus say to the cloud?” Mom: “I dunno.” McKinley: “Hey how are you? – ha, ha, ha!” She did this for another 20 minutes or so until we were all “laughed” out J

-McKinley has wanted to help mom crack eggs for a long time & mom kept putting her off. She said that when she turned 5 she could help crack eggs, so on her birthday she got to crack the eggs for her cake. She was pretty excited, and I guess it’s a rite of passage now in our family!

-Ireland was really sad one day & McKinley made a paper for her with her name & a heart. She gave it to Ireland & said “Here. You can keep this for the rest of your life.”

-We were listening to a general conference talk one morning & the speaker said something funny & the congregation laughed. McKinley said “why did they laugh? You’re not supposed to laugh in conference!”

-McKinley walked up to mom one day & held out a sucker & said “MOM! I found this sucker UNDER the couch! Can you believe it?” (thankfully, she had rinsed it off before she started sucking on it, but…. GAG!

IRELAND:

-Ireland had her first day of preschool on September 9th! She was SO excited! She’s been wanting to go to preschool for over a year & has had to watch McKinley go to preschool without her. She’s going to the Little Blue Schoolhouse down the road. She’s in the same class as Joshua & they both love going.

-Ireland is still crazy about putting on 5 different outfits a day. One day was especially funny, though. She’d gotten McKinley’s Hello Kitty’s little shorts & put them on. They were tiny on here, but the funniest part was the hole in the bum where the tail is supposed to go.

-Ireland said she had an owie & went right to grandma’s medicine closet. She ran back with anti-diarrhea medicine & said “here is for my owie! It’s special band-aids!”

-Ireland still asks quite frequently about going to swimming lessons. And she still puts her swim suit on at least once a day!

-Ireland is doing pretty good with her colors, but keeps switching pink & purple.

-Another fetish of Ireland’s has been tights. She wants to wear tights. Every. Day. Multiple. Times.

-We were watching Discovery & they were showing a huge wildfire. Ireland points to the TV & says “look mom – a campfire!”

-Ireland’s little voice is just so cute. When she says “sorry mom!” it’s just impossible to stay mad – even with the messes she makes!

-She likes to bring REAL water into the toy room and “cook” with it.

-Ireland is getting better at drawing people and the letter “I” for “Ireland”

KEZIA:

-Kezia has grown SO MUCH this past month! She is SOCLOSE to walking! She will stand by herself for almost 30 seconds. She’s just waiting to take that first step!

-Kezia is getting better at signing! She can sign: fish, milk, baby, bird & time. She gets SO SO excited when Signing Time comes on! It’s her favorite thing to watch!

-Kezia is a pro at sippy cups now. She loves to drink juice & chocolate milk.

-She likes to play with shoes & pretend to put them on. We’re a bit worried about having another Ireland!

-Kezia can SAY many words! Mama, Dada, Dog, Grandma, Grandpa, Signing Time, Ball, Jesus & uh oh!

-She’s been pointing more & more.

-Kezia continues to have an infatuation with computers & now the dishwasher – any time its open – she’s there!

-She loves to put her fingers in your mouth & especially feed you food. She thinks its hilarious!

-She still loves to blow kisses & wave!

-Kezia can now go up AND down the stairs really well!

-Kezia was sitting on a push toy outside & Ireland pushed her too fast. She fell off & had a bad goose-egg on her head L

-We met with the electro-cardiologist at Primary Children’s at the end of the month. We were hoping he’d find that she’d outgrown the SVT, but according to him, she would have outgrown it by 8 months & he doesn’t think she has. The good news is that we can give her the propranolol 3 times a day instead of every 8 hours – and he has a new medicine we can try that’s only 2x a day.

-Kezia is a squealer! Somehow, we’ll get her to use a big girl voice soon!

-Her teeth just keep coming! Right now she has the 2 bottom ones, 1 top one, & 3 coming in. She’s on the IBProfin!

-Kezia loves her sisters! She loves playing “peek-a-boo” over the banister when she wakes up & she loves Ireland’s squeals of delight when she sees her sister.

-She loves her baths & will splash & stand & pull hair!

-Kezia is officially a MESS-MAKER! She loves to pull down shoes & if a drawer is even slightly open, she will open it & get those clothes out. She also loves to get into the entertainment center & scratch DVDs.

-Kezi loves to hold & look at the picture of Jesus on her changing table.

-Kezia loves to give you five!