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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Abundant Blessings

It's been 3 weeks since I had a chance to write on here.  Life has been extremely busy as we've been sorting through housing issues.  I have been putting my faith in God that He had a plan and that we want to follow that plan.  But it was definitely frustrating and confusing at times.  The past few days we have seen everything come together and some amazing blessings.  We received an offer on our house nearly 3 weeks ago, and worked to come to an agreement.  The inspection followed, with the appraisal shortly after.  The appraisal took a full week to come back, which was certainly strange.  And then it came in $8k under our agreed price.  Our fantastic lawyer (Jon's uncle) worked with the buyer's lawyer and we have a new agreement.  We discovered we've been missing an exemption on our taxes the whole time we've been here.  So we received a refund for 2011, plus need to pay less to the buyers for the tax credit at closing.  We have seen many houses in the past few weeks, and got beat out by investors twice.  I repeated to Jon each time that God must have a better plan for us.  I said it out loud partially to convince myself, but I really did believe deep down.  We've done everything right along the way so I firmly believed we'd be rewarded. 

Well, I went to see another house Thursday night this week and it is awesome.  I arrived a few minutes early and stopped by Kim's to visit with her and her parents.  Then headed over for my scheduled appointment and was blown away.  I got to meet the owners, who are amazing people.  They raised 3 children and having truly lovingly cared for their home.  There is nothing that needs to be done.  We told them we would be putting in an offer, and found out they already had one offer.  We came up significantly from our originally planned price because we really liked the house.  And then we prayed.  Yesterday afternoon the agent called to say they were accepting our offer - not even a counter offer!  A house in Glenview for a price we can afford, must be God's work.  We went as a family to see the house today, and show the kids what to expect.  I expected to spend 10-15 minutes at the house so as to not interrupt their day.  We spent an hour looking and chatting, finding out great things about the house.  The wife told me that she chose us because she felt a connection.  This husband and wife are amazing people and we feel very blessed to have met them and to be chosen to live in this house.  The kids played in the yard while we all chatted and it was a beautiful day.  We walked down to the park afterwards to show the kids and were shocked again.  What I remembered as a small tot lot type park with basketball is huge - 2 large play areas with sand, 2 tennis courts, a full basketball court, and a baseball field!  We are extremely excited to have this area so close by.  We are still in shock that this is all happening.  Once our buyers' loan comes through, we know we're home free because we know we'll be approved.

Being so busy with house hunting and the new school year with work, I've been slacking on the preschool activities with Carolyn.  She's been begging this past week for new projects and to work on letters.  Instead we've just been doing some reading and she's been doing a lot of writing and coloring.  Her imagination continues to amaze me, she drew plans for her dream house the other day.  But today I got a chance to put together some more projects, G-L, so we should be good at least through this week.  I think part of the key with her is doing new things as well.  I looked at the school website for where she'll attend kindergarten and discovered they use the math program I had considered using.  So I think we'll just go with what she needs and not worry about a program.  With work slowing down a little now I'm looking forward to focusing more on Carolyn though and getting her the stimulation she needs.  So hopefully I'll be posting more often as well.

Thank you God for the abundant blessings lately.  We are very excited for what our futures hold knowing we are in Your hands.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Crazy Week!

This was certainly one heck of a week around here!  Wednesday we went to the library and spent time outside.  Thursday we had a morning showing and played outside.  I tutored in the afternoon and worked 3 hours after the kids were in bed.  Friday we had a surprise showing (as in, our realtor goofed and didn't tell us), got an offer on the house (now negotiating), and had another showing scheduled (appears they didn't come).  Carolyn learned how to ride a two wheeler with no training wheels!  And by "learned" I mean got on the bike and rode it down our front yard onto the sidewalk and kept going.  She didn't want my help.  By the end of the day she figured out how to start on flat ground!  Just an amazing week.

Preschool stuff was somewhat all over the board this week.  But she's still really enjoying her "work".  Wednesday was a virtually no nap day and I had lots of work to do.  So we actually watched a movie in the afternoon and then went outside.  Thursday was a little better, but James was still up early, so we read some science books about sound, touch, and smell.  Carolyn really enjoys even the non-fiction books, I suspect because it's about her body.  Friday was an awesome day though.  I still had quite a bit of work to do, so I gave her some choices.  She was going to work on E and making an engine.  But then saw some math sheets I printed out a long time ago.  They were a mixture - counting objects, making tallies, writing numbers, and subtraction.  She sat and did the first half, then was surprised to find a coloring page mixed in (I put it half way).  Then she did nearly all of the second half, which was the subtraction.  The worksheet had summer objects printed to represent the numbers that were written.  So she learned to cross out the second number listed and then count how many remained.  She got every one right!  And this helped her work on how to write the letters as well.  What's more important, she enjoyed doing it.  Looking forward to what today might have in store.

I've fallen in love with a house in Deerfield, although admitedly I haven't seen it yet.  It's a ranch with a basement that back up to a park.  It is on Deerfield Rd and doesn't have a garage (car port and shed though), so some concessions there.  But it looks like it has the space we want and is in a great location, the kids could easily bike to the pool when older.  We could walk to downtown Deerfield and the library as well.  But, alas, it's just out of our price range.  I'm going to talk to our realtor and see if she thinks we could get Fannie Mae to accept a lower number.  Because I think this could be the house for us.  Of course, we have to go see it first.  Will it be like the other places Jon has seen?  I hope not.  Excited but also freaking out at the thought of moving.

And for anyone following my weight loss journey as well, I am now 1lb away from having lost 10% of my initial weight!  I honestly can't remember when I saw this number on the scale last.  Sometime between getting married and pregnant, so at least 5 years ago.  My toned shoulders are starting to reappear again as well!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Addition and the letter D

This week is off to a bit of a crazy start.  Spent most of yesterday installing a new kitchen faucet.  Then talked to customer service this morning to get the sprayer resent to us because the connection piece is smooth and impossible to grip to tighten with anything.  We have a pot underneath the sink for now!  As we went through today, things picked up steam.  Started with breakfast and the park.  Checked email while the kids had a drink and discovered I have been assigned my first classes!  But I couldn't acces them (?)  Went out to the sandbox and the kids played construction for a while, then played in their house in the backyard until they heard the garbage truck.  While waiting for the garbage truck to stop in front of our house, our REA called to announce a showing (yay).  Carolyn fell and skinned her knee chasing the garbage truck.  So we went inside to take care of that.  After lunch both kids went down for a solid nap. 

Got some awesome preschool things in today as well.  Last night I made some number flash cards.  Using notecards, one side has the number (1) and the word (one), the other side has dots for that number.  Carolyn was super excited to use these cards.  So we read a counting book, then started in.  We started with addition (green cards 1-9), 1+1=2, 1+2=3.  We got all the way through 1+9=10 before she got bored.  The first 4 or 5 she did without counting dots, but as the numbers got bigger we'd flip over so she could count the dots.  Then she just looked through the "pink" cards, which are 10-19, reading each number and looking at the dots.  We then did a matching game since I made 2 sets of green cards.  I put out 1-4 one set numbers up, other set dots up and had her match.  This game was really too easy for her.  I need to make a second set of pink cards for her to match those.  She then spent some time just playing with the cards.

That took around 30-45 minutes at which point she asked to do a project.  So I pulled out the letter D materials.  She traced and found her D and d's.  When then read Old Mother Hubbard, found the d's and identified the rhymes.  I'm backing off a little on her identifying the rhyming words and hoping that if I do it for a while she'll catch on.  Then she cut out various pieces and we glued them together to make a dog holding a bone.  She was excited about it that she showed Jon as soon as came inside.  I love seeing how excited she is.  Her writing, cutting, and gluing skills are progressing nicely.  She was even telling our neighbor about what she did today.

Spent the afternoon in the sprinkler and found out the showing is postponed to Thursday.  But I'm looking forward to this one because it sounds like these people have actually looked at our pictures online.  They are drawn to our house due to the lot - and the view out the back is really unbeatable even in our own neighborhood.  Praying that they like it and we can get Jon closer to work.  This is going to be a bit of a crazy week, but I'm looking forward to the challenges that are coming.  God seems to be pouring out his blessings upon us right now and I'm praying an offer on the house is included in that.  Say a prayer for us!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Homeschool through primary grades, or no?

This debate is going to go through our house for at least the next 6 months, if not until next August.  Carolyn is flourishing and loving doing her preschool work at home.  She does basic addition, is beginning to read, can write almost every letter, can sort well, loves listening to history/social science books, and is enjoying science books and activities.  I read over 10 books to her every day, including 2 upon waking, 1 at nap time, and Jon reads 1 at bed time.  I also read out of a chapter book to her each night.  She loves every book, the current one being Matilda.  We've also read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Winnie the Pooh, The BFG, Mouse and the Motorcylce, and countless princess and fairy chapter books.  We just recently started on more of the classics.  I'm looking forward to starting Little House books after Matilda.  My point, I guess is, she's chugging right along, and she's only 4.  I might be wrong, but I think she's already beyond her age in terms of school.  She loves her art projects too - cutting, gluing, coloring, painting, sculpting with playdoh.  She interacts well with everyone she meets, including holding a conversation with the urgent care check-in lady while I paid our doctor bill last week.  So where do we go from here?

I seem to seriously think about homeschooling once a month or so.  But I'm always met with the same response from Jon.  "What's the rush" when I say that in homeschooling she'd learn things faster because she would be interested in the material.  No rush, but why make a child struggle to learn something because s/he isn't ready even though that's the grade that some arbitrary committee decided it should be taught in.  "What about socializing" is often asked.  This is one I get hung up on a little, because our current neighborhood doesn't have a lot of kids in it, at least not ones Carolyn and James' ages that are outside.  They don't have any real friends at this point, although Carolyn could put a list together for you if you asked her to.  I hope that they'll make friends through their sports activities and wherever we move I hope they'll have more friends on the block.  I do know that most kids learn bad behaviors in school, not things I care for my kids to start doing.  Do kids really need to learn to sit and listen for hours on end?  Learn to fit into the program and that their needs/wants don't matter?  Some might say that's part of life, but why does a 5, 6, or 7 year old need to learn that?  As they get older they'll naturally slow down.  Why stop a child from spending time upside down (Carolyn often hangs out in a handstand on the couch)?  From moving around while looking at a book (you should the positions!)

Deep down I think that I really want to homeschool, but I don't have the responses needed for my husband at this time.  I don't know if I ever will, because we seem to just be at opposite ends on this.  Why change what's not broken? is often said.  But in my opinion, there's a lot broken about our schools across this country.  I'm a product of some great schools, but I lost my passion for learning along the way.  I started to give up when things got tough to learn.  And I think that was because I was never challenged until college, so I didn't really even know how to respond.  When I tell people I majored in physics with a minor in math I typically get "wow" or something similar.  I love physics, but I wonder how much I could learn if I had learned the proper study skills/how to stick with someone at a young age.  I had my Master's by 22, but might it have been in science rather than education?  I'll obviously never know the answer to this question because I can't turn back time.  But I'd like to think I can help my children make the most of themselves, and this might be the way to do it.