Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Let's Give Homeschooling a Try - Finally

Education has always been rooted in me as something of great value. It was never tied to race or gender, either. My parents always wanted me to do well so I could go to college someday, if that's what I wanted. And I wanted that! So, I went to college and to grad school, and got my teaching degree. I dove head first into teaching even when I was newly married and starting a family of my own. But, Dan and I had always said to one another that we would homeschool our children if God allowed us the opportunity.  Well, the time has finally arrived that God has allowed it for me to homeschool our young children.  So here I begin our educational journey through homeschooling!!

When one transitions from working in the public school system to homeschooling, it is both liberating and fearsome! The most funny thing is, I was most excited about not having to wake up early and get dressed up - to be able to wear jeans EVERYDAY and not just once a month! Liberating! :) Of course, it's a joy to be able to teach whatever I want, or whatever the kids want to learn about. But there's where it's also fearsome.  For anyone reading this who has not been a public school teacher, one of the MANY requirements piled on top of teachers is to be observed throughout the school year by the principal (or another administrator, depending on how big the school may be). Despite having worked in mainstream education for a decade, it was still nerve-wrecking when I was going to be observed. So as a new school year started and I was venturing on this new course of teaching, I subconsciously had a sense of "fear" that someone would be judging me, checking in on me at any given moment, observing my teaching skills. I told myself I could not fail, I had to be successful at this homeschooling thing! I was putting so much pressure on myself for absolutely no reason because no one was going to walk through my front door and tell me what I was doing for my children's education was inadequate. I had to get out of my own head and just enjoy teaching my children. At the end of the day I trust my skills as a teacher to provide my children with a sound education, and no critic or naysayer will bring me down! Now, talk about LIBERATING!!

This week, we have entered our 7th week of schooling.  Things are going very smoothly. Josh does lessons 5 days a week, whereas Will does just 3 days at home. Mondays and Wednesdays he goes to the public school pre-k program for socializing and to get used to the idea of school in general.  It also allows me some one on one time with Josh who's in 2nd grade. When Will's home, the attention is more on him or even on Zeke, who is only 1 but so wants to participate in what we're doing as well! There are high moments where the learning for Josh and Will is exciting and brings joy to my heart to be able to be a part of it. Of course there are "low moments" where the struggle is real for any student struggling with a concept, or more often just having the focus/attention span to get through a challenging task when Legos are just in the next room begging for the boys' attention, too! But through it all, they are loving homeschooling! I worried how Josh would transition from regular school to this, but so far he's never asked to go back. I think he honestly likes the freedom as well to do school in his pajamas some days and play with his toys earlier (as we're usually wrapped up around lunch time or so and the afternoon is theirs for free play). 

Here's some pics from our first day of school (since this post is about starting homeschooling). I'll post more as I continue to blog about our journey from here on out. This blog will also serve as an e-portfolio to show our progress for state qualifications at the end of the year. I guess someone will be checking up on me, but it's a lot easier knowing that it's not until the end of the year and it's comprehensive of everything, not just 20-30 minutes worth of a "walk-through"!

 The beginning of the "classroom" decorations. (More has been added in 7 weeks.)

 Quiet reading nook under the stairs!

Work binders are ready!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Long Time Waiting

I know it's been since November since I last posted, and I have a good reason. First, in December, my laptop got 7 Trojan viruses and crashed! I lost all the photos I had saved on my laptop so I couldn't share them on the blog like I was planning to do. I got my laptop back a while ago, but now I have more pictures from this spring to finally be able to share! I'm going to share a handful of pictures like a slideshow of the past few months just to get caught up to date, then from here on out I can try to do better about posting more often!

Josh at Christmas time!

Josh and Daddy at Christmas time!

Josh playing with his new race car track (Christmas gift from Pepere & Gia).

February vacation trip to Children's Discovery Museum in Augusta, Maine.

Lots of snow fun in Maine!

Mommy and Josh in a snow fort Daddy built. 

This is the snowman Jack built... I mean, that Josh built and named Jack, after one of the boys at his daycare!

Enjoying an early spring day in March! At the "Great Falls" on the Androscoggin River, Josh's favorite place!

Daddy even got to join in the fun after work!

Josh and Mommy (and Auntie, too) took a nice spring walk through Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary.

Oh, yeah, we're expecting again! Baby Allard #2 is due early August!

Happy Easter, Josh!

Enjoying a warm Saturday morning at the neighborhood school playground.

Best Buddies, Josh and James, at James' 4th birthday party, April.  

Monday, November 7, 2011

Surprise Party #1

Wow! If you all could just spend one week or even one day in my shoes, you'd understand why I haven't had very much time to sit and relax, drink a cup of hot chocolate (or in today's case, Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate at Starbucks.....mmmm, heavenly), and write.  We (the Allard Family) have been super duper busy in the past few weeks. Right after field hockey ended with our awards banquet on Oct. 20th, we went to a surprise party for our good friend, Windy, on the 22nd.  It was a surprise party for her 30th birthday.  Her husband, Nick, had asked me to make the birthday cake for the party.  He was expecting around 40 people to be at the party. Needless to say, though I am picking up the love for decorating cakes (it's kind of the only way I can be artistically talented),  I was very nervous about making such a large cake to potentially feed 40+ people.  I had never made a large scale cake so I really had no idea what to do and debated between doing a cake or skipping the trouble and making a bunch of cupcakes.  I went for two sheet cakes side by side instead.  Dan's mom thankfully had asked if she could spend the day with Josh on the day of the party, even though she had no idea about it, so I had the whole day to decorate the cake in peace.  Here's the final outcome:

She loved it and some people had left by the time we finally cut into the cake so the whole top half was left over!

Here are some more pics from the party!
Windy and I with the cake.

 Windy laughing over the card I got for her and figuring out what's in the bag!

 Windy's gift from me: a double whamy- first the cake and now the depends... stinks getting old doesn't it, at least getting old before me and I get to make fun of it!!!  :)  At least I redeemed myself and handed her the Pizza Hut gift card right after.  I don't want her to pay me back to harshly in a few years! :)
Windy's actually birthday is on Halloween, thus the Halloween theme.

Everyone wanted to wear the witch's costume. Josh makes it look so cute!

Then there are the others........

My little sister rocking out on the witch's broom. 

Windy and her husband, Nick, who planned such a great surprise party!

More to come in the next post about Surprise Party #2!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Kids Say The Darndest Things! (a.k.a. Embarrassing Moments for Parents)

There will come a day when what Dan or I say will be embarrassing for Josh.  Well, that's what I'm told starts to happen during the teenage years. Thankfully we have some time before we become embarrassing to Josh.  :)  However, Josh has given us a handful of embarrassing moments in his short 2 years so far! Last night another potentially really embarrassing moment occured (well, it was still embarrassing to me, I just hope no one else heard what he said, too). 

So I had to run to Wal-mart last night after picking Josh up from daycare (keep your comments to yourself about Wal-mart- hey, it's the only place around where I could get a new trash can for the kitchen, pull-ups, and cake mix & frosting all in one stop with a hungry 2 yr old in tow).  :)  Since it was Friday night, it was pretty busy, lots of people around waiting in lines at the registers.  When it was just about our turn to pay, I had unloaded the cart, and we were just waiting for the elderly couple in front of us to finish paying.  Josh asked, "Who's that, Mommy?" in reference to the female cashier. I replied, "That's Dollie (name changed to protect her innocent identity in this story). We have to pay her for our things."  Then Josh let out the most honest comment, and very clearly I might add, "She has 5 teeth!"  :)

Immediately my mind started racing wondering if anyone else had heard, had the cashier herself heard, as well as trying to cover up what he said and change topics so he wouldn't say it again!!! Plus, as funny as I thought it was at the moment, because it was so unfortunately true, I also had to swallow my laughter in all of this! It was a very close call and thankfully I was holding Josh so he was closer to the elderly couple in front of us and not the young mother standing in line behind us. "Dollie" was also a senior citizen so I doubt she heard his comment, but if she did, it didn't phase her because she made no comment in return and didn't even look up at Josh. Phew!

This however, has not been the first time that Josh has said embarrassing things out in public! Another time he was with Dan at the gas station.  They had gone inside to get something and as we've been teaching Josh for a while now, you have to pay for things at stores before you can have them. So we always tell him that it's time to pay the lady or man (whichever it is at the cash register).  On this particular day it happened to be a female cashier, however, she had very short hair and dressed more masculine than femanine.  So when Dan told Josh it was time to pay the lady, Josh said very clearly and loudly, no Daddy, that's a man!  Now, again the cashier didn't seem to hear or be bothered by the comment, but man those instances sure are embarrassing as at a parent!

Now, don't read into this the wrong way and think we are coaching Josh to say these things.  We are in fact teaching him to be nice, kind, and polite.  I even purposely skip over the part about the "astoundingly fat lady" in Harold and the Purple Crayon's Circus book after I had read it once and Josh started repeating it just around the house. However, in his little 2, almost 3, year old mind, he doesn't realize yet that what he's saying could be taken as an insult. He's just calling it as he sees it! Too bad he's known for a while the difference between boys/men and girls/ladies and he knows how to count!

Kids sure say the funniest things, but darn it when they say them in public!!!  :)

I'd love to hear your embarrassing toddler moments, too! Post a comment below!  

A Wedding and Writing

Ok so "Wedding and Writing" really have nothing in common except that they both occured recently and they make an alliteration.  I thought those were good enough reasons to put them together as my title for this post! Haha!

Saturday, October 15th was the day of our good friend, Mark M's wedding. He married a girl from Russia via California, Julia F. We all fell in love with Julia from the first time Mark introduced us to her.  She will be a great wife, partner, and companion for Mark.  Our prayers and blessings go out to them as they start this new chapter in their relationship.  Here are a few pictures from their special day.

(Disclaimer: Pictures were taken with a handheld Canon; made me frustrated and missed our professional Nikon equipment, but Dan was a groomsmen so we took a break from being professional wedding photographers and tried to blend in with the rest of the wedding guests..... flash wasn't the greatest and couldn't get the greatest shots so I'll only show a few of the better ones.)

Sharing wedding vows.


My handsome groomsman.


The beautiful wedding cake.

The beautiful watermelon and fruit display.

Josh and Daddy doing the Chicken Dance!

Josh and Mommy dancing, too.

A good opportunity to take a family picture.

The happy couple- Mark and Julia.

Now about the writing part of my post. Since field hockey started 2 months ago, I have not been able to attend any of the meetings with my writing group.  My mom is also a member so she has kept me somewhat up to date with the meetings.  Along with missing the meetings, I have not been able to do much writing for my own personal enjoyment (besides starting this new blog and the occasional journal writing).  I am looking forward to being able to join the group and get back into writing on a more regular basis now that field hockey is over. 

So yesterday I had to write a letter of recommendation for my assistant coach who is hoping to be hired as a coach for a winter sport (but at a different school district because that's where the opening is)  Again, not something I write for enjoyment, but it brought me to a new writing spot. I also knew that now that my day ends at 2:30 I could potentially go and pick up Josh  at daycare at that time but I run the likely chance that he'd still be napping. So instead of waking him up early from a nap, I decided to stop by the Starbucks not too far down the road from his daycare.  Starbucks has wireless internet so I was able to write the entire letter of recommendation in about 30 min and e-mail it off right away as well! It has been a while since I've been to Starbucks, let alone to actually sit and work while there.  It brought me back to my college days when it was the college student thing to do- go to Starbucks to "study."

Beverly, MA is nestled right next to Wenham, MA, home to Endicott and Gordon Colleges respectively.  Therefore, the Beverly Starbucks was always a hopping place, filled with tired college students trying to get away from campus life for a stint to taste better caffinated products and cram for final exams!  Despite how crowded it could be most times, it was still quite an experience all in it's own way.  I don't know that I ever got any hardcore studying done there though as you never really went there alone, so it ended up being more of a social club than library, but it was the environment around you that brought you back. You could see other college students who were in the same boat with you - stressed and ready for Christmas vacation, etc.! Coming back to Starbucks, though not in Beverly, MA, and 6 years later, the feelings still remain (minus the craming for final exams part). Just the whole nostaglia of the place gave me the warm fuzzies inside! :) 

As I walked into Starbucks yesterday (and where I sit again today to finish this blog post) the atmosphere was quite different. There were a few customers seated sporadically throughout the lounge area.  I picked a small 2 person table to share with me, myself, and I (really I just needed a seat near an outlet for my dying laptop and that was all that was available).  Despite the fact that this Auburn, ME Starbucks is within 1 mile of Bates College, there were no college students to be seen. Probably because it's not mid term time just yet, or maybe that they're still in class, or taking naps at 3:00 in the afternoon.  Either way, there were still plenty of other characters to "people watch," or more in my case, listen to as I am typing and not staring at them.  Now I have a nice quiet place to write and possibly even get some great new story ideas from the guests at Starbucks. Some people don't realize how loud they talk when there aren't that many other people in the building, and no one else is talking! :)  I am really excited about the idea of getting some serious writing done. From time to time I may share a few pieces here, but really this blog is about the whole family, not just for my writing. I might have to make another blog just for that!

One quick story from yesterday at Starbucks that really made me laugh (inside).  Just as I was finishing up and getting ready to leave, a group of 3 people (2 females and 1 male) sat down in a corner booth. The slender brunette in her 50s was extremely upbeat and had some good news to share with her companions.  Her good news was that a few days ago while she was out shopping with her husband and son, they wanted to get her something for her birthday. They brought her over to the purses and asked which one she liked. She looked at a few of them and picked one, then told the guys she was going to go elsewhere in the store to shop for other things (to let them buy the purse without her seeing them). They ended up buying her a Coach purse. She was so excited because she had never had a Coach purse before and she just loved it! It made me laugh for a few reasons: 1) I've never seen a 50 year women get so excited over a Coach purse, 2) the fact that she had never had one before and how she made it out to be like winning the lottery, and 3) the fact that the male in the group seem interested in what she was saying, though said nothing at all so it made me wonder what he was really thinking! Brave guy! LOL!

So stay tuned for more stories from Starbucks or other snapshots from our daily lives.  Thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

All Things Autumn

This time of year is my favorite time of year. I love when the leaves change colors, the crisp, fresh air each morning, the sound of field hockey every afternoon (a personal favorite I realize, as most do not think of field hockey when they think of autumn), and of course apple picking and pumpkin carving! However, in our family this time of year has become a very busy time of year. Field hockey coaching for me begins in the middle of August and goes through the beginning of October.  Dan is still busy with photographing weddings most weekends, and when he's not he's working his 2 Saturdays a month for TD Bank. On top of our busy work schedules and extra activities, we've also had many times of celebration! In September it was Dan's brother's birthday. At the end of September we celebrated my parents' 40th Anniversary. Then a week later we celebrated Dan's 32nd Birthday (Tuesday actually).  Coming up next week is Dan's mom and sister's birthday (they share a birthday).  Then there's Halloween in between.  Coming up in November we will celebrate Josh's 3rd birthday and my mom's birthday 4 days after Josh's. Then comes Thanksgiving and before we know it, it'll be Christmas! Phew! Got all of that?! That's a lot of celebrations, and though they're all for great things, it makes for a very busy autumn.  I want to capture memories from all of these events, and share them, but here I may have to share them in a bundle instead of individually as that would be a lot of posts! And for now, I'll just post some pictures that show some of the autumn activities we've been doing as a family.  I'll add to this post as more memories are made and pictures come along. 

Roasting marshmallows with our new neighbors for perhaps the last time before the weather gets too cold and the snow comes!

Josh kept saying, "I'm fire chiefing it." each time he roasted a marshmallow! So funny!

When we went apple picking (those photos are on film) we picked up two little pumpkins just the right size for Josh. We gave him some finger paint and let him go to town! He loves to paint, but really it's just more for the feel of the paint in between his fingers and making a mess- boys do that so well! Here are the pictures from that evening. We saved one pumpkin to get just his little hand print on.  The other one was his masterpiece!

Friday, September 30, 2011

A New Home

We finally made the big jump across the great Androscoggin River. We sold our home in Auburn, Maine in only 12 days and moved within the month! August 31st was the day of our signing and start to a new life as residents in Lewiston, Maine.  A new home therefore requires a new blog! Hip Hip Hooray!!

I've chosen to name this blog "Home on the Ridge" to play on the song "Home on the Range."  One night not too long ago, while reading to my son before bed in our new home, I came across a book that had some patriotic songs in it. One of the songs was "Home on the Range." As I read the words to my son I realized how special the lyrics really are. It was more like saying a prayer than just singing a song.

Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam,
Where the deer and the antelope play,
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day.
Home, home on the range,
Where the deer and the antelope play;
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day.

Now don't get me wrong, I haven't moved so far into the Maine woods to actually see deer and other wildlife roaming freely each day. In fact, we've moved more in town than we used to be. It was, however, the last two lines that meant the most to me: "where seldom is heard a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day."  This is what my heart prayed that night over my son and our new home. I prayed that our new home would continue to be a place filled with love and joy. A place where my son could spend the next who knows how many years growing in happiness and peace. I prayed that he would not know saddness and heartache but always see the sunny side of life.  As I laid there on his blue race car bed with him, I thought how this song relates so closely to our family and new home, and it struck me as funny that we now live on Ridgewood Ave. How easy it was to change the words of this song to Home, Home on the Ridge[wood Ave]!  And that is how I came about the new name for our new blog for this new chapter of our lives. 

This new blog will chronicle our daily lives in our little ranch abode.  From time to time I will also include pictures and hopefully videos as well! I just got a new laptop so it has no pictures or videos on it yet, but very soon!  Please post a comment from time to time as well, I'd love to hear from you in anyway you feel you'd like to comment! And of course, you can always be praying for our little family up here in Maine as we seek to serve God with what He has blessed us with. We have so much to be thankful and grateful for! May you also be blessed as you read this blog, share your comments, and pray for one another. 

Thank You and Happy Trails!