Monday, November 28, 2011

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho

...it's off to work we go!  Thanksgiving is over (can that possibly be true??) and it's time to get back to business and a schedule around here. There won't be any official homeschooling, as in new units etc, because we had our first yearly review on the 18th, took all of last week off for the holiday and now we have lots of cub scout homework that's due tomorrow including reports, posters and projects that we have been putting off.  Of course, all that stuff is educational and I am sure I will be able to record it in our log, but, as always, I wish I was more organized today and knew what I was supposed to tackle first and had my supplies together.

After a trip to the pediatrician for both Natalie and Dakota and a stop at my job to drop off and pick up work, we got home and had lunch and then started our school day.  Dakota read and then went onto Spellingcity.com to practice last week's spelling words that were introduced, but never worked on.  We tackled the boy scout book and sang some patriotic sing-along songs, learned about germs and basic first aid and read books about conserving energy and how not to pollute the earth.  We talked about renewable and non-renewable resources and checked off another set of boy scout achievements.  After some math we went on a walk to clean up our neighborhood to satisfy another achievement.  We gathered trash and recyclables together while Natalie got some fresh air in her stroller.  We actually accomplished alot in a little time and made a pretty impressive mark in our log book.  Tomorrow we still have to do our report and poster, but we should be able to finish our Thanksgiving Magic Tree House book (just a little late!) and have a fairly normal homeschooling day.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Week

This has been a full and crazy busy Thanksgiving week, thankfully with a healthy family, much unlike last week.  My husband had the week off for vacation so we took our little son and our granddaughter to Arundel Mills with us to get a new cell phone.  Dakota got in the hamster balls at the food court and wore himself out while we let Natalie sit on the table and entertain us.  Tuesday we left early and took our boys to Ocean City for an over night excursion.  We stopped for breakfast at Bob Evans and then went to Blackwater Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge on the way down.  We stopped and walked a trail and Dakota got the idea to "try out" this dark black mud that they have put down near the water and before we could get to him he was sinking and lost both shoes on the way out!  Dad to the rescue, holding onto a tree branch and leaning out with a stick to scoop up the shoes, getting his shoes black and almost sucked off in the process.  It was histerical and my older son and I enjoyed watching their antics.  We got to see several bald eagles up close and finally headed out to finish our trip to the Ocean.  We got there around 3:00, checked in to the Carousel and then the three guys went swimming.  When they came back we went across the street to Winterfest to ride the train and see the lights and when we got back the boys went ice skating at the rink in the hotel.  Dad went for pizza and by the time they were worn out we were able to eat and then hop in our beds and do our own thing and watch The Santa Claus on Tv.  Tuesday we were up and out by 10 and made our way back home where I cooked and cleaned and we got ready for the big feast.  Our granddaughter joined us for an overnight visit around 9 and we all called it a night.

My daughter made my day early on when she called Thanksgiving morning at 7 saying she couldn't sleep and did I want to have coffee while we waited for the baby to wake up.  I always love having the time to sit and chat with her and we watched a movie and relaxed while Tom the Turkey roasted in the oven.  She went home to get ready, we watched the parade and our other daughter and her friend were over by noon.  At 2:30 my sister in law joined us and we had a nice, relaxing Thanksgiving dinner, the very first for our littlest princess.  She was the center of attention and looked so cute in her little gray sweater. 

The dinner ended early with everyone having plans to go see others and my Brians got ready and headed to see the Ravens game.  Dakota and I took Keri and her friend home and then we got on our pjs and watched the Ravens game for a bit in the recliners before calling it a night around 10.

Friday morning I got up early and went Black Friday shopping for a few hours.  It was a bit lonely going alone, but I got alot done and was home by 11 to clean up, pack and head out at 1:30 for our cabin camping trip in Hagerstown.  We took our dog, Riley, and he did a great job in the car.  We got to Jellystone a little after 3, took a walk and then settled in for a quiet night....or as quiet as Dakota would let it be.  He did find some friends and today, Saturday, after a few walks and two games of mini golf, he is outside with the all the kids from the campsites playing baseball with one of the dad's supervising.  Nice.  Now I have to decide if I want to call it a night and head home early or if I want to try to occupy Dakota tonight here and head home in the morning.  I really just can't decide. I don't really feel like packing up, but we slept three of us to a double bed last night and I would really love to sit in my recliner.....we'll see.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Getting over the hump

Today has been a quiet day with videos and reading as our base for homeschooling.  Dakota and I are both recovering from a nasty bout with the stomach flu and it's nice to have a pj day and keep things quiet.  As I write this, however, Dakota must be feeling back to normal because he is thumping his chest and singing Cotton Eye Joe :-) 

We started our next Magic Tree House book this morning - Thanksgiving on Thursday.  Again, I print the word wall vocabulary strips from Edhelper.com and Dakota is so excited to find out that he is familiar with many of these words.  I find that he stumbles over an easy one, though, and it opens the door to further explanation.  We read three chapters and do the simple comprehension questions we find posted online at http://www.mce.k12tn.net/reading31/thanksgiving_on_thursday.htm.  Next we watch the first episode of Liberty's Kids, The First Fourth of July.  It's a little too old for him and we have to watch carefully and I point out the parts that I want him to take note of.  We even rewind in a few spots and I think he got as much as he could out of it considering he is only seven.  We then did our packet from SchoolExpress.com on George Washington and I was really pleased with what he now knows about him. 

After lunch we snuggled up again and read books about young pochontas and young squanto and then some fun Thanksgiving reading books.  We stopped and took some time for a foam art craft and then enjoyed singing along to some patriotic songs like Home On the Range and This Land is Your Land.  I love teaching American History!  Finally, with Dakota's attention surprisingly still strong and focused, we read a book about the heart and lungs and then did a cloze activity with a venn diagram.  The best part of today was that even on "his" time there was no tv and no whining about video games.  He spent his spare time writing an eleven page book of his own about superheroes using stickers to illustrate.  I was very impressed!  He wrote the story in his "Dakota's Creation" book and he is very proud!

Tomorrow is our first review for first grade with the county.  It doesn't worry me.  I have everything together, with a few papers needing to be filed into the binder and I know that I teach plenty and have done more than an adequate job of educating him.  I know I get some flack from my unschooling friends about "schooling at home", which seems to be taboo in the homeschooling world, but it's what works for us and I never have to worry come review time that we won't make the grade. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sharp's Farm

Today we had a field trip to Sharp's Farm in Brookeville, MD.  It was a gorgeous drive and we had lots of great people who joined us on the trip.  The kids sat down and learned about what the pilgrims used to survive when they came to the new world.  Dakota was amazed that they used shells and gourds for plates and bowls and pitchers.  Then we went to the Pilgrim Chores building where the kids learned what chores were done by the men and what chores were done by the women.  Our next stop was games, of course a favorite for all the kids.  They got to run around and burn off a little energy and then hop up on the wagon and take a fun hayride.  The kids all squealed and giggled when the big tractor took us all through the water!  Our last stop was the corn maze.  It was a little sparse this time of year, but enjoyable all the same.  The rain held off, the temps were mild and we got back into the car two and a half hours later feeling tired, hungry and happy.  You can't ask for more!

Monday, November 14, 2011

One video says it all.


If you are a follower of my blog you know that I am an Archbishop Spalding Cavalier football mom.  Every season is emotional for me, watching my son from age six to eighteen, but this season was his last and it was a special one for us all.  Our coach, Mike Whittles, is an awesome man.  He is the friendliest man you will ever meet and he truly loves football and his players.  He expects alot from his boys, but in return, he gives so much more. We have been involved with alot of teams over the years, but never before have I witnessed the emotions that play out on the football field at Spalding.  Coach Whittles and all his assistant coaches, including my husband, not only give football instruction, they give love.  They hug the boys often.  They express their feelings openly. It is not unheard of to hear the words "I love you" from coach to player or player to coach.  It has been an awesome experience being a spectator to such love and I feel very blessed that my son got to experience it as well. 

This year our coach found out in February that he has stage IV pancreatic cancer.  It was a devastating blow to everyone, but Coach has been there through it all, fighting the cancer as brutally as he prepares his players to fight the opponent.  He would go to chemo treatments in the morning and stand on the sidelines coaching his boys at night.  He has taught the boys to appreciate every opportunity and his motto is "Make Every Day Count".  What an inspiration he has been to each and every one of us, but especially to impressionable young men who are still figuring out how to act in the world of adults. 

This Friday our team played their final game of the 2011 season.  My son played the final game of his career.  Coach Whittles...he hopes to be back on the sidelines next year coaching the next line of Spalding players.  He isn't a quitter and, God willing, you will be hearing about the miracle that is Coach Whittles for many years to come.  He is "Mr. 5%".  Miracles do happen and he is a walking, talking, hugging, loving example.  In this video, at the end, it is my son, #18, who is in tears, hugging the coach and expressing his love.  What a beautiful expression of emotion between two people.  Thank you, Coach Whittles, for every day of the last two football seasons.  Thank you for being a inspiration to my husband and my son.  Thank you for loving us all.  Because of you, we are working hard to Make Every Day Count.  We love you!

http://www.abc2news.com/dpp/news/region/baltimore_city/spaulding-coach-inspires

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Let Me Off!!!

This past week I have felt like I am on a merry go round moving at top speed and I just want off!  I have been running, running, running non-stop and when I am not running and I am home there is so much to be done that I am overwhelmed.  Today I was supposed to do all my shopping early and then clean the carpets and do my work tonight while the guys went to the Towson game so that I could relax tomorrow.  Right......NOT.  I ended up shopping all day, bringing the last of the groceries in at 6:00.  I spent way too much money trying to shop for the two weeks and also for Thanksgiving and spending money on some Christmas things too that I really shouldn't have.  Oh well.  So now tomorrow, instead of relaxing, I will be cleaning this filthy house, cleaning the filthy carpets, wiping up the filthy floors, doing the laundry and then working.  Sigh.  It just goes round and round and round. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thunderbirds

Today, Dakota, Natalie and I went to Goucher College to see the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers.  It was Natalie's first show and she loved watching the dancers, but the applause had her jolting around and stiffening her body.  It was unexpected to her and she was startled.  Dakota really enjoyed it. 

When we got home I had plans for lots of schoolwork, but I am wiped out from the constant go, go, go of this week and we are sitting together munching popcorn and watching Pochantas.  Maybe we'll get some reading in.  Maybe not.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I met Beethoven!!

Today we had a program at our co-op to Meet the Composer.  Mr. Keith Derrickson runs a program where the kids gather around and Beethoven appears via time machine, complete with whirling disco lights. He arrived and captivated the children, talking about his youth, playing pieces of his music and making them giggle using a ventriloquist dummy.  He took them through his growing up years and through the time in Vienna when he was studying music as a young adult.  He acted out how Beethoven looked ot be snubbing people (and got a bad reputation for being grumpy and rude), but in reality, he was embarrassed by his hearing loss and couldn't bear to let people know.

The hour program was just right.  It was fantastic and I can't wait until the spring when we will invite him back to do a program on Johann Sebastian Bach.  Great job, Mr. Derrickson!  Thank you so much for making Beethoven fun!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Senior Night

Friday night, November 4, was one that I have both looked forward to and dreaded for many years.  My "boy of fall", my eighteen year old son, Brian David, would play his last game at "home" at Archbishop Spalding and one of the very last games of his long, thirteen season football career. 

Brian couldn't wait to start playing football.  At the time, Anne Arundel County was starting it's first year of 65lb ball, the youngest they had ever had, and Brian was so excited to start!  A friend of my husband's called and asked him to help coach and there you had it...history in the making! Coach Baublitz began his long and successful football coaching career, leading his son and "running the table" through his football years.

 From that late summer day in 1999 to this late fall evening in 2011, my son has put his heart and soul into more games than I can count.  He started out at 42lbs, small but full of fire. There was never a player he feared, no matter their size. He played his entire rec ball "career" at the Pasadena Chargers and played only one of those years without his dad's coaching, although dad was still coaching nearby.  He was number 11 for those first two years, but soon chose number 13 and stuck with it until high school.  He was a quarterback by 85lb and led his team with confidence, gaining the respect of players who were much bigger and stronger, but few knew the game as well as he did.  I have fond memories of my two Brians on the field in their Charger black and gold, having huddles and talks, getting and giving plays and practicing long into the twilight and early evening from July through November.  My husband found his calling in coaching and my son found his passion on the field and I was proud of both of them when I watched what unfolded through the years.  I always knew that my husband would coach all his players with fun and safety in mind, fair, but tough. Winning was important, but self discipline and fundamentals were the core. My son learned well and played by the rules, never playing "dirty".  He lost with grace and won with dignity. He was, very often, the smallest kid on that field, but he also was, very often, the kid with the very biggest heart. Some memories that stick out in my mind...
  • Way back when, in 1999, our little 65lb team played their first scrimmage.  It was against the "big" 75lb kids and it was just starting to get dark at Lake Waterford.  My little blond haired, blue eyed sweetheart, never before in a football game, took his first hit and went flying backward 10 yards.  As he crumpled to the ground I felt two hands on my shoulders and a voice in my ear that said "stay here".  I wanted to sprint onto the field and scoop him up and hug him.  But my boy, with all the swagger he could muster, pulled himself up, wiped off the blood from his lip and got back into the huddle.   I will never know who it was that stopped me from embarrassing my son that evening, but whoever you are, thank you.  My son needed to realize that he could take the hit and get back on his feet.  From that day on, he was never afraid.  He took many, many hits and flew back many, many yards, but by the grace of God, he always got right back up onto his feet and got right back into that huddle.
  • Practices at Lake Waterford...all of them.  Beginning in mid July we sideline moms would haul out our chairs, bring our coffee and pick up where we left off the following year.  Some moms came and others went, but there were alot of friendships made along the way.  Barb, Jackie R., Jackie B., Carol, Christie..you know who you are.  We sat in the scorching heat, hung out when the leaves began to fall and huddled under blankets as November neared.  Our boys, at the beginning, came to us to put on their pads, snap their helmets and help them with gloves.  By the end, we were only there because we couldn't bear to miss it.  They surely didn't need us for help anymore.  They went from being small and cute with missing teeth and skinned up knees to gangly preteens, not quite comfortable in their new longer arms and legs  Then, toward the end, they left a boy and returned almost a man.  Mustaches were sprinkled in with straight teeth and stylish hair.  Biceps, pecs and quads all bulged against their pads.  It was all so bittersweet, but I wouldn't have missed one moment.
  • The game at GORC, when the boys were about nine years old.  It was freezing cold and pouring rain.  There were tents set up and heaters and between plays the boys would try to thaw out, but it was futile.  We parents held umbrellas and, soaked to the bone, cheered for our boys, but in the end, they lost, and I will forever remember the sad little faces looking up at my husband as he gave his speech, tears mixed with raindrops and water actually puddling up and pouring out of their shoes.  Those kids gave their heart and soul each and every game and it always hurt when they walked away empty handed.
  • Charger traditions...most made by Coach Brian.  Back In Black playing on the sound system, or Thunderstruck. Everything and everyone decked out in black and gold. "Locker room" talks, where all parents were "banned", that were really only benches down by the lake where the coaches pumped the boys up and the boys confessed their hopes and fears.  One of my favorite traditions was when the team would line up at home games and come onto the field as one, helmets on, holding hands.  That gave me chills every time! We all had a complete wardrobe of black and gold and when Dakota came along in 2004 he got mini sized shirts to wear.  He was on the field for the first time at four days old and he learned to walk on the field, pushing his walking toy out onto the fields to try to do the warm up exercises with the boys. 
There were many friends made on the field over the years, as well as on the sidelines.  Coaches and kids formed a bond that still is strong so many years later.  It is true what they say in that Kenny Chesney song The Boys of Fall..."you mess with one man, you got us all".  They were brothers on the field.  They were one. And all these years later, they still embrace and talk about their Charger pride. There is a sense of loyalty and discipline on a football field and a sense of brotherhood that prevails long after they have played their last game under the lights. Football may be just a game, but there are alot of life's lessons sprinkled throughout and most players take what they have learned on the field and use it wisely as they move on with their lives.

And who could forget the Anne Arundel County championship, played at Navy Stadium, that last year with the 135lb team.  Those boys worked so hard to get there and that night, under the lights, they won it all.  The emotions were so high and I will never, ever forget it.  My husband and my son found each other first and hugged each other tight before hugging everyone else on the field.  Brian David's picture was in the Baltimore Sun, being lifted high by another teammate.  He is beaming and you can see it all written on his face.  We called the paper and had a color copy of that picture mailed to us and it remains framed and hung on his bedroom wall, reminding us all of the thrill of that Charger championship.

And then came high school. It was the first time that father and son would play for different teams.  I think it was important for our son to know that he could play ball and pull his own weight because he was a good player, not because he was the coach's son.  Brian was a captain for the Cardinal Gibbons Crusader JV team and he wore his colors with pride.  The school was small and the field lacked many of the bells and whistles of some of the other schools, but those boys loved football and they loved each other.  Red and white became our colors of choice and I loved parking my car and walking towards that field, seeing my son and his teammates warming up.  I will always remember riding along the road that runs above the football field and looking down at the boys in their uniforms, getting ready for the big game.  We made some new friends and some new memories, and just when we were ready to move to the varsity level, our school closed and we had to find another home. 

Since everything happens for a reason and our school's closing was excruciatingly painful and full of questionable reasoning, maybe the stars lined up in this partiular way so that father and son could play together again.  For his junior and senior years, Brian David was once again on his father's team.  Red and white were still our colors, but we were no longer Crusaders.  We were the Spalding Cavaliers.  We took some time to adjust, feeling like intruders at first in an unfamiliar world, but Brian soon fit right in with his new teammates and he had two interceptions in his junior year...the highlight of his time at Spalding.  And, once again, these well coached young men made it to the championship and I screamed and cheered and basked in the glow when my husband and son won yet another victory, finding each other and then scaling the walls to hug the family and friends that had come to watch.  Some kids never get to experience one season of glory.  We are truly blessed that Brian David has had more glory than most.  He embraces each and every moment and, if anyone deserves it, he does.  He is such a wonderful kid and it all means so much to him.

So here we are, back at senior night. Time to leave the past behind and embrace the present.  Our Spalding team went into the A conference this year and the competition has been fierce, but we have perservered.  Brian hasn't gotten a ton of playing time, but he has gotten enough and he is okay with it.  Friday night was his senior night, his last home game, possibly his last game ever.  We parents made banners and posters, commemorating the boy that was and the man that is.  They got special black jerseys with their names on the back.  It was all first class.  And there I was, lined up along the sidelines with all the other parents of seniors, waiting for my son to join me and for me to participate in the ceremony that I have witnessed over and over through the years.  It was surreal.  This couldn't really be happening, could it?  Was my baby really this handsome young man who was coming over to take my arm.  And then my beautiful son, in his shoulder pads and uniform, escorted his dad, little brother and I onto the field and we stood among the other families and had our moment.  We all turned to face the screen and a video played, highlighting each senior's achievements on the field, Boys of Fall playing on the screen.  I didn't cry.  I thought I would.  Lord knows I have cried enough in the days leading up to this.  But instead, I felt incredible pride.  My son had his arm around me and tears in his bright blue eyes as we sang the song softly and watched the screen.  It was all over so fast.  The boys broke and all started to run to the rest of the team, but almost as one, they all turned back around and hugged their families...and then they were gone, off to play the game.  My beautiful boy.  And once again, against mighty odds, he was given one more incredible memory when his team beat Loyola in overtime and they lived to fight together one more time.  I have video of my husband and son kneeling together, saying a prayer, heads bowed as that final play was made.  As they realized we scored they went running onto the field and into the arms of their teammates and then, through the lens of the camera, I watched them find each other and come running back out, my son lifted high in my husband's arms. And then back they went again.  How incredibly sweet this sport of football has been in our lives.  How incredibly blessed we are.





And so, we have another game.  Possibly only one more.  But I have made my peace with it now and I am ready....that's a lie.  I will never be ready.  But I am more ready than I was before.  God, bless this boy.  Keep him safe as you so graciously have done throughout each of his thirteen seasons.  Allow him to appreciate the game and the team and to store away those memories in a place where he can have easy access whenever he wants to reminisce.  Brian David, I am so incredibly proud of you.  You will always be my football hero, my boy of fall, and I will forever remember each and every memory that you have given to me over the years.  I love you!

Going to get better!!

I used to be really good about taking a few minutes each day to write in my blog and I enjoyed it, but I let life get in the way and I am behind.  I am going to try to improve!!  Today was not a perfect homeschooling day, but we are salvaging what we can.  I had to work (transcribing from home) to get my work in by noon and we got a very late start.  I let Dakota sleep in and then play for awhile and then he sat beside me reading while I finished.  The baby played and slept and after lunch I had Dakota watch a video on music with great vocabulary called Magic Musical Voyage while I got myself together and had my own lunch.  He read a book to the baby while I opened my computer and prepared and then he hopped up in the recliner with me and we read/discussed the thirteen colonies and the French and Indian war.  He had some great questions!  We stopped after briefly touching on the Revolutionary War, which will be our topic for the rest of the week.  He took a blank map of the United States and colored the thirteen colonies and we discussed when the border looked like it did (the Appalachian Mountains were in the way!) and then answered some simple mapping questions.  He is great at geography, thanks to some intense learning over the past couple of years in fun ways.  After history and geography, he wanted to finish his tall tale from Friday when he wrote it up on a graphic organizer.  He wrote about a man who was in a band who sang a song in one breath that lasted from day to night and it was titled Rock On :-)+

I tend to lose Dakota's attention around 3:00.  It doesn't matter if we start at 9am or 2pm, at 3pm, he's finished.  Since we got such a late start I skipped Science and Health and we only did two pages of our math unit.  We are working on more complex parts of telling time and I know that he has to really think hard about hit so I didn't want to ask too much, especially after writing his own tall tale.  We got in our Spelling 9 introduction and the two workbook pages and then he was out of there!  I added religion from our Sunday School class activities from yesterday and his PE time wrestling in the leaves with the neighbor boys.  As I try to decompress a bit now, deciding if I should do what I NEED to do and work or what I SHOULD do and coupon and plan or want I WANT to do and read my library books that have been just sitting unopened for days.  Decisions, decisions...Anyway, I am here, writing in my blog currently while The Scrambled United States plays on the DVD player so I can pre-screen it and see if it's worth our time for tomorrow.  It's a little crazy, but cute.  It is probably great at teaching the names of the states, but Dakota already knows those.  Time is always very valuable and I would like to squeeze in watching Pocahontas tomorrow afternoon if at all possible.