Happy Birthday to My Boys and Kindergarten Goals for this Next Year

August is closing, and it’s hard to believe that Autumn is almost here.  It’s been a busy month.  During the first week we were still in Chicago visiting relatives and going to all the places that I shared in this, this and this post.  Right before we left Chicago, my boys’ grandparents threw them a big birthday bash, and when we returned, we geared up for a couple of smaller celebrations on their actual birthdays.

My boys were born exactly one week apart, so we celebrated a new 2-year-old one night with my parents, and then repeated that for a new 5-year-old one week later!  So now I’ll be referring to “the 2-year-old” and “the 5-year-old.

I bragged a little about my boys and why I love them so much in my recent column for the Barrow Journal, and I hope you’ll take a moment to read it by clicking here.

Then perhaps you can tell me how all this happened?!  It was only yesterday that I left the hospital with that little baby feeling absolutely helpless and traumatized from the experience of my first labor.  I pretended I was fine because I knew I would be, but I desperately wanted someone wiser to help my husband and I through those first few days.  I guess it’s an experience every new parent has to go through.

Now it’s five years later and I’m a much more confident mama, but sometimes I still worry and wonder if I’m making the right choices.  It wasn’t long ago that I debated if I should send my 5-year-old to Kindergarten this Fall, but now I’m so glad I listened to my gut.  I’m working on “Kindergarten” with my son, and we’re both having fun, which is how learning should be.

“It is estimated that 95% of kindergarteners feel good about their learning potential.  However, 98% of seniors in high school have lost their creative, inquisitive spirits.  So, what has happened to all but 2% of these seniors?” — Discover Your Child’s Learning Style, Mariaemma Willis, M.S., and Victoria Kindle Hodson, M.A.

The more I think about it, the happier I am with my decision to homeschool.  Realistically, I believe there are both pros and cons to homeschooling and to sending a child to school.  Each family has to weigh those pros and cons and decide what is best for their children.

With that said, I thought I’d list some of what I’m hoping to blog about in the coming months.  These are projects we are working on right now or that I’m planning to work on, and I’m excited to share our results with you. Here they are in no particular order: (UPDATE: Click on the links to go to these posts.)

So I hope you’ll subscribe to my blog or come back often.  Unfortunately, I can’t promise that I’ll blog regularly or often.  My boys keep me too busy.  But you can bet some of these topics will be fodder for my newspaper columns, and I have to write those every week, so something will get done!  Hopefully.

Thanks for stopping by!  I hope you’ll tell me that you were here.

Every Mother’s Experience Is Different

How do we know what is best for our children?

In my latest column for the Barrow Journal, I wanted to honor the fact that every mother’s experience is different, and as I write about my boys, my family, and how we do things, I know that other mothers might not have the choices available to them that we do, or maybe they don’t want to do what we do.  Parents all have to decide what is best for their kids and their family as a whole.  If kids have loving parents who are trying their best to do what they think is right, then they are lucky.  We don’t all have to do it the same way.

I hope I did a good job conveying this message in my column.  I hope you’ll click here to read it and then give me your perspective.  And if you’re a parent, tell me a little of what your experience has been.

Our Summer Vacation Part 4: The Kohl Children’s Museum in Greater Chicago

I promise this is the last post about our summer vacation!

When we decided to check out the Kohl Children’s Museum, we knew absolutely nothing about it, but when I called their telephone number, the recording told me that it is one of the Top 10 Children’s Museums in the Country.  I can see why!  It’s a beautiful place and far surpasses the INK museum, which we have here in Gainesville – not that I’m dogging INK.  I love it too, and I’m very happy to have it near us.  But the Kohl museum – Wow.  The water room BY ITSELF was worth the effort of going.  Just look at it…

The Kohl Children’s Museum is the ultimate place to play make-believe, and it had similar exhibits to the INK museum, such as a grocery store, vet clinic, diner, and music room, but it had a lot more science in it too.  My kids are still young, so they liked the hands-on exhibits such as the water room, sandbox, music room, microscopes, etc.  I have to say that this museum is beautiful too.  Aesthetically pleasing in every way.  I loved the colors and quotes on the walls.

I wish I could show you more photos, but it was pretty crowded that day, so it was hard to keep other kids out of the frame.

Speaking of crowded, someone there told us we were lucky because it was NOT crowded that day.  What?!  My husband and I said we’d hate to go when it WAS crowded.

Part of the museum we missed, so if we ever go back, we might have to visit again.

There were cool places to explore outside too…

The Kohl Children’s Museum is a definite MUST SEE if you have young kids and visit Chicago.

Our Summer Vacation Part 3: The Brookfield Zoo

Thanks to everyone who is humoring me by looking at my summer vacation photos!  We had a good time in Chicago, and another place we enjoyed was the Brookfield Zoo.  This is a HUGE zoo.  We only saw half of it.  I LOVE Zoo Atlanta, and I still do.  Zoo Atlanta is easy to walk through in one visit.  The Brookfield Zoo is a wonderful zoo, but there was a lot of walking between exhibits.

The Brookfield Zoo has a rich history, which you can read more about here.  I also wrote about the zoo in my recent column that I mentioned in my last post regarding The Field Museum.  You can read that by clicking here.

Tropics World is where in 1996 a small boy fell into the exhibit and a female gorilla held him until authorities could retrieve him.  Amazing!



Our Summer Vacation Part 2: Chicago’s Field Museum

On our recent trip to visit relatives in Chicago, we took advantage of being in the big city!  I loved the natural history museum, or the Field Museum.  I wrote a column about it for the Barrow Journal along with our adventure at the Brookfield Zoo, but I’ll post photos of the zoo later.  Click here to read the column and learn about this amazing museum.

I hope we can go back to the Field Museum someday.  Although my young children loved it, it’s a great place for adult learning, and when my boys are older and able to read, it would be an incredible field trip.

The main hall of the Field Museum.  In the foreground you can see “Sue,” the most complete T-Rex fossil in the world.

He liked pushing all the buttons.

This is only part of dinosaur hall.  The fossils were amazing.  I appreciate the Fernbank Museum that we have here in Atlanta, but it doesn’t have real dinosaur fossils to my knowledge.  And its exhibits pale in comparison.

A-hem.  I don’t think climbing was allowed….

If you are ever in the Chicago area, I highly recommend the Field Museum!

Our summer vacation in Chicago, Illinois

I have been absent from the Internet for over two weeks, and I haven’t missed it one bit!  But I have missed connecting with online and local friends while we’ve been away.  We took a 16-hour drive to my in-laws house north of Chicago, and while we were there, my sons met their Polish relatives, visited Chicago’s Botanical Garden, Field Museum, the Brookfield Zoo, and the Kohl Children’s Museum.  It was so much fun and quite an experience for them.  As I have time, I’ll post a few photos from our excursions.  (Be sure to click through the next three posts to see photos from those fun “field trips.”) Here’s a photo of my 4-year-old with his “Babcia.”  He’s very close to her, and he loved her small vegetable garden and other flowers.

If you’d like to read about our long drive and our first week in Chicago, I have written about that in my newspaper columns, which you can access by clicking on the links below.

Traveling with my Young Children

Visiting Grandparents in Chicago