Jamie and I went to see the Beach Boys Monday night last week. The last time we saw them was a whole decade ago. Now Mike Love is 80 and Bruce Johnston is 79 and they are still able to get around and have fun and sing so well.
The audience was mostly fans from when the Beach Boys was in their heyday, but the energy was high and the music was loud and it was so much fun. The mayor (who is my age) and his wife and son were there, too. Afterwards we were like wait, that’s… that looks like… yes, yes, it is (we love our mayor; fun fact: a couple years ago Cameron taught taekwondo to the mayor’s son for a few months).
It’s not unlikely that that was the last time we’ll ever see the Beach Boys in concert. After all, how much longer can a 79 and 80 year old tour and perform, plus San Antonio isn’t a very common stop on those tours. So I’m really glad my parents got us tickets to the show.
Zeke and Mayci definitely operate better when they know what to expect and have things to do so I made them a schedule for the summer and it’s been going great.
We start the day (WAY too early) with a snack and whatever they want to do (Anthony and Nicholas are home at that point, too). They eat breakfast about 8 while watching something they choose on TV and then go outside to play. We drop Anthony and Nicholas off at preschool camp some time between 9 and 9:30. Zeke and Mayci keep playing outside until 10.
At 10 they come inside and have a snack while watching Little Einsteins or Bluey or some sort of other edutainment. Then they play with a selection of toys that changes every day. They get to choose which they play with and for how long, but are only allowed to play with whatever was put on the table that day (or they can look at any of the books in the living room).
While they are playing with toys I call Zeke and Mayci in one at a time to do a lesson in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. We do one or two lessons a day depending on how well they are doing and what sort of level of focus they’ve got. We’re about twenty lessons in and both are doing great with reading. It’s easier for Zeke since he started learning in school last year. He’s improved a lot already. It’s pretty new for Mayci. She knew her letters and the sounds they make and had practiced isolating initial sounds of words, but she had never blended sounds into words before.
When they finish their reading lesson they return to the table to continue playing with the toys. Meanwhile, Adrian does his chores and straightens up the living room and then he gets his computer time for the day. He spends 45 minutes on Adventure Academy, 10-15 minutes on DuoLingo, and 45 minutes to an hour on Code.Org/Hour of Code.
After asking me every single day the first week if it was the day they go back to school, I made a calendar that shows each day between now and the first day of school in August and has a countdown for how many days are left until the first day. I also put all the birthdays during birthday season (which begins with Adrian’s birthday on Saturday and ends with Mayci’s birthday the beginning of August) on there as well. Each day around lunchtime we go to the calendar on the wall and go over the day, date, and how many days are left until school starts again. Currently they also want me to tell them how many days until they test for their new belts in taekwondo and how many days until Anthony starts taekwondo. They really like to see what day it is and how much time is left of summer break. Since I put that calendar up they haven’t asked once if it’s the first day of school.
We have lunch at noon. They always watch an episode of Jake and the Neverland Pirates while they eat. Fritz and Adrian used to love that show, too. One or both twins joins them eating and watching depending on if they are napping at the time or not.
After lunch they go upstairs for an hour of quiet time. After quiet time they watch an episode of Sesame Street. That’s followed by another snack while watching Bluey or some other very short show. Once their snacks are eaten they go back to the table to play with toys again.
On Mondays and Wednesdays they get ready for taekwondo about 3. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, I call them back in one at a time for computer time. They get 20 minutes on ABCMouse (we might try out Homer in a couple weeks) and 10 minutes on CodeSpark.
While one is having computer time the other does two pages in their Summer Bridge workbook (Adrian also does two pages in his Summer Bridge workbook most days). During the rest of their sibling’s computer time they either watch the other play (because kids really like watching other kids play on the computer) or go back in to play with toys on their own. Sometimes they keep playing with toys until Anthony and Nicholas come home and sometimes they watch something on Living Scriptures.
It really is amazing how smoothly our days are going with this schedule and amazing just how much they enjoy the schedule. It really makes them happy.
Elijah is the sweetest 5-year-old ever. He’s so loving and caring. He was born on Ultimate Pi Day which seems so perfect for a member of our family.
The first time he spent the weekend during a pre-placement visit, he did not want to come. He didn’t know us and had barely seen us when we dropped off and picked up the twins for visitation.
Before COVID hit, he came to stay four weekends. He eventually got used to us and our house. He started getting comfortable. And then COVID hit.
Because of COVID we no longer were able to have him come spend pre-placement weekends with us so we started visiting via Skype. Elijah does not like to visit via Skype.
Finally, on May 15th, he arrived at our house permanently and was officially placed on the 18th. The children were reunited and our family was all together.
When he arrived, he had a hurricane going on inside his little body. Meltdowns had been a near daily occurrence for a long time for him. He was an angry little boy.
Slowly, he relaxed. Slowly, he started to trust us. From the start he and I just clicked. He’s a words of affirmation like I am so showing him love the way he understands it just came naturally.
Soon his meltdowns pretty much disappeared (he still had a couple related to CPS visits, but that’s because he was afraid they’d remove him from our home and so totally understandable). He settled into life as our fifth little Dukling.
When he arrived at our house, he had long, beautiful hair that he would use to hide behind when he was feeling anxious. After a month or so he always wanted his hair in a ponytail with his face showing. And then he asked to get his hair cut.
I was so surprised when he picked a short style. I was thinking maybe he’d go for shoulder length since he was used to it long. But no, he wanted it short. As adorable as he was with long hair, he’s super adorable with short, too!
He started kindergarten, virtually, in August. He’s working so hard learning his letters and numbers. He has a few educational struggles related to his early years, but he’s catching up so fast.
Elijah is so much fun. He is enjoying learning taekwondo. He loves to organize his very large car collection (especially the cars from Cars). He enjoys drawing and coloring, both things he is quite talented at.
He has grown so much since we got him. In May size 4T was loose on him. Just 6 months later and I’m thinking it won’t be long until he moves up to size 6!
His favorite color is red. He looks amazing in jewel tones. He’s just a seriously happy kid now. The hurricane has been calmed.
For Halloween he was an alien from Toy Story. He got so excited when I found that costume in a pile given to us by a friend because there was also one that fit the babies so his little brother could match him. He still asks if we can go trick-or-treating again “tomorrow.”
Because of COVID, we’ve been having church at home. Even though we could go to the building for Sacrament Meeting now, we’ve decided to keep doing it at home for now. A couple weeks ago it was Elijah’s turn to give the talk in Sacrament Meeting. He told us all about who Jesus is.
He and Fritz share a first middle name (Fritz was given the name David after my brother) which is pretty cool. Ezekiel is because my dad had a hard time remember his name is Elijah and it just fit. We almost picked T’Challa, though.
Because he’s very tall and thin, Cameron has found it’s impossible to find an off-the-rack suit that fits him properly. So, with the Black Belt Gala coming up and him needing to dress super nicely since he’s a chief instructor now, he went shopping at Men’s Wearhouse on Black Friday. He got two suits and had them altered to fit him. He’s pretty happy with them!
Monday was pajama day. While many homeschooling families stay in pajamas every day, we don’t so it was different and fun for us.
Tuesday was out and about day. We went with Cameron to taekwondo when he had to work in the morning and all three did some schoolwork while waiting for student to get there. Then Cameron treated his younger brothers to Sonic milkshakes.
After lunch and the boys had finished their schoolwork, we went to the park. We took our bird along and she seemed to enjoy it though we didn’t stay very long because it was back in the 90s and the mosquitoes were really bad out there.
At the park, I took what might be the most adorable picture of Rae yet.
Wednesday was crazy hair day. Cameron gelled up his younger brothers’ hair.
Thursday was fandom day. The little boys and I decided to all dress in Pokemon shirts.
Friday was giving back day. My mom made cute little bunnies and the boys named them.
Then we went around the area and hid them in plain sight for kids to find.
We struggled all of last year getting a good schedule for school. Cameron had seminary 6-6:50 am. When he got home, he’d go back to bed and wake up at some point to do all together work with his brothers. It never really worked.
This year, however, is so much better! This year, he has seminary 7:15-8:05 am. So much better. He walks to the church and back so he’s usually home by 8:15 or 8:20. While he’s at seminary I make breakfast and get the boys up for the day if necessary (they usually get up on their own before 8).
When Cameron gets home we eat breakfast while watching CNN10. Then we get to work on our all together work. During most weeks, normal 5 day weeks, we do history on Monday, geography on Tuesday, science on Wednesday, and the arts on Thursday. That makes Friday a short day. A bit of a reward for working so hard during the week.
All together work takes about 2 1/2-3 hours. The little guys have some together work Cameron doesn’t (religion and holidays). Once all of the all together work is done, they move on to their on their own work. Once they finish that, they are done for the day. So far, they’ve been finishing anywhere from 12-3:15 depending on the kid and the day.
Tuesdays and Thursdays Cameron teaches taekwondo 11-11:45. I don’t think he’ll be teaching in the mornings much longer, though, since school has started up again so most of the kids no longer attend that class so that part of our schedule may go away (or Cameron may take class himself). Sometimes the little guys take class, too. Since I have to take Cameron, Fritz works on his on his own work while I’m gone whether we’re done with all together work or not (Adrian still needs me for his on his own work so he gets a break while I am gone). Wednesdays Cameron goes to instructor training 10-12. I drop him off and pick him up, but in the middle, I work with the boys on their on their own work. All three of those days, we have lunch when we get home and then go back to work after lunch. Monday and Friday we have lunch about noon and then get back to work until they are done if necessary.
It’s nice having a good schedule for school. Even though it’s a little crazy with the three days of taekwondo stuff, it still is so much better than last year (which also included taekwondo class for all of us since for part of the year Fritz and I hadn’t gotten our black belts yet).
Somehow we’ve already reached the end of the summer and it’s time to go back to school. But, as is our tradition, today while kids all around us went to their first day of school, we played.
We started off with crepes, Nutella, and turkey bacon for breakfast.
The went to Main Event and played some games. Space Invaders has gotten quite the modern update!
We played some air hockey and skee ball. Those games can be pretty intense in our family.
Giant Connect 4 turned out to be way more fun than you might think. And also pretty intense.
Cameron picked up a pool cue and started doing the jahng bong form right in the middle of Main Event. (Note: Cameron hates this picture because his stance is awful because he was just playing around.)
Fritz and Adrian attempted the gravity ropes. Several months ago, my brother came to visit and we went to Main Event. Adrian tried the gravity ropes, but he got too scared and came back down. This time he was determined to make it across. Fritz got too scared this time, but Adrian made it!
We played a game of laser tag before we picked our prizes and headed out.
We had pizza at Luciano’s for dinner. They have some of the most amazing pizza and their gluten free crusts are really good.
We ended the day with shaved ice from Bahama Bucks. Fritz said he must be making a whole lot of dopamine because he was feeling so happy.
Check out previous years’ Not Back to School Days: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016. (I missed blogging about Not Back to School Day in 2011 and they went to public school in 2013.)