Wednesday, May 28, 2014

At the end of Homeschooling 1st grade

I did a post at the beginning of the year to give you an idea of how our homeschooling year was starting.

You can read it here for some background.  

We had a big move at the beginning of the year, and I had hoped to move again during the year.

We ended up staying in our current home, which made getting a homeschool schedule in place a lot easier.

Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart (or for a mom who has babies and toddlers in the house, but that is for another post).

It is a very large responsibility, and while I am thankful to have the opportunity I would not say it if for everyone.

George is an excellent student, and he made my job much easier than it could have been.

There was a lot of planning and a lot of late nights organizing.

We finished our last official lesson today.

And it felt . . . GOOD, SPECTACULAR, AMAZING . . . you get the picture.

I wanted to write out five things I have learned from homeschooling.

These weren't necessarily the only things I learned, but they were important things that I didn't necessarily expect.

1.  Deepening Relationships . . . I think I have a good relationship with my children.  I try to really talk to them and know their hearts.  Homeschooling made that relationship even deeper.  There wasn't anything about George's life that I wasn't a part of this year.  Unlike when he went to traditional school and would try to explain something to me that I couldn't understand because I wasn't there.

2.  Sibling Love . . . The relationship between my children has strengthened.  Having George at home has allowed the kids to spend every waking hour together.  They are truly each other's best friends, and not much gives a mother more joy than to watch that grow.  (It also means they fight more, but that is neither here nor there in this list of positives.)

3.  Patience. . . This one may sound obvious, but I am used to knowing that I need patience in rearing babies and toddlers.  Having patience in a school situation with a first grader is a whole different story.  I expect my teaching to make sense the first time, every time.  Unfortunately, I am not a trained first grade teacher, so this is not the case.  

4.  The Basics . . . I never expected to learn so much actual information from a first grade curriculum.  Each and every subject we studied this year taught me things I never would have learned sans this experience.  

5.  Money Saver . . . I knew we saved money by not having to pay private school tuition, but I didn't think about the little things that cost less.  George ate lunch at home everyday.  We could have leftovers or anything else that was there, and I didn't have to think about special things at the grocery store that would go in a lunch box.  We didn't have to buy uniforms or school t-shirts.  We didn't have to buy teacher gifts (although that would have been nice for my husband to do:).  There are so many little things that add up.

I will say (and I stick by this no matter how many people try to tell me different) that no one way of schooling is a one size fits all for every family.  I don't think there is only one right way, and I truly believe each family makes the decision that they think is best for their family.

Next year we have enrolled the boys in a university model school.

They are in a classroom 2-3 days a week with a real teacher and then they are homeschooled on the days in between.

I will also be teaching the 5th grade class at the school.

This will be another big change, but one we are very excited about.

After all is said and done, I like things about both models and I think this university way of schooling will be a great balance for the Bettelli's.

I am thankful for the time God has given me this year to have this experience.

Ethan and Preschool

When we moved back to the Clearwater area we thought we would be moving further north in a short time, so I didn't want to start Ethan in preschool and then have to pull him out.

But once that didn't happen I put him in the same little preschool George went to in downtown Clearwater.

It is the cutest school, and he had the same teacher George had three years ago.

I love all the little "extras" that they do to make the kids feel special.

They put on a circus, and the 3 year olds dress up as clowns.

He wore a hat that my sister wore about his age for Halloween.

It was adorable.

They also put on a Donuts with Dad breakfast.

Both Tim and my dad went, and Ethan just beamed from all the attention.

They also do a Mother's Day tea.

The kids sing us songs, and then we have a little tea time and art show in the fellowship hall.

Another really fun thing that the school does is offer gymnastics every Wednesday for all the students.

I remember it being one of George's favorite things.

We got to watch the "gymnastics award ceremony" last week.

What a hoot.

Again, it is just the cutest school.

I am so thankful that Ethan got the opportunity to experience it.

One blessing of not selling our house:)


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

George turns 7

We literally celebrated this kid's birthday for an entire week.

His actual birthday was on a Wednesday this year.

The Monday before he spent the night with Nonna (my mom) and went shopping for birthday presents on Tuesday.   

Wednesday he woke up to a balloon bath and presents.

That morning we brought a treat to Bible study for the friends he has in his class.

Then we made eggplant parmesan for dinner per his request.

Lastly, we had to have cake!

On Friday his Mima and Pipa (Tim's parents) came in town.

Saturday night we took him to celebration station with one set of cousins who couldn't be here for his party on Sunday.

Sunday we had a family bowling party after church.

It was a perfect party for a 7 year old.

We literally only invited immediate family and had 25 people there.

Who needs friends?

After the party we left for Disney for more celebrating.

George got chosen to be in one of the street skits they do at Hollywood studios.

It was hysterical, and he played along like a pro.

You wouldn't be able to tell from these pictures, but the night we got there we actually had to take Lexi to an after hours walk-in clinic for a high fever.

She ended up just having a virus, but it was sad to see her so sick on the trip.

We tried to make the best of it, since it was his birthday.

It is so hard to try to please all your kids when you have multiple, but I also think it helps to teach them patience and consideration for others' needs.

All in all, I would say George had a pretty great birthday.

I can't believe I have been a parent for 7 years.

As always, I want to write George a letter to commemorate this year.  

I always post a small portion of the whole letter on the blog.

          You are my firstborn and the one who made me a mom.  It is the most special title I hold, and I thank God for giving me you to hold that title.  You are such a special little boy who has taught me more than I could ever teach you.  You are kind and considerate and encouraging and sweet.  You are constantly telling your siblings how proud you are of them and how much you love them.  I know they look up to you in so many ways, and I couldn't imagine a better hero for them.  You have taught me patience and love in ways I never knew possible.
          This year was a different one for us with the adventure of homeschooling.  Now that it is coming to an end I have to say that it was so much better than I imagined in so many ways.  It was hard, but it was good.  It gave me such an insight to your mind that I would have never gotten if you would have been in the classroom with a different teacher all year.  I am very thankful for this time I got to know you better.  We worked through so many things that I wouldn't have been a part of if you would have been in a traditional school.  You allowed me to truly learn about daily discipleship and working together.  You gave me a gift this year, and I will never forget this special time.
          You have grown in so many ways this year.  You have surpassed any expectations academically, soared spiritually and even grown in height.  You just seem like such a big boy.  You are growing so fast, and I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to watch.  I know God has something so special for you.  I just feel honored to have the title of your mom.  Your love for your family is not something we take for granted.  You love us so well.  There are no words to describe how much you mean to me.  You have a piece of my heart that is reserved for only you, and no matter how big you get that piece will always be yours.  I am so very proud of the young man God is shaping you to be.  I am even prouder that you desire God to shape and guide you at such a young age.  I look forward to this ride of your life.  I love you more than words could say.
                                                                                                      I love you, my firstborn,


Upward Football 2014

George played Upward football this year.

We really enjoy the level of competitiveness and the focus of Upward sports.

Tim was the coach again this season.

We are so proud of George and the leadership he showed throughout the season.