Today was our first day of the new school year.  I enjoy syncing our school year in conjunction with the ecclesiastical year.  It marks the beginning of a new school year for us even though we haven’t actually taken a break from learning.  A rhythm of seasons.

I changed out the boys’ portfolio binders and Gabriel has his first binder on the school shelf!  I thought I’d start collecting his drawings and writing this year.  I cleaned out our school storage areas and re-arranged a few things.  I thought through goals I want to achieve with each of the boys and created an outline for our autumn semester for myself.

I’m in the process of reading Trying Differently Rather Than Harder: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.  Oh. my. goodness. Somebody wrote a book about my big boys without telling me…or rather I’ve found someone talking about exactly what we’ve been dealing with.  They even talk about how time out, reward systems, and natural consequences will not work with these children.  It’s primarily a memory issue and an inability to connect actions with consequences!  Yes. Yes. and Yes.

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I just finished up three weekends presenting at church school seminars in New York and New Jersey.  It was my first time teaching adults and it went really well.  I like teaching…I really do.  You can see the outline of the six hour course I created here.  It doesn’t include my personal stories, discussions, or the supplies I passed out but you can at least get the highlights this way. The BEST part was having two priests at different seminars tell me I was teaching the same content as their religious ed professor at seminary!  It was humbling and warming to me because her writings greatly influenced the development of the information I presented!  May her memory be eternal.

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Unfortunately, our little Orthodox homeschool group here fizzled before it began.  Maybe it will get started next semester or maybe even next school year.  I hope anyway.

In the mean time, our parish priest arranged to have Liturgy every week on the same day each week.  It just so happens that the other family at our parish that home schools is part of a large, non-denominational homeschool co-op on that same day that Father has planned Liturgy each week.  So we’re going to Liturgy in the morning and then this other co-op after lunch.

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This is a visiting priest (he travels to a mission parish and fills in for other priests who need him) who gives a weekly youth sermon at the end of liturgy during the week.  Chris was called to participate in Father’s talk and a man at church took a photo on his phone of Chris and Father and texted it to me.  Fr. James gives a youth sermon every single week, complete with visual aids, even though he knows more than likely it will only be my kids there.  (Most of the time, it is)  God bless him.  

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The boys are quite excited with this new co-op and I think it’s the right time for something like this with them.  The big boys are each taking three classes with other homeschool kids.  The co-op is taught by parents and is used by some families for social time, others for topics that are just fun for their kids, and still others for advanced subjects they are not comfortable teaching themselves.  I guess I’m probably using it primarily for social purposes and just for fun.

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My boys before we headed off for liturgy and then co-op

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Our parish

It’s goodness though.  I’m in the “tot room” at co-op with Gabriel and Symeon while the other three are in their classes.  It brought me back to my days of working in a daycare so I could be with Niki while working which allowed me to be away from her minimally while pursuing an elementary education degree.

This semester at co-op, Zach is taking: tea-ography (study of tea and geography), World History for high schoolers, and board games.  Chris is taking: tea-ography, photography, and board games.  Justin is taking: P.E., Snap Circuits (electrical circuits), and origami.

I’m really excited about this school year….and my kids are too.  It’s a good place to be.

Our first day of school photos that I took this evening:

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Symeon – 13 months

Enjoys running, climbing EVERYTHING….did I mention…everything?!, playing with balls, saying his last name in response to us singing his first and middle name, and helping mommy rearrange the kitchen cabinets on a regular basis

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Gabriel – 3 years old

Enjoys playing ABC Mouse on mommy’s iPad, splashing and spraying young and old alike with water, playing at the park, and learning about/watching all forms of AIRCRAFT.

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Justin – 11 years old

Enjoys collecting tree branches, playing outside, video games, traveling, and playing with his brothers

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Chris – 12 years old

Enjoys taking pictures with his sister’s borrowed camera, playing outside, video games, being my little sous chef, and my all around big helper

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Zach – 14 years old

Enjoys learning how to do computer programming, video games, reading, being dad’s assistant with fixing or building anything, and is always willing to help anyone who needs his assistance