Tales from the Porch Swing.

The kids were playing outside while I was lounging flat on my back on the porch swing.

(That happens more than it should. But Motherhood as an introvert is exhausting.)

(And I’m exceptionally good at lazy when I want to be.)

Noah needed to go to the bathroom, so he headed over for me to unbutton and unzip his pants, then shuffled inside.

But it’s fall, y’all. And the kid had on blue jeans.

So he couldn’t get them off.

He came back outside and I wrestled him out of his jeans – because toddler jeans are nearly as hard to manage as women’s skinny jeans.

He sprinted back inside, naked from the waist down this time.

(My neighbors think we’re real classy.)

I continued my lounging in peace, scrolling on my phone, reading my tweets, doing all the things that one does when laying flat on their back in a gently gliding swing on a beautiful fall day.

After about fifteen minutes, I realized that Noah probably should have returned by then to collect his pants.

And then I remembered that he was especially gaseous as we were wrestling him out of his jeans. At the time I assumed it was from all the straining, but fifteen minutes later, I recognized the more likely cause.

He had to poop.

And he doesn’t wipe his own butt.

(I have been exiled to nearly eight years of constant butt-wiping. The day that I don’t have to wipe anyone’s butt ever again is going to be one with much rejoicing.)

So Noah. He was probably still sitting on the toilet, waiting for me to come clean his hinder, no way to reach me since he, unlike the rest of the first world, cannot text while pooping.

I went inside and was greeted with an aroma that confirmed my suspicions.

“Nooo-aah? Are you okay?”

“Yes! I pooped.”

I walked in and he was still calmly sitting on the toilet, most likely straining his vagal nerve and germinating toddler hemorrhoids due to my negligence.

“I’m so sorry, buddy. <wipe, wipe> So…what exactly was your plan? Were you going to sit here all day until I came?”

“Well, I yelled and I yelled for you, but that just made me poop more. Did you see all those poops in there?!?”

“Well then, I guess it worked out nicely!”

I got him cleaned up and washing his hands and thanked him for waiting patiently for me. Which is when he looked at me with love and adoration in his eyes and said,

“I knew you would know. You would know I pooped. You would know I needed you to wipe me.”

And that’s how a boy melts his Mom’s heart…with feces.

Noah Charm


On yet another round of “Mommy lays in the porch swing while you kids play nicely together,” Ali and Noah were drawing with chalk in the driveway.

They seemed happy and especially giggly, so I let them alone until it was absolutely time to call them inside.

That night, we were all riding in the car together when Chris mentioned,

“So either Ali’s handwriting has gotten really good all of a sudden, or she convinced you to write ‘poop’ on the driveway.”

“Whaaaa?! I didn’t write poop on the driveway!”

“Are you sure? Because it was really, really well-written. I stared at it for a minute, then said to myself, ‘well, I guess Ali asked Rachel to write it and she did for some reason.’”

“I did NOT write poop on the driveway. I do remember them talking about a toilet, though…”

“Oh! I saw that too and thought it was a giant white finger pointing to where she had written poop.”

Ali was listening intently and finally chimed in.

“I was the one who wrote poop on the driveway. And underneath that, I drew a brown, lumpy…”

“WE GET IT.”

When we got home, Chris let me out of the car and he shined the headlights on the artwork du jour so I could experience it for myself.

And I must say, she really does deserve an A+ for those letters.

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As well as marks in thoroughness for making the inside of the toilet bowl yellow.

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I got back in the car.

“Well that’s just something.”

“And did you know that it’s not supposed to rain for over a week?”

“Fantastic.”

The next day, my Mom stopped by. Noah dragged her to the driveway to show her the new facilities, as well as to demonstrate how very talented he was at squatting over the potty and pretending to use it.

 

And I’m going to have to start baking daily Apology Cookies for my neighbors.

The Grade of Two.

It typically happens that each fall, my blog gets all schooly for a while, as my brain is filled with homeschool thoughts and therefore that’s what comes out.

But for some reason, that hasn’t happened this year. So either I’m not focused enough on educating my child or I’ve just learned to compartmentalize and not bore you all with educational details.

After all, we all graduated and fled school for a reason, right?

But those of you who are homeschool moms have been checking in with me to see what we’ve been doing this year, what curriculum we’re using, and how many times I’ve locked myself in my bedroom so far.

So here’s an update for those of you who care.

First Day of Second Grade

We started our year off with a celebration of crepe paper and using up all my color printer ink.

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Like last year, Ali got a First Day of School present.

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Unlike last year, Noah did not. Sending him to preschool has its perks.

Her present might have been more for me than her,

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as I find rainbow looming quite therapeutic after a long day’s school.

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She then got to peek at her schoolbooks for the first time – it never hurts to wrap those like a present, too.

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We are now eight weeks into the school year, and I’m fairly happy with all of our choices.

Despite a few somewhat annoying stories last year, I decided to go almost entirely with BJU curriculum this year, with the exception of Horizons Spelling and Handwriting Without Tears.

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The English is fantastic, covering a lot of gaps in last year’s learning with regards to proper sentence building, as well as teaching a good bit about how to write stories. Reading is the same as last year – the stories are better this year, and the reading comprehension encouraged by the workbook is excellent. History and Science are okay – I don’t know that I’ll ever find an elementary history and science book that I’m really excited about.

Math was my big decision this year. Ali has always been good at math, but super slow. And slow math is tedious math. I wanted to find a happy balance this year – a book that taught her mental strategies without being completely based on manipulatives, because I knew Noah would lose those and I’d get tired of finding them within the first two days.

Plus, my brain just doesn’t work that way.

The BJU Math seemed to hit that balance well, and I have really liked it. It has taught Ali some fantastic mental strategies without relying on visual cues, and it seems to be going much better so far this year.

…although I could do without them over-spiritualizing it.

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It’s MATH, people. I love Jesus but let’s not make Him cheesy by inserting Him into our word problems.

After sharing the above picture with my neighbor Renee, she texted back a revised version of the problem:

“Anna handed out 15 tracts. Four of her friends are allowed to watch Glee. Three don’t say swear words but never go to Church. Five were baptized as infants, Four walked the aisle when they turned eight. How many are going to heaven?”

Everyone needs neighbors like mine.

Handwriting is still a struggle, and I am in the process of enrolling Ali with a Handwriting Without Tears expert to help with that – updates to come later. Her spelling, however, has progressed beautifully, giving me hope that she also is a natural speller.

For Geography, we have a few iPad games, and have also really enjoyed United States Top Trumps.

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Top Trumps is a simple and fun British card game with dozens of different genres. A blog reader, Jennifer, sent Ali her first Top Trumps cards (they were the Hello Kitty variety), and we got completely addicted to the game. I was pretty excited when I found these on Amazon with all sorts of interesting state facts so I had an excuse to play and call it school.

For bible, we’re doing several different things (NOT including math), but a lot of it revolves around Awanas at our church, as Noah is in Cubbies and Ali is in Sparks this year.

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They’re both learning a lot, and as an added bonus, Chris and I have every Wednesday evening to run together while they’re enjoying their classes.

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Ignore the bad running selfie – just note the blissful happiness of a couple finding one hour a week alone together.

I’m still using and quite happy with my ever-evolving planning spreadsheet (if you’d like it, email me – I share), and yes – I work really hard to keep my achievement stickers in such tight order.

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Also, it should be noted that I always fill out my planner AS we’re doing school, not beforehand. I don’t believe in erasing, and can’t handle the pressure of pre-planned achievement.

Since Noah is going to preschool three days a week, I find myself out of the house more than usual, so Ali has gotten to experience school in alternate locations, such as the Vestavia library,

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The downtown library,

Birmingham Public Library

And Birmingham’s hippest coffee shop, Urban Standard.

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She is a fan. Especially of the chocolate milk.

Also, Ali and I have started running together one day a week, and she’s shocked me at how good she is.

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She can run ten minute miles, an entire mile without stopping, and so far up to three miles with a few breaks. And we’re enjoying the activity, as well as the fact that we’re making multiple scientific discoveries along the way, such as this mutant giant caterpillar,

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And this mysterious but amazingly in-tact jawbone.

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We always research our finds afterward and even take them with us if they’re not alive.

Since we run to a candy store (bribery is powerful, people), we left the jawbone on the trail where we found it to pick up on the way back. The sweet girl at the fancy candy store in Mountain Brook Village didn’t bat an eyelash when I asked “can we have an extra bag? We found a cool jawbone we want to pick up on the way home.”

That find was especially interesting, because who knew that you could identify its animal of origin just by the number of different kinds of teeth?

I didn’t.

I sent a picture of it to a Veterinarian blog reader, Elizabeth, and to our local Science Center, McWane. Both returned the same answer:

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Elizabeth even sent us textbook information about animal dentistry so that we could study more deeply, thereby making science way more fun than usual.

And really, I was quite relieved that it was an Opossum. Because the alternatives seemed much more disgusting.

Dog? Gross. Cat? Tragic. Opossum? Awesome.

In conclusion, I’d say the year is going fairly well so far. As would, apparently, Ali.

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(I ignore spelling mistakes when surrounded by loving sentiments.)

Oh – and the answer is three. I’ve locked myself in the bedroom three times.


As always, I am open to any and all homeschooling questions. Feel free to ask yours in the comments.

Off to the Races.

“Hey Eli, would you like for me to tell you where to stick it?”

These are the jewels that you hear when you travel with a three-year-old and a six-year-old boy.

(No, Noah had no idea what he was saying. Yes, he said it in the kindest, sweetest little boy voice ever. Yes, I laughed heartily.)

So. Boys.

If you take them to a Mexican restaurant, there will likely be double dipping.

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If you let them loose in a double hotel room with a balloon, it will assuredly feel like you’re trapped in a two-foot box with 563 espresso-hyped hamsters.

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But then, if their granddad shows up, they will miraculously become still, tiny little angels.

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My sister-in-law Lindsay and I ditched our three daughters and took our two sons to the races in Atlanta. My Dad is a Tech Inspector (i.e. he takes the cars apart before and after the race to check for cheaters) for a series of races formerly known as American Le Mans but recently purchased by NASCAR and given the unfortunate name of Tudor. Unfortunate when two small boys are involved, anyway.

“HA! TOOOOOTER!!”

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But regardless of unfortunate naming choices, our sons experienced ecstasy that day.

They got to walk through Pit Row with my Dad,

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Where racing teams told them secrets,

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Taught them how to cut zip ties,

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And in general enthusiastically entertained our children.

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There were cars to BEND OVER and look into (you really don’t realize how small race cars are until you see them next to a three and six year old),

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Lifts to ride up and down,

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Selfies to photo-bomb,

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Other people’s selfies to watch happen,

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And drivers to avoid.

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Dad yanked this driver(?) out and said “stand here with my grandsons.”

Driver(?): “But I’m not important!”

Dad: “I know that, but they don’t know that!”

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Poor driver(?). I think he’s important, too.

Noah remembered from last year where our team allegiances lie, though. He even remembered how to copy my sing-song fan-girl voice really well, going super high at the end of, “We’re going to go see Patrick Dempseeeeey!!!”

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But, alas. Another year, another lack of Dempsey in our lives. He was there somewhere, though. Just not there with us.

Meanwhile, back at home, Chris was convincing Ali to go running with him on the coldest day of the year so far,

Ali Running

And my brother JC was attempting to figure out how to manage curly hair.

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We had the better end of the deal.

We found a place by the fence to sit for a while,

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Which really ended up in us doing everything we could to contain our sons.

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And get their eyes to rest on the racetrack for at least two seconds together.

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Thankfully, there was a bounce-house at which we ended our day.

Which, by the way, my experience at the bounce-house was a highly improved activity with earplugs.

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Correction: ALL of life with boys is highly improved with earplugs.