Notes from the Past

Kyle (3 years old) watching his favorite show - Blues Clues

Kyle (3 years old) watching his favorite show - Blues Clues

I have been going through all my old email, trying to get pare it down. I came across this “Elms Boys Update” that I sent out to family in March 2003. It was kind of fun to read again and contained information that I would have blogged about if I had been blogging back then!

I also found it interesting in a “the more things change, the more they stay the same” sort of way. In March 2003, Jason would have been 6 and Kyle would have just turned 3. This was during our first year of homeschooling. Reading this reminded me of details that I had forgotten. I wish I had recorded more back then (I do have a few more updates I will post). And makes me doubly glad that I have this blog to capture our ongoing exploits.

I have decided to try to send periodic updates on how the boys are doing via email since it seems like I can never remember specifics when I talk to everyone on the phone. I have no idea how often I will do this, but I will try to make it pretty regular. There just always seems like so much is going on and yet nothing comes to mind when I am asked! I plan on printing this off and sending it to Grandma Hoffmann as well. I know that she would love to hear about the boys more then what I have been doing. Too bad she is not on email! (now how long did it take for us to get her to get a vcr??). Feel free to forward this on to anyone you think might be interested….

So let’s see…what has been going on lately…We have been keeping very busy. Jason is finishing up the basketball season and getting ready to start the soccer season. He had a blast playing basketball, especially since his friends Eric, Avery and Joey were on the team. He really liked one of his coaches and we are going to try to get him on her soccer team. She was great with him and helped give him a lot of pointers in improving his game. He also goes to gymnastics once a week and loves it, especially the trampoline. This is his second session and he has shown a lot of improvement in his tumbling.

And then a couple of weeks ago he started a homeschool gym and swim class (held at the Y that we just joined). Twice a week he spends an hour in the pool and an hour in the gym. There are around 12 other 5-8 year olds (about 8 of those are boys). This is by far his favorite activity. On Tuesdays, he gets swim lessons during the swim portion of the class and has started working on freestyle (but his preferred method is still doggie paddle). The other day’s swim session is open swim. Then in the gym portion they play different types of games…lots of tag, dodge ball type games, calisthenics etc. They basically run their little legs off.

We have been meeting more homeschoolers lately which is nice. There is one family not far from here who has 2 boys, 7 and 3.5 years old. We have gotten together with them a couple of times and the boys really enjoyed it. We have also started getting together every couple of weeks with a homeschooling group which has several kids Jason and Kyle’s age. This has been good for me too, as the boys get to play and socialize and I get to talk with the other moms. We are really looking forward to the warmer weather when we can start getting outside a bit more.

Jason has been reading up a storm lately. It is hard for me to read to him as much as he wants. We went through most of the Wizard of Oz series (who knew that there were 12+ books!). These really seemed to appeal to his sense of humor. He loved the wacky characters. Then we went through all 4 Harry Potter books (including the last 700+ page one!) this last month. He *really* enjoyed these books and I am sure that we will be re-reading them again and again. There were parts that were a bit scary for him, but he would just ask me to read it and tell him what happened which actually worked really well. We probably won’t go see the movies for a little while. I think they would be a bit too much for him. But we can’t wait for the next book which should be out in June. We are now reading my old Bobbsey Twin mystery books. He has really enjoyed them as well. We have read 3 so far and he keeps asking for more.

Jason really likes to do experiments. I am on an the Krampf email list which sends out a new science experiment each week. These experiments are nice in that they only need household items. Jason’s favorite so far has been making a fluorescent light bulb light up using static electricity (from a balloon rubbed in my hair (Jason’s hair was not long enough to generate enough charge!). I also try to scour the web for other interesting experiments. After the big snowstorm, we brought in pans of snow and played around with squirt bottles filled with colored water. Both boys enjoyed mixing the colors and stirring them around. We also filled up a cup with snow to see how much water would be left once it melted. And the geomags are a big hit as well (for me too…those things are cool!) Jason is still enjoying learning about ancient egypt/pyramids/mummies etc. Every time we go to the library we pick up more books on the subject and it is quite surprising how many specials we have found on the Discovery or The Learning channels. We have also started reading Egyptian myths which tied in really well with the Mythology book that Jeff’s mom gave Jason for Christmas. That book was a great introduction to Greek, Roman and Norse myths and we have also read one of my favorite mythology books. Jason was surprised to see the similarities in the myths from one culture to another (he pointed out that Greek and Roman myths had the sun going over the earth as a chariot and in egyptian myths it is in a boat).

I have started going through the TIVO guide each week and taping shows that I think might catch Jason’s interest. His favorites have included a show on the history of robots (which he has watched over and over) and a Discovery channel show on Thomas Edison. Jason really liked the inventing aspects (and I loved how they talked about how many times he failed before he got a light bulb to work and the fact that he was homeschooled from the age of 7). We have also watched a couple of shows on making a Roman catapult and one on making a medieval trebuchet (catapult). It amazes me how much of this stuff he just soaks up. He still really likes Bill Nye the Science Guy, Junkyard Wars, Techno Games (a science channel robot competition show which is really cool) and just discovered the magic school bus series. Oh and I can’t forget audio books. He LOVES these (should make trips to the beach easier this year). We have gotten The Rescuers and Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH as well as some of the Magic Treehouse series from the library. And he really enjoys the Jim Weiss tapes he got for Christmas.

The really fun thing (for me) has been watching him make connections on his own. We were riding to gymnastics one day listening to a schoolhouse rock (you guys remember these videos on tv?) cd on gravity. Out of the blue he told me that gravity was what makes scales work (I went back and listened to the song and it did not mention anything about scales so this was his own conclusion). We ended up talking about that and what else gravity does (planets/moons rotating etc). He does this a lot with math. He will be playing with his legos (yes he is still a bionicle nut) and all of a sudden ask me if 3+3=6. We were at Zany Brainy and he wanted to get 2 lego sets for $4 each so he asked to borrow $8. When I went to pay for them, they were on sale, so I told him they were only $3. He immediately got excited because he only owed me $6. :o) He does it so naturally.

And Kyle is Kyle…just trying to keep up with his brother. He is really into clothes lately. Usually changes outfits 2-3 times a day. The interesting thing is that he usually has a specific outfit in mind and often we do not even own what he wants! Or he only wants to wear what Jason is wearing. He also wants to wear Jason’s clothes but then gets upset that they are too big.

The other funny thing is that he likes to watch the tapes we have made of the boys over the years and he will see himself in a shirt and want to immediately go up and wear it. Keeps life interesting to say the least. Kyle is enjoying his gymnastics class, absolutely loves it. He is really into meeting new friends. It is so cute. The homeschooling group we get together has a couple of other boys his age so he is loving it. He gets upset when we have to leave. Kyle is still into Blues Clues…he is very interactive with it and likes to pretend that he is Steve or Joe. He also usually wants to do whatever they were doing (like making juice pops or crazy hats). He likes to act out the episodes later. Oh and I can’t forget to mention that he also wants to dress like them…the latest has been that he wants Joe and Steve pajamas after seeing episodes where they were wearing pjs. He likes playing store with the cash register and will go around finding things for you to buy. And he has just really started to like to color. Loves coloring books and has started doing a little more then scribbling. And he really likes to play Go Fish…he really gets into it (we play very relaxed rules).

Ok, I am sure that I have left lots of stuff out, but it is getting late. More later I promise!

Love Steph