Wow.  The baby years are so intense.  Now my youngest is over one and I’m not pregnant.  It’s like I’m coming up for air for the first time in six years and I can’t believe how much my family has grown – including Stephan and me!  What an intense school life is.  How sweet the rewards of long and unrewarding hours of comforting babies, disciplining toddlers, loving the kid behind the temper tantrum, and patiently letting them “help” in the kitchen!


Joseph is an able, happy, curious, helpful boy and we are so thankful that we get to cherish life with him!  His academic abilities are still advancing at an unusual rate, thanks in large part to online resources that he can navigate himself since he can read.  The world is so different from when I homeschooled.  I am so excited to experience homeschooling in a whole new way.


Joseph has grown tremendously this year in his social skills.  He is still outgoing, but more sophisticated in his “bids” – ways of engaging strangers and friends.  He can entertain long hours by himself still, but always enjoys the time he gets to spend with neighborhood kids, folks at church, and visitors.


Joseph wanted to enter 1st grade on his birthday, and I told him he couldn’t do that if he were going to regular school, but in homeschool kindergarten he could decide to be done with kindergarten and start first grade, so I guess our first homeschool year is finished (though officially we have one more week.)  He was happy and accepting that he was in homeschool kindergarten and not at a school like all the other kids he knows (I’m working on getting together more often with other homeschoolers – but they aren’t exactly close!).  This was a great relief as he was set on going to “Gersag school” – though of course, if you do choose public school you don’t get that sort of choice and neither where we lived before no where we are now would he have been sent to Gersag.


Enough technical stuff.  Joseph had a great birthday, enjoying his treasure hunt to his LEGO fire boat and spending the rest of the day putting it together in the new (old) large table in the attic.  We had Graham Gem muffins as cake and Stephan took the day off so we could all be together as a family – Joseph’s request.


Most of my notes on Joseph go into the homeschool report, but there are a few from the “Cute Things” list.



Joseph had mono and had a hard time resting enough to recover, but did finally get over it.


“Gave ball back to ellie” – a note Joseph wrote, which goes with the note he wrote in Ellie’s column: “gave Joseph ball”


Wrote an email in Swiss German to Bappe.  We’ve never taught him how to write Swiss German.  I’m not even sure if he’s seen it, but he did a pretty good job trying phonetically.



Brachiates across the ladder with one hand per rung.


Stumbles onto Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Asks, “What is a triolgy?”

Stephan: “A trilogy is three books that belong together.”

Joseph: “But it can be four!”

Stephan: “The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a joke trilogy.”

Joseph: “Why is that funny?”


While he still doesn’t get plenty of jokes, he’s starting to appreciate them – again a sign of social growth!


Joseph still enjoys origami, Legos, biking, reading, things that are fast, cooking, DuoLingo (language learning), games, math drill programs (Big Brainz, Xtra Math), and recently again Khan Academy and much more.  Perhaps his favorite thing to do is help Daddy with projects – especially ones involving wood.


Joseph rarely is out of control and when he’s upset he can calm down.  He doesn’t feel things as intensely as Vivienne, but can still be quite disappointed.  He is good at respectful negotiation, and most of the time has a good attitude.  He can ask at any time to earn media time, and more often than not he is willing and able to do the task I set for him, like taking down the recycling to sort or cleaning up his workspace or a room.


My days with Joseph are like having a little adult around.  He can entertain himself, help others, and communicate respectfully and well.  Of course he has much to learn in terms of competencies and social skills, but he is well on the right path and I enjoy his company very much.  Sometimes I feel bad that I have to focus so much attention and energy on the others that I don’t have much quality time with him.  He’s left to his own devices a lot, but I am sure that is also good for him.  I hope to be more intentional about time with him this year so we can enjoy each other more!


Joseph: When I am six, may I get up at 5am?

Janet: Yes, you may.

Joseph:  When I am seven, I want to get up at 4:30am.

Janet: Do you think the older you are the earlier you get up?

Joseph: Yes.


Joseph has always been an early riser but I guess my model of early rising is making an impression (though I only get up around 5:15).


Maybe we’ll have more quality time in the mornings!  Or maybe I’ll let him binge on media time before breakfast.  If he learns that getting up early means getting in the things that are important to him, then maybe that’s not a bad lesson.  What do you think?


We love you, Joseph!  We look forward to watching you grow in the coming year!

Posted by harp on Tuesday, June 28, 2016 at 5:52 pm | Edit
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Vivienne started doing simple math!!!  This is terribly exciting for me as I feel I’ve neglected her education with all the fuss over Joseph’s early abilities and trying to get permission to homeschool.  She’s managed to pick up a good intuition, and though she is not confident in her abilities (who could avoid slipping into the fixed mindset of “my brother is the one who can read and do math – not me”?) she solved several simple problems with either fingers or unit cubes (addition and subtraction less than 10).  She did the problems in order to complete a paint-by-numbers sheet.


She is learning that she can learn and that’s the best lesson I can teach!


Other evidence:

“I’m learning to be a mommy,” as she munched some salad, “because mommies like salad.”


Vivienne has started to be able to play in the attic by herself during quiet time.  More than fifty percent of the time it is still a struggle, but she doesn’t really need the sleep anymore and she is starting to figure out how to use the time on her own.  She’s only lasted longer than hour once, though.

Posted by harp on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 at 9:00 pm | Edit
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Ellie is a year old already.  She still feels so tiny!  We celebrated by taking all day to put together her gift: a WaterPlay system of canals and locks.  Joseph did most of the assembly on his own.


In the evening Stephan’s folks and his sister and the cousins came for playtime and food.  Chocolate cupcake crumbs were everywhere and everyone had a great time.


Simple.  The joy of family.  Collapse into bed!  It was a good day for Ellie.


We love you, Ellie!  You are bright like your name and spread sunshine over our days!  You always wave to your father as he rides to work and insist on watching him from the doorstop as he bikes away.  You reach out for hugs when your siblings wake up in the mornings, and you rest your head on your mommy or daddy’s shoulder when you need a little rest and love.  We’re so thankful for you!



Ellie can go up and down the stairs easily (she purposefully turns around to go down backwards).



Joseph wrote, “put away dice,” which means she put dice in the square hole I put in the lid of a yogurt container – great entertainment!


Daniel is the only one with a name (besides “mama”) and she calls him “da da.”  It is so precious to see her reach out to him when he gets up in the morning or is finished with a nap.  She adores him!


“eh eh” means no, but it also means yes if she doesn’t shake her head or if she claps her hands.  Hand clapping can also mean she wants to use the potty.


She sometimes joins us in hand-holding for mealtime prayers.


She ways goodbye and says “tsch” and use it once to indicate that she wanted to upstairs and take a nap.


She started walking while holding someone’s hands and loves the activity whenever someone is willing to indulge her.


Her 2nd lower right incisor arrived.


June 14th she started experimenting with standing without holding on to anything.  Look ma! No hands!  And she is so proud of herself.


She has a conscious, or the desire to please.  If I walk in the room and she has something she thinks she’s not supposed to have she startles then offers whatever it was to me with a smile.

Posted by harp on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 at 9:00 pm | Edit
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Daniel is as cute as ever.  His speech continues to develop but he still has some cute sayings.


“Upslide down”

“e blitzli” (e bitzli – a little)


He can read the numbers on a die.


He usually puts his allowance (15 rappen for each dry night) in his savings because he likes to drop the coins in the slot, but once he kept it long enough to buy a doughnut at Lidl.  Joseph and Vivienne also bought a doughnut each that day.  It’s a good thing we go shopping in the morning when it’s not too busy. ;)


He zipped his sweater-jacket all by himself.

Posted by harp on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 at 8:59 pm | Edit
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Vivienne did a handstand (not against a wall).  She flops down into a semi-bridge and it looks painful, but she doesn’t seem to mind . . .


She read all the numbers on the 100 chart with just a little help at the multiples of ten.


She can hang by her knees on the brachiation ladder.


She can sing the ABC song.  Like the #’s she’s kind of picked things up without much direct work.  She doesn’t have the patience/obsession that her brothers do to learn these things, but clearly she learns them in her own way anyway.


“I want to be married with a kind of aminal flower on the ring.”


She learned to ride the bigger bike we got for her.


She can move from one rung of the brachiation to the next.  She did it with no swinging – just pure strength.



Goes the length of the brachiation ladder.


Rides Joseph’s bike (Joseph’s note).

Posted by harp on Saturday, June 4, 2016 at 11:27 am | Edit
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