Friday, March 28, 2008

Spring Break

What a busy weekend to lead into our Spring Break week. Lots and lots of big deal things for our little family occurred during such a short period of time.

Saturday, DH had to drive up to Virginia for a family funeral. I really wanted to be able to go with him, but since it was his family and we depend on his family for babysitting for things like this I had to be home with the kids. While he was gone our old dependable, 16-year-old TV bit the dust. When he came home, as much as I told him how enjoyable and quiet the day had been without TV, we went out the store and have now entered the new technology age, at least in regards to TVs. TVs are just not allowed to break down during NCAA tournaments, or when the 'Canes are in a playoff race, or days before baseball season begins. Can you tell the main reason we have TV with cable?

To be honest, the new TV is very, very cool. The picture - oh my goodness, I cannot wait to watch something like "The Amazing Planet" on it. I really think DH is in love with it.

I also spent most of Saturday cleaning out Robbie's bedroom. Unfortunately, it seems to have become a holding place for all of our outgrown clothes. I screwed up my fortitude, and have sent a bag full of the cloth diapers he outgrew months ago and all of his little, itty-bitty newborn size onsies off into the world of freecycle. My last baby's newborn clothes...

It was worth it in the end. The nursery is back to having a small play area that can be utilized on those days he just will not stay out of everything long enough for me to get any other lessons done with the big kids. Everyone has enjoyed playing in it with Robbie this weekend. Once I get my babygate back from my mom, it will be very useful.

We also picked up a new-to-us bed frame off freecycle this weekend. The plan was to rearrange the girls' bedroom and let Mary have her 'own' bed, which she has been begging for over the last few months. Katie would move to the upper bunk, and Emily would move into the lower bunk. The toddler bed would be moved into Robbie's room until he was ready to move into it (sometime in the next couple of months). All parties became very excited over the prospects of moving beds. Until the toddler bed was actually moved out and into Robbie's room, then Emily started explaining, quite well how she WASN"T a BIG GIRL and needed her bed. So, Emily moved into Robbie's room along with the bed - it was easier. Everything else worked out, and someday Emily will re-join her sisters, but right now she is really happy to be sharing a room with her brother.

Emily did move up in the big girl standings in one regard this weekend, she was finally able to join me on a library trip, after a nearly two year hiatus. This is my child who HATED going to the library as a baby/toddler and she was able to make me hate going to the library with her. Lately though, she has been devouring read alouds. Mainly Curious George books, but any other books we pull out. Since she had memorized the six or so George-books we own, it was time to introduce her to the library, with shelves upon shelves of picture books, and lots of Curious George. Oh Boy, it was like a little vibrating child in there - she was so very happy.

So, after my exhausting, furniture-moving, reading until I am hoarse weekend. I am ready for Spring Break. It was wonderful to wake up this morning and know I don't have to worry about lessons. My plans for this week are into organizing. I picked up some plastic storage boxes on Friday and plan to try to sort through all of our games and manipulatives and separate by levels. When we start back in a couple of weeks I would really like to have things arranged so that I can grab an activity and go for Katie and Emily. I started this at the end of last week and it was really nice to re-discover all the things I had forgotten we had.

I'm also going to relax a little. I need a break just as much as the kids.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

My job today

At 9:30 this morning, 5 cubic yards of mulch was delivered to our front yard. DH was going to move it to the playground this weekend, but the weather looks crummy. And, DH's family has recently experienced a loss and he may be attending a funeral this weekend. So, the girls and I decided that we could move and spread the mulch.

And we did!! DH will probably want to put more down. But that is okay we still have more than half left. (the company had a 5 c. yard minimum)

My other job today was to do some grocery shopping. I *heart* me some Trader Joe's. Each week I love this store more and more. There are always some special surprise waiting for me, and the kids love the treats I get for them. Tonight we are trying their frozen food for the first time - Mandarin Orange Chicken and Fried Rice. This is a change from me making from scratch every single meal, but it is soccer season and we are out two nights a week. In my laziness this week, we will give this a shot.

And, who can believe this sweetheart is going to be 18 months old next week?



Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Picture Catch-up Post

I've taken some really cute pictures the past couple of weeks that have just been sitting on my computer. Each set could really use its own post, but I know that I just wouldn't get to it.

Some days Emily plays really, really hard. To the point that she just can't keep her eyes open anymore, no matter where she is or what she is doing.

Robbie found her bike helmet and brought it to her, so she had to put it on while she was watching her Noggin. A few minutes later she just collapsed. We actually left her like that for several hours, until her daddy took pity on her and removed the helmet. And, that is where she slept for the night.

I feel like I have spent quite a bit of time the past couple of weeks talking about how hard it is for Katie to do any schooly work lately.
My theory is: she is expending a lot of energy developing very important gross motor skills. Earlier this month she tackled riding her two-wheeler. She also started soccer for the first time. And, here she is conquering her old nemisis - pumping herself on the swing.
Way to go Katie!!

Squirmy Eggs

Sounds appetizing, doesn't it. It is Emily's way of saying Scrambled Eggs, but way cuter. Even more than eating squirmy eggs, Emily loves to make squirmy eggs.

Emily mixes them, Mary cooks them - and I get to stand back with my camera and enjoy. Or, go start a load of laundry and get dressed, whatever.

Sleep, play, eat ... important things in life.



Monday, March 24, 2008

Orange Moon Rising

I hope everyone had a good Easter Sunday. Ours was so-so. Mainly, because I'm just not a holiday sort of gal. Not Christmas, not Easter, not Halloween - and so on. I just cannot get into them, at all. Sorry kids that you end up with a ba-humbug for a mom. We did the requisite chocolate candy and small toy at the breakfast table and I made cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Otherwise we spent the day like any other pretty spring Sunday. I still have not made peace with my current crisis of religious involvement (I won't sat faith, because it is so much more earthly-based than spiritual), so no church for us this weekend.

I have really been enjoying the rising moons the past few nights. The glow has shifted from white, to golden, and tonight it is a beautiful orange color. It is a marvelous thing, how the atmosphere colors our world. But, why, oh why do I keep staying up so late? The house is so quiet, and nobody around to ask me a thing!

Our days have become somewhat hectic, but with a schedule to them. So, really not too bad. Just busy from 7:30am to 11:00pm. This evening I actually had some time to weed through my educational 'game' and 'centers' baskets. Cards, die and rubberbands had all become jumbled. No wonder nobody ever wanted to pull them out. While rummaging I came across the Yahtzee pads I *knew* that we had somewhere. So, of course we had to play a game. Katie is now able to join us in playing games together and it has started to become a somewhat normal thing for us to have a game night every couple of weeks, once the littles are in bed. The feeling I get from nights like tonight just seem to jazz me up. Even though we played a round of Yahtzee, then Katie and I did a puzzle, while DH and Mary played Battleship, and then I read individually to both Mary an Katie - I was energized. Whereas, most nights I am wiped out by the time the big girls go to bed.

The whole reason I was sorting out the baskets was that I was trying to figure out what we had. I am so bad about picking things up here and there and then forgetting about them. I am trying to put together some activity boxes for Katie. She has hit the wall with her schoolwork, and after going through this with Mary a few years ago, I am not going to even try to force the issue of school with Katie. Once Mary was seven yrs old there was a huge shift in our schooling that has only continued to get better. But the first two years, it was like trying to give a drowning horse more water to drink.

Hopefully, I am a little smarter this time around. We are stopping, pretty much cold turkey. The workbooks and handwriting are gone for a little while. I'm going to pull together all my card sets, manipulatives, small games, file folder games and such , and make her activity boxes to use during our school time. I am in the process of trying to sort between preschool and early elementary so that Emily will have one also. We'll do this and read, read, read until Katie is 7 or so. I've already talked with Mary and explained why things are going to be a little different. She is looking forward to playing some of the games with Katie and Emily.

Once I am all set up, I'll be back to lesson plans for one, and that one I almost have good to go.

I'm starting to get the nods. A few more pages in my Ancient China history book and I will be asleep.



Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Just another average homeschooling day

Today has been a roller coaster of sorts. We started off with reading our current read aloud, The Wizard of Oz. We are reading the children's illustrated version, and Mary and Katie are loving this book. I'm enjoying it as this is the first read aloud that Mary keeps jumping in and reading paragraphs aloud to us. It started because she didn't like my 'munchkin' voice and thought she could do it better. I don't ask and I don't expect and I'm pleasantly surprised every time she does.

After that we left to go run our errands, and something happened to me for the first time ever. I actually lost a child. Or, I should better say, a child got mad at me and decided to leave. We had picked up the items we needed and had gone back to the toy section to look at the selection of guitars. Mary's had recently been broken (not her fault) and since she was just learning how to play we are going to replace. Walking through the toy section Katie decided that she had to have a certain toy. I said "No" and moved on. She sullenly followed me, then when we got to the aisle with the musical instruments she wandered back over to the toys. A couple of minutes later we finished what we needed and went back to get her and she wasn't there!!! We went up and down every aisle and she was gone. My heart was thumping! We asked one of the associates for help and they called a "Code Adam" over the speaker.

Two minutes later they brought her back. She was crying and I told her everything was okay, but she replied that "You embarrassed me". They had found her over in the sheets and towels sitting on the floor with her arms & legs crossed. A fun little temperament on that one.

We finally got out of the store and came straight home where I could "keep everyone in my sight" for a little while.

This Winter/Spring I have slowly been increasing Mary's daily workload. I am still so impressed with her willingness to do her work. Especially over the last month on her medication. Today she needed to write her spelling words two times and she did it three times, just because. Next week is Spring Break and I so don't want to take the time off. I just hope we don't lose this rhythm in April.

When she wasn't doing her school work today she was working on her new project inspired by her class last Friday, a bow and arrow.
She started by finding a soft rock and shaped it to resemble an arrowhead. Then finding just the right sticks, using her pocket knife to shape them. Of course we don't have the right cordage, but she really tried and spent hours entertaining herself.

With Mary finally on track, I need to devote a little more energy to some hand-holding with Katie. She doesn't want to be doing schoolwork, would rather be spending 10 hours a day on the computer. Katie will do what I ask her, and doesn't seem to suffer from the low frustration threshold that her sisters do - it is just very lackluster and s-l-o-w no matter what we do. Today Mary completed seven subjects in the same time it took Katie to do 4, and Mary's individual assignments had more to them.

Yep, just another average day.



Monday, March 17, 2008

I'm going crazy

care to join me?

I have spent so many hours the last couple of weeks thinking about our curriculum for next year, and how we are going to do things, when we are going to start and take breaks...and just all those other things. I have filled half of a composition notebook with nothing but ideas and different choices.

Yesterday I felt as if I finally had a really good and doable list. Then as I was laying in bed waiting to doze off it struck me that *I* really like those materials, but do they really fit the kids' learning styles? Have similar materials that I keep picking out time and time again really been successful? The answer was: No. What has worked - worksheets, close-ended projects, work that doesn't require long, drawn out discussions by moi. And, limited read-alouds (there went my dream academy of us all curled up together reading book after book).

Then this morning as I was perusing some of my haunts I came across a link for Home School Learning Network. What caught my eye first was unit studies because I plan on using a number this coming year, but then I started reading my way through the 'structured' plans. And while I wouldn't put them up in the spectacular bracket, it really got me thinking that for this coming year I would like to have a little more 'help' in the planning.

Since we have begun I have been all about planning just about everything myself, except for math. And, I'm kind of tired here at the end of this year. Next year Mary will be in 3rd grade, Katie in 1st, Emily has already started asking for things and she will join us more in the middle of the year, and Robbie turns two in October and he is already pretty curious and headstrong at just shy of 18months. My priorities for the year are for Mary, writing; and for Katie, reading.

I was looking at the HLN plans for 1st and 3rd, with a little tweaking and rearranging I can have the schedule so that Mary and Katie are studying similar topics in history and science, sometimes sharing the same unit study and sometimes two different levels. But, I also feel a little bit like I'm selling out my ideals and settling for a school at home. It isn't like I have to use everything there - I can use what I want and leave the rest behind. Me not being in total control - it is a little scary and a little freeing.

What I have as of bedtime tonight:
foreign language - Prima Latina (Mary's request to add it in, again)
Math - Horizon's Math 3rd Grade
Phonics - OPGTR (last half of the book)
Grammar - Simply Grammar & online grammar worksheets
Handwriting - Cursive
Literature - Ambleside Online Reading List - Year 2/3
HLN's: spelling, history/geography, science and art programs and unit studies
Nature walks & journal
Piano Lessons

**Mary's writing will definitely be getting a workout. There is a big jump in the expected amount of writing on projects from 2nd to 3rd grade. I will also be employing writing prompts and journal writing.

Horizon Math 1st grade
Handwriting Worksheets & copywork
Older Dick & Jane-type basal readers
HLN's: spelling, language arts, history/geography, science and art
Ambleside Online - Year 1 Reading list for literature
Nature walks & journal
Piano Lessons
Soccer?? (we'll see how this season goes)

This seems doable for us, especially if I can gel my ideas for working around a toddler & preschooler better. I just need to get over the guilt of not doing it all.



Sunday, March 16, 2008

Verdict on the bread

Last week as part of our Chemistry curriculum we made bread. I've been hunting for the 'just right' bread recipe for our family. They like my bread, but more in it is a good side dish for a meal. I've been looking for the bread that will replace the store-bought loaves for sandwiches and such.

To make the bread on Thursday I went back to my traditional 'white' bread recipe. Only this time I replaced half the white flour with whole wheat and added extra honey. Mmmmm! This bread has replaced our store bread. The kids love sandwiches made with this bread. Today I had to make two more loaves and this should last until Wednesday when I will have to make more. Every week the list of foods in this house that contain high-fructose corn syrup gets smaller and smaller.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Another installment of Field Trip Friday

I spent today with Mary and Katie along the Eno River in northern Durham. Last fall, we were supposed to attend an outdoors/Native American class. Unfortunately, it ended up being one of our few rainy days of the Fall and we had to reschedule. How lucky we ended up being!

My neighbor offered to watch Emily & Robbie for me so that I could actually tag along with Mary and Katie. That worked out wonderfully, as the little ones could stay here, play with their friends and nap in their beds. And, I could spend some time focusing on the big ones.

I went with Katie's group for the first half of the day. We hiked, found walnuts, talked about the trees, observed the waterfall (testing it by throwing sticks and watching them flow over), and visited a traditional Cherokee cedar hut.

Everyone meet back at the field to have a picnic lunch together. It was so relaxing to sit back and let the kids visit with their friends, playing tag and climbing trees. At the end of lunch we had a large group session with music and Native American stories.

The second session I hung out with Mary, but because they ended up on two different tracks we did similar things, just at a more advance level. Their teacher took them down to the mill and showed how the water wheel worked. Then, they went down to the river and practiced "spear fishing." A hike along the river bank and a game that helped them practice their 'Heron' walk (walking quietly). Mary won this game, twice - something I may have to keep in mind.

The session that I didn't get to do was focused on Native games and Mary learned how to make fire, something she was really looking forward to doing. The girls both gave it two thumbs up.

I wish I had more pictures, but halfway there I realized that I had forgotten my camera. We found Mary's camera in the car but the batteries were going dead. We will definitely return to the Eno River for another field trip.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Delicious Education

We talked about mixtures today in science...

What do you get when you mix these separate ingredients together:

Tonight we will be enjoying our science experiment with baked fish and steamed broccoli.

Mary also joined our newly homeschooling family down the street for their math lesson on adding fractions. Dessert tonight will be our half of the double batch of brownies they made.



At this time I should be digging through my closet trying to find something business casual and appropriate to wear and then hopping in my car and fighting though rush hour traffic to drive downtown and fight over the half-dozen available parking spots in order to fulfill my civic duty. But, last night when I called to find out if I was still required to show up for Jury Duty I was informed that "the court's business does not require your attendance," and I should "go about your daily business and disregard your summons". SWEET!

I really did not mind going all that much. DH just served last year, and he got to sit in the jury lounge and read a book all day, and then was sent home when the case was resolved at the very last minute. But, when the weather forecast said that it was going to be almost 80 degrees today and sunny, I really did not want to go. Let me serve on a jury any cold, rainy day that I would otherwise be housebound with my four little darlings.

DH is also going to be home today as he had already requested off, and who is going to give up a day like today to be inside a windowless office when one has a choice. This morning I am going to do some quick lesson planning for today. Not much, just enough to keep the inmates from getting to restless. Outdoor lessons seem like a really, really good idea today.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Productive Monday

The time change has thrown us for a loop. I really dread the 'Spring Forward' every year. For some reason Emily and Robbie were up bright and early yesterday, earlier than they would normally wake. But, it was like pulling teeth trying to get Mary and Katie out of bed. I started off the day feeling behind. On top of all the things I had planned, I also had the mountain of doom laundry from where we had done a down and dirty clean up in the girls' bedroom. And, the kitchen was a mess from our dishwasher just being to darn small to keep up with a family of six with me making most everything from scratch.

But, the dread slowly dissipated as we got into it. We started off with the yarn dying project as that has been on our list for awhile. That allowed us to work at the table during the various simmering and soaking times. This did not turn out quite as well as we would have liked, although I am sure there are various ways that *I* screwed up the process. The main one was probably not using enough Alum or Cream of tartar. I was trying to reduce the size of our process from the recipe that used a 4 gallon pot to a much smaller scale using one of my stew pots. But, we did the process and did see how the dye can be leeched out of natural materials. Our result was a couple of skeins of light, tea-colored yarn, which was originally bright white. So, at some level it did work.

Messing with the yarn led to Mary insisting, again, that I teach her how to knit. She has a tendency to become frustrated easily so I've been trying to hold off teaching her this. But, she insisted and really seemed motivated. So we found the some spare needles and a skein of yarn and sat down to knit. The child might just be getting it this time. She is still having some trouble holding the yarn to keep tension, but she has the basic stitch. More importantly, she is self-motivated to do this.

The next 'craft' we are going to do is make our own "lap looms" and try our hands at weaving. I made one of these in Girl Scouts many years ago and really had a lot of fun weaving little pot holder squares. I have a perfect size piece of cardboard for her to weave me some placemats we need.

The reading, writing, and 'rithmetic were accomplished. The laundry mountain didn't completely disappear but it is a more manageable pile this morning. The girls spent the long evening hours playing with their friends, teaming into pairs and making scavenger hunts for each other. Katie and her good friend taking off on the bikes every so often for a sprint down the street. Those two are so excited to be on two wheels!!

While it was still light, which seemed so strange, we sat down to a really great dinner of chicken&sausage pasta and fruit salad. We had not had strawberries in awhile and I had pulled out one of the bags from our freezer supply (last summer's harvest), the kids loved them. For the next few days we will go through a spell of them begging me for strawberries constantly. For dessert, like the fruit wasn't enough, Mary baked us a cake earlier in the afternoon. Some days I feel like we eat like kings around here, but in all honesty I probably had around $5 invested in that total meal and we fed all six of us, plus Mary's friend; and DH took the leftovers to work today.

Now to go see what we can do today...


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Planning for this week

We have a busy week happening this coming week. Soccer practice for both Mary and Katie begins, which means we will be out of the house two evenings this week. And, lucky I am, I have jury duty on Thursday so DH will be subbing for me. Today has been my day to try to get things organized for the week.

I was able to go out grocery shopping - all by myself today. That was very nice, and allowed me to hit multiple stores. I've finally come to grips that with the rising grocery prices our monthly groceries will be in the $600 range. And, if I am going to pay that much for food I am going to get GOOD stuff. Recently it has been as cheap for me to by fresh or organic, or all natural foods as it is to be the more processed foods. Our larder is filled for the week with fresh fruits and veggies!!! I am so ready for a spinach salad.

Before I left for the stores I asked for meal requests for this week. These are the dinners we came up with:
~Homemade Pizza
~Homemade Chicken Fingers & crockpot mac n cheese
~Baked Salmon w/ Wild Rice and steamed broccoli
~Sausage & chicken Linguine
~Baked Spaghetti w/spinach salad and homemade garlic bread
~Baked Ham w/roasted potatoes

Chicken Noodle Soup
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Tortilla roll-ups

I've also worked out the general school plan for this week. We have our 'normal' work which is math, reading, spelling and the typing program. Piano is on Wednesday, gymnastics on Thursday, and both Mary and Katie will be at an 'outdoors' class all day Friday.

For our history unit this week:
~ continue reading "Patriots in Petticoats"
~ read Betsy Ross biography
~ listen to "George Washington, Spymaster" by Thomas Allen
~ make 2 history notebook pages
~ yarn dying
~ play jacks

If I don't meet myself coming I'll be back later this week, hopefully with pictures of our going-ons.


Friday, March 07, 2008

Drought Busting

The good news is that it is raining...and raining. The bad news is that we have an undesired moat forming around the front of the house. I don't even want to think about the crawl space as earlier this winter I discovered that our pump had stopped working and just have not been very motivated to work on that yet.

My original "To Do" List looked something like this:
1. Clean off front porch - the warm spring-like temps has resulted in the outside children dumping a lot of their paraphernalia as they move in and out of the house. If not remedied soon we will be that house in the neighborhood.
2. Go to store and buy new cell phone card - mine expired earlier this week and I just forgot about it. Tells one how much I use the thing.
3. Go to grocery store and pick up the two items I needed to make Mary's special request of stroganoff for dinner tonight.
4. Have our 'project' period for school today - today we were going to make dye using onion skins and dye some spare yarn I have. Unfortunately this project also requires a period of drying time for the yarn.

So, have I mentioned that it is raining. Not just a gentle, soothing spring rain. But, torrential "the skies have opened" type of rain. What ended up happening today:

Mary has been so very anxious to try out recipes from her cookbook I found at the used book shop on Wednesday that she banished me from the kitchen and made "eggs in a nest" for breakfast. They were very tasty. She really is a very handy cook.

We did go out to the store, but with the rain I decided we had to be content with ONE store to get everything - Walmart. I don't necessarily hate Walmart, I just really would rather shop other places. But today it fit the bill. So we wandered for an hour or so adding things to the cart, and I did remember the things I needed to get. That is a success for me.

I came home and there was a phone call from my mom that she and my step-father had decided to cut their trip short and were on the way home, could they stop by for lunch. I did a mad rush clean up of all the things we had just left 'as they were' on our way out of the house earlier.

We had a nice lunch and an all too short visit with my parents. The kids were so wound up seeing them again after what seems like a really long time. Everybody it seemed had something to share with Mamaw.

They left, Robbie went down for his nap and I put Little Einsteins on for Emily to watch and she promptly fell asleep. Watching the children sleep and the rain fall made me realize how tired I was. I started the stroganoff in the crockpot and laid down on the sofa. The older kids were content; Katie had her new set of makers and Mary had a new computer game to figure out. I had a nice nap until the parade of school kids arrived.

Needless to say very little on the "To Do" list was done. We've had fun, rested - what a rainy Friday should be. Later tonight I'll pull out some card games and Mary will read to daddy or I - and we will call it a day.

I mentioned above about going to a used book shop earlier this week when Mary got a new cookbook. I found some awesome additions for our library:
This is a collection of childhood biographies, mainly composers but one is of Picasso. I picked up every one they had.
These are small country guide books put out by Highlights. The copyright is 1996, but as it is mainly general info and pictures they should still be usable for our country studies. Mary, Katie and I have already decided that next year we are going to do "Country" unit studies for Social Studies. They have chosen: China, Japan, Greece and Italy.

Mary wants to do some more baking today - hot choc chip cookies. Mmmm, I think that sounds very good on a rainy evening.


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Waiting on the storms

After whining a bit this morning, I feel like I need to come back and give an update on our really good day today. When the big girls woke up, Mary decided she wanted to back some muffins for our breakfast. Which she did totally independent of my help. Then she packaged up some to share with our neighbor. The very same neighbor she made a pizza for Sunday night.

Once I was no longer necessary inside to oversee the oven use, I took Robbie and Emily outside while Mary and Katie worked on some bead art projects. They ran around while I finally got to putting my new blueberry, raspberry and blackberry plants in the ground. In the area I wanted to plant the blackberry I actually found some wild blackberry shoots, so I am hoping that it will be a good spot for the plants.

We totally took advantage of the 70-degree weather by staying outside up until lunchtime. Katie loves being able to ride her bike and being able to 'go as fast as Mary'.

Once we had lunch and got the littles down for their naps it began to rain on and off. I am glad we got our outside time in early. It was a good time to pull out the books. We read "Life in a Village", a history book about what a village was like during the colonial period and how people produced the goods they needed. It was an excellent lesson on what makes a community. The girls then took turns reading to me, Katie is willingly branching away from her readers to read me a variety of books.

I did have Mary run through a couple on-line games at IKnowThat targeting capitalization and punctuation rules. In a couple of months she has to take the IOWA test and I know that it will be on there and I also know it isn't anything we have spent a lot of time on. Surprisingly (for me) she did very well. Now I know that she has managed to pick up this information here and there and that eases my mind a bit. We will do more in this area over the Spring so that she can be comfortable with this at testing time.

This evening Mary caught me getting ready to dispose of the chicken parts (heart, liver, etc.) from the chicken I am roasting for dinner. She decided that we needed to dissect them. And she did. I helped identify the different pieces on the internet, but she did all the cutting. Pictures follow for the non-squeamish. After she was done with what she considered a "Cool" activity she diced them up and is going to feed them to the dogs with their dinner tonight.

Now I'm just waiting for our bad storms to hit. It will be a high-heart rate night for me...I HATE severe thunderstorms.

Pictures coming - click away or scroll fast if you don't care to see what is normally packaged in a chicken cavity.

The fun never ends around here.




I've been writing this post in my head for a few days now. Having a had time finding the right words for it, but knowing I need to get it out there.

I've been thinking about expectations, specifically mine regarding Mary for awhile. I'm able to relax so much more with the others regarding their development. But, it seems like I am constantly putting Mary under my own personal microscope. So, this is written to remind myself, AGAIN, to chill.

Somewhere along the way I've gotten it into my head that Mary is 'behind' in her reading skills. I guess it came about because she started off early learning several words by sight, and then just stopped. Her interest in the written word has never been great. Which honestly has been a little heart rendering for me since I am such a reader.

I get myself all worked up about how she is reading and what is she reading and why isn't she interested in reading. That last one I lay squarely on my shoulders. It doesn't help me that I just can't stay away from the wonderful homeschooling blogs and forums and hear all about the chapter books their 7/8-year-olds are reading. I begin to stress and yes, honestly push Mary.

Then, recently, while doing some research for word lists and such I came across a bunch of pages about what second graders should be reading, how second graders are reading. And, the light went off! Mary isn't behind, my expectations are not appropriate for her. And, it isn't the level that my expectations are that are the problem, it's that I even have them and express them.

It is really hard being a homeschool mother when it comes to this area. How much pushing is good, especially for a child that needs that little encouragement to go forward, and how much is detrimental and discouraging. And, when, Oh when do we ever figure this out?

Relax! Breath In...Breath Out!


Monday, March 03, 2008

Welcome March

Today was a great day to re-institute our warm weather schedule. Mornings for outside activities and after lunch, lessons. Since it is the beginning of March, kite flying seemed to be appropriate. We packed a lunch, stopped by the store for some inexpensive kites and headed for the local soccer fields.

It was a beautiful day outside!!!

We even had a cultural lesson when we bought the kites. The clerk checking us out had grown up in Afghanistan and told the children all about kite flying and how it was the national past time. On the way to the park we talked about the history of kites. Which led to a discussion about China and its' one-child per family laws. (They have a friend who was adopted from China, and told them about that practice. ) It is funny how something as simple as kite flying can lead to discussions about how much control a government should have over their people. But, those are the rabbit trails that we can follow each day.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Katie's Big Weekend

Mary taught Katie how to ride her bike today, in about 5 minutes. Can you see the grin on this face.

A family of six living and learning. You might catch us outside in the mud or working on crafts. We always seem to be on the go, come on and join us.