Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Thought/Idea Web

This is something we started doing last Spring with our Colonial America/Revolutionary War Unit. Mary is a Right-Brain Learner and I needed some way to present the BIG Picture of the unit in an understandable way. The traditional learner might use an outline, but the linear approach doesn't work around here. I'm not sure where I came upon this idea, but I am sure it is not original as I am not that good.

After testing it out this past spring I was impressed with how much Mary retained and her interest in adding to it as we studied. Something I don't get from her in relation to our timeline or notebook.
The other day I mentioned her sudden interest in Queen Elizabeth and how we were going to switch our history study for the time being. I pulled out the materials we already had here at the house. Let me just throw out another kudos for Learning Through History, as I had a copy of their magazine covering Tudor England. From there, we headed out for a morning visit to the library to pick up several more books covering Queen Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots.

Last night Mary and I read through several of the books and articles. Her questions lead me to decide that I needed to do a pre-unit 'Idea Web' for this unit as there is just so much going on. So, I fell asleep last night with images and plans for the 'web' forming in my mind. Yes, I am that much of a nerd.

I want to share with everyone what I put together this morning...

This is just the beginning. Each of the different color-coded ideas can be further broken down and each have their own webs. I know I am missing some information, but we will add those as we go. And, Mary can add ideas that strike her through our reading.

At this point I use the 'webs' to help reinforce topics we study and for Mary to SEE the connections. Further down the road as her writing ability develops a "thought/idea web" can be used like an outline to help her write papers.



That's a Big Fish

On Sunday Mary was invited to go fishing with her friends and their dad. Apparently, they got their just as the automatic feeders dumped a bunch of food. Good timing.

Mary caught the biggest fish of the bunch...a four-and-a-half pound catfish.

This is one reason why I love for Mary to participate in activities with other families. No telling when she would actually go fishing with one of us.



Monday, August 25, 2008

We have light

At the end of July the last of the bulbs in our kitchen track lighting burned out. After a few days of flipping the switch and nothing happening (I have the same disorder when the electricity goes off), I packed up the kids and headed to the store for new bulbs. Unfortunately, these are not normal bulbs. Little, tiny stick in halogen bulbs...of which there are a multitude of slightly different ones. Of course being my luck we could not find hide-nor-hair of the bulb in the store, even with store help. Went to a different store, still no luck. Lots of bulbs that were 'almost' right. Since I figured that the bulbs were already going to set us back almost $20 I wasn't going to keep wasting my gas, so we purchased a new light fixture with more normal bulbs for $22. Then the light fixture sat for three more weeks while we waited for life to slow down enough for DH to change out the fixtures.

I've been working in the kitchen using daylight and the fluorescent light over the sink. It has been like working in a cave. We finally had the time last night, with a little push from me and a bribe of roasted chicken. So, now we have what amounts to 200W of light in the kitchen. Wow, I can see all the dirt now.

The public schools started today. I impressed myself and slept through the first Senior Parade since we have lived here. I wonder if it has to do with those new windows. Needless to say most of my kids are still nestled in bed having wonderful dreams.

Later we will actually start our week of testing for Mary. We do it in the Fall since our school year begins in January. I had thoughts of switching it over to late Spring, but Mary had such anxiety over it that we just kept working through various test prep books...which she actually enjoyed. I sent off for the testing materials last week and had planned for a couple of weeks from now. But, they came on Friday and Mary was so excited (Yes, Excited!) that I had to hold her off all weekend. So, we will test this week and next week we will go visit a museum of Mary's choice.
We are making a quick detour in our history unit study. Mary found our copy of "The Queens Progress: An Elizabethan Alphabet" by Celeste Davidson Mannis, and had me read it to her last night. Midnight found us flipping through our "Kingfisher History Encyclopedia" and discussing when we would make it next to the library so we could get more books on Queen Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots. So, it appears the Mayans and the Aztecs will be pushed aside for awhile.

Off to do some online library browsing while I have the opportunity.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

The dentist visit went well today. At least until it was time to cough up the check, then I felt the pain. After the dentist finished doing his work to 'repair' the tooth enough to last until we could do a crown, we sat down and went through the master plan. I give this office kudos in that not only did they make out a list of all the work my mouth requires, but priced everything out, checked with insurance and gave me a final out-of-pocket breakdown. Our dental insurance requires us to pay up front and then receive the reimbursement check in a week or two. So, we worked out a plan for the work to be done so that I can pay for one visit, receive the reimbursement then come back in for the next step...basically rotating through the same pot of money. I am breathing much easier, or at least I will when I receive the reimbursements for the two visits this week.

I also think I have found the new dentist for the children. The office is happy, bright and the staff is wonderful. While I was in the chair waiting for the various epoxies to harden I could over hear the dentist working with children in the next room over...he was wonderful. I asked the dental assistant about their parent/child policies, which are very allowing. She even mentioned that I could schedule a pre-visit visit so the kids could run through what was going to happen before they come in for the real appointment. This would be very good for Mary and her anxieties.

Otherwise this week has been about as crazy as I had expected. It is the last week before school starts and the kids have been making the most of it, often over here at our house. Even though we have had upwards of 10 kids at once over here for impromptu game parties it has been a lot of fun. Katie got to sleepover at her best friend's house last night. I dropped her off around 4:30 before taking Mary to soccer practice and she finally came home at 8:30 tonight. My friend and I talked several times during the day to check in, but the girls were playing so well (and letting her get some housework done) that she just wasn't ready to let it end. I didn't need Katie back for anything so it all worked out.

When my friend brought her home tonight she came bearing lots of goodies; a boxful of books - including almost the entire collection of Magic Tree House Books and a bag of old beanie babies for Katie to add to her stuffed animal collection. I don't know where Katie is going to be sleeping soon between her Webkinz, the Webkinz Mary gave her, various other stuffed animals and these new beanie babies.

Tonight, Emily and I got a chance for some one-on-one time as everyone else was away from the house. I told her to pick out a game to play figuring she would go for one of the Memory games. Nope, wanted to play Blokus. So we did, to Emily rules. Made a pretty neat little picture and had a great time. We finished that up and pulled out the dominoes to make a few domino tracks. It isn't often Emily and I get this time without Robbie wanting to 'play' with us.

Tomorrow we will be cleaning and organizing the kids' clothing. I swear they are multiplying in the dark. I also have to do some grocery shopping as I have not really, really been since the end of July. And, then rewash all of Mary's clothes as the new detergent I bought has seemed to cause her to break out in a rash. In the evening we are having a small girlie party to watch The Cheetah Girls movie. Mary and Katie both have friends coming over. We'll do popcorn & kool-aid, curl up in the family room for one last hurrah before public school starts on Monday.

I warned Mary the other day that the neighborhood kids will be heading back to school on Monday. Her response was "Already!! This summer was too fast!" It was a really fast summer, but I am ready to have my peaceful life back.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I guess Summer is over...

because it has gotten busy again. My 'To Do' list is quickly getting longer, as well as my what we've done list. I'm feeling anxious on just so many levels, overwhelmed. Lately, I've gotten to the point I just don't want to be on the computer unless I'm able to veg and just play some brainless game. My normal online obsessions with homeschool blogs or frugal living websites as totally fallen off my radar.

This past weekend I stepped out of my own little comfort zone and actually attended a Homeschool Conference. Not the big 'State' one, which is held every May, but a smaller one that centers a little more on relaxed/unschooling approach. Cindy Gaddis, whom as a blog called Applestars writes about Right-brain learners and collaborative learning, was presenting and I really wanted a chance to hear her. My mom came up so that she could attend with me and we took the two older ones, letting my husband have fun chasing Emily and Robbie around for a day. When I was planning the trip it never hit me just how far of a drive Hickory was from here. We ended up leaving our home at 5:30am, so that we could be sure to be there in time for the first session.

We had a good time. Cindy's presentations were great. I just wish I had had the energy to stay for the very last session. I might have sucked it up and stayed, but the girls who had been nothing less than angelic all day were done, as well as mom and I. I didn't want to end the day on a bad note. As it was both of them crashed in the car until we stopped for dinner at a chinese buffet, where I have to say we ended up gorging. The food revived them enough to stay awake the rest of the way home, playing "Rock, Paper, Scissors" or was it "Rock, Paper, Scissors, Water, Laser, Ice, Lava".

One of the things we picked up from the vendors was a beautiful wooden Pentominoes set. Mary spent several hours at the Frik n Frak booth trying out all the different wooden puzzles. Some of these pieces were more like artwork. Since we have been home we have been reading about Pentominoes, which I had actually never heard of before we bought it. My mom had, and since we enjoy the game Blokus, she thought we would like these. Mary and I are having so much fun with them even if we struggle with trying to figure it out.

Yesterday, a la Di at Classic Adventures, I have started my own dental journey to repair years of lack of dental care. I didn't avoid it because I hate dentists, but because I went into debt trying to get my teeth fixed years ago and it hasn't become any cheaper. My visit yesterday was a comprehensive exam, meaning lets make a list of all the things wrong with my mouth. I was in tears before it was over thinking of how in the hell were we going to be able to afford this. Thursday I go back for them to do a temporary fix on one tooth so that it doesn't break right out of my mouth. I'll also meet with the dentist where we will sketch out the plan. This is one of those things that is adding to my anxiety.

Thankfully, I have a lot of things to do to help take my mind off of my mouth. Mary has started soccer practice, and has the first pre-season tournament this weekend. Katie's practices/games will be beginning shortly. I still need to get Katie and Emily registered for gymnastics this year. Call about finding an art class for Mary (she wants to study art this fall before returning to a piano/guitar combo class after Christmas). And, take Mary over to the trial class for fencing...which will probably lead up to us signing up for that. And, mixed up in all of that I would like to get online once in awhile and earn some money doing searches for ChaCha.

What am I doing here...



Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Beautiful Weekend

We escaped to the mountains this past weekend. Mary had her weekend camp to attend and DH was actually able to get away with us. It doesn't happen often, and was very nice. The weather was excellent! Especially coming off a week of temps in the '90s. I had to wear jeans in the mornings and evenings. We hung out, walked, visited the awesome small-town park, blew bubbles and watched a lot of the Olympics.

We came home Monday with just enough time to unload the car and dig out Mary's soccer gear from last season before DH drove her to practice. Soccer season as begun, this one should be interesting as Mary and Katie are officially on two different leagues.

Yesterday evening DH and I ripped out the carpet in our play room/office/guest room. Unfortuately, our older dog is beginning to have tummy problems and thought the one room still with carpet (besides the nursery) would be her spot. Cleaning did very little good and my mom is coming into town this weekend. So the carpet had to go. I've put down a bunch of those foam letter tiles for the time being. We will be replacing with wood laminate sometime this fall. At least I can finally let the kids back in the room.

Life is full. We are busy with all sorts of little home projects, summer school, watching the Olympics and I did get that research job with which I'm trying to get acclimated. Staying busy does have its good side, as I am staying out of stores and we have spent less than $100 on groceries so far this month.



Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I think I am stuck in some sort of a time warp. We've been hanging out close to home recently, the heat has been a killer.

We have been keeping up with our schoolwork and still finding a lot of time for playing. In the morning we do an hour of math and reading, then take a long break until the evening when we sit down for either history or science. It seems to be working, although we are nowhere near our full load. Emily likes to join us now with her crayons and coloring books. And, we are learning to work around Robbie.

I am currently studying for an online job I am trying to get. It won't be a great deal of money, but at this time with costs rising on EVERYTHING every little bit will help. We are slowly working on paying off the van loan and I would like to have a little bit more money to put towards it. Not to mention we are entering the "school year" and all of the activity fees are coming due. Today I will be taking the 'test' and hopefully will have good news when we get back from the mountains next week.

We are leaving in a couple days to take a long weekend in the mountains. Mary has her short sleep-away camp, and the rest of us are hanging out with the in-laws. DH is actually going to be coming with us - very unusual for him to get away during the summer. When we get back we will be jumping right in to Mary's soccer practices; two times a week over near the university. I still don't know when Katie's practices will be, but there is a chance that I will have to have them both at their practices at the same time only 30 miles apart. Help me now!!!

Well, break time is over. Time to get back to cleaning.


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.