Monday, June 21, 2010

At Home with Preschoolers

This week I am at home with just the two little ones. The two big girls are at either end of the state attending camps.

Mary has been in the mountains since last Thursday. Exploring the mountains and getting to do things I can't, like crossing the swinging bridge at Grandfather Mountain. Yesterday, my in-laws took Mary to her EcoCamp at Laurel Ridge where she will be spending this week stargazing on top of the mountain, sleeping in a tee-pee and hiking everyday.

Katie went to the beach on Friday with my mother. She and my step-father have found a common enjoyment of flying kites on the beach. This morning my mom dropped her off for her first day of day camp. She'll be exploring the coastal, beach environment and doing environmental projects. This is her third year at the day camp and loves going.

At home we have just been playing. I think the little kids are enjoying the focus being on them for a change.

We rolled the rug up in the family room to give them plenty of room for building with blocks and train tracks.

My mom gave them some stamping supplies to enjoy during the summer. Lots of colorful artwork!

Emily has been designing roller coasters using the train tracks and blocks. I've been available to offer some engineering suggestions, but she really does have the idea about how build them. For her own frustration, I do wish I could make it a little more stable.
Robbie loves having someone available to build tracks for him.

I'm trying to think up some fun trips for us to take this week, but the heat is killing any desire I have to spend time outside.

Emily and I have also been doing a little 'schoolwork' here and there. She found H.A. Rey's "Find the Constellations" book and we have been reading that every evening and doing a little star gazing when it isn't too cloudy or hazy. We've also been talking about angles and measuring them after reading the library book "Hamster Champs". This has come in very handy with her interest in building roller coasters this week. And, finally, we have played a few games of 'sight word memory'. Since the older girls got notebooks to use as summer journals before they left, Emily also got her own notebook. She has been using it to draw pictures of what she has been doing this summer...but I can't see it because "Journals are PRIVATE Mommy."

Before Mary and Katie left last week we pulled out Emily's new science kit. Everyone had a great time making the ball float in the air.

So far we are having a great summer!

But, I'm missing schooling.......



Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fun, Crazy, Chaotic

We had a weekend filled with adjectives. Hot and Humid, were probably repeated the most frequently, but trying not to go there.

This weekend was the last of the Spring sports calendar, plus trying to fit in all these other things before summer camps begin. Emily had her last soccer game at 9am when the temperature was only 1 zillion degrees. An hour later we drove across town to the softball fields to watch Katie's last game. Directly from there we went to the end-of-season lunch for the softball team, where the kids hung out outside at the picnic tables while us weak-kneed adults hunkered inside the restaurant enjoying the air conditioning and watched some soccer. Both Katie and Emily were thrilled to receive their medal/trophy for participation this year. I think Emily is going to rub the coating off her trophy before too much longer.

After lunch Mary and DH headed out to the World Cup party at her soccer coach's house. Since it was on that side of town DH finished his pool route for the weekend so that Sunday could be devoted to getting ready for the party.

Sunday everyone jumped into helping get ready for the party. Emily & Katie were handed sponges and cleaned all the cabinets and walls they could get too. DH focused on the yard work, while Mary and I went shopping. We did good too... by 3:00 the house looked great!!

Except for the fact that one could probably drink the air with a straw it was so humid, we had a great party. A neighbor offered us his swimming pool for a little while, one of Mary's friends is Hispanic-American, so her father showed us all how pinatas are "really" supposed to be done (no hanging it stationary for the kids to swing at). Otherwise, the 10 or so kids entertained themselves while us parents got to sit around and visit.

Monday we needed a recuperation day from our weekend, so DH stayed home from work. I took advantage of him being home to get started packing the two big girls for camp next week. I took both Mary and Katie out separately during the day for some alone time and shopping. I think we all enjoyed the time together. Mary and I often get to run out for one thing or another, but I don't often get time alone with Katie. She is such a fun, easy kid to hang out with that I can't help but to have fun.

Thankfully, for our wallet after this weekend, the girls are pretty well prepared for camp this summer. Some toiletries, new socks and underwear, and the ever necessary flashlight replacements I think we are ready to send them off to the wilderness for a week at a time this summer.

Mary leaves on Thursday with her grandparents, who will then take her to camp in the mountains on Sunday. I'll meet my Mom halfway on Friday to hand over Katie. She will stay with my mom for the week while going to day camp at the beach. I don't think I've ever had them this far apart at one time.

Emily is looking forward to next week when she will be the 'big' girl at home.



Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Week ???

I've totally fallen off the keeping up with weeks train. Since we are pretty much on the summer schedule at this point I'm just going to drop trying to keep up with the weeks. I'll restart our counting in August when we 'officially' start our school year this year.

I'm really proud of how the three girls are taking ownership of doing their required on-line work. No fussing, except over who gets to use my computer, about doing the work. They enjoy it, are learning and they still have plenty of time to follow their desires during the day.

I'm still wavering over next year, whether to do topic/unit studies in the afternoon or be more unschooly in the afternoon. Right now we are seeing how the unschooly thing goes. They are staying busy and doing a lot of neat stuff, but the girls keep asking me when I'm going to 'do school' with them. I don't know, but they just don't buy that they are learning unless I'm feeding them bits and pieces of information. I'm hoping for the best of both worlds with them picking their topics/units most of the time next year.

The past couple of weeks we've spent some time reading and trying to understand the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This has led us to read about the Exxon Valdez and IxCon incidents. We've looked at maps and traced the Gulf Stream up the East Coast.

We've read about Jacques Cousteau, who would have been 100 on Friday. Looked at the history of diving and diving equipment. Then we had to see how much diving lessons would cost and how old the girls had to be. I was a certified diver in my teens - Looooved it, but stopped being able to clear my ears well enough and just ran out of time to keep up with my diving. Would love for the girls to experience diving, but think I might have them wait until they can be certified to dive without a parent.

Mary and Katie have decided that if they can't be SCUBA divers, then being a mermaid is the next best thing. They found this video on you tube, and then spent several hours measuring each other, looking up the cost of materials and making a shopping list. Now, they are figuring out how to earn the money to buy the materials. I think the fins are going to be the hardest part.

Emily has been re-potting weeds from the yard so that she can have them inside to look at all the time. She also says she needs them as models for her paintings. I'm trying to be very careful to be sure that she doesn't bring poison ivy in to grow in her bedroom. She also decided that she needed to hang glow-in-the-dark stars on her walls so that the plants wouldn't be homesick. According to her we couldn't just stick the stars on the wall, they have to make out came our H.A. Reys "Find the Constellations" book.

Today I am waiting for this science kit to be delivered. This is going to be a special thing for Emily and I to do together this summer while her older sisters will be in and out of town all summer for camps. It is also to make up for the fact that we never got to science this year with Emily.

The girls are still reading. Mary has moved on to a joke book this week. So, we've been listening to jokes along the lines of "What do you call a pet bunny of a bug? Bug's Bunny." Katie is reading a 'Katie Kazoo' book while she takes a break from the Magic Treehouse Series. We are still reading Book 8 of The 39 Clues as our read aloud. Set in China, we've already watched the Last Emperor, which then led to all sorts of discussions about modern Chinese history.

After watching a Spongebob episode, I had to read them The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe. And, then we talked about how many cartoons have references to classic literature. Mary thinks this is done to drive her nuts, but I explained that it is probably due to the fact that classics are considered universal and that all should know and understand references to them. THAT is yet another reason we should be well-read. I think that went over like a lead weight if the rolling eyes were any indication. But, she did say she liked The Tell-Tale Heart, although the narrator creeped her out.

This week I am really, REALLY trying to clean the house. Sunday we are having about 15 people over for a cookout. But, I think I am losing that battle. I'm probably better off waiting until Saturday to get it all done. I work better under pressure, and it will give the natives less time to scatter all their belongings in the corners and under furniture.

Off to enjoy another day. I wonder what the kids have planned?


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.