Sunday, July 29, 2007

First Steps

Cassia told me today that she wanted to learn how to read. :) She knows most of her letter sounds, thanks to, so I decided to let her have a go at a couple BOB Books. She did quite well! Actually, she has quite an amazing memory. She was doing all the typical decoding stuff - first letter, general pattern of other sentences, picture clues - but mostly, I think she was just getting me to say a word first and then remembered it the rest of the book. Later I was reading Harry Potter and she asked if she could practice reading on that. I told her it was probably too hard, but she suggested that I just read first and then she would follow along. I was reciting off half sentences and she was repeating them word for word - words she didn't even know! I was quite impressed.

Looks like it is definitely time for her to start the Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading. She will absolutely adore the first 26 lessons which have poems to help you remember the alphabet sounds.

Now if everyone can just remind me to tell Cameron that she's learning so fast because she's following his example, not because she's smarter (or more reading-inclined) than he is then we'll be just fine. ;) Actually, I believe he showed an amazing desire to read and learn at this age too. I think it's just where they hit that point where you realize... "WOW! Those funky symbols actually mean something and I think I know what!" And then it gets hard, lol. ;)

Friday, July 27, 2007


Preschool Park Day always means education of a different kind. Today, Cassia spent most of the day being pushed around in a stroller at breakneck speeds by J9, a boy, incidentally. The rest of her day was spent in the sandbox baking. Cameron was either playing ball tag or Yahtzee with R11. Greyson was pushing a doll stroller with a Care Bear strapped into it all around the park. Non-stop. He must've put in miles. He even stubbed his little toes on the blacktop path, which was the easiest place to push the stroller, and refused to stop pushing. He was very mad at me when I made him stop to wash the blood off, lol. I spent the day chatting with moms, "eating" sand birthday cakes and "drinking" sand tea. We stayed way too late, as usual. And we had a lovely time as usual too.

I love this park day. I love the families that come to it. There's just something "different" about moms who either know they're going to homeschool that early on or have already been through it multiple times and are just starting out with their last. Seriously, it's not the paranoid weird feel that most Moms' Group preschool gatherings seem to have. Do you know what I'm talking about? Like they're all trying to impress each other with their hipness and their amazing parenting skills? Our group is easy and relaxed and we all know, without a doubt, that playing is the very best learning. We also all seem to know that how many times we do this, we never really know what we're doing, lol. Other playgroup conversations that I overhear have a certain know-it-all quality... or maybe that's just the way it sounds from the outside. I think that comes from a fear of failure though. I was sitting in on a conversation between a few moms at ballet the other day - I was "in" the conversation but had absolutely nothing to add to it - and they were all so concerned with "stuff." It's really hard to explain. It's like they're so afraid to make a mistake that they try to micromanage every single move they make and every thought in their heads. They were ALL complaining about insomnia because they just sit there and worry all night about all these mistakes they might be making. Not me! I am perfectly aware that I make plenty of mistakes but I am also very aware that I learn from every one of them too. I have no desire to be perfect - good thing too because it's never going to happen! LOL.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Good thing we stopped "school" today!

Good thing we stopped "school" today or we might not have learned anything! Shortly after our afternoon relax-a-thon (Harry for me, playing for C&C, sleeping for Grey), we watched The Big Christmas Tree - a video about the giant Christmas tree they put in Rockefeller Center - which was surprisingly interesting. Next we put together our new rock tumbler... I mean the kids' rock tumbler. I was shocked to find out that we have about 3 WEEKS to wait for nicely polished rocks. The first phase should be done in 2 - 4 days though and that will be exciting.

Next, on a whim, I decided to check the mail and what did I find on my front porch??? A microscope! Woohoo!! MIL wanted to get the kids school desks for their birthdays but she couldn't find anywhere that had a reasonable price and decent shipping so she just gave me a big check and told me to buy them. Well, I couldn't find anything locally either! LOL, finally I found a really beautiful writing desk - that could seat two chairs if need be - at a thrift store and bought that... with about $125 to spare! MIL and I (ok, I, but I cleared it with her) decided to spend the balance on something else educational and I had been wanting a microscope. I found this little beauty for just over a hundred and it arrived today. YIPPEE! So there went my cleaning schedule, lol. We looked at grass and leaves and moss and paper towel and then I got greedy and hauled everyone off to the local hobby store for some prepared slides, lol. OH MY! I have only gotten through about half of them (and the kids only 2 or 3, lol) but I have found my new obsession. So freakin' cool. I haven't touched a microscope for, gosh, 15 years at least... way freakin' cool. Since we're studying the skeleton I'm thinking that I'm going to have to start making slides of fish bones and shaving pieces off of chicken bones and dissecting the children... oh wait, nevermind. ;)

But yeah, good thing we stopped learning early today. ;)

Time to FLY

Figured I had better update now before I got distracted and everyone started yelling at me again. ;)

Last night I decided that my house has become out of control and it is time to give a FLYlady type thing another try. I made a list of things that need to be done daily, every-other-daily (what is the other word for that?), weekly, and monthly. I divided my house into five zones. I wrote out a daily schedule of sorts. Not really a schedule, more of a list of things to do and a general order in which they should be done. For example: get up, make coffee, empty dishwasher, shine sink, drink coffee & have computer time (I think I need to establish a time limit on this one), check laundry (start, switch, fold, or put away - whatever needs to be done), breakfast, get dressed, pick up living room, do school, have lunch, check laundry, etc. I'm doing pretty good with it so far. I got all the dishes dealt with before I even woke up the computer and I finally folded the mountain of clean laundry that's been sitting in my room for two days. So then I got ready for the day while the kids put their laundry away and then it was school time.

I told Cameron that I was not going to let him be afraid of reading any longer. I have a whole stack of readers that he would LOVE if he would just give them a chance but he has been too scared to try. Yesterday a Jedi Reader called Jar Jar's Mistake came in the mail. It was a Step 1 reader and yet he still said he "couldn't" read it. No more. Today I made him read it. I sat down on the floor and pulled him into my lap and helped him through the whole thing as patiently as I could. And he did it! I still don't think he has any sort of confidence about it, but he did do it - with very little help, really - and I think with some practice he will enjoy being able to read those by himself. I hope. Next he did two math exercises. We're still working on adding and subtracting 1s or 10s from numbers to 100. The subtracting 10s throws him a little but he only has to think about it for a second. Next we did science. We did part of one of the workbook exercises where you had to name different bones, but the rest of it just looked too dull for even me, lol. I grabbed our Kingfisher First Human Body Encyclopedia and read a couple of sections on the skeleton, the skull, and the structure of bones & joints. Then I grabbed another book on the body that I had and read some more about bones - I learned a few things too. I had a couple a other books to flip through, including the Cyclopedia Anatomicae (I should probably save that one for when we study the muscular system though), but they asked to be done with school. We had already spent longer on science than on reading and math combined, so I agreed.

Next I made lunch and settled down to a chapter of Harry Potter on the back porch. Cameron and Cassia played LEGOs. Greyson mowed the concrete out back. After I finished my chapter, I came inside and set the timer for 15 minutes. I told them that we all had to spend 15 minutes straightening up. Cassia was too tired. Cameron just plain didn't want to. I informed them that anyone who didn't help was losing a dollar from their piggy banks. Suddenly, everyone was willing and able. ;) After we finished, I told them that we would be doing that at least twice a day from now on and that that would help us to keep our house clean so that it wasn't such an ordeal to clean up each time. Amazingly, they agreed. We'll see if they remember their agreement when it's time to do it again, lol.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

et tu Jenny?

Yes, I know. I have committed the worst possible blogging crime - I have neglected it for an entire week! Please, my 3 loyal readers, forgive me. I have good excuses! OK, I have excuses. With the Big Birthday Party this last Sunday we had relatives coming to stay and cookies to roll and cakes to bake and decorations to buy. And then after that it was dishes to wash, and upset tummies and sunburns to pamper, and scooters to ride, and hours to sleep in. And, of course, there was Harry. Dear, sweet, time-sucking Harry... and I haven't even cracked Deathly Hollows yet. In fact, I don't even have it in my possession yet (grrrr at but I have been rereading everything and just started Goblet of Fire (#4) last night. I still have about 2000 pages until I'm ready for the latest one (because the plot got so danged complicated that I have completely forgotten what happened in numbers 5 and 6!).

Anyway, brief (lol, as if) recap...

Thursday we started the day out with a nice long walk with some friends. The kids spent most of the time lallygagging (I can't believe that word was in my spell check, lol) and filling their pockets with rocks. We did find one really interesting one though - a little chunk of petrified wood - but I think I accidentally left it in the car and then DH cleaned the car out and it ended up in the trash. :( That family ended up giving the kids a rock tumbler for their birthdays though! I was just remarking to someone a week or so ago that I had been longing for one, kept getting offered free ones from relatives, but DH would never let us bring one home. I guess if you wish hard enough somebody hears. :) I think we read some dinosaur books later? I can't quite remember - which is why I"m such an avid blogger! Horrible memory!

Friday morning BIL came over to help DH with the fence. Have I blogged about that? It blew down in a wind storm but our insurance is only covering half the cost because the wood was rotted. *roll eyes* It's a 20 year old fence. What do you expect? So DH is doing the work himself so that he can have it done for the amount they gave us. Anyway, that meant that school for the day was of the Practical Arts sort: carpentry and baking (Cassia and I made cookies while the boys worked on the fence). Later in the day I had Cameron start working on his record book for 4-H. Yes, we just started the record book that is supposed to be turned in on the 31st. Yes, the one where we will be out of town on the 31st and need to mail it in before then. Yes, it's still not done and I'm probably going to have to drive it out to BFE next Monday to get it in on time. Yikes.

Saturday was all about preparing for the party. We had a combo party for Cassia's 4th (July 15th) and Cameron's 6th (August 4th) birthdays on Sunday. It was Harry Potter themed, of course. All the kids LOVED mixing potions with Dragon's Blood (cherry-pomegranate juice), Essence of Goldfish (carrot juice), Lizard Gizzards (green Odwalla Super Food juice), Frozen Clouds (orange sorbet), Pixie Tears (club soda), and Goblin Spit (lemonade). They also seemed to enjoy making their own wands out of wooden dowels and sparkly pipe cleaners. The broom races were not a big hit. The Sorting Hat (giant felt sorting hat made by a friend of mine) with the big cavernous mouth full of House Badges to wear was a hit with some but a very scary proposition for others. In the end, only one child flat out refused to do it. It was a great party and I was quite overwhelmed with the generosity and thoughtfulness of our friends. :) I remember back when Cam turned 3 and he so desperately wanted a kid party but we just didn't know anyone. We did know two families (both of which were actually at this year's party!) but only one of them could come so it was a pretty lame party, lol. He didn't mind, but I was really sad about it. Ahhh, we've come so far!

Monday I spent the day recovering. I was just exhausted! I literally spent most of the day laying on my bed reading. I felt like I was coming down with something, but nothing really materialized. I actually wrote that day down as a school holiday on our attendance sheet, lol. I called it "Birthday Party Holiday." The kids birthdays both fall on the weekend this year so we can't really take a holiday for those anyway. ;)

Tuesday started with ballet and once we got home I actually managed to get Cameron to do two exercises in his math workbook to make up for some of the time we've missed. We then continued with his 4-H record book work and he drew some story pages to illustrate the projects he was in this last year. I still need to download and print some photos of him doing his projects for the photo page... not sure when I'm going to get around to that. Yep, I'm definitely going to end up driving to our leader's house to drop this off on Monday. I also read another dinosaur book to the kids and Cameron actually did a narration on the Magic School Bus In the Time of the Dinosaurs. At first he said that he couldn't remember what happened but as I prompted him a bit he remembered quite a bit. He drew a really cute picture to go with it but I wrote the narration in ink and it soaked through the back of the paper and made his pencil drawing very hard to see. :( Note to self: pencil only!

Wednesday Cassia, Greyson, and I slept in until almost 9:00!! I couldn't believe it! That put a damper on the entire day and by the time I was ready to "crack down" and do some schoolwork, it was already 1:00 and time for us to go to Park Day. Unfortunately, no one was there again. Summer is not a good time for Park Day. So we spent about half an hour there, riding new birthday scooters, and then we went to go pick some things up at the Treasurer's house that I needed. We hung out there for about an hour, chatting, and then came back home again with plenty of time to do that schoolwork! Um, ok, maybe not. The kids dove into a new Color Wonder set they had gotten and started drawing all sorts of cool pictures. Sneaky me said, hey why don't you draw a dinosaur! Cam drew a pretty cool T-Rex and I read them a couple dino books to set the mood.

And that brings us to now where the kids are riding their scooters out back and I am itching to get back to Harry Potter while ignoring the pile of laundry that's laying on my bed waiting to be folded.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dinosaur Tales

We didn't really do too much today. Cameron really wasn't in the mood for school and we had gotten off to a horribly late start because C&C were just playing so well together all morning. When they get into that wonderful imaginative, creative make-believe stuff, I just hate to break it up. Anyway, we were supposed to be at the park at 1:00 and somewhere around 11:00 I said that we could skip phonics and math and just do history today. Somewhere around 12:00, we actually got started.

We read a couple of books about fossils and dinosaurs. I really like the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science Books. They are written at an age-appropriate level yet are filled with REAL information! It's not dumbed down kid versions of what they think kids can "handle." It's real stuff. Even I learn from these books. The book jackets say all sorts of wonderful things about kids "feel[ing] themselves stretch in importance" with the acquisition of knowledge and how the books are written for kids who are "eager to know." I like that. I especially like the ones written by Aliki.

Anyway we read several of those and then went to Park Day. None of our homeschool friends were there, but we did run into Cameron's old t-ball coach and his daughter! She was taking tennis camp there at the park and Cameron happened to be at the entrance to the tennis courts right as she got out. She was so surprised and excited to see him. She said, "I didn't know you were going to be here!!" and gave him a huge hug. It was super cute. A couple of our homeschool friends did show up about an hour later but nobody stayed very long. We got home with plenty of time to do some more history!

We've been watching the Walking with Dinosaurs collection on DVD the past week. We had gotten a 5-disk set from the library which would usually have come with an extended loan period but, unfortunately, since it was new we still had to return it within a week. I tried renewing it last night but someone else had put in a request for it - probably another homeschooler, lol. Anyway, it's due tomorrow so we had to finish it up this afternoon with Walking with Allosaurus. It's a great dramatization about the life of a famous fossilized allosaurus skeleton nicknamed Big Al. The best part was the second part of the show. They showed all the science behind their dramatization. They showed the initial discovery of the fossils in 1991 in what used to be a dry riverbed. They showed how they made the assumptions that they did about the life of this particular species. They showed where this particular dinosaur's bones had been broken and told how they could tell how long before his death it had happened by the amount of healing. They showed the toe bone that was so inflamed, and that had likely been so for at least six to nine months, that probably ultimately caused him to lay down and die in that riverbed. It was such a great tie in with what we read about fossils and about archaeology in general. I highly recommend it if you haven't seen it. We also watched Bill Nye's episode on Fossils which was also very good. It actually meshed quite nicely with the Aliki book Fossils Tell of Long Ago. We still have one video to go, Eyewitness Dinosaur but that's not due back until Saturday. I have the feeling it will not be quite as big of a hit as the other ones. I seem to remember their DVDs being rather dull for the kids.

So that was it for the day. We may have gotten more done after dinner - I was hoping for a narration or illustration on one of the books - but I had to make a major parenting decision and send Cameron to bed ridiculously early for digging his corn holder deep into the edge of the table. Grrr. He is so used to being threatened with "do you want to go bed now??" that I felt that this case really needed the follow through. He was M-A-D. Oh boy, was he mad. I let him take his dinosaur readers to bed to read if he wasn't sleepy but he just looked at the pictures and then went back to begging me to let him get up. Once Cassia came to bed he fell asleep instantly, so it was just the principle of the thing that had him so mad. But you know what? Next time he may just think twice before destroying something. Or maybe not, but he sure will think twice next time I threaten to send him to bed early!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cameron times two!

At ballet this morning, Greyson and I were sitting in the waiting room waiting (duh) for Cassia while Cameron and this little girl about his age were out in the hallway getting in everyone's way. The little girl's mother calls to her, "Cameron!" My Cameron comes in looking very confused, "Why did she call me?" LOL, turns out they shared a name and after that little ice breaker they were fast friends. She's an older woman, six and a half, and a ballet school veteran so she knew her her way around the studio. I figured that she knew what she was doing and let him go exploring with her a bit. They spent a few minutes watching the older girls practice and then I found them in a hallway just sitting and talking up a storm to each other. Very sweet.

Remember what it was like to be six and just able to explore? Remember when everything was an adventure? Reminds me of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in a way. Who knows what could be around that corner? Who knows what secrets your new friend knows that you don't? Fun. :)

And then we came home and I made him do phonics, lol. I tried to get him to read a dinosaur reader instead. He flipped through it and I showed him how the hard dinosaur names were broken down phonetically so they would be easy to read. He didn't want to. It was even a PRE-level 1 and he just said "No, I don't know how to read well enough yet." And yet he does so fantastically when he puts half an effort into it. I don't get it. I wonder if it will just be one of those things where he needs the validation of completing the whole book? Maybe we'll finish the last lesson and he'll go and pick up Treasure Island on his own or something. I don't know.

Math went great though. We did one lesson that was super easy and so we moved on another section in the book. It was using a 100 chart to add by 10s... 36 + 20 or 94 - 30. I could really see the little gears moving in his head! LOL. He seemed to get it though. I may have to print out our own 100 chart to tape to the desk or something so that the concept becomes a little more concrete. He still tried to count it out on fingers a couple times. But we made it though a second exercise and then moved on to Science.

He tried to say "but I don't waaaannnnntttttt to do science" (thinking ahead to the video games he wanted to play and the movies he wanted to watch) but when I opened the science book up to the chapter on the skeletal system, he got really excited. We just read the chapter and did one activity where you match animals up to the correct skeleton, but I have several cool anatomy books in our personal library that we haven't looked at yet. I'll dig those out this afternoon and "strew" them around as the unschoolers like to say.

After that he decided that he wanted to do a couple interviews for his Family History book. He interviewed me and was particularly interested in whether I rode a bus to school when I was a kid (and if it was yellow) and if I had ever flown on an airplane as a child. He was thrilled to find out that I was a veteran of the airlines and used to fly to my dad's house every school vacation. He was quite shocked that I even used to fly alone! "Your mom let you do that?!?!" LOL, I guess he doesn't expect me to be allowing that. And he would be correct in that expectation. ;) Once we finished my interview page, he decided that he was done and would wait until later to do someone else. That was actually fine with me because my poor hand is not used to writing so much! The other day, Cassia had me do like 3 of those interview pages in a row and, I tell you, my hand was killing me! I appear to be a slave to technology now, lol. Ah, the trappings of age.

And that was our school day. Done by noon again. I like that. It makes the day feel so much longer! I do wish we could do more of a Three-Rs in the morning and then Science, History, and/or Art in the afternoon thing, but Cameron likes to do it all at once. I have to admit that I'm more likely to never get back to it too if we take too long of a break, so this is probably the best way to go at it for now. Anyway, yes G, things seem to be going really well. Almost smoother than I expected. I've had to play the "The law requires you to be in school now, so if we don't do schoolwork we will be breaking the law" card once or twice but he doesn't seem to mind too much. He knows how good he has it here. ;)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Wrapping up Archaeology

School today started with one phonics lesson which went ok and one math exercise which went very well. We finished up the school day by reading a couple of grade appropriate books on archaeology (The Magic School Bus Shows and Tells and Archaeologists Dig for Clues by Kate Duke). Cameron was very attentive. He didn't even really want to read Archaeologists Dig for Clues but ended up very into the story and was asking tons of questions.

After we finished reading, I had him do his first ever narration. Instead of having him narrate back a specific book plot or encyclopedia blurb, I just had him narrate the subject to me... his first essay, I suppose. I explained that a narrator tells a story and that I wanted him to tell me a story about archaeology. I prompted him with, "What is an archaeologist?" and he went on and on! I was quite impressed. Next I had him flip through the myriad of library books we have on the subject and find a picture of a really interesting artifact to draw. What he found was a picture of an archaeologist looking into an unopened tomb with a periscope. He thought that was super cool and drew his picture of that. I had to help him out with the caption - he wanted to write a whole other story! We finally agreed on a concise and descriptive caption (so that we would know what it is actually supposed to be, lol).

It's funny how "subjects" just come up. I never would have considered that the importance writing concise descriptions would be a lesson that I would teach today. In fact, if I were strictly following a lesson plan, I doubt that would ever get covered, lol. But now we have our first two pages in the History Notebook and with that we shall move on to dinosaurs and prehistoric man on Wednesday.

Gymnastics went fabulously today. Cassia worked so hard - you could see how exhausted she was. This new class is really challenging for her, but she loves it. Cameron had a 100% turn around today. He was back to crazy monkey and enthusiastically volunteering to demonstrate everything today. His strength really isn't up there yet, to do what they are asking of him, but he is trying and that means everything. I was super proud of them both. Cassia spent Cameron's entire class watching the girl's team practice. She was in awe. She asked if she could be on the team too. Good thing we homeschool - I've heard the life of a gymnast is hard. Of course, she's still walking around on tiptoe everywhere so she may be a professional ballerina instead. Did you know you could toe walk in flip flops? I can see heartbreak in her future when she has to make a choice between seriously pursuing gymnastics OR ballet - not both. LOL.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

4 Years Ago, Today

My sweet Cassia rushed into this world.

She grew quickly...

And the birthdays flew by

I really can't believe how all of these feel like "just yesterday"

and now, my baby is turning into a little lady right before my eyes

Happy birthday, Princess! We all love you very much. :)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Reconstructing the Past

All in all, it was a great first week of school. There was a minimum of whining and/or snapping. There was a myriad of learning. There were workbook pages done and chapters "covered." But most importantly, there was the regurgitation of things learned. All week I was delighted to hear how something is like the digestive system or how this died out before that. I have heard "Bill Nye, the Science Guy" sung over and over. And today, best yet... we actually started a mass impromptu archaeological dig at the park.

We unearthed Cavemen (our friend, C.O.), Cavemonkeys (Cassia), and an entire Ancient Bulldozer Graveyard. It was stunning science. ;) Cameron thought it was absolutely hilarious, but Cassia took her work very seriously. The rest of our friends were actually off at the Climbing Tree picking blackberries when Cassia began to unearth Cave C.O. She very carefully dug until she hit cloth, "I found prehistoric pants!" and then she gently swept the dirt away to uncover the artifact in its entirety. We were not completely sure that our specimen was, in fact, human until we realized how very ticklish it was. By this time, the berry picking clan had returned and when they saw how much fun we were having they all started burying themselves too. I think at one point there were 4 buried children and about 6 junior archaeologists (several weren't even homeschoolers - they just thought we looked like we were having fun!). It was a crazy, fun scene. Yep, we did history today.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Up With the Sun!

For some inexplicable reason, I woke up at dawn this morning and could not go back to sleep. I think it was because Greyson actually slept in his crib all night long for the first time in I don't know how long. In fact, I think he's only done it a handful of times in his entire life. So anyway, when I woke up at 6am and realized that the warm body beside me was Cassia and not Greyson, lol, I guess it just sparked that Mommy Worry thing (I hope he isn't sick. Was that seed pod he had in his mouth yesterday poisonous? What was that noise? Did he crawl out of his crib on his own??) You just can't go back to sleep after those musings. So I got up, verified that everyone was indeed just sleeping peacefully and then I went and made some coffee. I know, I know... I should've done some yoga but I was convinced that someone was going to wake up at any second. Turns out, no one got up until 8:00 but I sure did enjoy my two hours of quiet computer time!

Somehow, we still managed to get a late start on the day, lol. I was showered and dressed by 9 but we didn't start school until after 10 and since Greyson had slept so well and so long, he didn't want to take his usual mid-morning nap. Cassia decided that she wanted to do school at the same time Cameron did so that brought a whole new set of challenges into the day. She was able to work independently with a few pages of her Explode the Code primer while Cameron and I suffered through phonics (I did offer him a Star Wars reader instead but he refused) but once he moved on to math she had also moved on to pages where she needed help. So here I am trying to instruct them both at the same time while Greyson makes five kajillion attempts at crawling onto the dining room table. Eeek. We did get through it eventually and I don't even think I actually yelled at anyone. ;)

Next we did science and read a introductory chapter on the systems of the human body and then a chapter dedicated to the digestive system. We also did a workbook exercise for the first chapter and an activity book activity for the other - though it was a pretty workbooky activity, lol. Cameron loved it though. They had made a "maze" through the digestive system and he thought it was just the coolest. I don't think I'm going to bother with too much extra stuff on this. There is a Magic School Bus episode on the digestive system that they've seen a million times (and recently too) so they pretty much have that knowledge down. I may attempt some interest in the digestive tract pages of our Kingfisher First Human Body Encyclopedia but I'm not going to worry about it in the slightest if they aren't interested.

We also watched the Bill Nye the Science Guy video on archaeology again today because I hadn't watched it yet and wanted to see it, lol. The kids think he's funny. I do too, but the fast-paced, constantly moving, shockiness of the show gets on my nerves. And you wonder why so many kids are diagnosed with ADD. Cameron also asked to watch the Walking With Dinosaurs dvd that I had gotten from the library for next week. Close enough, so why not? It was a nice progression from archaeology to dinosaurs. He really seems to get the whole process now. He's asking tons of questions like, "but how did they know that??" and really seems to understand when I tell him the evidence to led to those particular assumptions. I really like that. Quote of the moment: when Cassia just now asked if he'd like to play something with her he said "No, thanks. I'd rather watch and learn about dinosaurs." :D

I think I'm going to give up on the simulated archaeological dig that I had planned. They're not too interested in the process and I haven't gotten around to secretly burying anything yet anyway. Tomorrow we are going to a park with a huge sand area that they all love digging in so I may just bring some things for them to excavate as a joke. They still haven't done any work on their family history albums, but I haven't exactly brought it up either. This weekend I will definitely try to have them interview their Dad and at least one Grandma (over the phone). The next weekend, at their combined birthday party, there will be several other relatives available for interview so hopefully I can spark some interest in that.

LOL, I took a writing break to have dinner and we actually had an archaeological dig during dinner! In the midst of the Grain Sea, we excavated a tooth of the Green Asparagusaurus. Ancient Asparagusaurus was almost rescued from the depths of the Grain Sea by his friend Meat, but Meat was tragically speared by a metal Fork Gun and finally done in by Fork Gun's friend, Digestive System. Meat had another friend, Big Meat, who could not be killed by Fork Gun but, sadly, was still not immune to the killing power of Digestive System. Science at it's best. ;)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Digging for a Clever Title

LOL, not succeeding either. ;)

The schoolroom came in very handy today. We got a very late start in the morning and Cassia was already parked in front of Little Einsteins so instead of invoking Her Highness's Wrath, we just took our schoolwork into the schoolroom. I am ashamed to admit that on Monday I snapped at her a couple times because she would NOT STOP pestering us. I know she was just trying to join in, but she was driving me a bit batty. Much nicer for everyone to just let her do her thing while we do ours. (And lest you think poorly of me for using the tv as a babysitter, she was actually playing more than she was watching tv and she came and joined us once it was time to read history.)

We started with math because Cameron said that he liked it better than reading. I said he still had to do reading, but we could certainly start with whichever one he wanted. Not only did he do math (which included reading the words "ten" through "one hundred" by tens) but when we finished, he said that he didn't want to stop! So we continued farther into chapter 8 and completed another exercise in the workbook.

Next we did a very short phonics lesson on "ou" as the long /oo/ sound (as in you or group) and he messed around a little, like spinning around in the desk chair between reading each word, but all in all it went well. I considered offering a Star Wars reader instead of the phonics lesson, but he didn't put up too much resistance and it was a really short lesson anyway.

Finally we read the second story in the first chapter of SOTWI, What is Archaeology. Cameron pleasantly surprised me by already knowing what archaeology was (that's when scientists dig in the ground and find dinosaur bones!) but I think I surprised him with my myriad of library books full of pictures of archaeological finds. I was glad that I had preread several of the books and knew of an especially impressive picture of a Roman statue both before and after reconstruction. We also finally had the really good library requests come in today: Bill Nye the Science Guy, Archaeology, The Magic School Bus Shows and Tells, and Archaeologists Dig For Clues by Kate Duke. Of the nearly twenty juvenile books that I requested from the library on archaeology, only the Magic School Bus one and the Kate Duke one were suitable for the 1st through 4th grade range. What a coincidence, those were the ones recommended by the SOTW Activity Guide! What also shocked me is that these other books, labeled "juvenile," were written at a higher level than I am used to seeing in most media. Our society is so dumbed down. It's sad.

Anyway, we read SOTW and the Usborne Book of World History and then browsed through a couple of library books before heading off to the grocery store. There we found out that 4 very large gala apples weighed an entire pound more than 4 smaller Braeburn apples. Home again to playtime for the munchkins and reading time for me. (They wanted to watch Bindi the Jungle Girl rather than have me read HP to them.) I am so Harry Potter addicted. I have to finish rereading all the books before I can start the new one. This is great for me, great for the kids to see me reading so much, but very bad for my house. I was slightly humiliated early this evening when someone had to come over to drop something off for 4-H and my house was an utter disaster. Dishes in the sink. Scratch paper strewn all over the floor (thank you very much, Greyson). Half eaten sandwiches on the table. Have I mentioned that I am a horrible housekeeper? At least *I* know that the floor was mopped the other day and that the counters get cleaned off at least a couple times a week, lol. I guess it's my true test of people. If you can come over to my house and still like me, you're ok. ;) *sigh*

Oh, breaking news!! Cameron, after watching Bill Nye the Science Guy and verifying with me that he is, in fact, a real person, wants to make a video!! He wants to make "Cameron the Rammin' Guy." It'll be a LEGO video with the title coming from my earlier observation that rhyming titles make you cool. ;) I really hope he wants to follow through because how fun is that?!?! His Daddy actually has a collection of home movies that he and his cousins made when they were young (10ish). "The Arrival" is a family classic that DH even redid with State of the Art special effects, lol. Ah, to follow in his father's footsteps. :) Makes a mom proud.

And that is the latest from Bermland. Check back tomorrow for more of the mundane. ;)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Do I count today as a school day?

Cassia started out with ballet class today. She loved it, of course. She looked so cute too - and no, we were running late so I didn't get a chance to snap any pictures. Sadly, they don't allow parents in so I didn't get to see how adorable she was while dancing. They are having a costume party the last day of class where we will be able to watch and video tape if we want to.

Afterward, we jumped into the car and headed off to MomD, B13, and C4's house. As soon as we got there, we headed off on a walk to their local creek. We started that trip off with a lesson on poisonous plants in the area: poison oak and stinging nettles. Thankfully, it was a "watch out for this" type of lesson, not the "what did I just rub up against" type. MomD did end up having a nettle leaf float by her leg and give her a sting by the end of the day though. Ouch!

We spent the first half of the day wading in the creek, catching fish, crawdads, and something that looks like an eel but isn't. I was fascinated by all the different rocks. Gorgeous! Cassia and I made a rock rainbow. We seriously found one of every color. Cameron and B13 were shooting a water gun at a large branch that they had stood up in the water. Cassia and C4 were "surfing" on boogie boards (they would stand on one and MomD would drag them around in a circle). Greyson was catching water with his net, lol. He would cry every time he dropped it because the water was too cold for him to want to bend down into it. We had a fabulous time.

Next we walked back to their house and the boys jumped on the trampoline and played baseball, bowling, tennis, golf, and boxing on the Wii. The girls put on fairy dresses and flitted all about the house playing hide-and-seek, school, restaurant, dolls, etc, etc. Greyson napped. MomD and I chatted and peeked at some of our creek critters under a jeweler's slip. Again, fabulous time!

The next thing I knew it was almost 5:00 and we had to get home! So here we are eating fish sticks in front of the tv/computer. I really was considering whether I was going to mark today as a school day or not on our attendance sheet, but our time in the creek was SUPER educational. I don't even think I'm going to bother feeling guilty about not "doing" science today - we did science! (Cameron was even reading an "Inside the Body" book while we waited for Cassie at ballet.) We can move right on to our second day of history tomorrow guilt free. :)

Monday, July 09, 2007

First Day of School

My baby is a First Grader. sniff sniff.

Last night, I left Cameron his traditional First Day of School Copywork: "My name is Cameron. I am in the first grade." Of course, Greyson got to it before he did and scribbled all over it. I had been considering whether or not he needed smaller lined paper anyway so I decided to give him a piece of story paper for his copywork and a self-portrait. Can't ask for a better yearly keepsake than that!

I had him get started on that almost as soon as he woke up. He tried to put it off, but I didn't want to start the day (or year) with a bunch of procrastination. He worked diligently on a pencil drawing of himself and his friend S6 playing with LEGOs together at our long dining room table. ("I need to make it a really long table because I have lots of friends!")

Next came phonics and we did a lesson on the long /oo/ sound without a single complaint. He read better than I've ever heard. We followed that up with a review section in math (just happened to be where we stopped) and he breezed through that like nothing. There were a couple problems, near the end, where he thought about it wrong - like adding instead of subtracting - and then couldn't work his brain around the right way to do it for a long time. But that was only two problems in four pages so I think that was mostly fatigue.

After that, I let Cameron take a break and go shower and dress for the day while I worked with Cassia for a while. She chose to work on math and did about 5 pages! She even went ahead and did several pages while I was getting Cameron out of the shower. And she did them right!

Finally we moved on to history and I read the first section in Story of the World Volume I, What is History. Though I heard a few complaints like "Do we have to do history??" they were both interested and involved in the reading. They answered all the rhetorical questions and answered them thoughtfully. Then we flipped through the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, read a little on pirates, lol, and then read the introduction of what history means. They were less interested in this - it's written at a much higher grade level - but did not interrupt. Then I explained the Family History activity that we were going to do and left them to play while I went to go make some copies for said project (DH was working from home).

When I got back, they both were actually interested in coloring the covers for their family history albums which was a big surprise since Cameron never wants to color! Cassia even colored a timeline of her life and we filled in a few important dates. Neither has had the motivation to do any interviews of family members for this history, but I figure that it will be an ongoing project anyway for at least the next week or two.

We finished all of our bookwork by 11:00 which was a HUGE stress relief on my day. I felt so free! So I cleaned and they played until it was time to go to gymnastics. Both of them moved up into higher level classes today and Cassia did fabulously! You could tell that she was really being challenged by what they were asking her to do but she just kept trying. I was very proud of her determination. Cameron took another approach to the challenges of a new class - he lay down on the gym floor and claimed he was too tired to do anything. Or that it was too hot. Or it was too hard. Or that he had hurt himself (doing what I don't know). *sigh* It was really hot in the gym and it was really late in the afternoon... but still. I couldn't help being annoyed. Especially after all the talking we had done during Cassia's class about how the classes from now on advanced through ability, not age, and after all the dreaming that Cameron was doing of being on the team and winning gold trophies. One of the coaches did say that he had seen a lot of stuff like that today though. He said there were several move-ups who refused to even go onto the floor, so at least Cameron made some effort. There was a whole different feel to the class so hopefully next week will be better when he knows what to expect. Watching them though, and the girl's team who was also practicing at the same time, made me want to take lessons too. They do offer adult lessons... maybe when Greyson is older.

Tomorrow is a busy day. Cassia has ballet first thing in the morning and then we are off to a playdate that will probably last all day. Second day of school and we will probably already get ourselves behind, lol. If I'm lucky, we'll leave D's house at a decent time, Cassia and Grey will fall asleep in the car on the way home, and then Cameron and I can get a little schoolwork done before dinner. If not, I suppose we could do History Monday/Thursday and Science Wednesday/Friday. I left our Friday schedule pretty open for just such an occasion anyway.

In other random news, I just spent a ridiculous amount of money at Rainbow Resources today. I was good too and only bought the next level of math and science books and nothing extra! It's going to get really expensive when I have to buy for three! I can't wait to get that new box though!!! :)

Monday, July 02, 2007

Off on vacation, again

Off on yet another vacation tomorrow. We had some pressing business to wrap up today. First we had to finish watching the Indiana Jones trilogy because we have plans to see the newest installment... unfortunately, I just realized that I was a year off with my release date, lol. For some reason, I could've sworn that DH told me that it was coming out for 4th of July this year. Nope, May 2008. Duh.

We also have to finish reading the last two chapters of Harry Potter today. Still working on that...

And then we had to go buy fireworks. We bought them from the booth supporting Cassia's new ballet school. The girl who sold us our fireworks is probably going to be the one leading Cassia's class, so that was exciting for her to meet her new teacher. Had I mentioned that she's starting ballet next week? She's been looking forward to this for years. Seriously. We looked into it when she was two but decided to put it off for a while and she has been anxiously awaiting it ever since. We're starting off with a 5 week summer program just to try the school out. They pretty much sucker you into continuing though because you still have to pay the yearly insurance fee and buy the pink leotard, tights, and ballet slippers. In for a day, in for a lifetime. I hope we like the school though. There's another one in town that's less serious, more of a fun dance place, but I figure if you're going to bother learning it you should learn correctly. I've heard some horror stories about irresponsible ballet instruction - serious and permanent injury stories. Now, I doubt that would happen at the preschool level but if she *really* likes it and wants to continue ballet as a serious pursuit I'd rather already be at the Good Place.

Next we headed over to the Dance Shoppe to buy all her gear, only to find that they are closed on Mondays. Cameron suggested that we walk over to the music store instead, so we took a mini field trip. The store was pretty dead and one of the employees was really sweet to the kids. He showed them some instruments and gave them a free guitar poster, lol. I was chatting to him a little about the possibility of Cam learning violin on his own without actually taking any lessons (because they are pricey!) but he said that we really should invest in at least a couple lessons so that he can learn correct bowing. Made sense to me. I like that he didn't just try to sell me a DVD. At one point he mentioned to Cameron that he could probably get some lessons in school and then play in the school band. Cameron responded, a little too loudly, "I don't GO to school. I'm a HOMEschooler." As if it's tattooed on his head and everyone should know that, lol.

I should get packing now. Talk at you next week. It will be an exciting one: new gymnastics classes, new ballet class, and new school year!