Thursday, November 29, 2007

Time Warp Thursday

Today was the strangest day. I woke up with a sudden reason for my slothlike nature of the last couple days - head cold/flu - but then, as soon as I had some coffee, I suddenly felt better and with more energy than I've had since before Thanksgiving. The whole day was like that. I was running slow and late and then suddenly I was done with time to spare!

Slow start to the morning. I didn't even get around to reading my blog list because I was afraid we were going to be late for ballet. I rush everyone out the door in a huff and get there with plenty of time to spare. Instead of torturing the boys with the usual waiting room ordeal, I decided to take them to a nearby park for a few minutes. My cell phone died (which reminds me... ok, it's charging) so I couldn't call the family that we were going to meet up with there and I had no idea of what time it was. I ended up just playing it by ear and asking random strangers for the time. I was afraid we'd be rushed, but we had tons of time to play. Grey had a few little hissy fits because I wouldn't push him on the swing the entire time, lol, but he ended up having fun too. We got back to the ballet studio in plenty of time so I bought our tickets for The Nutcracker and chatted up a couple of the moms. MomP, the other homeschool mom there, told me that MomK had told her that I had a great blog. LOL. I hate when that happens. I get so embarrassed. But she kept asking me how I managed to keep up with that and homeschool three kids. I said that I simply skip the housework. ;)

She made me feel really good though because I've always admired the way that she can homeschool with twins. She's one of those super active types too - tons of classes and field trips and lessons and she's one of the few workbooky homeschoolers around here. I don't know how she does it all and she's always so calm too - rushed, but calm. But anyway, she kept asking me how I do it! Stuff like, "Do you ever get to sleep?" HA! "Don't you ever get any time alone?" and "You don't even have a babysitter?" I guess she has a lot of extended family help with the twins. That outsider's perspective is a nice thing once in a while. I guess I do handle things better than I feel like I do.

Well, that was tangential! Back to the mundane... we decided to stop off at Trader Joe's on the way home and no one acted like a crazy person!! First time ever. ;) Then we came home for lunch and I spelled it all out - I'm going to put away the groceries, make lunch, and then we are all going to pitch in and clean. (Two days of internet gluttony does bad things to a house.) I told them if they really wanted to be nice that they could get started on picking up their toys while I put away the groceries and made lunch. They promptly went outside to play. So we had lunch and then I got started on laundry. They played. To their credit, when I did specifically ask them to do things (like put away their laundry from several days ago) they did it without hesitation. I just got involved with the most immediate tasks (i.e. folding that laundry from several days ago and sorting and washing the new mountain that had built up) that I didn't get on them to do anything else. I also spritzed up both bathrooms pretty quickly so that at least something would look cleaner. Instant gratification does a lot for motivation levels. I was really getting into this cleaning high (and not from the fumes, lol, I use natural non-toxic cleaners, thank you very much!) but I suddenly realized that if we were going to get any schoolwork done today that we had better get started quickly. It had crossed my mind to just skip it, but it really has to be possible to do both schoolwork and housework in the same day. It rarely happens for me, but I figured it had to be possible.

So I rallied the troops and led Cameron through the most fabulously effortless Phonics lesson ever. He still doesn't really like to read, but by gum he can do it! Next was Grammar where we went over he, she, him, her, it, his, hers, and its. Then we did math where Cameron has now embarked on the fabulous journey of memorizing his multiplication tables. I really played it up by stressing how this is the secret to doing it "super-quick like me!" Cassia decided to show off her new talent of counting by tens to one hundred and I said, "Congratulations! You know your ten times table!" Both she and Cameron looked at me in awe, lol. I haven't stressed the memorization of addition facts much. I figure that will come with use, but with multiplication there's just no other way. Now if only I can remember to drill him on them! We finished up with Science and did the last four workbook pages for Chapter One. Cameron has really impressed me with his understanding of this topic. He may forget the terminology sometimes, but he gets the concept. He answered all of the questions right without much help from me at all - and this is a fourth grade book! Cassia helped him out once too, lol. He just couldn't wrap his head around the right word and she came up with it for him. I didn't have him do any writing today because he had spent a good portion of the morning copying a Pokemon card to his own drawing, words and all. Copywork is copywork! If he wants to use a Pokemon card that's fine with me!

So after starting out the session feeling like it was way too late and going to be a complete nightmare, it went totally smoothly and we were done with everything before 4:00. I even managed to get some chicken marinating for dinner and then sat down with the kids to watch Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Even that, I thought was going to run long but it finished just as dinner was ready. Time was just really on my side today. Ironic too that that is the Harry Potter with the Time Turner. If only I had one of those...

But today I don't need one. The wash is done. The dishes are dishwashing. The bathrooms are clean. My blog is written and now I can go watch DOOL guilt free. I might even straighten up the living room and dining room while I watch.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Addiction of the worst kind

I don't know what has hit me, but I have become seriously addicted to wasting time online. What the heck? I have so much to do. I even have tons to do on the computer, but I have spent all day poking around at various things and being absolutely unproductive.

I did manage to get a full day of schooling in but we didn't get started until after 11:00! That's usually the sign of an uncooperative day, but luckily it wasn't at all. We started with Grammar and learned some more pronouns. The book is having them memorize them all. So far, we've learned me, my, mine, you, your, and yours. Those were also the copywork for the day. I've backed off of my own copywork since there are some written into the Grammar lessons but I'm finding that he doesn't like them as much. Writing a couple lines of poetry a day is more fun than writing a list of pronouns. Mostly though, I've just been lazy and haven't written any up, lol. Time to start doing that again.

Next we did Spelling. He did really good with the jumbled letter words, but not so good picking out the words that belonged in a story. As in "Bear is carrying a big box to the post office. 'I hope I do not ____ it,' Bear says," and he wanted to put the word "got" in the blank. I hope I do not got it? (The word was "drop" if you were curious.) He also had a bit of a hard time with the opposites. He said the opposite of "on" was "no." LOL, logical in its own way, I suppose. But then we just started naming some opposites and I threw "on" in there and he got it right away. It was connecting the word on the page with a real thing that was the problem. That comes with reading experience, I assume.

Math was next and that was a review exercise before we move on to actually memorizing times tables. :O He did pretty good with it and with figuring out which operation to use on the word problems.

I decided to skip Phonics today. It was a really long lesson and I just didn't feel like it, lol. It's good to be the king.

We finished up with History and read the final story on Ancient Chinese Farmers in chapter 10 of SOTW. The kids did their coloring pages and maps with their typical enthusiasm. Cameron colored the farmer, his son, and their ox all black. He said it was because they worked in the mud all day, lol. Cassia just drew mud at their feet which looked really cute. Our books on China have not come in to the library yet. Hopefully they will soon! I have some Chinese crafts that we can work on too... if I want to deal with the mess, lol. I'm hoping we can do them on Friday. I just have to make sure we get started with school early enough so that we have time for the Chinese crafts before it's time to go to the park. One of them, though, is painting Chinese pictograms. That might actually be a fun thing to take to the park and share with our friends.

The rest of the day, I spent wasting time online. *sigh* I did get a big pot of bean soup made, which no one but Greyson and me liked. Hopefully, after the monkeys go to bed I will find the motivation to do one of the million things that I should be doing rather than wasting time online or watching DOOL. Anyone care to place bets?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

great day

We had a great day of school. Cameron did Phonics and Grammar (pronouns finally!), and Math (doing great with division), and Science, and then tons of extra-curricular (and is anything really EC in homeschool?) dot-to-dots, both his own and some super complicated book ones. I'd love to blog more fully about it, but I've wasted my entire evening reading a stupid Harry Potter fan site and now it is too late. Well, honestly, it's not that late but my Aunt has gotten me hooked (for the bazillionth time) on Days of Our Lives so I need to watch a couple TiVo'ed episodes before bed. ;)

Ahhh, where has the intellect gone? Not here, apparently. You now see why I so vehemently avoid discussions of "twaddle" (as if! Do you see Harry Potter on that list? Me either! Do you see any other book that I have mentioned my children liking? Me either! I like "twaddle-free" in theory, but not in my house. I have to live here!!).

Tomorrow, I promise, lots of ramble. ;)


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I know I lost points because I visit each one individually instead of having an RSS feed or something, but oh well. ;)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Something in the Air

We had a lovely Thanksgiving, as usual. So lovely, in fact, that no one wanted to get back to work today! I told Cameron that if he didn't shape up, stop complaining, and do his work then we would just have to bring our schoolwork with us the next time we went on vacation and not take ANY days off. Not surprisingly, he suddenly wanted to do his work. ;)

So we started with Spelling Workout. And then Ordinary Parents Guide to Reading. For the first time in I can't remember how long, we actually got through a two page phonics lesson in one day. We generally have to break them up into two days but Cam's doing pretty good with the "/ar/ as in car" words. Next was First Language Lessons and we reviewed Thirty Days Hath September, and all the different types of nouns. We finally get to move on to pronouns next time. Yeah! All in all, Grammar went ok, but C&C were just crazy. They were bouncing all over and sitting on their heads and climbing on top of me... ugh. Next was Singapore Math and the introduction to division! This went fabulously. You could really see the wheels turning in Cameron's head as he worked over this never-before-thought-of concept. He not only did both of the workbook exercises in the first section, we also moved on to the second section and he did the two workbook exercises for that too! Next we moved on to Story of the World for History and went back to Crazyland. I finally had to separate them and make Cassia sit in my bedroom, on the bed, while we read. She was just psycho-crazy. We read the first two stories the chapter on Ancient China and learned how silk was discovered (at least the story of how silk was discovered) and saw some examples of Chinese pictograms. Very interesting stuff, once Cameron had settled down to actually listen to it. Lastly, Cam sat down to Spelling Time and I went into my bedroom to do phonics with Cassia. She was very sad that she missed the stories about China and spontaneously promised to never act like that again. We'll see, lol. But she was very attentive and cooperative for Phonics however and learned the line for the letter J in The Consonant Rhyme.

And then they played. And then we went to gymnastics and back, once again, to Crazytown. I spent all of Cassia's class telling Cameron to stop running and jumping and to calm down. Oh. My. God. I swear, if I didn't know better, I'd have thought that he had pure sugar for breakfast! And lunch! There is a strict "no running, no jumping, no horseplay" rule in the mezzanine area because it is located directly over the offices and I thought for sure that we were going to get into BIG trouble. Luckily we didn't, this time. Cassia earned three of five stars in her class. I'm not sure if that will earn her a new star on her name tag or not.

Cassia was pretty good during Cameron's class - she has a little posse of three and four year olds that she bosses around directs and they always have a good time - but Greyson was miserable. I'm not entirely sure what was wrong, aside from the fact that I am a Mean and Evil Mommy, but he cried almost the entire hour. Cried in the play area. Cried in my arms. Cried on the floor. Wahhhhh. Probably just the usual tired and teething thing, but sheesh it really got old. Luckily the other moms there had total sympathy for me and only laughed instead of giving me that "can't you do something about that" look. Thankfully he is asleep now. Cameron earned five stars today and received his ribbon for passing Level One. He's also halfway through his stars on Level Two and will probably get that ribbon next time (8 weeks from now).

And that was our crazy day today in Crazytown. No more breaks for us! I'm going to have to keep a strict schedule for a few weeks to keep everyone in line. But then we'll be going off for our pre-Christmas vacation and that will throw us all into turmoil again. The joy of the season I suppose. ;)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Short school week

Really short. As in one day, lol. And I think it's a half-day too.

We're leaving to go out of town tomorrow so there's not much point in doing anything major. I know we won't actually do any bookwork while we're at our relatives' house so I'm not even going to bring anything. I printed out a couple of Thanksgiving activity books from Enchanted Learning that the kids did this morning. Right now, they're eating lunch and watching Bindi the Jungle Girl. Later they have gymnastics and at some point today I'm going to read them The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh. I picked up this copyright 1954 book at the library store last year for $1 or less and I was quite impressed with it. Shortly before reading it to the kids for the first time, DH and I had just watched Desperate Crossing: The Untold Story of the Mayflower and were shocked with how accurately this 1954 children's book told the story. I mean, I thought there was supposed to be some big secret cover-up? The children of the 50's knew the real story. How did the facts get distorted and forgotten so quickly? We've also gotten the mis-impression that everything was sugar-coated in the 50's. Apparently that's not true either. What does seem to be true is that nowadays, we take fact and turn it into scandal. And that is the real big scandalous cover-up.

Happy Thanksgiving to all. I probably won't blog again until next week.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Just another quickie for the day...

A friend at Favorite Park Day today was asking me if I let "just anyone" read my blog and if people comment. LOL. I spent the next 10 minutes gushing about all my cyber friends and especially those of you that I've had the privilege to meet in real life. Then she asked me how she could start one of her own. I told her about blogspot with the caveat that she instantly send me the url as soon as it was live.

It kind of reminds me of how my DH never drank until he met me... I'm such a corrupter. ;)

The Spirit of Thanksgiving

Just read this post on my morning blog perusal and had to share. Reason #437 why I homeschool.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Can we just call it Thanksgiving already?

Not that we had a bad day and didn't get anything done... we did! But with Veteran's Day on Monday, 4-H Tuesday and today, and then Favorite Park Day tomorrow, I'm thinking that the whole week is going to be a wash. And then I remember that next week is Thanksgiving and we'll be going out of town on Tuesday, so next week will be utterly pointless too! Oh well, I guess with what we got done this week added to next Monday, we can call that "a week." Cause you know it matters. *snort*

So today started with ballet. Cassia is such a ballerina. It's all she thinks/does lately. Her library movie yesterday was an Angelina Ballerina one. The week before it was The Nutcracker. (Don't let me forget to buy our Nutcracker tickets!) She dances all the time and it's always on tippy-toe and with arms in perfect "beach ball." She says she really needs to practice her plie´s in 1st position but she does them ok in 2nd position. Today she was getting frustrated because she can only do a single spin and not a double. Sheesh! Prima Ballerina in the making! But, oh, is she adorable. Cameron still dances like a madman at home but is very stoic when we are waiting for her. (Though I did see him eyeing the fancy costumes in the dressing room, lol.) I had him bring his math with him today and that went really well. He was a tad disgruntled about it, but then he saw that the (homeschooled) older brother of the twins in Cassia's class had to bring his Spanish work today, lol. He usually doesn't come because he has a charter school "enrichment" class at that time, but they didn't have class today. So that was the extent of the bookwork.

Next we came home and got our stuff ready for our 4-H cooking project and then rushed right out the door again. We made Broccoli-Cheese quiche and homemade Lemon-Lime Soda. Yum. Everyone is really loving this project and I couldn't be more thrilled. We've even somehow turned it into a combo cooking/singing project! One of the moms - who happens to be a friend from Favorite Park Day - has been really good about organizing games and such during the down time while we are waiting for things to cook. Well with quiche, even with making the soda pop while we were waiting, there was so much downtime that the games of Simon Says that worked so well last month just starting getting unruly. So MomS started an impromptu circle time and started singing campfire songs with them. I was putzing away prepping things in the adjoining kitchen singing my heart out too, lol. Anyway, it went so well that she said that next month she'll bring her guitar. So now the official project name is Cooking & Singing for Primaries. ;)

After that, several of us went out for ice cream. I was holding Greyson and ordering a chocolate shake and he parroted "chocolate shake!" LOL, he knows what the words worth saying are! We didn't get home until about 5:00 or 5:30. Greyson fell asleep on the way home and stayed asleep until I woke him at 8:30! Cameron and I played Star Wars Monopoly - I won - and Cassia watched Angelina Ballerina. I finally realized at about 8:00 that it was almost bedtime and we hadn't had any dinner, lol. In my defense, we had eaten quiche at 4:00 and then ice cream after that, so really, we had supper. But I made us some English muffin pizzas and called that a meal. ;) And then it was off to bed for the big kids while Greyson and I folded laundry and blogged. Now it is almost 10:15 and I'm going to see if I can coax him back to bed. He's been up almost two hours, that should be plenty. Hopefully it will mean he'll sleep late too. (In case you're keeping track, he was pretty nice to me last night and slept through until 5.)

And that was school (?) for the day. Oh, I forgot, we read an ancient India folk tale for a bedtime story last night. I'll count that as today's schoolwork too. Cause, like I said, I've gotta make sure we get our week's worth of stuff in. *snort*

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Dichotomous Day

Wow, it has been a day of extremes. First off, Mr. Annoying Baby went back to his usual sleep patterns *yawn* so that put me in a tad more emotional place than usual right off the bat. Also, somebody turned Cassia's volume up to 11 today and forgot to turn it back down. So she's waking me up at 7:00 this morning with her high frequency, high volume, fake baby voice, "Hiiiii Gweyson!!!! Does baby want to be tickle-wickled??" and he doesn't, so he's screaming and she's not taking no for an answer. (Did I mention that I had been up until midnight reading and then Grey woke up at 3:30am and then every hour or two after that?) Ugh. So I finally shoo them off hoping to get at least a few more minutes of shut eye. Five minutes later, I hear the phone going berserk because Greyson has both learned how to drag the dining room chairs around the house and how to push the pager button on the phone. I get up to deal with that only to hear more screaming from the bedroom. This time it's Cameron screaming because Cassia crawled into bed with him after I kicked her out. So I start yelling at her to get out of his bed and also for leaving Greyson on his own in the other room (not that him being with a 4-yr old is much better, but the big kids can usually help him to avoid major disaster).

I then give up hope for finding a better start to the morning and just go make coffee. I finally convince everyone to do something calm (and quiet) like watching a really cool version of The Nutcracker that we had gotten from the library. We all ended up really enjoying that. Cameron and Cassia were doing ballet all over the living room, including lifts, lol. They were too cute. Cameron has really taken a liking to ballet but every time I suggest that he try out lessons, he says that he only does ballet at home. Silly boy. We all had a really good time with that and when it was over I went to go hop in the shower while they watched the behind the scenes stuff. I get out of the shower to the sound of very large things going boom Boom BOOM. Very large, 3-1/2 to 4-ft tall things weighing between 40 and 55 lbs. Laughing, blondish things. All I know is that all the cushions were off the couch, the ottoman was in the middle of the room, and I heard Cassia excitedly exclaim, "I just did a BACK flip!!" Can I go back to bed yet? And now I'll fast forward through the part where no one would pick up the huge pile of Pokemon cards that had been strewn on the dining room table since last night, how I took them away forEVER (maybe), and the what-seemed-to-be hours of crying that ensued after that. Oh. My. God. Seriously... kill me now.

And then I put Greyson in bed for a nap and that cut down on the general chaos, considerably. And then we did schoolwork which went fabulously! First Cameron finished off the SWO workbook lesson of the week and then went on to do two sections on Spelling Time. Meanwhile, Cassia and I went and lay on my bed while she learned another verse of The Consonant Rhyme: letter G. It was so cute. At one point, when she had gotten all the short vowel sounds right, she said, "I am so good at this." LOL. Cameron joined us halfway through that and was enjoying remembering that he also had that poem memorized. Then we moved on to his Phonics lesson and learned a little chant to remember all the different r-changed vowels. There was lots of laughing and fun. In Phonics!! Next was Grammar and we reviewed the Thirty Days Has September poem, learned about "idea" nouns, did some copywork, and then underlined all the nouns in those sentences. Math was next with a quick little workbook exercise on simple multiplication (aka counting equal groups of things and rewriting it as a multiplication problem). And then we finally finished things off in my bed again, reading our history encyclopedia entries on ancient civilizations along the Indus River. I couldn't have asked for a better school day.

Greyson woke up and they all played for a little while. I don't even remember what they were doing, but I don't remember it annoying me much, lol. Oh no, I remember now! Cameron decided that he wanted to play his violin so he played while Cassia danced in the background and DH watched via webcam. Too cute. So since everyone was in a good mood we headed off to the library to return our movies and pick up some Ancient Indian folk tales. They were fabulously behaved in the library. The big kids spent most of their time playing Eye Spy on the library computer and Greyson kept going back and forth between the bathrooms (he's so thrilled that he's strong enough to push open the doors now) and the kid's library catalog computer. He'd just pull up a chair, type a bit on the keyboard (without even banging it!), grab the pencil, try to stick it in the mouse, and then run to the bathroom when I would take it away. LOL. Nut-job kid. ;) The librarian kept eyeing him, especially when I was looking up books on another computer, leaving him "alone." At one point she walked over to him on the pretense that he was about to fall (he wasn't even close) saying "whose baby is this" and then when I spoke up before she even finished her sentence because I hadn't actually taken my eyes off of him she walked away giving me That Look. I refused to feel guilty though because, like I said, I hadn't really taken my eyes off of him and he was behaving like an angel. I proved that by trying to carry him around instead and he just screamed and screamed. So I let him go back to his computer where he was happy as a clam. She stopped giving me That Look after that, lol.

Then we continued our perfect little outing by going to the grocery store. Wait, did I say perfect? Perfectly horrific!! Again... Oh. My. God. Kill me now. Not listening at all. Volume on 11. Spinning in circles all over the place. Cassia smashing her face into a display, probably giving herself a black eye, mere seconds after I told her for the thirtieth time to turn around and walk frontwards before she hurt herself or somebody else. Greyson just randomly reaching out of the cart and pulling things off the shelves onto the floor - thankfully nothing breakable. Greyson also reaching into the basket of the cart and opening every box and trying his very best to break all the eggs. I'm sure there was smoke coming out of my ears by the time we left. The worst part is that this horrible behavior had me so distracted that I wasn't really paying attention to prices and I was buying food for our 4-H project tomorrow. So now, the project which I promised would only have a $2 - $3 material fee is going to have a $5 - $6 one, or I'm going to lose a bunch of money. Grrrr.

So I came straight home to a nice pot of caffeine-free mint tea and my blog to vent while the wild monkeys run around in the backyard. And I feel much better now. Thank you for the free therapy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Time flies!

I can neither believe how quickly today has flown by nor how much we have gotten done! We had a 4-H meeting scheduled for this afternoon so I approached the day wanting to get things done early. I frequently have that plan, but rarely the follow through, lol. Today, however, Greyson actually slept through the night, came to bed for his morning milk at 7:00 am and then went back to sleep until 8:30!!! I think this is mixed good and bad news. The good news is that his canines have finally broken through - I'm pretty sure that's why he slept all night I'm hoping that means a happier baby all-around. The bad news is that he has yet another cold and that's probably why he slept in. That's ok though. It's much easier for me to have sympathy for a cold than for teething. I always forget about teething until those little white fangs burst through and then I notice how red and inflamed those poor gums are and how much it must hurt. So he gets sympathy after the fact. ;)

Anyway, I woke up well rested and was showered, dressed, and ready for the day by 8:00 am. That's about three hours earlier than usual, lol. When I don't sleep well (or get woken up every couple hours), it takes me forever to get going. Even if I'm up at 7, I'm not really awake until about 10. So we did Spelling at about 8:20, followed by Phonics (in which we finally are doing r-changed vowels. I really feel it has been a disadvantage to Cameron's reading that they have been ignored for so long. When words like "car" don't make phonetic sense, it really messes with your confidence and slows things up.), Grammar, and Math. We started a new poem in Grammar, Thirty Days Hath September, and though I've tried to teach this one before I think it might actually stick this time. It's so funny, when the Grammar Book says repeat something until you learn it, they do. I say that and they ignore me. Hmph. I wonder if I should tell them that tomorrow the Grammar Book says they need to clean their room. ;)

We finished off our day with Science where we read a little more of the first chapter of MPH Science 4A, did Activity 2, and then read a couple of library books. And can I just say that I love this version because they tell you exactly when in the text that each activity is relevant. I totally had to guess in the last book - not that it was hard but I would often forget to do them altogether. I also just realized that the workbook exercises are meant to be done as a while after the entire chapter is over. I had been trying to work them in throughout and then would get frustrated when there were things that hadn't been covered yet. Now I know. I guess it helps if you actually read the introductions, lol. Anyway, the chapter is on mass and volume and those being requirements of matter. The whole Matter thing is a little abstract for them, I think, but it's nice that the mass and volume stuff has come right after we finished the mass and distance stuff in math.

So we finished all of that and lunch by 11:30. It was really nice to have so much extra time in the day to just do what we wanted without the guilt of what we should be doing. One of the things that I found time to do (besides making my own fruit & cereal bars because I don't feel like going to the store to buy any, lol) was to read the premiere issue of a new magazine. It's called Secular Homeschooling and I very highly recommend it. I know many (most?) of my readers are not homeschooling secularly, but it's not an anti-religion publication. It's just anti the assumption that one must be a Christian to homeschool. And it's anti the assumption that a Christian who is homeschooling is doing so for religious reasons. There was something in the editorial about why she felt this magazine was needed and she said that she just wanted to be able to read an article about homeschooling and know that she wasn't going to be blind-sided halfway through by a "blatant assumption on the part of the writer that the reader, being a homeschooler, is naturally a Christian." That totally sums it up and is, actually, a big relief in my reading. I do sometimes have to brace myself when I read homeschool articles and blogs, knowing that I am the outcast. The outsider among outsiders. But of course, I've heard many conservative Christians say that's how they feel everyday, but you know... it's just nice to feel comfortable without having to be apologetic about it. Which is not how I feel writing about this, in case you couldn't tell, lol. Sorry! ;) Anyway, there are some sample articles here, in case you are interested. I feel very fortunate that I caught wind of this publication when it was just in the planning stages and was able to get a charter subscription. They've already sold out of the premiere issue and are doing a reprint.

OK, I must get dinner started. Happy Homeschooling to all. :)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Freaky Friday? Nah, Wubbulous Friday!

What a great day we had today! The official compartmentalization of our unschoolish day is as follows: Fine Arts, Music, Literature, Economics, Architecture, Math, Science, and Physical Education.

We started the day with a play called Suessical! It was so much fun. The kids loved it. The adults loved it. The babies loved it (and eating crackers and crawling all over the empty seats in the theater). I was watching Cameron's face and at first, he looked a little skeptical. Kind of like he was thinking, what the heck is this and why are they singing? but he really got into it and thought The Cat in the Hat, especially, was hilarious. As soon as it was over, they asked when we could come see another one.

We were watching a performance for school kids and our homeschool group had purchased a block of tickets. There were four other families in our group and I found it quite nice that we knew them all!! I have a theory about our group. There seem to be "do-ers" and "not do-ers" and all the "do-ers" seem to go do the same things! When we first started participating in stuff, I noticed that it was always the same core group of about 5 or so families (out of the approximately 200 in our hs group) that were always at these events. We've eventually gotten to know them through field trips and 4-H and park days and I've realized that that core group of "do-ers" is probably about 10 or 15 families... but I just think it's funny that those of us who do stuff, do everything! LOL. Or maybe I've just found the core group of people with interests similar to our own. I actually did see a couple other families that I knew from 4-H who were there with the local charter school, so maybe there's another group of "do-ers" who just "do" with the school. But anyway, that was Fine Arts, Music, and Literature. I guess it was Social Studies too. ;)

Next we went to our favorite park day and stopped for sandwiches at a local deli along the way (Economics). Park was the usual fabulous time with fun, friends, baseball, Polly Pockets, and the sand box. The sand box is always popular but today it got some special attention. I'm not sure how it started, but check out this creation.

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Here are the proud builders (Actually this is only the second shift. First shift of architects had to leave early):
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And one more shot for good measure:
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The pictures don't really do it justice, but it was the coolest sand castle ever. They worked on it for hours. Some kids, like Cassia and B6, worked the entire time. Others, like Cameron and J4, would go off to play baseball or hide-and-seek for a while and then come back to it. They worked together. They worked separately. There were wooden bridges, a multitude of tunnels and spired towers. They captured dragons in the moat and protected the castle from dangerous volcanoes that erupted (and babies that loomed) just outside the castle walls. It was truly phenomenal. So that was Architecture, Math, Science, P.E., Interpersonal Relations, History, etc., etc., etc. (And speaking of Social Studies, notice the kid on the bike in the background. He wasn't with us, but he stood there for close to an hour just watching. He never said a word and didn't want to join in. He just watched and watched and watched until his mom said it was time to go.)

It was a good day at the park and a very good day for Shadowlight Academy. :)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Theatrical Thursday

(Now I've given up on both funky songs and funky books. On to tongue twisters - I dare you to say it ten times fast, lol.)

Oh, such a long day today. Greyson started crying at about 1:30 am. He didn't even want milk or anything. He cried every couple hours all night long but mostly calmed down pretty quickly with a rub on the back and a snuggle from me. But it was just enough to totally disturb my sleep. Cassia also came into my bed somewhere around 3:30 or 4:00am. Bad dreams. She didn't really bother me much except that I had to worry about Greyson's thrashing resulting in her getting smacked in the face. She doesn't take kindly to that in the middle of the night. ;)

We finally got the day started with ballet. I was pretty much half asleep throughout the lesson and Cameron was totally bored. We got a tip about a bigger waiting room upstairs that I thought was reserved for dancers only, but it turns out that parents can use it too. Next week I'm going to have Cameron bring his schoolwork and we'll hang out in there instead. I wish I had a guaranteed "sit and play" toy for Greyson. He will, at times, sit for like an hour playing with something that interests him but you never know what that will be or when he will be in the mood to sit. Usually he just roams and destroys. Actually, my purse is a given attention grabber, but that's off limits since he permanently lost my keys (it's been almost three months and we still can't find them!). Anyway, the thought is that hopefully the novelty of being in a new room will interest him enough to keep him from screeching the entire time... especially since this waiting room is right next door to the studio where Cassia dances.

After class, we stopped at the grocery store and then came home and had lunch and then finally got around to starting school about 1:00. I was just dead tired by then. We were doing this game for Phonics and Cameron and Cassia were just having the best time with it. It was one of those ones where a bunch of sentences are split in half and then you shuffle the cards to make silly sentence combinations. There were 13 sentences. They played four times! My child who completely balks at the sight of a five sentence paragraph read 52 sentences for this game. I could not stay awake, lol. I kept putting my head back on the couch and dozing only to be awoken a millisecond later with, "Mommy... MOMMY! What's this word again?" Sheesh! Why can't he be interested when I'm awake?! LOL.

Next was Grammar but I chose to skip it. ;) I was too tired to flip through the book and decide which lessons we were skipping and which were worthwhile. So then we did Science and started the new MPH Science 4A books. We read about matter and mass and did some experiments/activities with different sized and balls of the same material and same sized balls of different materials. The activity book called for a polystyrene ball, a rubber ball, and an iron ball all of the same size. Yeah, let me just get that iron ball out of the closet, lol. I guess it's a Singapore thing. ;) We went for a ping pong ball, a golf ball, and a rubber dog ball instead. So far, it looks like the book will remain doable. The concepts are getting much more advanced - I'm noticing that Cassia's having a lot harder time following along - but I think I can still modify it enough to be workable. I mean, I'm just looking for a nice, kid-friendly overview to all of science. I'm not concerned about whether or not the children will be able to pass the Singapore Ministry of Education's science examination at the end of our studies. ;)

I had some library books on matter and mass that I had wanted to read, but our science period came to an abrupt end when Greyson woke up from his nap. We had to quickly move all our stuff from the coffee table to the dining room table before he started ripping it all to shreds. It was at that point that I noticed Cameron's copywork sitting on the dining room table and remembered that he hadn't done that yet. So he did that while I folded some laundry. He finished before I did and I heard him running around playing with Cassia and chanting "But the child that is born on restful Sunday is happy and cheerful, and loves to play." I never told him what his copywork said. I'm thinking that it was a very wise decision to use the memory work for copywork.

At this point he reminded me that he hadn't done Spelling Time yet today either! So he did that while I folded some more laundry and he got another 100% on their test. Woo Hoo! All that practice is really helping. Finally we got to Math and started the section on multiplication. We were both getting pretty burned out by that point so thankfully it went very quickly. Time to relax a bit, so he went off to play some video games and I went to...

...take a nap? HA! Wishful thinking.

Cassia was insistent that we do her schoolwork today too. She only asks to do it once every week or two, but it had to be today when I was so dead tired and just had a major case of the blahs. So we did a lesson in OPGTR. Many times that will be enough for her and she will happily go off reciting her vowel and consonant rhymes. Today however she insisted that we also do her ETC primer and she did about a dozen pages in that - all needing some sort of assistance from me - before she finally decided that we could "save the rest for tomorrow." I have to admit though, I was really impressed with her work today. She got all the first letter sounds right on stuff that we haven't worked on in ages. She also did a fabulous job on actually writing the letters which she usually will just skip altogether.

Dinner (French onion soup and cheese ravioli) gave me a little energy back so we ended the day with a rousing Pokemon battle. Back to back duels and I won them both, bwahahahaha! It really is a fun game. We're all obsessed. At bedtime tonight, Cassia said that blankets were the evolved form of sheets, lol. (You won't recognize the cleverness and humor of that unless you, yourself, are a Pokefan.) DH ordered us a bunch of specialty cards off ebay and they shipped today. We will all be obsessively stalking the mailbox over the next few days, I am sure. I need my Dark-Metal energy cards! If only adding energy to this tired old body were so easy. *sigh*

Good night, my friends. I am going to call on my old friend, Yoga, to try and get some energy and vitality back. I'm trying my hardest to get back into the habit. One day down, a lifetime to go.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Wacky Wednesday

(Gave up on songs and went with ... um, Dr. Suess?)

Looks like copywork is paying off already! With only two days of copywork under his belt, Cameron has made a huge leap in writing. He does his Spelling Time work while I am in the shower and he always has to write the words out as part of the lesson. Usually, he grabs a blank piece of paper and writes them all crammed together and generally spaceless, e.g. "fillfillfillbigbigbigthisthisthishithithit". Well today, he actually grabbed the primary paper that we've been using for copywork and wrote out his words in perfect form, with perfect spacing, and (almost) perfect capitalization. (He did unnecessarily capitalize the first letter of one word, but the rest was good!) I was thrilled to see that.

I think we may finally be getting into a pretty good routine. He does Spelling Time while I shower, then copywork while I unload/load the dishwasher in the morning. Next was Phonics and even that went pretty smoothly today. Same with the rest of the SWO lesson and Grammar. Well, Grammar was a little slow because we were working on memorizing the months of the year and apparently Cameron was not into that. But I didn't mind because we were outside in the sun and I was shoveling rotting pumpkin from a wheelbarrow to our compost pile. LOL. I don't know why I found that so invigorating today but it felt really earthy and right for some reason. I think that means I need to get out of the house and away from the computer to do something physical once in a while! (Of course, last weekend we went to go do something physical - a roller skate birthday party - and I was showing off, at my DH's request, fell, and bruised myself in at least three places and have had a pinched nerve in my shoulder blade all week. So much for activity. When did I get so old??)

Then we had to go run some errands and when we got home we jumped right into History. We read a bit about Ancient India in SOTW. I was a little disappointed in the depth of the story. I hope they get into it more later. India has such a rich and beautiful history. After our reading and mapwork (the kids were dumbfounded to find a map of a different area today, lol. Cameron said, "What kind of a crazy map is this??) Cameron started in on the last review section in Math before we move on to multiplication. Since we were already done with everything else, I let him take his time doing math while I read myself a Time-Life book we have on Ancient India. He took lots of running around breaks and I had to keep redirecting him to his work, but for the first time in, I can't remember how long, he got every problem right the first time. I guess we've stumbled onto something here: don't make math stressful. Duh. You'd think I would've known that one. ;) We even took a break in the middle of math to do haircuts, lol, but it all got done, got done correctly, and was even done before 4:30.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Groovy Tuesday

(We'll see if I can come up with funky 70's songs for titles every day this week, lol.)

Let me just start by saying that I have really good kids. They might not seem like they're listening, but they are. Yesterday, I had to tell them that their Pokemon watching time had to be limited. I'm not really much on limiting tv too strictly. We have certain shows that we TiVo and they pretty much watch what they want. They get a lot out of watching a show over and over and over, so I let them. Sometimes, I'll tell them to turn the tv off because they've been watching too long, but for the most part they self-regulate. Cameron's really good at it. He knows that if the tv is on, he'll watch. So he's frequently the one to turn the tv off so that he can play with his LEGOs or something else without being distracted by it.

Anyway, they have been watching nothing but Pokemon for at least a week. Every episode on the TiVo list (5 of Pokemon and 5 of Pokemon: Diamond and Pearl) every day. They would even try to sneak in watching them two or three times. They were on Pokemon overload. They had the entire script to this one episode memorized and would just repeat this one scene over and over and over until it drove me over the edge. They are now limited to one episode of Pokemon and one episode of Diamond & Pearl a day. So this morning I had a v.e.r.y s.l.o.w start to the day and when I finally got up and out of the shower, I found them watching... Time Warp Trio! I said, "Hey, you haven't watched that for a while!" and Cameron said, "Yeah, we already watched our two Pokemon shows, so we decided to watch this instead." Gotta love a kid who follows the rules even when no one is watching.

School today was delayed until about 3:30 because we had a 4-H project meeting in the early afternoon. It was our EcoArt project and for it we made cute little coasters out of recycled yogurt lids, old aquarium rocks, and plaster of Paris. We also made matching trivets out of cottage cheese container lids.

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The kids all seemed to really love the project. Yeah! I even heard that some girls were bragging about them in the ladies' room to the people in the other project that was working there! LOL. It's nice to hear stuff like that because I always feel like such a dork when I'm leading. I guess I'm doing something right. :)

But back to "official" school... Cameron did half a phonics lesson on silent u after g (as in league); a page of math Practice (which took at least an hour); and a Grammar lesson. The Grammar lesson was something different for a change. I reread the story about the Hen and the Golden Eggs pausing after each sentence for them to pick out the nouns. It was pretty funny though because Cameron was insistent upon naming the type of noun it was, as well as the actual noun. As in, "egg - thing, man - person." When I told him that he didn't have to say the type, just the actual noun, he just started saying, "thing, thing, person" and just couldn't quite grasp that the person or thing was the noun and not the literal words thing and person, lol. He finally got it, but I thought it was kind of funny.

And finally, at 5:30 pm, we got to LEGO Science. He finished up the Wheels & Axles kit and is now happily exploring the extra builds in the teacher's guide. I was planning on finishing this up last week and starting in on MPH Science 4A this week, but I'm thinking maybe we should wait until after Thanksgiving to start it. Maybe, we should even wait until our Winter Quarter. I've heard the math in 4A is pretty tough. I haven't had a chance to sit down and look at it yet. Maybe I'll do that tonight so I can make a decision.

Anyway, that was our day. How was yours?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Monday, Monday

We started the day today with copywork for a change. I've been asking some people about it and have heard enough good cases for it that I think we're going to give it one more try. I also had made a trip to Staples this morning for mailing labels and picked up some new writing paper so we just had to try that out. I bought the 2nd grade paper. The first grade paper just looked so huge! The 2nd grade still felt big to me, but Cameron seemed to do OK with it. I wrote out the first two lines of their latest poem for memorization and he did really well with it. He forgot all the punctuation the first time through, but I circled it and had him add it in. I think the problem I was having with copywork before is that I wasn't demanding perfection from it. It was just something to do - busywork, really. Making him correct his mistakes and encouraging him to do his neatest work and try to copy my letter shapes exactly gives it much more meaning. At two lines a day, this poem should get us through the week with Friday off.

Next we did Speling and he insisted on doing Spelling Time. I let him do the first section of the lesson but then made him come back and do the first half of the Spelling Workout lesson too. Next was an ultra-short Phonics lesson on silent "h," followed by Grammar.

We did Grammar outside to enjoy some of the last few nice days of fall. Today's lesson was a story narration of the fable of the Goose that Layed the Golden Egg (except it was a hen). This narration was not quite as good as some of the others he's done because in his attempt to be brief (which still didn't work, lol) he left out several very important points. Things like the fact that the eggs were made of gold and that when they killed the bird to get the gold inside, it was just a regular hen. But that is how you learn, right? We also reviewed our poems for memorization. We've skipped so many lessons that we're overlapping a bit on the poems. I wasn't too thrilled with the Hearts Are Like Doors poem anyway, so I'm kind of breezing over it. I'm also not sure if I like Sara Buffington's version of Monday's Child but that's the version we're learning. Maybe later we'll learn the "tough love" version where not every child is perfect, lol.

Lastly came another Math review and Cameron was kind of annoying with that. He's suddenly developed an aversion to word problems and every time he sees one he starts in with, "Am I adding or subtracting?" without ever taking the time to think about the problem. If he keeps this up, I'm going to order the Challenging Word Problems book and make him do even more of them! (*Insert evil laugh here*) But when he was thinking, he did great and finally, finally, finally(!) remembered that you have to borrow when you see 0 - 7 and not just put 7.

Then we had to rush off to gymnastics before we had a chance to do any History reading. I plan to read another Gilgamesh story to them after dinner, if I can keep Greyson from going ballistic at the same time. He's not usually very cooperative with read-alouds, but we'll see.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

a leap Through the Looking Glass

Friday's official subjects were Spelling - in which Cameron got 100% on his test - Music Appreciation, Performing Arts, Math, and Logic. In other words, Cameron worked on Spelling Time while I was in the shower then we went to see a ballet performance of Alice in Wonderland put on by our city's ballet company. It was an official Homeschool field trip since we went with four other families, including the twins that are in Cassie's ballet class. They didn't even acknowledge each other, lol. The ballet was fabulous. It was a "school show" so we watched a slightly shorter version of the ballet with several other school groups. Cameron's friend M6 from his soccer team was playing the 4 of Diamonds. She was so cute. :) We all really enjoyed the show, even Greyson!

After that and a quick-ish stop to get some prescription diaper cream (don't ask), we headed home to play Pokemon Yahtzee Jr. It's a pretty fun game where you match up Pokemon characters on dice, Yahtzee style. So that was patterns and logic and strategy and addition, both of your dice and of the scores at the end. It's a pretty fun game too! So I'm totally counting that as math today.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I'm so sick of candy, I could puke.

Not only candy, but pumpkin seeds (4 different flavors due to Crystal's inspiration), and Boo Chips too. Blech. Sugar/salt/junk/snack overload in a big way. But aren't these cuties worth it?
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Here's a close-up of Punk Rock Baby. I think he's found his hidden Guitar Hero.
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But I am experimenting with a new Halloween Candy Philosophy this year. Usually, I limit it to a couple of piece a day but then it drags on for weeeeeeekkkkkkksssssss. Every hour of every day becomes, "Can I have some candy now? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyy?????" It becomes all-consuming and I finally start saying no so often that they stop asking and the candy stays hidden in the cupboard for a year or more. Then one day the children see and wonder why I never let them eat their candy and then the perpetual asking starts once more. This year, however, I decided to just say, "Yes!" As in, "Yes, my dears! Go ahead and gorge yourself until you are sick. Rot your teeth and poison your stomach. Enjoy!!" And boy have they! I think they're afraid that I might change my mind because each bout of candy eating, and there's been at least three or four of them today, has included oh, gosh, ten pieces a piece? Yikes, I don't see how they do it. I'm eating like a third of what they're eating and I'm nauseous. Greyson has become candy psycho too. He lives to steal candy from everyone. He is being limited to only two or three pieces a day, but he is trying his best to eat more. Man, candy is evil.

So we've attempted school today at great expense. We started the day with ballet (and for the record, I made them wait to binge until after ballet class) and the residual sugar turned Cameron into a jumping bean while we were there, lol. He made friends with the office manager though and was following her all around helping her find costumes and such for an upcoming performance. She, meanwhile, was trying to talk him into being interested in ballet, lol. Apparently they're desperate for boys, especially boys who will stick with it through their teens. I decided to switch Cassia to this class instead of her afternoon one. The traffic is so much better and the waiting room is empty and there are some twins in her class that are in our homeschool group! Their mom and I have always wanted them to be friends but we run in different circles and they're pretty shy. Maybe this will give them something to bond over.

We came home and did Phonics (not too bad) and Grammar (um, let's just say that a fart noise doesn't count as a noun) and then Math. Math was another review section (they're having them every couple of lessons in this part which I think is great) which took, I think, three or four hours to complete. Granted we did stop and watch Barbie in The Nutcracker in the middle of that, but sheesh! To his credit though, he did come back to it voluntarily and never asked to be finished without finishing it all. But OMG, that took forever and just about every problem had to be done twice. I am TOTALLY blaming sugar. Finally at around 4:30 or 5:00 we finish everything so that Cameron can finish up his LEGO Science kit. He's still uber-distracted. His conveyor model is sitting half-built as we "speak" while he bounces around doing Pokemon attacks on everything in sight. He's also been distracted by doing ballet leaps all over the house, lol. He is totally cracking himself up too, saying, "I just can't stop!" LOL. Cassia, on the other hand, has broken my heart. She announced that she no longer wants to be a homeschool teacher. She wants to be a ballet teacher instead and she wants to go to the American School of Ballet in NYC. Leaving the nest already! They grow up too fast, I'm telling you.