Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Tuesday, the only thing we had on the agenda was a committee meeting for the 4-H Holiday Party. I have a few gripes about the meeting but I don't think I'll get into them here. I will let you in on a brag though - they were trying to figure how to solve the ultimate dilemma of too many desserts and no food at the potluck and Cameron came up with the solution. He suggested that everyone bring both a dessert and something healthy. Sure, there will still be a ton of sweets, but then it will at least be balanced with an equal number of other foods, regardless of how many people come. In previous years they've assigned people entree, salad, or desert based on their last name but then it ends up unbalanced when there are no-shows or rebels. So, even though the role of the kids at the meeting was less than I like to see, their suggestions were taken seriously (the meeting leaders just had to be reminded to actually ASK the children for their input).

After the meeting we had to go pick up our meat buying club meat. We've switched from a medium to a large order and got lots of roasts this time. I think I'm going to have to put a touch of effort into menu planning though so that I actually take things out to thaw. (Hmm, what is for dinner tonight? Nothing is thawed!) There should've been plenty of time to do other stuff too, but I somehow never got around to anything. I felt a bit achy, which progressed to my skin feeling like it was on fire during dinner, which progressed to chills and a 101 fever not long after that. A good night's sleep did wonders though and *knock on wood* I haven't had a fever since about 5:30 this morning.

Today we had nothing on the schedule at all for the first time in ages so that took all the pressure off the day. Cameron built a Tie Fighter out of Legos and I made Cassia turn off Sesame Street (her newest addiction) and read her a few fairy tales, including this version of Hansel and Gretel. I actually managed to get a few loads of laundry done AND once Grey went down for his nap around 3:30 we did schoolwork. Cameron read The Three Billy Goats Gruff from a book of tall tales we have for reading. He complained A TON about the writing being too small and it being too hard and everything else but once he finally did it, he realized that the language in the book was actually much easier for him to read than the DK Readers he's been struggling so much with! He even tried to give the troll a scary voice while he was reading. Next Cassia did a phonics lesson on "ck." She was pretty rusty at first, but ended up reading very well. Math was fun because the lesson was on estimating one liter and then checking yourself. The kids waaaaaaayyyyyyyyyy underestimated by saying a 5 gallon bucket would hold two liters, lol, but I think they really gained some conceptual knowledge from the process. We finished up with history and I read them the story of China's first Emperor, Qin Shi Huang, and his terracotta army. They were not the slightest bit enthused by it though Cameron did a good job of at least pretending to be interested. Cassia complained that history was boring since we never do the maps and coloring pages anymore. I agreed that if they'd stop complaining and procrastinating so much about the whole process that I'd make sure I found the time for the fun stuff too.

So, all in all, it's been a pretty productive day. I think I just got a big burst of motivation when I realized that I wasn't going to spend the whole day in the throes of fevered chills. Thank goodness! Now let's just hope that it was a minor 24-hr bug thing and that I'll be right as rain tomorrow. My dad is coming over this weekend and I have a lot of cleaning to do before then.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Poor baby!!

Today was that time in a mother's life that she dreads. At least I do. And I probably dread it in a different way than they typical American mom does. Today, my baby boy had his two month check-up - that means vaccinations. I am so torn over vaccinations. Cameron and Cassia both got them on schedule and I barely thought a thing of it... except, of course, that heart-wrenching feeling of letting someone hurt your baby ON PURPOSE. By the time Greyson came along I was pondering their safety and then he went and had a nasty reaction to his first series. He went from rarely crying and a pretty defined sleep/wake schedule (his schedule, not mine) to a pattern of completely zonked out one minute and then screaming the next that lasted about a week. It was a huge temperament change. Seems like he also had some mild physical symptoms too like swelling and a mild fever. It was nothing serious or lasting, but it was real and it was caused by the immunizations. I spread the rest of his shots out, coming back two or three times to finish all the recommended shots with each well-check.

So anyway, today it was Linus' turn. I've been debating waiting until 6 months to even start them at all, but then I see the terrified and concerned look on the pediatrician's face and I go ahead and do it. I did say right off the bat that I wanted him on a more spread out schedule though, so he got the DTP today and then will go back in two weeks for the hep and something else. They tried to sell me on a new oral rotovirus vaccine, but I declined. To be fair, she really didn't try to sell me on it at ALL and nodded understandingly when I said that I didn't feel comfortable giving my baby a new vaccine (especially a live virus - eek), but the fact that 90% of parents probably go ahead and get everything "just to be safe" kind of freaks me out. I'm not generally a conspiracy theorist or anything, but drug (and pesticide) companies have way too much control over our lives.

But he survived with nothing more that a big soundless cry at the time (and when I took the band-aid off) and an extra long nap afterward.

Around noontime I tried to get school started. Cameron read a couple of pages from a DK Reader on Star Wars spacecrafts, but it was frustrating for us both. He guessed practically every word. I mean, he would get "Galactic Republic Starcraft" right but then miss "ride." It was ridiculous. I'm tempted to go back and make him do all the phonics lessons again, but I know that would just make him hate reading (and probably me). I guess I just need to stay away from the Level 3 stuff, but the lower level readers are soooooooooooo booooooooooorrrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnngggggggggg for him. At least he was interested in this book - even though he was doing more repeating than reading. *sigh*

So that put a bit of a damper on my school spirit and I let everything else slide until gymnastics. Greyson fell asleep in the car on the way there so we sat in the car and did a few science workbook pages during Cassia's class. We had skipped the workbook pages for the previous chapter, respiration, so that's what we did. He loved it, in fact he's the one who chose that subject to do, and we both actually learned a few things. (Quick quiz - how does a tadpole breathe? Mouth? Skin? Gills? Air holes?). He has a bit of a headcold and felt too sick to do gymnastics today so after that we just went home. I fully intended to do math, grammar, and hopefully history once we got there but it never happened.

We have a relatively light week ahead of us for a change. Oh, I forgot to blog about last Friday. We skipped Favorite Park Day to go to an Origami project for 4-H. The kids were so sad/mad about it when I told them on Thursday but, thankfully, they had a great time doing origami. The craft itself was fun AND they had lots of friends their age to play with too. The made a couple of things, then played, then made some more things, then played some more so it was a nice balance. And they didn't mention the park once. They made cups, boats, and cootie catchers. The cooties catchers have been the big hit - especially once I showed them how to write the "stuff" on them and play the game.

OK, someone is telling me it's time to make dinner and someone else is telling me it's time to hold him again. :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's a record!

It's a record, both for blogging and for schoolwork this week. ;) Sadly, that record is three days of blogging and two of schoolwork but it's something! And "schoolwork" today was pretty lame, but I used the word and made him do something that he didn't necessarily want to, so that counts. ;) LOL.

The kids spent the morning making sticker art and for one of the first times ever, both of their pictures made perfect sense. Cameron's was a race track with race cars zooming around. The stands were filled with penguins watching the race. Cassia's was a camping scene. Two ballerinas with sparkly crowns were camping with the squirrels and raccoons. There was even coffee on the camp stove. I know, the penguins and ballerinas sound a little off, but they worked with the pictures and it wasn't just a giant jumble of stickers. They were actually telling a story. I don't know - I liked them. ;)

We spent the rest of the morning doing some chores and then we went to ballet. While Cassia was in class I whipped out my HSC bag of books and announced that it was time for school. Cameron didn't actually complain at all. That is, he didn't complain until I told him that I had forgotten to grab a book for him to read so he'd have to read one from the lobby there. I picked up an "About the body" book that I knew he liked to look at and told him to read that. I figured it was a great tie in to the science that we've been (sort of) doing. He said it wasn't "fair" and that it wasn't good to read too much science. I forget what his exact logic was - and I use the term loosely - but the girl behind the counter started laughing. Anyway, I finally convinced him to read it because it would count as both science and reading.

And that's as much as we did. Told you it was lame. Oh wait, I did read the next section in his math book to him but it was on the liter and you needed to actually use a liter of water to do the work. Couldn't really do that in the ballet studio and we ran out of time anyway.

After ballet, we met some old friends at a park and spent the rest of the day climbing trees, wading in ponds, and throwing sand. Cassia fell out of a tree. The branch that she was climbing on broke beneath her, but she's okay aside from a nasty scratch up her back and a sore bum. Greyson fell in the pond, lol. He thought it was fun. We scared off some little girl's dad at the playground. The kids were rough-housing a bit and playing "sandstorm" - *sigh* - and the dad promptly swooped his daughter up and left after only about five minutes. The girl had been having fun but that's just not the way kids are "supposed to" play, I guess. It actually sparked a great conversation between MomJ and I as we pondered how many parents our kids scare off and what fun they're missing. ;)

One of the super fun things that the kids had been doing that I'm sure most kids, at least around here, miss out on was a leaf slide. There was this huge ravine/dry river bed that was covered in dry leaves. They had been climbing up and down a little path and we kept warning the little ones to stay back from the edge because the leaf litter was slippery and we didn't want them losing their footing and getting hurt. I'm sure you can see those little seven year old brain wheels turning! Leaf slide!! Sure we had just said to be careful of that, but sliding down on their behinds was perfectly wonderful fun. Nothing I would have suggested, but something amazing that only a young child would discover. And I can guarantee you that most parents I know would never have allowed it. Well, except for the crazy bunch of ruffians we hang out with, lol.

Now see? How can we get any bookwork done with all that other fun going on??? We were all educated by the forest nymphs today.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Theatrical Day

Edited to add pictures!

We had a great day today!! We started out with a school showing of James and the Giant Peach. Like I said yesterday, we have never read the book nor seen the movie so although we were going into it with zero expectations, I was a little worried about such an unknown holding their attention. I don't know about your kids, but mine like things more and more the more they are exposed to them. A particular Time Warp Trio episode is better the five hundredth time to them than the first - unlike for me. But this showing of James and the Giant Peach captured their attention and their imagination like few things have. Cameron said, and I quote, "That show was so good that I forgot about Zelda and everything! All I could think about was the story and wondering what was going to happen next!" Wow. It made him forget about Zelda?? That's big. I think a trip to the library for a certain Roan Dahl book is in order!

Cassia was sitting in rapt attention the whole time too. Wide eyes. Hair chewing. Edge of seat sitting. Great stuff. :) Even Greyson was an angel. And you know I rarely use the words "angel" and "Greyson" in the same sentence... unless the term "angel" is followed by the words "of death" or "of destruction." ;) He LOVES the theater though. He got a little restless towards the end of the hour long show but he jumped into his chair after every song to clap appreciatively. I wonder if he will have a future theater career or will just remain a fan.

After the show we came home for lunch and then went to the 4-H center for puppetry. We made Pilgrims and Indians out of poster board with yarn for legs and felt for clothes. We also made the cutest turkeys ever. I got brown work gloves and we glued googley eyes on the thumb with felt beaks and waddles. Next we covered the glove fingers with feathers and voila, cutest turkey ever. While the kids worked, I read The Thanksgiving Story to them. No one was really listening, lol, but they were polite enough. When it came time for them to do their version of it, one girl said "I'm from England and now I'm on a ship." Another boy said, "Here turkey!!! Yum, yum!" LOL. It was cute. One thing I noticed today is that even though we spend 85% of the time making the puppets, the performances are what they really look forward to. Next time, I think I'll prepare a script so that we can try out a more formal show. That may take all the fun out of it though. We'll see.

Next we went to Trader Joe's and the kids were... get ready... GOOD! I couldn't believe it, but I was thrilled. ;) They have been happily making more puppets since we got home - at least an hour now. Cassia is making characters from Humpty Dumpty and Cameron made Link (from the Legend of Zelda) and a giant centipede (from James and the Giant Peach).

Cassia's "Indian Dancing Girl" and "Humpty Dumpty"

Cameron's "Pilgrim," "Turkey," "Link," and "Giant Centipede"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What? Blog??

OMG, I am such a bad blogger! Can you ever forgive me?? Life has been crazy busy. I have been spending a ton of time online, but it's been playing games on Facebook rather than doing anything useful. (Wait, is blogging useful?)

Schoolwork has been practically nonexistent. On good weeks, we've gotten work done on Monday. And that's it. And that's a good week, lol! We've been doing a ton of extracurricular stuff though. 4-H projects, Halloween costume designing, pumpkin patch field trips, "play dates" (What is an educational sounding term for that? Visiting other schools? Research into alternative schooling methods? Studies in group dynamics?), sports, theater, a planetarium show, etc! Not to mention laundry! OMG, I can't believe how much stinkin' laundry I have now. I am NEVER caught up.

So this Monday we did school at gymnastics. Cameron read a Star Wars easy reader... a VERY easy reader. I think it was good for him to easily read a book though. It built his confidence up a bit. Next he did a couple of (also easy) exercises on capacity for math. We finished up with copywork/science and I had him copy several sentences about the heart from his textbook. That was not easy. They were long sentences and he complained the whole time about doing it. When he went in to his class, Cassia jumped on the school boat and did several pages in her math book on subtraction. The gym is practically deserted during Cassia's class so Cameron has the place to himself but once his class starts the gym gets filled to capacity. So Cassia had more than a couple interested onlookers to her scholastic journey and she was more than happy to oblige them, showing off her arithmetic skills.

Today we went to 4-H and a couple of new projects were announced that we were very interested in. Cameron signed up for a chess project where they will get to build their own chess sets. Cassia signed up for sewing. I really don't think either of them will be the slightest bit interested in the other project so I may, for the first time ever, do a drop off thing. It's weird that they're growing up!!

Tomorrow we are going to a play - James and the Giant Peach! We've never read the book nor seen the movie so the performance won't have any expectations to live up to. ;) Actually what I'm hoping is that it will inspire a desire to read the book. After that is the 4H project that I am leading, Puppetry. We are going to make turkeys out of brown work gloves and poster board pilgrims and Native Americans. I plan on reading The First Thanksgiving to them while they craft and then let them perform their own interpretation of it afterward. Should be quite amusing, lol.

So there's a little catch up for you. I was feeling kind of guilty for not getting more bookwork done the last couple of weeks (ok, months, lol) but this has made me realize just how much we are doing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Free Day!

Ahhh, two whole days with absolutely NOTHING on the schedule. :) Well, nothing except four kids, a messy house, and a homeschool, that is.

We started school around 11:30 again. Cameron begrudgingly read the first two chapters of Snowshoe Thompson. First, he didn't feel like reading right now. I said, You never feel like reading. Then he said it wasn't right to read a winter book in the fall. I said, Too bad. Then he read the first sentence which said something about it being a few weeks before Christmas and he stopped dead and gave me That Look. He sat there for a ridiculous amount of time pouting and being all indignant because he just couldn't read a book about Christmas when it wasn't even winter. Give me a freaking break. Then I reminded him that he had just finished Frog and Toad all year which was about ALL the seasons and the last chapter was even set on Christmas Eve. He finally conceded and read the first chapter, but badly. I practically had to tell him every other word. And then I had the audacity to make him read a second chapter! How dare I? Well, it was worth it because he read that chapter very well.

Next I gave him a few minutes off to ride his scooter and then we came back to grammar. Today's lesson was on listening and storytelling skills. I read a fable called The Quarrel to them and then they told it back to me in their own words. Both Cameron and Cassia did a fabulous job of telling the story back to me in a concise and logical matter. I know that doesn't sound very impressive but a year ago they couldn't do it. They'd list a million irrelevant details and then skip the main points. But practice makes perfect!

Math was next and Cameron did an exercise on calculating intervals of time. For example, how long is a show that begins at 11:40 and ends at 12:05?

After that we did science and read some pages on the circulatory system. We've been badly neglecting science again. I skipped just about all of the activities for the respiratory system because we didn't have the materials... rubber tubing, 2-liter plastic bottles, a dead fish! If I were smart, I would look ahead and see what we'll need for the circulatory system but I probably won't.

Cassia didn't officially do anything except listen in on grammar and science but at this very moment, while they are eating ice cream, Cameron is writing math problems for her and she is loving them. It's the Trickle Down Theory of Education, I suppose. ;)

Right now it is only 2:30 and we are done with schoolwork and video game time so the only thing left for us to do is some "spring" cleaning. ;) I haven't informed the kids of that yet, but I'm sure they'll love it. LOL.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Let me just start off by saying how thankful I am to have my family. Yesterday, our friend, Marie, and her three children were involved in a serious car accident. Their SUV flipped on the freeway. Thankfully, they all walked away from it but are battered, bruised, and understandably shaken. The littlest one, who is one month younger than Greyson, has reduced her vocabulary to just a few words now: car, roll, and carseat. Actually, when I went to drop off a pizza at their house last night I think I introduced one more word to her vocabulary. She wandered up to me holding a baby doll and I said, "Is that your baby?" She held the doll out to me and said "roll." I said, "Yeah, I heard. That must've been scary," and she nodded her head and repeated, "scary." As I left them and said goodbye to her, she repeated again, "scary." Breaks my heart. I'm so thankful they're all right and I am so incredibly thankful for my family... even when Greyson is trying his hardest to flip the glass coffee table and all its contents - be right back. I swear that boy is trying to seriously injure himself and I am terrified that he will succeed one of these days. Anyway, I'm glad that someone was looking over the P family. Please think a good thought for them the next time you hug your kids.

Back to the mundane. Friday we went to see a performance of The Tales of Beatrix Potter put on by the city ballet. They performed at the VFW building which is just on the other side of town, but we still managed to get there at the last possible second. We were, literally, the very last people in the building. It was a school performance and we went with a handful of other homeschoolers under a friend's homeschool's name. They had saved us seats in the very front row (!) but since we were so late, someone else took them. And then my friend kicked them out, lol. I felt awful kicking them out at the last second like that, but they were "saved" seats! The ballet was great though and everyone enjoyed it. I am really impressed with how well Greyson handles himself in the theater. Last Friday we went to see a Native American Dance group called The Four Winds, led by Eddie Madril, and he was incredibly behaved there too. He was quiet and interested and actually better behaved than the other two!! I think he may have a future in the theater.

After the ballet we went to the park. I cannot believe how big our little park group has gotten! There have been a couple of new people joining recently, both new to our HS group and old friends who are newly able to make the park day, and I am just really impressed with how well everyone adapts to that. Cassia and the newest girl, K4.5, really seem to be bonding. Friday they spent the whole time building a sand hospital. Cameron and some of the boys built a sand Death Mountain. It was pretty cool except for the fact that it kept erupting huge explosions of sand. *sigh* How many times do you have to say "Don't throw sand!" for it to sink in?? I'm guessing it won't be until he's about 30.

The weekend held the end-of-year party for soccer. C&C both really got along well with everyone on the team. Oh, a bit of news I forgot! Cameron lost tooth #2 on Sunday morning but as he was showing it off to everyone, they told him how many teeth they had lost. He came back to our table looking all defeated and said, "How come everyone else has more adult teeth than I do when I'm older?" Poor guy. It's hard being the late bloomer. Aside from that though, the pizza party was great fun.

Monday we did bookwork first thing in the late morning, lol. We got started around 11:30, which isn't too bad. Cameron finished reading The Case of the Double Cross. He's said a couple times that he thought it was a pretty good book. There were a couple more in the series at the library so I'm glad he liked it. Next we did Grammar and reviewed helping verbs. No one seemed to get the concept at all, but I'm not too terribly concerned. They are familiar with the term, which is more than I can say for a lot of kids, I'm sure! Next was math and Cameron did a couple pages on identifying the time on a clock as "x past y" or "x before z" and Cassia did some subtraction. We finished up with history by reading the rest of I Once Was a Monkey: Tales the Buddha Told.

Then we headed out to gymnastics. I decided to just save myself some grief and plan to spend the entire time in the car. That worked out well because we all had something to read or do, Linus slept the entire time, and Greyson fell asleep in a much quicker time than he would have if I had let him get all crazy and out of control first. I think he knew we were in the car so he could nap and it wasn't just a "you're in trouble" type of thing.

We actually have NOTHING on the calendar for the next two days. Phew! First time in a long time. Hopefully we'll be able to get lots done on lots of fronts. Now that I think about it, we need to get busy with Halloween costumes too so maybe we can spend some time on that. Anyone know where I can get a black Hogwarts cape without buying a stupid costume? If only this were 1983 and I could borrow my sister's black satin wrap skirt, lol.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Weak Week

We sooooooooo got nothing done this week. Well, except for Monday. In addition to what I already blogged about, we finished off a book on Buddhism.

Tuesday was the 4-H business meeting. That was pretty much it for the day. During dinner there were some random math problems thrown around at the table. Cassia likes to start that, lol. It's so funny, she'll throw out questions like she's quizzing you even though she doesn't have a clue what the right answer is.

Wednesday we spent a good part of the day at T6's house. That was pretty much all about LEGOs. Well, Greyson and Cassia got some play time in with a cash register and Cameron got some logic work in while playing with a castle puzzle game. After that we rushed home for the last soccer game of the season. I was planning on signing him up for basketball next but I just realized that the registration was over a month ago... even though the practices haven't started yet and the games don't even start until November. That reminds me, I was going to try and call anyway... Hmmm, I just spoke to the athletic director and it turns out that there may be one team that has one player less than he thought it did. He's going to look into it and get back to me. Well that would be nice! And what great timing I had with calling. Anyway, if that doesn't work out, a friend of ours is trying to organize an indoor soccer class for homeschoolers.

Thursday I woke up with a bit of a sore throat so the thought of regular schoolwork wasn't very appealing to me. We did play Alpha Animals though and that totally counts as science. I made it into reading too because if Cameron couldn't think of the right type of animal then I would let him "cheat" and look at the reference list but only if he read it for himself. Then we went to ballet. I brought along The Case of the Double Cross and suggested that he read it while we were there, but he didn't want to. He claimed that a case of the hiccups (which were genuine) would make it too hard to read aloud. I figured that was pretty logical so I let him have that one. I fully intended on doing reading and math once we got home but they're watching Harry Potter 5 and I'm blogging, so that obviously didn't happen.

I really should be taking it easy anyway because I don't want this sore throat getting any worse. We have tickets to a ballet tomorrow, The Tales of Beatrix Potter, followed by Favorite Park Day and I don't want to miss either of those. But I don't want anyone getting sick either. Tough choice. We may end up just seeing the show and then staying home after that. We have the end of year soccer party on Sunday too and I know Cam doesn't want to miss that.

We have a much lighter week scheduled next week so maybe we can get some bookwork done then. Or maybe not. ;)

Monday, October 13, 2008

School on the run

Today we did school on the sidewalk outside of gymnastics, lol. The morning was "wasted" away doing other stuff but I was smart enough to grab a reader and the math workbooks and shove them into the diaper bag on our way out the door. Boy was Cameron surprised when I tossed the reader at him and told him it was time for school, lol. He tried to resist because he "didn't want to read that book" or "wanted to watch Cassia do gymnastics" or "didn't feel like it" but I countered with do it now or no video games all week. :P Surprisingly (not!), that worked. He actually seemed to like the book too. We got through the first half, 32 pages, of The Case of the Double Cross. A few pages into it though, we had to pick up all our stuff and head out to the car because Greyson insisted on throwing things (first balloons and then his SHOES) over the edge of the mezzanine onto the gym floor. *sigh* But once he was strapped in and detained I decided that it was too nice a day to force ALL of us to sit in a stuffy car so Cameron, Linus (in his car seat carrier), and I made camp on the sidewalk and read there. Unfortunately though, there was no time to get to math before Cassia got out of her class.

And then the explosion happened. OMG. So I hear this noise that anyone who's ever had a newborn is familiar with. I knew it was a big one because he'd been holding it in since early yesterday morning. I look over and then see this giant erruption of yellowish-orange lava bubbling out of the edge of Linus' onesie. Needless to say, we didn't stick around very long and just left Cam there for his class and then drove home to bathe the little (suddenly orange) guy. Now normally, I wouldn't bother you with the details of something like this, but this was so spectacular that it actually dripped down through the buckle of his carseat and onto the base. When I carried him into the house, it continued dripping down THROUGH the carseat onto the kitchen floor. WOW. I've never seen anything like it and I've seen a lot of poop. One time Greyson didn't poop for about 10 days and that was a giant mess when it finally happened but it still didn't drip through the carseat!! Unbelievable.

Anyway, Cameron just informed me that he would like to finish his schoolwork now. On the way home he asked if he could play video games when we got home and I said he could if he finished his math and history first. He started playing some game with Cassia once we got home so I figured he figured it wasn't worth the effort, but I guess he changed his mind. And he just asked me again, so I better get going. :)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Crafty days

As anticipated, we didn't get any bookwork done the last two days. We've been busy with 4-H projects instead. Yesterday we went to the American Kids Crafts project. It was inspired by the American Girl books and associated craft projects, but due to the number of boys in the project, the leader promised to make no mention of them, lol. First the kids made clay pinch pots which they'll paint next month. Everyone had a great time with that, even Greyson. Next the kids made dream catchers out of embroidery hoops and yarn. Very cute. Cameron and Cassia both hung their dream catchers above their beds and we sprayed them with Happy Dreams spray (an aromatherapy spray that a friend of mine makes) as an added touch. Apparently they work quite well.

Today it was my turn to lead a project on puppetry. We made puppets out of construction paper cut-outs, traced from storybooks, and glued them onto popsicle sticks. Since we are coding this as a drama project, instead of arts & crafts, I wanted to focus more on the art of giving a puppet show than on the act of making the puppets. We started off with a demonstration by C&C who performed "Baa Baa, Black Sheep" for the group with puppets that I made last night.
Next I provided some traced characters from several other rhymes and told the kids (aged 5 - 7) to get in groups, pick a poem, and then they could either use my tracings or draw their own characters. It was so hard to step back and just let the kids do it "wrong" (for example, coloring and decorating the tracing paper rather than using it as a template) but I did. Next I gave them a few minutes to practice and then they performed their masterpieces. The girls did "The Five Little Kittens Who Lost Their Mittens" and the boys did "Hey, Diddle Diddle." I have to say, the girls were a bit more organized both in their puppet show production and actual puppet making. In fact, the boys didn't even stick to the right characters nor did they even realize that until they were performing the play! LOL, but it was cute and they all did a great job in the end.

So we can call all that History, Social Studies, and Fine/Performing Arts. I guess we could call it Literature too since we were reciting poetry and M7 can even call it Reading since she read the Three Little Kittens from the book while the girls performed their show. Since we're counting up "work," we also read part of I Once Was a Monkey: Stories Buddha Told as a bedtime story last night and plan to do so again tonight. We had time (and I was willing, lol) to do schoolwork after we got home from 4-H today but Cameron chose to watch Harry Potter instead. I know I keep swearing that we need to get into the habit of doing it every day but I really do consider 4-H school time... just not enough to give free video game time for it!

Tomorrow is ballet and then a field trip to another pumpkin patch, but all that is not until the afternoon so I am really going to try to get some work in during the morning. I just wish there was some way I could stop them from turning on the tv as soon as they wake up. It's so hard to get anyone motivated after that - including me. I guess I could unplug it? But I so enjoy our slow mornings. I really need a few minutes, myself, to wake up in front of the computer before I can get going for the day... or maybe I just tell myself that and I should unplug the computer too! Hmmm, food for thought.

And just for fun... Linus, week 3

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Road to Hell?

I've been trying to keep up, really I have! I had every good intention of keeping up with my blogging (hence the road to hell reference, lol) but somehow the days keep slipping away. Can you believe that my little baby is three weeks old already??? I can't. I was really a bit shocked when I told someone that today, lol. All weekend I was saying, "three weeks, Monday!" but now that it's Monday, it just sounded weird. Mothers are mental, I tell ya.

So let's see, to catch up... Wednesday we did school for the third day in a row. WooHoo! Cameron read the book Death Valley: A Day in the Desert and did really well... until I asked him to read that one last page of extra facts at the end of the book. Oh. My. GOD. You would think that I asked him to read War and Peace. It was one stinkin' page of interesting facts and he pouted and sulked and did the whole passive resistance thing. WhatEVER. I, however, am not pregnant anymore and did not give in, nor did I get mad or emotional about it. I just made him read the stupid page whether he wanted to or not. So there. ;) We also did grammar in which nothing interesting enough to stay in my memory five days later happened and then Cameron did a review page in math. There were two pages before the next section started and he REALLY wanted to get through them both and start the section on telling time... but then he was too wiped after doing the problems. He did really good though considering he started out saying, "I don't even remember how to do this!" (borrowing) but then did perfectly.

I can't remember if Cassia did anything or not because she is not officially enrolled in our school (six on or before Dec 2 for compulsory attendance laws) so I'm not writing her work down in our daily planner/attendance record. Did you catch that?? I'm actually keeping up on our planner and using that to update my blog, rather than the opposite, lol. Shocker, I know. Mostly it's because I can't remember if I ate breakfast most days, much less remember what we did six hours earlier. But it's nice this way. I feel like I'm starting out the new year very neatly and well-organized for a change.

But back to last week... Thursday we met some friends at the local pumpkin patch. It was October 2nd, afterall! These particular friends seem to have a pumpkin patch addiction. We usually burn out halfway through the month and start turning down invitations from them, lol, but the first pumpkin visit of the season is always pure bliss. Turns out though that we named the wrong child Linus. At one point, Greyson grabbed a blankie and wandered out into the middle of the patch to sit and wait for the Great Pumpkin. He wasn't moving for anything! LOL. We didn't manage to get anything else done that day except go to Cassia's ballet lesson, but did we really need to? Dancing and large farm machinery - what more does an educational day require??

Friday was Favorite Park Day that almost wasn't. The sky threatened rain. I was determined though and swore that the weather reports promised no rain until 5pm. (Well, they said "likely sprinkles" until 5 and then "definite showers" after 5.) Our windshield was dotted with rain, but not enough to actually use the wipers, the entire 30 minute drive to Favorite Park but once we hit downtown the rain miraculously stopped and I swear there was even sunshine as we pulled into the parking lot. Luckily I had talked to MomK that morning so I knew she'd be there but no one else seemed brave enough to risk the weather. A few more friends did show up a few hours later though and so it ended up being a much lovelier day than anyone expected. We finally left a few minutes before 5, and as we did, the rain came down on our windshield once again. Who would've guessed... the weatherman was right.

Saturday - gymnastics for Greyson, soccer for Cameron. Sunday - laundry, laundry, laundry.

And that finally brings us to today. For school, Cameron read another chapter from Frog and Toad All Year. Can I say again how much we love those books? They're so quaint, in my opinion, and so hilarious in the kids' opinions. I tried to get Cameron to check out a Little Bear book from the library last week because I have a feeling that they'll have the same sort of feel, but since he's seen the cartoon he wouldn't go for it - too babyish. I doubt that Frog and Toad would translate as well to tv either. Grammar was a review of the four parts of speech that we've learned: nouns, verbs, pronouns, and adjectives. Math was another review section. I lost my patience a bit at one point because the baby was crying, Greyson was climbing all over Cassia and me while I was trying to do phonics with her, and Cameron was needing me to verify that he was doing every single step correctly. Ugh. Is this right? Is this right? Do I add here? Is this times tabling? I finally snapped and told him not to say another word to me until the entire page was done. Of course, most of it was done wrong. It's so hard to find that balance between working together and letting them learn on their own. Math practice isn't very useful if they're doing it all wrong, but it also isn't very useful when you're telling them which step to do next! I always considered teaching math my expertise too. Ha! Oh well, it's not about me.

For History we read a book about Buddhists. The more I read, the more I think that Buddhism is something that I'd like to study more and maybe even practice to some extent (except the vegetarian part). Cameron was interested, but he didn't really grasp the excess vs moderation part. He said, "so do Buddhists live in caves?" I said, "No, they just don't have more than they need. See, we have way more than we really need here." "Really? Because I don't think I have too many toys. In fact, there are a lot of toys that I don't have that I need." Uh huh. Tell that to... well, lots of other people. But the prince who became The Buddha grew up spoiled too, so I know all is not lost on my materialistic little man. ;) You know what I love though? My little man is also spoiled with knowledge. I didn't learn about Buddhism when I was 7. In fact, I believe I was around 27 before I knew anything about it and 37 before I knew any of its principles. Homeschooling rocks.

And with that, I will bid you goodnight. We have an early (12:30, lol) 4-H project to go to tomorrow so I doubt we will get any bookwork done but I will try to get on and blog to spare you from the novella that my posts become when too much time goes by.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Adventures in Parenting

DH went back to work this week so I've been on my own. Yesterday wasn't anything too traumatic, just gymnastics and I'm used to that being a zoo. Today, however, I ventured out to both the grocery store and the library. Yeehaw, that was interesting. The grocery store wasn't too bad - the kids actually behaved - but I forgot to bring my baby sling so I had to put Greyson in the cart seat, Linus in his infant car seat carrier in the main part of the basket, and then had to ask Cameron and Cassia to push one of those little kid carts so we had somewhere to put the groceries! LOL. I know I'm going to end up being that mom who has to push three carts through the store each week to feed all her teenage boys. They were actually pretty well behaved in the library too, but it felt really zooish. I think I messed my back up carrying the infant carrier in one hand and Greyson on my other hip across the street. And then trying to keep track of them all while I was checking out the books? Yikes. Someday I'll get the hang of it, I'm sure. (I hope, lol.)

But we did have another productive school day, even though we didn't get started until almost 12:30. Cameron read a chapter from Frog and Toad All Year. Cassia chose not to do any phonics or reading today. For grammar we learned about adjectives. It was kind of funny, one part of the lesson gave a list of adjectives and asked them to name nouns that those adjectives could describe. Hot, cold, long, short, cute, fuzzy, etc. Cameron did really well (although he kept saying "Linus" for almost all of them, lol) but Cassia seemed to struggle a bit thinking of things. Another part of the lesson asked them to come up with all the adjectives they could for a certain noun. I picked the noun "Linus" thinking that would be easy since we had already used him for a number of adjectives. Cassia came up with several right off the bat but Cameron found it almost impossible to come up with a single adjective. He could only manage to think of descriptive clauses like "has a small nose" or "has lots of hair" or "cries a lot." I had to help him turn them around into words like "hairy" and "tearful." I just thought it was interesting that one struggled with the nouns and one struggled with the adjectives.

For math, Cameron learned about adding fractions to make a whole. (e.g. 3/5 + ___ = 1) He got a little confused at first, saying things like "3/5 + 1/2 = 1 whole" but got the hang of it pretty quickly. Cassia did some more subtraction and made a cute little bunny calculator where a hungry bunny on an envelope gobbles up carrots on an index card.

We finished up with history and read about the Mauryan Empire of India and Emperor Asoka who renounced the act of war after seeing how it made his people suffer. We also read a Buddhist story from the Jataka Tales about a hare, an otter, a jackal, and a monkey. (In looking that up in Wikipedia, I noticed that it seems to be spelled incorrectly in SOTW. They have it written "Jakata" Tales.) Cassia was so impressed by the ending in which the hare tried to sacrifice himself in a fire to feed a hungry traveler only to find that the traveler was really a disguised god and the fire did not harm him, that she decided to draw a picture of it. It's quite a good picture, but unfortunately, our scanner does not seem to be working at the moment. She wanted to give it to the librarian but I convinced her that we should keep it in her History Notebook* instead. I had great last minute luck at the library and came home with an armload of other Jataka Tales and a colorful and simple book on Buddhists.

I had wanted to do science today too, but we really did need to get to the store and the library before soccer. Oh yes, I had to take all four kids to soccer too. I met an elderly man there who had been laughing at Greyson and was admiring the baby. He said in his heavily accented English, "Two boys?" and I said, "No. Three boys, one girl." He looked startled for a minute and seemed to count on his fingers a bit before finally looking up and saying, "Now that's a family!" Now, I thought the previous generations were used to larger families! He looked at me like I had said twelve kids, lol. So that was my final adventure for the day. The good news is that Greyson cooperated and actually walked back to the car when it was time to leave instead of making me carry him and that Cameron and Cassia both pitched in and carried the camp chairs so that I didn't have to make two trips. I really do think we all may get the hang of this eventually. :)

*OMG, I have been so horrible at getting anything for the History Notebooks! Ideally, we should have drawings and maps and narrations for every chapter we've read but I haven't put anything in there for months. If anything, all I have is a random pile of maps and coloring pages stuffed in a drawer somewhere waiting to be scanned, sorted, and hole punched. I hated feeling tied to having to do written stuff so we'd have proof that we studied X, but I also hate having huge gaps in the stuff I do have because I love the idea of ending up with a self-made history book. A clear case of being damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Monday, September 29, 2008

First Day of Fall Quarter

First day trying to get back into a routine and it worked great! Well, ok, my grandiose plans about trying to work a cleaning schedule back into our lives hasn't quite manifested itself yet but I'm working on it. We did get school done though.

Cameron read a Pixar Little Golden Book, Mater and the Ghost Light and then Cassia read Road to Reading's Cat Hat. It was a bit above her (I really, really HATE how "level 1" books are never really appropriate for beginning readers) but she pushed her way through, with my help, and was able to actually read at least half of the words. At one point I even offered to read the rest for her but she declined, wanting to do it all by herself. I like that. :)

Next we did Grammar/Language/Writing. I decided to finally take on the FLL lesson on dictation with Cameron, so first I set up Cassia with a copywork sentence from the book she had just read. Ralph was a happy cat hat. She did great with it. Her only flaw was writing all of her "a"s in capital. She attempted the lower case ones several times, but finally gave up and went with the capitals. So she knows the right way to do it, she just found it too hard this time and I'm totally cool with that. For Cameron, I dictated the sentence, "March is a windy month." We discussed how a sentence starts with a capital letter and ends with a punctuation mark. We discussed how you determine which punctuation mark to use. He was sure he wouldn't be able to do it at first, but we sounded the words out together and he did great. I had to help a lot with the spelling of "month" but other than that he did perfectly.

Math was next and Cameron did several pages on comparing fractions. He is a natural with them and had no problem conceptualizing the fact that the fraction with the bigger number on the bottom is actually the smaller fraction. It totally made sense to him. Cassia did several pages on visualizing the subtraction process by crossing out balloons or vases to be "taken away." She did great too, except for writing a lot of her numbers backwards. I think it's a left-handed thing for her.

That was the end of our official school day because then it was gymnastics time. Nothing special went on there except a few temper tantrums from the napless one and lots of mothers ooohing and aaaahing over Linus. I did have a moment or two when, with a babe in arms, a child in class, and two in the play area, I wondered how I had ever thought three kids was a lot. LOL, I remember when one kid seemed like a lot to manage! Funny how we adapt.

Anyway, schooling with a newborn is not so tough. That two-year old is getting more and more challenging by the day but in not too long he will be a three year old and then he will be four and I'll have a different two year old to deal with! And then one day they will be gone and I know I will be longing for those quirky little temperaments again. I met a mother of four/grandmother of eight a few months back who said that she found that four children were plenty... and then she paused and said, "but once they are grown, you never had enough of them." I can totally see that being true. I'm already having those pangs, knowing this is our last. So I am cherishing every moment with my sweet young newborn and trying to appreciate every moment I have with all of my little miracles because I know they are only mine to borrow and time will move too fast...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ramblings from the edge

(Which reminds me, I've been meaning to read Postcards From the Edge for years now. I should request that from the library.)

Don't worry, I'm not teetering on the brink of anything... except maybe a routine. DH is going back to work next week and will even be out of town for most of the next two weeks but I think I'll be ok. I'm feeling good. Linus is a complete angel. Here, I took this today...

...have you ever seen such an adorable pile of mush and baby chub??

I just had some random thoughts clunking around my head and felt like blogging. :) School for the last two weeks has been what I would call "School Lite." Cameron has been reading a chapter a day from a Frog and Toad book. We have both Frog and Toad Are Friends and Frog and Toad All Year from the library and he likes alternating between the two. I can't get over what great books they are and how much we are all enjoying them. For math he's been playing Timez Attack. And that "counts" as school work so that he can play video games. It's hard enough trying to keep up some sort of school routine with DH around, much less a newborn, but this is working. Next week though, I think we'll officially start the Fall Quarter. LOL, I didn't even realize that Fall was upon us until we were a couple days into the season. But that's ok. I don't think anyone will notice if we start a week late.

I was thinking about our fall quarter yesterday and I really think I want to make a big effort to study Classical Composers. I was listening to our local classical station and realized that I really do have a general sense of certain composer's styles simply from listening to Beethoven's Wig. If we made an effort - and put to use the $25 a year I'm spending on Classical Archives - then I'm sure it would be no time at all before we were all pretty Classically literate. We could easily read a composer's biography on Friday mornings, before park, and then listen to his works on the way to Favorite Park Day. What a simple way that would be to study! I know we're also going to be seeing many ballets and plays this year as well. In fact, we just watched The Royal Ballet's production of Swan Lake on DVD this morning. I was really surprised that Cassia watched the entire two hours of it in one sitting. Greyson was pretty into it too. Cameron, well, not so much but he did watch the end. Luckily we all already knew the story from watching Barbie of Swan Lake so many times.

There were some other things floating around my head that I wanted to share, but I can't seem to remember them at the moment and Cameron is wanting to play Tri-Ominos. I think I might hear Linus fussing in the other room too. He has the quietest little cry. It's so hard to hear him. :) I might post again later. Ciao, friends.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Love is...

Forgive my absence. I've been a little busy/distracted. :)

Please welcome Linus Morgan "Blobby" Berm. (He's still pretty blobbish, lol.) He rushed into the world at 7:53pm on Monday, September 15, 2008. He weighed 8 lbs 5 oz and was 19 inches long. He has a nice little head of reddish-brown hair and eyes that will likely turn brown within the month. If you "know" me well enough to know my favorite homeschooling board, you can find a link to the birth story and pictures there. Otherwise, you'll have to be satisfied with these...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Happy Due Date to me!

Well there we go, today is the day. Looks like little Blobby has decided to be just like his brothers and sister and remain warm and cozy inside for as long as possible. But that's ok. I think I'm finally ready. I just got all the baby clothes put away yesterday, lol. Oh wait, I still need to rearrange the changing table to fit both newborn and Greyson size diapers on there. (Have I mentioned that after completely mastering the potty, Greyson decided he was no longer interested and went totally back to diapers?? Ugh.) Now it's time to just wait and wonder. I actually love this part best. I made it to the due date. It really is going to be any day now!

We never made it to the Jelly Belly Factory on Wednesday. Cassia woke up feeling sick. It wasn't anything serious, just a stuffy nose, light cough, and then one brief case of throwing up a tiny bit of "icky water" but I didn't want to risk her getting carsick on the drive over. DH was working at home so we left her there watching Mermaidia and the rest of us went on a quick trip to Mrs. Grossman's for sticker grab bags to make her feel better. She was a little disappointed that she couldn't come too, but the giant mass of stickers did the trick. Cameron read her a story, but that was the extent of schoolwork. He had asked to do some (ok he asked if he could play video games anyway) but the books were in Grandma C's room and she was taking a (very LONG) nap after the excursion.

Thursday Cameron woke up feeling not so well. His feel better movie of choice was Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, lol. Then the kids spent the rest of the morning playing card games with Grandma. I took Cassia to ballet in the early afternoon and spent a very nice hour just sitting and reading. When we got home and Greyson went down for his nap, Cameron was feeling better so Grandma C took C&C (lots of Cs in our family, lol) out shoe shopping and I got to spend yet another nice quiet hour reading. And then they still weren't home so I went ahead and rearranged dresser contents so I could put baby clothes away.

Today is Favorite Park Day. I promised our park friends that the only way we would miss would be if something miraculous happened last night. Well, it didn't, lol. As far as the kids that are already here... Cassia seems to be all better, just a slightly stuffy nose, and Cameron, well, I think a decongestant will do wonders for him. It's one of those tough decisions where on one hand, I don't want to keep them home because they really need to get out but on the other hand, I certainly don't want anyone sick. I already warned them that if anyone is sick then they can't visit NewBaby in the hospital and I really don't want to bring a newborn home to a house of sickies either. So hopefully, this congestion thing will stay mild and Blobby will hold out a few more days until all the germies have moved on.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Reinforcements have arrived!

Reinforcements have arrived!! I am infinitely more relaxed. There is SOMEONE ELSE to entertain the munchkins. There is SOMEONE ELSE to do the dishes. There is SOMEONE ELSE to say "No, don't do that" or "Here, let me help." There is SOMEONE ELSE to watch the kids while I go to the doctor or on errands. There is SOMEONE ELSE. *phew!*

So, here I am, blogging my morning away while my blueberry-cherry muffins finish baking. *sigh* Bliss. Actually, this is why my MIL keeps delaying her arrival with each child because she sees how productive I become once she arrives and then doesn't think that I need her. I should just get in the habit of sending her video of how pathetic I am before she arrives, lol. Actually, this time we failed miserably at getting the house cleaned up before she got here. I got the bathroom clean and the kitchen tolerable, but the rest of the house was still trashed. Oh well, she didn't run away and she's actually been helping to keep all the crap off the floor which is where my complete and utter failure has shown itself. You know, it's hard to pick up when you can't bend over. ;)

Anyway, um, homeschool... yeah, that's what we're blogging about, right? I last left you last Wednesday after a super productive couple of days. Thursday was the polar opposite of that, lol. We did do schoolwork on Thursday and Cameron read the first chapter of Frog and Toad Are Friends (he does love that book, BTW) and we did math and a few pages of science. Then we went to ballet and Greyson screamed pretty much the entire time. And then we went to Our Neighborhood Park Day which just restarted for the "fall" at a new time/day. This park day used to be on Wednesday which is generally our "do nothing" day so we rarely went. I love having at least one day a week where we just don't leave the house. Anyway, now that it overlaps with ballet class, I think we might stop by on our way home occasionally. But it was about 105˚ last Thursday and there is NO shade at this particular park. It was so bad that even the kids started asking to leave after an hour. The rest of the day was, understandably, shot.

Friday was Favorite Park Day and there are lots of big shady oak trees and a nice breeze there. It was hot, but it was bearable. So the adults hunkered down in the shade next to the snack table and the kids hunkered down in the shade in the sand box and we happily enjoyed the official restarting of Favorite Park Day with a snack and craft project potluck. When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but several reusable canvas bags full of toys and baby clothes and baby blankets and aromatherapy sprays and bath salts and handmade chocolates and dairy-free snacks for Greyson and crayons and coloring books... and love. Yes, my Favorite Friends at Favorite Park Day conspired with our 4-H friends to throw me a surprise baby shower. :) And not just baby stuff, but stuff to keep the other kids occupied to give me and the new little one a bit of peace once he arrives. It was so wonderful and so touching. *sniff sniff* It definitely goes up there with one of the best days of my life. I've never had such a circle of friends. I am honored and blessed to be a part of such an amazing community.

The weekend was spent with DH finishing up Cassia's room. It's beautiful. I should go take a picture (while it's still clean, lol) but that would require getting up. ;) One wall is covered in bookshelves and looks SOoooooo much better than all the random cheapy Home Depot bookcases that used to hold our school books. Her little white desk has become Cameron's favorite place to do math. Her bed has become our favorite place to read. It's a haven for us all.

I spent the weekend finishing up the family rosters for our homeschool group. Wow, that was a project. Thankfully, DH took pity on me and stayed up late one night stuffing them all with their ridiculous number of fliers, folding, and sealing them. All 160 of them.

Monday, MIL finally arrived. We spent the morning attempting to clean up and she arrived just in time to head out for gymnastics. I left her there with the kiddos and went to the post office to mail out the rosters. Yikes, I had to put stamps on those puppies by hand! Why did I think they would have an automated thing to do it for me?? At least I didn't have to lick the stamps. (OK, please tell me everyone remembers having to lick stamps, right? I'm not that old, am I?) After the gym, we headed right out to soccer. DH met us there and stayed with C&C while Grandma and Greyson went home for a nap and I headed to the grocery store. You seriously need one parent for each child, I think. Oh how I resent our nuclear family society at times!! MIL can't move near us though because all of her DH's family lives near them (including his 90-something year old mother!) and won't let them leave. Oh well. Hopefully we will be able to be there for our children... and hopefully they will want us to be.

Tuesday the kids spent most of the morning just enjoying having Grandma C around. Cameron and Cassia and I left about noon for the first 4-H meeting of the year. It felt strange being there and not having to chase Grey around, lol. Cameron and Cassia both got to be Sergeants at Arms and help carry in the flags and lead the Pledge of Allegiance. They were pretty proud. It was a good meeting and the kids signed up for cooking, historical crafts, origami, geocaching, and puppetry. Well, I don't know if they would have voluntarily signed up for puppetry or not, but since I'm leading it, they're taking it. ;) There were lots of new families this year and several of them were pretty big families too! I think there were two or three new families with three or four kids around the same age as mine. It should be a fun year.

When we got home, Cameron read Grandma C a chapter of Frog and Toad for school. She was suitably impressed with his reading and he and Cassia were just rolling laughing over the story. Next was Cassia's turn to impress and she read Grandma C "her" Ant book. Grandma was actually really surprised and impressed with her ability and I was glowing with pride. I especially had to throw in the fact that Cassia's schooling is totally optional and I've never forced her to do anything she doesn't want to. (Their cousin H, who is also 5, just started Kindergarten this year and hates it already.) While Cassia read, Cameron went into her room and did his math. He's still working on matching up fractional pictures with the fraction numbers. He loves fractions and thinks they're super easy. Gotta love that. I hope that attitude sticks around. The "boring" 4-H meeting (which actually wasn't too boring at all this time!) counted as the other subject today. I suppose if I had to name it I'd call it Social Studies. It really is a study of government and speech and leadership and citizenship as well as all the cool things that you learn during the projects. Have I mentioned that I love 4-H? ;)

Today, now that we've all gorged ourselves on freshly baked muffins, we're going to head out to the Jelly Belly Factory for a tour today. We didn't have anything on the schedule today and MIL had never been there... so why not? Sorry for the crazy-long post again. I'll try to blog again before another week passes me by.

Love to all. :)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Yee-haw!! I've had the most productive last couple of days. I am SO relieved. I don't know if it's just my nesting instinct finally kicking in or if it's my birth numerology moving from 10, Wheel of Fortune (lots of change and ups and downs) to 11, Karma or Justice (where you reap what you sow), as my friend Karin predicts. I was complaining a couple weeks ago about feeling so out of control and so incredibly in need of a change and she reassured me that as soon as my birthday passed I would feel a change and most likely move into a period of strength. Seems to be true and regardless the reason, I'll take it!

So to recap... Friday was Favorite Park Day. We didn't do any blackberry picking like we had planned (partly because Cassia had lost her sandals and then refused to put on any other pair of shoes *eye roll*) but spent most of the afternoon learning a Spanish card game. Cameron loved that game and wanted to keep playing round after round after round, lol.

We left the park a bit early because we had plans to go to an Unschooler's Game Night and Potluck that evening. I had been wanting to go for months but since DH is usually only home for dinner 3 nights a week, we had never made it. This week, however, DH wasn't going to be home until close to 10pm so we decided to go. C&C were so excited. They LOVE board games and card games and the thought of having a room full of games to play and kids to play them with was truly exciting. We brought Hungry, Hungry Hippos, Tangoes, and SkipBo and a big bowl of homemade refried beans. Unfortunately though, none of the other kids seemed to want to play any games. Dinner wasn't served until about 8pm and then the adults settled down to a game of Trivial Pursuit and the kids disappeared into one of the bedrooms around a computer. Computer and electronic games were supposed to be strictly off limits at this gathering, but (forgive my stereotypes) the Unschooling Nature of the group seemed to prevent any of the parents from telling their kids not to. I knew my kids actually wanted to play games so I pulled them away from the computer and played a round of SkipBo with them. And then we left. Don't get me wrong, it's not that we had a bad time. We had a good time - it just didn't quite live up to our expectations of a Game Night.

The weekend was spent finishing up Cassia's new room. It looks fabulous. We have her brand new big girl bed in there complete with purple walls, pink and purple butterfly sheets, a floor lamp in 5 different shades of pink, white shelving along one wall, and what was supposed to be their school desk that is now the perfect accessory to the girliest of girly-girl rooms. She loves it. I love it. I wonder if she'll let me move in too. ;)

Monday was my birthday. I am that much closer to 40 now - yikes. LOL. Funny, I remember 28 being a lot harder than 29 or 30 and it seems that 38 is the same way. I think it's that once you hit that x8 you can no longer say you're mid-twenties or mid-thirties. Oh yeah, I'm late thirties now. And barefoot and pregnant too, lol. We didn't do anything special really. Just hung out around the house and then went out to dinner. It was a nice day.

Tuesday, get ready, we actually did schoolwork. Cassia finished up a review page in phonics on CVC words with the five short vowel sounds. She did FABULOUSLY. I had been worried that she was just memorizing the words after I read them the first time and then couldn't recall them later, but this time she really seemed to "get" the sounding it out thing. Cameron finally FINISHED the very last phonics lesson. WooHooo!!! We got through it. The whole book. Yay!! Next I decided to skip Grammar because the lesson was about introducing dictation and I just don't think Cameron is quite ready for that. I think I'll wait a week or so for him to get comfortable reading small sentences again before I make him start writing them. For math, Cassia did some more adding and Cameron started an introduction to fractions. We finished off with Science and read all about lungs and gills. There was a cool activity for measuring lung capacity but unfortunately I didn't have all the parts for it. I need a rubber tube. Where do you get a rubber tube?? I looked online for something else fun to do, but there were surprisingly few suitable unit study ideas for the respiratory system.

We finished off the day with haircuts and gymnastics. It was about 500 degrees in the gym so that pretty much finished off my productivity too. I met yet another mother of four also. It's funny how they're all coming out of the woodwork now! It seems that having four kids is almost commonplace around here now. Well, not really, but it does seem that three is the oddball number - people either have one or two or just jump straight to four!

Today was another good day. I started off with an OB appointment. Everything is good. I'm much less uncomfortable now, for some reason, and am content to just wait until Junior decides to make his appearance - though I do appreciate the repeated offers to induce from my OB. She just keeps saying that everything looks great and so she'll go along with whatever I want to do. Oh and I'm still anemic, but not as badly so that probably has something to do with my energy level too. DH was working from home today so since he was home with the kids, I decided to stop off at the library on my way home. I paid my $9.40 fine (ouch!) and picked up a book for everyone. I got Cameron Frog and Toad Are Friends, Cassia An Ant: Learning the Short A Sound, and Calling All Engines for Greyson. Cameron said, "Oh, I bet I'll like this book!" and then tossed it aside, lol. Greyson jumped right in squealing, "Tommy! Tommy!" and spent about 15 minutes flipping through the pictures in his Thomas book. Cassia, after looking slightly strangely at me for getting her a book on ants, sat down and read the entire thing cover to cover. She did SO good. I was so proud. She had some problems remembering the word "an" but I think it was because she didn't really realize that it was a word, you know? I don't think she ever listened to herself closely enough to realize that she say "an umbrella" rather than "a umbrella" so I can see how it would be hard to read. She could read the words "ant" and "can" just fine so it was just some silly mental block, but oh well. She worked hard sounding things out and really, really did a fabulous job. I am so happy that I got that book for her. For me, I got Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife to get me "in the mood" so to speak. I wanted to get one of Ina May Gaskin's books but they were all checked out.

After lunch we... get ready... did school again! Yes, you read that right - two days in a row! And the best part is that everyone was super, super cooperative and wonderful about it. Cassia voluntarily did a phonics lesson even after spending all that time reading her ant book. I totally said she could skip it if she wanted but she wanted to surge ahead. The lesson was on double consonants and she piped up with "Hey, I read a word in my ant book that had that. Well, it wasn't like that but it was two with the same sound!" and she was right. She had read the word "black" in her book. She's a smart little cookie. Cameron put up a bit of a fuss when I asked him to go get his library book to read for school. So then I told him it didn't matter what he read as long as he grabbed something to read. He finally came back with a WALL-E Little Golden Book and read it well. It turns out that I was right about him. He seemed to really need the closure of finishing all the phonics lessons before he could have the confidence to believe that he could read. It's been coming on for a few weeks now - ever since we started that final section of the book - but now it seems complete. He read "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" and now he can read anything. ;) For math, Cassia started on subtraction by counting backwards on a number line. Cameron named fractions from pictures, as in, "1/5 is 1 part of 5 equal parts" and he even did all the reading in his math book too. For History we read about the caste system in Ancient India and about the young prince, Siddhartha, who became Buddha. I'd really like to go a little deeper into Buddhism with the kids. If I *had* to choose a religion, I think I would choose that one. I went over a couple of the principles with Cameron, like reincarnation, and he informed me that he is starting to believe in ghosts and gods - especially ghosts. I think he might be ready to really start understanding what religion means to people.

The ironic thing about today is that school was done in Cassia's room. Yes, when that room was The School Room we never did school in there. It was just too cluttered and crowded and stiff. Now that it's all purple and comfy (and all DH's computers are out of there), it seems to be the ideal place to get a little quiet and hunker down with a good book, lol. A lesson in irony at its best.

The only thing left on our schedule today is a soccer game this evening. It is so nice to have everything done and out of the way early. I really hope this trend continues. Maybe I can even get the house clean and the baby's stuff ready before he arrives. *grin*

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's Unschooling. Really.

OK, so we didn't do any schoolwork Tuesday or Wednesday... but it's ok. We were unschooling. Really, we were!

Tuesday wasn't a good day for me. Blobby was practicing his Mommy Torture skills and I could barely walk. I was in so much pain. Ugh. So I just pretty much sat in front of the computer all day. That probably wasn't the best decision on my part due to the chair involved, but oh well. It really wasn't *that* bad until later. I think sitting on the hard computer chair all made it worse though.

The kids spend most of the day playing with LEGOs. It wasn't just regular LEGOs though. Cameron got out the big ones "for Greyson" almost first thing in the morning but all three of them played with them all day. They were quite creative too and made an entire zoo. The giraffe was the best. :)

Late in the day we went to an OB appointment. Everything looks good. My GBS test came out negative so that's a relief. My file has been faxed over to the hospital so I don't need to bother pre-registering. She did say that Blobby could still flip over again, if he's the stubborn sort, so she'll check that again next week. But with all this pain shooting down my legs recently, I'm willing to put big money on a giant head resting very low down there. I was complaining about how my MIL refuses to come down until a few days before my due date because she doesn't want to get stuck here waiting for four weeks like she usually does and the OB offered to induce me at a convenient time. I thought that was nice of her, but I am definitely against inductions of convenience and she was happy with that too.

Next was soccer and that was what did me in. Sitting on the ground for an hour is not my body's idea of fun. Cameron was a super star though. He made 4 of the 5 goals for his team - not that I was counting though, lol. He kept getting talked to about hogging the ball though. He got in a couple good passes, but most of the goals were him taking it from one end to the other, lol. Next time, I am definitely bringing a chair. I never wanted to bother carrying one but that hobble back to the car after sitting on the ground was not fun.

Wednesday was much better. I spent the morning cracking the whip and making the kids clean the house. It was *just* clean on Monday and then one day of me just letting them be and it looked like we hadn't cleaned in a year. Seriously, I got motivated because if I went into labor there is no way I would've been able to ask someone over to babysit. No way. I would've either had to spend early labor cleaning up debris so it wasn't quite so humiliating or just pile everyone into the car and dump them at someone else's house. Now, it's not so bad and just looks a bit lived in - not like something that would get my children taken away from me, lol.

Next we all piled into the car and went to the grocery store. Thankfully, no one was horrible there. Yay. I can't tell you what a rare treat that is, lol. I also got done half of the work that I need to have done by next week for our homeschool group. I should be able to whip out the rest of it in an evening. I'm not sure I'm motivated to do it tonight. Maybe tomorrow. The kids spent their time playing with the giant treasure chest that was the centerpiece of Cameron's party. They collected treasure; sorted treasure; quantified treasure; hid treasure; found treasure. It really was educational stuff. I loved how Cameron sorted out and piled up all the different types of treasure. I wouldn't have been surprised if he whipped up a quick bar graph of his holdings, lol. Maybe next week. ;) Then they played Senet. And now they are drawing pictures of the video games that I won't let them play because no one has done any bookwork. Bwahahaha.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Raspberry smoothies...mmmmm

Oh wait, that was supposed to be a blog title not a Twitter post. But we just got back from the farm with a basket of ripe raspberries and then blended them up with the handful of blackberries we had leftover from Friday, some raspberry sorbet, and milk. Yummmm. It would've been better if the vanilla ice cream that I had thought was in the freezer was still there but somebody appears to have eaten it all. At least we had the sorbet.

So, let's see.... what's new? Friday we dropped the ball, of course, and didn't get school done before the park. We did get the living room semi-straightened though and that was my big priority for the day. At the park we went on a huge blackberry adventure and everyone came back with full bellies and half-full containers of fresh, ripe berries. We had forgotten to bring a container with us so we had to borrow one, but this week I'm going to bring a huge one. On the latter half of that trail, there were so many berries that were not quite ready yet. Oh man, there's going to be a berry bonanza this week. I have lots of recipes in mind to make so maybe I should bring two huge containers and make sure everyone has a full stomach so we don't eat too much of the loot.

The weekend was spent converting the computer/school room (which had turned into a loose paper and craft supply junk yard) into The Purple Palace... aka the Cassia/guest room.

We're going to move all her stuff in there now, but it will house MIL while she's here in September and then it will be all for the Spoiled Little Princess after that. I think it's unfair and sexist that she gets her own room simply because she is a girl while the other three have to share, but DH says it's just because I'm jealous that I never had a Purple Palace when I was a kid. ;) He thinks the boys will dig living barrack style and she would be miserable trying to find room for her Barbies amidst the LEGOs and trucks. I agree, but think she should have to do it anyway for character's sake. She already thinks she's a princess - why should we have to prove it to her too?? I at least think the kids should be split two and two with C&C in one room and Grey and Blobby in the other because I think that the age difference is more important than the gender difference. I mean, how is Cameron going to feel in five years at age 12(!) having to share with a 5 and 7 year old? Wouldn't he be more comfortable with someone closer to his own age? But regardless, this is how we're doing it and that was how the weekend was spent. We're also going to cover an entire wall with bookshelves so the room will also be The Library. LOL, I think we just need a bigger house. Six bedrooms anyone??

Monday I actually had a really productive morning and got the kitchen cleaned, everyone showered and dressed, and school started all before noon. It wasn't until about 1:00 that the contractions/aches & pains started in and told me it was time to give it a rest. That's a big improvement from most days where I can barely get started before my body is telling me to shut it down. Weekends (where I basically just hand everything over to DH) are a good thing.

For school, I started Cameron out with math to do independently while I finished up the kitchen. He was finishing up the last two pages of the review section, which was word problems, so I left him to read them and work them out on his own. He actually did really well, except for the Singaporian names, lol. It was also nice to be doing something else and just calling over help when needed instead of sitting there impatiently breathing down his neck waiting for his brain to come around to the right conclusion. It reminded me of the way we did math about a year ago and I think it works much better that way.

Next we did phonics. Cassia went first and read a couple small stories with short vowel CVC words. She did pretty well and was having more success than usual in sounding things out and actually coming up with the right word. We only did half the lesson though because it was a pretty big struggle. I am proud of how well she is doing though. Cameron started the second to last lesson in the book and did fantastically with the huge words in it. Well, he did ok with the huge words but did fantastically with the other medium sized words which used to look huge to him, lol. He's really gained a lot of confidence in reading and has actually taken to reading books to Cassia every now and then. I love that. :)

We didn't have time for anything else though before gymnastics because Cassia's phonics took a lot longer than I anticipated. At the gym, Cassia was the only one who showed up for class! It was great because they really got to focus on her form, which is my one big criticism of her current coach. She tends to look away a lot and doesn't really seem to care if they do it right. Granted, the kids are only 4 - 6, but I'd still like to see them learn to do it the correct way. Today though, Cassia got lots of extra help in making her legs straight when she does those funny little half cartwheels, keeping her shoulders straight while she walks sideways down the balance beam, and keeping her arms flexed while she swung with an "earring hold" on the rings. She also had extra time to do some of the things she wanted to do just for fun like little performances on the high beam, lol. It was so cute. She did lots of tip-toes and "beautiful ballet arms" and DiDi even showed her how to do a little pirouette on the beam. In fact, she did a Cassia version of pretty much everything she saw on the beam in the Olympics, lol. I don't think she's ever had a better time in class. Cameron did great in class too, but by that time I was too busy chasing Greyson around in circles to watch too closely.

On the way home from the gym we stopped at our local farm for the first time in waaayyyy too long. Mmmmm, the bounty. I had a really hard time stopping myself at 6 lbs of produce and a single basket of berries... but that was all the cash I had! And then it was home for raspberry smoothies and blogging or cartoons, depending on who you are. Well, Greyson tried to go for the cartoon option but only lasted about 3 minutes before he crashed over the arm of the couch. I am actually surprised he made it that long. He usually falls asleep either during gymnastics or on the way home, lol. And now it's time for me to start dinner. Talk at ya later. :)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Day 3

Day three of my resolve to "do school everyday without exception" and I've already failed. LOL, like we weren't all expecting that. It's ok. I'm going to blame it on the Brain Sucking Baby that is currently residing on top of some nerve in my pelvic floor. To my credit, I suggested school two or three times but the Brain Sucking Baby and the 90 degree day conspired against my will to fight the opposition. Said opposition consisted of multiple and quickly fleeing cries of "in a little bit!"

C&C did play a rousing round of golf around the house though. The piles of debris became the hazards that they had to avoid to get the best points. They also played a couple board games. And watched some Olympics and Discovery Kids. And a little Days of Our Lives (shhh!). So the day was not completely lost for them... just me. No, that's not true either because I did do laundry despite my best efforts to avoid all things laborious today. Oh yeah, I also vacuumed the dining room after Greyson decided to throw a plate across the room, smashing it to smithereens. *sigh* That boy's got a temper some days.

If I can manage to go to bed at a decent time tonight, I'll try to rally the troops for school first thing in the morning before we hit the park. I *do* tend to have some motivation first thing so there is a small hope for that. Small, but hope nonetheless. ;)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

NOT Back to School!

Well, our local public schools started up today and, once again, I did not send any of my children. I could've gotten rid of two of them this year, but alas, I'm kind of used to them being underfoot all the time. ;)

We "celebrated" the day by going to Cameron's 7-yr check-up. He's fine - slightly below average in weight and off the charts in height. He passed the hearing and visions tests. He successfully peed in a cup and asked the doctor neurotic questions about itchy skin and eyes that have trouble focusing first thing in the morning. (The eye thing she chalked up to him having light eyes. She said her green-eyed DH and DS are always complaining about brightness and such while her brown-eyed self can't even remember to wear sunglasses. Sounds a lot like me.) The first thing the nurse said to us was, "What's up? Why aren't you in school today?" Cameron answered that we hadn't started yet, meaning that we would get to it later in the afternoon, but of course she misunderstood and started wondering when his school started and which one it was. I guess there just isn't that much to small talk about to a young child besides school? I don't know, I have a hard time shutting him up about "stuff" and school is rarely one of those topics, lol. Anyway, she didn't look at us like we had three heads when we said that no, we homeschool but she did do that "oooohhhhhh" thing that means that she's heard about "those people."

The next phase of the "celebration" was breakfast at IHOP. It's never as good as I remember it being, but it was eggs and pancakes that I didn't have to cook. That's always a good thing. Cassia actually cleaned her plate which is a shocking event, so she obviously could find no lack of quality in the happy face pancakes. Again, the waitress asked us why the kids weren't in school today. I happily answered that we homeschooled and were out celebrating Not Back To School Day. This time though, the reaction was that of an understanding smile and reassurance that that's probably the best way to do things. She then told us that she had been homeschooled through part of high school. I've been meeting quite a few young ladies recently who have shared that fact with me. The front desk "girl" at our dentist's was homeschooled for junior high.

Next on the list was an OB appointment for Blobby and me. He's definitely head down now and pretty much engaged. Dilation is starting in the tiniest little bit, which usually doesn't happen until about 39 or 40 weeks for me, so things are moving along quite nicely. Maybe this little one will make his appearance somewhere around on time? The kids were psycho-crazy while we were waiting for the doctor to come in (couldn't have anything to do with sugary pancakes and syrup, could it?) so by the time we got home I was ready to hunker down with the remote and attempt to catch up on my Olympics. DH wasn't into watching it all weekend so now I'm like three days behind and running out of drive space on the TiVo!!

Several hours and a disappointing 5th place finish for the Branagh/Youngs beach volleyball team later and we got started on schoolwork. It was a "short" day where we only did phonics (short /u/ CVC words for Cassia with accompanying drawings to draw and caption, eg "I run in the sun" and more multi-syllabic monstrosities for Cam), grammar (contractions), and math (review section on multiplying 3s and 4s and adding and subtracting money). Cameron was NOT the most cooperative student today. We had several long talks about why he needed to learn how to read and why he needed to cooperate when I said he had to do X. Finally, the reason that won out was that if he wasn't going to cooperate with my way of doing school then I would have to send him to another school. I really thought I'd have a few more years before I had to pull out the "public school threat" but, there it is.

He wasn't very cooperative yesterday either when we did the basics. It was all about doing the bare minimum so he could play video games. We had another long talk about the reasons we are doing this and I finally just said that we can no longer just skip days here and there. He loses all momentum and focus. It's not that typical brain cell loss that kids usually go through over the summer, he actually gets a little sharper with many skills after a short break, it's the loss of routine. If we're not doing it every day then every day becomes a bargaining of "do I really have to do this today?" So I laid it out - no more skipping school because it's gymnastics day and we don't get started early enough or don't want to do it while Greyson's awake. No more skipping school because it's park day. No more skipping school because Mommy is tired and just doesn't feel like it. No more. School is in five days a week. (Kind of coincidental I made this grand resolution on the day before the public schools started, isn't it?) And I didn't get any argument today when I said it was time to start school and I didn't get any argument when he had to come back to finish his math after soccer practice this evening because he was dragging his feet too much with everything and didn't get it finished beforehand. I just got a bunch of "I'm tired of reading big words!" and "I hate subtraction!" Let me let you in on a little secret... he only hates subtraction when he rushes through it and borrows wrong. Thankfully, as soon as we make it through the last two pages of this review section we can move on to something totally new and interesting: fractions!

Anyway, back to yesterday, along with the three R's (Reading, grammaR, and math Review) we also read about the Indians living along the Ganges River during the time of Rome (Cameron definitively said that he is not a Hindu because he does not believe that the stories of Ganga and Shiva are true) and started the MPH 4B science books. The first chapter in science is about the respiratory system and so to demonstrate moving air we made aerofoils out of notebook paper and found all the ways we could to make them move by using nothing but moving air. It was pretty fun and even Greyson got into it. Later in the evening, Cameron decided to make a paper airplane and after one particularly nice flight announced, "Behold the power of moving air!" LOL, sounds like something he got from Ms. Frizzle but I'll take it as our science studies spilling over to real life play. The kids really enjoy science and I'm sorry that I let it slip for so long just because we were going to an experimental science class. So what if the topics didn't match up week to week? There's no such thing as too much science.

Due to all our appointments and then soccer practice today (not to mention my mandated tv time), we didn't get to science or history but I said that we would do them both again tomorrow. Now that I think of it, that just might work out best to have short days when we have other stuff to do like gymnastics and the park and then long days where we do as much as we can on days when we're not doing anything else anyway. We'll still get history and science in two or three times a week like we would if we were alternating and we wouldn't end up feeling so rushed all the time. We also wouldn't have days that dissolve into nothing but craziness... which is what most days feel like around here lately. I keep saying it's for the kids, but I think *I'm* the one who needs some structure around here!

Speaking of structure, I know the structure of this post is lacking and probably hurting your brains by this point, lol. So with that, I'll sign off and go watch some more beach volleyball.