Thursday, May 29, 2008

And there went the week.

Thursday is over and we officially got zero schoolwork and zero chores done. The kids were reasonably happy all week but the further we got into it the further they pushed their limits. It went from passively aggressively going and playing quietly instead of doing what I asked to flat out saying "No," this afternoon when I asked Cameron to pick up the toys in the living room. So instead of getting mad - I am so done with getting mad - and threatening them with the loss of all of their toys or something (which apparently would mean nothing anyway since Cassia informed me this evening that she hardly ever plays anymore because she doesn't have any toys that she wants to play with - puhleez) I calmly and quietly instigated a new policy. If you don't help me out during the day, you go straight to bed after dinner so that I can have time to do everything myself. Problem solved. They've pretty much had to go to bed right after dinner every night this week anyway because of different attitude problems so now I have an official rule to go with that. :P So there.

I had this whole tirade about a bunch of stuff typed out but I just realized that that was my headache and my backache talking. No need to point fingers at philosophies for a reason why they're acting this way. It's purely and simply a lack of consistency on my part. I let them do it and so they did. They've been taking advantage of me because I am tired and just don't want to deal with the fight. So no more fighting, just early bedtimes. If they really annoy me I'll just serve dinner at 3pm. ;)

In better news, they had their dress rehearsals for The Big Gym Show today and they both did FABULOUSLY. They both truly tried their best and I've never seen them look better. And I told them so. They beamed with pride...

...and then they resumed not listening to me and running around like crazy monkeys up and down the street. *roll eyes*

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Smoother Sailing

Well today went much better than yesterday, though I can't really say that we accomplished much. Well, we did do a lot of planning for the 4-H Family Night potluck that is coming up in a couple weeks. Cameron is on both the games committee and the decoration committee so there was a lot of committeeing going on. And in the next couple weeks there is going to be a lot of stapling going on since he's going to have to make 24 feet of multi-colored paper chain!

Other than that, what did we do? Greyson seems to have totally given up on potty training. I guess the novelty wore off. He didn't even want to wear underwear today. Oh well. That is a very low priority on my list of things to worry about, lol. Cameron and Cassia just played a lot of LEGOs today. They've built these ships that carry horses and heroes off to strange lands in their various Legend of Zelda worlds. Cassia's was called Link's First Time in Space, lol. I didn't catch what Cameron's version was called. The funny thing was that they were playing separate games together. It was actually quite cool because that way they weren't arguing over the "right" way to do it or how the story went. They each had their own way and occasionally the two scenarios would interact, but mostly it was side-by-side fantasy LEGO adventuring. It worked for them, so it worked for me.

Then we went over to the K's for our committee meeting. That lasted all of about 15 minutes but we were there for about three hours eating lunch and playing with all their toys. They have some fun stuff in the backyard that their boys are getting too old for but my kids absolutely adore. We were joking that we should just go over there once a week for a park day so that their play stuff gets some use. ;) It was interesting because our kids never really interact because there's such a huge age difference - the K boys are 10 and 12, I think - but today M10 was actually playing with Cameron a bit, showing off his building skills with one of those magnetic building sets and comparing video game knowledge. I love when kids break out of their usual behaviors to just enjoy the moment and the people they're with. (LOL, suddenly the old saying, "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with" just popped into my mind!)

After that we had about an hour or so to grab some food and play some more LEGOs before heading off to the second to last baseball game. Wow, this season has gone fast. The kids played great today and that just had the coaches beaming. Saturday is the last game and then we're having a big BBQ and adult baseball game to close out the season. It should be really fun. We have some great kids and parents on the team.

And that was our day. Nothing too exciting, nothing too stressful. Kind of the way I like it. ;) Tomorrow though we WILL do book work and we WILL do some cleaning. The poor chore chart has been neglected this week.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Not on the Test

Funny video that someone sent me today (can't figure out how to put the YouTube window on my blog, sorry)...

Not what I had planned.

Ever have one of those days? Our day today wasn't necessarily bad, but just about everything I did went wrong somehow.

Let's start with getting up. Grey got up first. DH forgot to lock the computer room when he left this morning. Somehow, and I'm still not sure how because there wasn't a chair in sight, Greyson got a hold of the bottle of dish soap. That bottle is now empty. Use your imagination on the rest. All I can say is that it's a good thing I got off my procrastination wagon yesterday and printed up and mailed the homeschool group's stuff that I needed to do this month because the computer that the printer is hooked up to just goes beep beep beep now.

Next was my OB appointment. That I expected to go totally wrong because (a) I forgot to write down when my appointment was and (b) I had to take everyone with me. But when I got through to the front desk at about ten minutes after nine, I found out that my appointment wasn't until 9:45 so I still had plenty of time. The kids were great while we were there. The OB was very tolerant of their myriad of questions too. So that whole thing went a thousand times better than I expected, lol.

At home I had a day of cooking and such planned because we didn't have anything else on the schedule. I made some beef broth in the pressure cooker. The recipe said to let it rest and depressurize naturally for twenty minutes and then release any remaining steam. Well, when I did that it seemed to almost boil over and broth, not steam, bubbled out of one of the release valves. I should've taken it apart then and cleaned the valve but I didn't. I went ahead with my second batch of broth. (My pressure cooker is only about 4 qts so I had to cut the recipe in half. But since the first part of the recipe calls for roasting the soup bones in the oven, I figured it would be easier to roast all the bones now and then just make two small batches.) The second batch wouldn't come to pressure and so I had to take the cooker apart, rinse things a bit and try again. The second time it worked. I still didn't take apart the release valve and clean it though. More on that later. The broth itself came out ok, I guess. It is very pale though and doesn't really smell like beef broth to me. I haven't tasted it yet. I can't imagine it went all that bad though. The worst case scenario is that I don't use it for soups and only as an ingredient in sauces and such.

Greyson has been doing fabulously with potty training. Yesterday he actually woke up from a nap, ran to the changing table to get his underwear that we had exchanged for a diaper before his nap, and then ran to bathroom. I lifted him onto the potty and voila, he peed! His diaper had been a little wet but I was so proud of him that he actually woke up to pee. Today was not one of those days though. Today was one of those days when he would want to go to the bathroom every five minutes but then would not stay on the toilet for five seconds. He would instantly jump off and say done. Several of those times he did that just in time to pee on the floor. Or five minutes before he peed on the carpet. After thirty false tries and about five accidents, I put him back in a diaper. Boy, was he in a mood today. That dish soap thing was just the start. He got into everything he could today. It wasn't long after the potty frustration that I put him down for a nap.

Once Grey was in bed I tried to get school going. Cassia begged and begged to go first. I agreed, even though I was afraid it might set a weird start to things, because I don't want to discourage that kind of enthusiasm. We did the second page of a lesson that she got too distracted to finish last week. She was still distracted (because Distract Your Sibling seems like the game to play during phonics time) but we made it through and by the end she was reading the sentences pretty well... though she cannot remember the word "the" for the life of her, lol. She has "cat" down though. She got that one right every time. After that, I had to jump up to do something - I think it was to tend to that second batch of broth - and C&C had gotten into a shouting match over something nothing. And then I realized that the kids' bedroom door was wide open and Greyson was stirring from the noise. Grrrr. He got up about two minutes later and that was that for schoolwork.

I was really annoyed at that point but they all were happy and joyfully playing together. By the time I was done with my stuff, they were playing house out in the Little Tykes slide house thingy in the back. Cameron was the father, Cassia was the mother, and Greyson was the baby. They took all their blankets outside and were happy as could be. What could I do? Rather than yell at them to get back inside and get to work, I decided to stick to my frequent claims that I don't force school when it obviously isn't working. It obviously wasn't working, so I gave up and turned on DOOL. ;) Nothing like daytime drama to make your personal drama seems less dramatic.

Cameron came wandering back inside at some point and wanted to watch gymnastics so I put on the Men's Big 10 Championship for him. He was really into it and told me that he would really like to compete. What a big switch from last year when the only reason he agreed to even stay in gymnastics was so that he could be in the Big Gym Show again! I told him he'd have to work hard and get super strong. He agreed to always try his hardest.

And then I started craving brownies for some reason, lol. So I got up to make some and then Cassia wanders in and asks if she could help. Since it was a day for doing things NOT the way I wanted, I went ahead and let her. ;) She was actually a really good helper and even cracked the eggs into the bowl without getting a single piece of shell in. The oven was acting wacky though. It never got up to temp. I waited a good 20 minutes and it never beeped, so I figured it must be close enough and put the brownies in anyway. They cooked for almost half an hour and it never did make it all the way up to 350. We had had issues with this same thing a few months back and had to replace the heating element but it was working fine until today. DH had moved the stove out yesterday to clean up some oil that he spilled down the side, so I'm guessing that must've done something to it again. *sigh* Just what I didn't need. The brownies still taste good though.

By then it was time to start dinner so I did the dishes really fast and got started with our quickey dinner of polska kielbasa and mashed potatoes. I put the potatoes in the pressure cooker and again it never came to pressure. I figured it must have something to do with the seal being wet or something (I don't know what I was thinking) but I did the same thing as I did with Batch 2 of the broth this afternoon: I turned the heat off, rinsed the top and the seal off, dried it, and tried again. But this time it still didn't work and by the time I figured that out all the water had steamed away and the bottom of the pan was horribly burned. The potatoes came out great though. I just hope I can salvage my pan. I really, really love that pan. So, lesson learned: if stuff comes out of the safety release valve, TAKE THE STUPID THING APART AND CLEAN IT.

The kids were more interested in playing in their mashed potatoes tonight instead of eating them so after a half hour or so I decided that I was just done with the day and sent everyone to bed. It was really only half an hour early (where did the evening go?) but it made a big impression. Cameron wisely said, "I know why you're sending us to be early." I figured he was going to say it was because I was tired and needed some alone time - which is true - but he said, "It's because when we act crazy it's because we need more rest," which is also very true. Apparently, they do listen sometimes. ;) They're also still all sniffling from this mystery cold that appeared out of nowhere this weekend, so that tends to make them insane as well. I'm going to use that as my excuse too.

Speaking of excuses, I'm going to stop making them and actually do some yoga tonight. I really need it today and I also happen to be all caught up on my TiVo'ed shows so I have nothing else to tempt me. Except cleaning that is and that is not really very tempting at all at the moment. ;)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Three-ish days off!

Ahhh, nothing like three days with almost nothing to do to make the days feel like they're 24 hours long again. Tuesday was that Unschooler's Park Day. We did not do any schoolwork that day, lol. I had the kids do their morning chores, but somehow it just felt wrong for me to say, "You have to do schoolwork before we can go to the park." LOL. We did listen to d'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths on the way there and I decided that Greyson should've been named Hermes. In case you didn't know, Hermes snuck out of his cradle and caused all sorts of trouble, including stealing his brother Apollo's herd of cattle and slaughtering one to make the first lyre. Yeah, that's something Grey would do. Luckily, after a small talking-to by Zeus, he mended his wicked ways and became the golden child, loved by gods and humans alike. Again, that pretty much sounds like him.

Wednesday we had nothing to do at all and that's what we did. I gave Cameron a haircut in the morning and then we didn't even get started with schoolwork until late in the afternoon. Cameron did AMAZING during phonics (while Cassia waited in her room because she couldn't stop bugging him while he was trying to read) and then we all did a grammar lesson on pronouns. We were chanting the different pronouns, "I, me, my, mine, him, her, it, his, hers, its" and Greyson just kept saying, "Mine! Mine! Mine!" LOL. I think he's gotten the concept of the personal pronoun. ;) For math, Cameron played Timez Attack and ended up getting all the way through the 7s! For history we read The Librarian Who Measured the Earth. Really good book. (Oh, G, I forgot that you asked about You Wouldn't Want to be a Greek Slave... it was ok. The one on Sumerian Slaves was a lot better. The Greek one focused on household slaves and for the majority of it I was thinking, Yeah, so what? That's what I do. LOL, I think the kids were thinking that too.) Other than that, Cameron played his new Lego Star Wars, Episodes I - III game on the Game Cube and then they followed that up by watching Episode I on DVD.

Today, Thursday, Cameron woke up with a nasty cough! I have NO idea where that came from. He was fine yesterday. But we took Cassia to ballet anyway (and scared a mom and her two year old out of the waiting room with Cameron's germs - ooops!). Then we went to Trader Joe's where the children went typically insane. I don't know what it is about that store that makes them crazy. Cameron got a little cup of water from the sample bar and dropped the entire thing after one sip. We cleaned it up and had them set up a Wet Floor sign and he went to get more water. Then he splashed it. I sent him for a napkin and he cleaned that up. He was asking me whether or not he should ask for another Wet Floor sign when he dropped the entire cup AGAIN! *sigh* He got his Wet Floor sign that time. You'd think water would be a safe thing to have in the store. Then we went to our local organic farm and got a bounty for a song. We got seven small artichokes, a dozen carrots with their tops, a huge bag of different lettuces, two celery tops, a decent size sugar pumpkin, and two baskets of strawberries for only $12. All organic. All grown right down the street. Most picked this morning. I really love that place. I can't believe I had been driving past it for over a year without ever stopping in. Oh and I was finally able to compare prices - the organic strawberries at TJ's were $3.49 and the farm's are only $2 a basket. They taste better too. They're so sweet they taste like strawberry jam.

Once we were home and lunched, Cameron insisted that we do school. Since he was coughing so much still, we decided that for phonics he could just read an easy reader to us. He read Ride Otto Ride and we all enjoyed it very much. The book was way below his level and I think he really, really enjoyed the sense of accomplishment there. Next he did math which was a page on making change from a dollar. If he had been feeling better, I would have whipped out the actual cash - maybe we'll do that tomorrow or this weekend. Next was grammar and we learned about verbs that express a state of being. The copywork associated with that lesson was just copying them all down: am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been. I just mentioned in passing that we would skip that but Cassia piped up with, "No, I want to do that!" So she did. Her writing is getting much better. Finally for history I read the Step into Reading book, The Trojan Horse: How the Greeks Won the War which was an excellent book. We've read several versions of the Trojan War so far and this has been the best yet. It was exciting reading and yet simple to understand. It also had a lot of historical facts and told of Homer writing the Iliad and how Heinrich Schliemann unearthed the ruins of Troy in 1870.

Now Cameron is once again battling Droids in Lego Star Wars land and it is time for me to figure out what is for dinner. I just made chicken stock in the pressure cooker while I was typing this up. I could only make about 6 cups in the size cooker I have, but it was easy and fast enough that I could do that as needed without storing gallons of it in the freezer. Now what can I pressure cook for dinner? I have some bulk Italian sausage in the fridge that needs to be used up... maybe that and white beans over spinach? Sounds good to me! Dinner planned. ;)

Oh, I almost forgot! The most exciting part of Wednesday was that Greyson decided that he is ready for the potty! He wandered around naked or half-naked all day and ran to the potty about thirty times, in all. LOL. He was so excited and did a really great job. He's even got the "point the wee-wee down" thing down too. It's handy having a big brother to look up to and show you these things. He went once this morning too, but once I put clothes on him to leave the house, that was it. It would be nice if I could have him out of diapers by the time New Baby gets here. I wasn't really looking forward to having to wash diapers every single day. Speaking of which, laundry calls...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Escaping the heat and the labels

Well, it finally cooled down. It's been so bizarre, several days of 104 weather followed by several days of mid-70s and windy! Our poor bodies don't really know how to react to that. Today the wind is so strong that Cameron is worried about tornadoes. His daddy has an irrational fear of wind (resulting from some memories from his days as a latch-key kid) and I think some of it has rubbed off. (The other day there was a spider on the ground and Greyson was trying to pet it and I had to stop DH from running over and screaming "Don't touch it!! OMG, don't touch it!!" LOL, silly men.) I think I finally convinced him here that a 4-ft dust devil is about the worst we're ever going to see in this area... though there *have* been bigger ones. Those are of course the ones he can't get out of his head. Anyway...

Sunday went really well despite the crazy schedule. My meeting was fun and Greyson behaved himself reasonably well. We met in the patio of a coffee house and Grey had a good time splashing in the fountain that we were seated next to. LOL. Luckily it was a hot day and everyone appreciated it. I learned that sunblock applied to one's own back leaves an interesting pattern. I also volunteered for yet another thing that I probably don't have time for. Luckily, the other ladies were smart enough to keep me from going completely overboard and taking on even more. ;) Thanks, Girls!!

Next we drove to the pool party where DH had C&C. Grey fell asleep in the car during the 7 minute drive over (and we all knew he would!) so DH and I just tag-teamed it. He went home with the Sleepy Guy and I went into the pool with the Big Kids. Ahhh, that pool felt nice after sitting in the sun for two and a half hours! But then the wind kicked up and I spent most of the time just chatting up the other moms. Well, that and eating cake. Chocolate cake with vanilla cream filling. Mmmmmmm. Maybe I'll make some pudding today. Vanilla, or better yet tapioca, pudding sounds really good all of a sudden. Oh, where was I? Oh yes, the party. So we ended up closing out the pool and didn't get home until about 6:30. Leftovers for dinner!

Monday was an interesting day. The morning went SO WELL! I decided, since we got the house really clean over the weekend and I am determined to keep it that way for a change, to reinstate our chore chart. The kids were actually super excited to do that too and we breezed through all our morning chores. The kids were pumped and ready for the last morning chore "do schoolwork" by about 9:30. I, however, was not ready, lol. It took me another hour or so to shower and straighten my bedroom and such and then I was ready too. One one hand, I hate the connotation of schoolwork being a chore, but on the other hand, I love having it listed in black and white as just another thing to do. It works well.

Phonics went ok. It was another one of those days where he read just fine when he actually bothered to look at the words, but getting him to do that was a chore. Cassia, unfortunately, has picked up that same Don't-Want-To attitude. She always says that she wants to do phonics but then when it's time to read the words, the stories especially, she groans and avoids it and guesses. But she is the one who is always pulling out books and looking at them and asking me to read things to her. I know she is going to be my reader. I think I need a new method with her. I've been using a very dry approach with her and OPGTR though. I haven't used the flash cards or the magnetic letters much, I always skip the games. I really can't blame her for not being excited there. OK, note to self: Don't forget to have FUN!

Grammar was great. We reviewed action verbs and the pronoun "I." I decided to actually do the copywork this time and they both started groaning at the thought. Remember when I had them write sentences as a punishment several months ago? LOL, they were thinking of that and thought that copywork meant writing sentences over and over. They were relieved to find that they only had to write it once and that their sentences were really fun. Cassia's was, "The baby and I crawl." Cameron's was, "The baby and I crawl, wallow, and giggle together." The both did excellently and Cassia even came up to me later in the day and said, "I loved doing copywork today!" Yay! Math was simple for them both - changing dollars to cents for Cameron and writing numbers 15 through 20 for Cassia. For history I read a SOTW chapter about Greek Gods while they colored pictures from a Dover coloring book on Greek gods. Cameron colored Zeus and Cassia colored Athena. Do you think their choices tell you anything about their personalities? ;) We've also been listening to d'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths on tape and it was nice to find a little overlap between the two. Being familiar with the story always helps.

And then I don't know what happened. We were done with schoolwork. We were done with chores. We were done with lunch. And somehow it all went wrong. Cameron played his hour of video games and stopped as soon as the timer went off, I was so happy. But then when I suggested that we do our afternoon chores (which are SO simple if you've done your morning chores) they both just balked. I couldn't get either of them to do a thing and we ended up late to gymnastics. The boys and I ran to the library while Cassia was in class. We picked up a pressure cooker cookbook and Cameron picked out a really easy reader (one of the Otto series) and a book of Jewish folk tales. I was a little surprised by that one. He brought it to me and said, "Is this a history book? I want this one." LOL, ok, whatever. I never said he had to get a history book, but I'm thrilled that he wanted to get one. We made it back to the gym just in time and then he went in for his class. I grabbed Cassia and then we headed out to the grocery store. I really only meant to grab a couple things, take them home, grab Cameron's baseball uniform, and then head back to the gym but I bought a LOT of stuff and we didn't have time to go back home. So I grabbed Cam, rushed home, put the groceries away while he changed, and then rushed out to the ball field. Phew!

On the way out of the garage again, I noticed this guy across the street with the hood of his car up. His car wasn't that old so I thought it was a little odd. He also wasn't looking under his hood. He was also pointing his cell phone at my house. Like he was taking a picture. He noticed me looking at him and quickly moved to look under his hood. Maybe I'm just paranoid but it was a little weird, like he was staking it out and waiting for me to leave. So once we got to the ball field and got all settled, I called the cops. They said they'd drive by and nothing ever came of it but it was just weird.

Cam's game went pretty good. They didn't play that well (the coach especially was lamenting that fact) but both teams were in crazy-over-tired mode so it was understandable. Evening games suck. But Cameron was less crazy than many of the other kids and Greyson was asleep for at least half of it so I was happy, lol. So in writing it all out, it appears that the afternoon didn't really go too badly but I was SO worn out. Exhausted beyond belief. Leftovers for dinner again and then I fell asleep on the couch at 9pm. I can't remember the last time I fell asleep at 9.

Tuesday I did something bold. Bold for me anyway. I took the plunge. I called myself an Unschooler. I joined our local unschooling group and met them at the park. I've been lamenting this decision for over a year now, I think. I don't know why it is so hard for me to accept a label. I mean, if I hate the labels and think they're pointless and confining, why can't I just ignore them and hang out with who I want to? Who knows, but it's a big issue for me. The funny thing though is that I had less of a problem being the deviant Classical Schooler. It was actually kind of cool to be the one to stray and let my children lead. To be the one who wasn't afraid to throw the schedule to the wind and just enjoy our lives. I was the tree-hugging hippy chick who just couldn't follow the rules. Cool. That's always been me. But to be the Unschooler who makes her kids learn phonics when they don't really want to? To be the one who says, "We are not leaving this house until your schoolwork is done!" Well, that doesn't make me cool. It makes me the mean one. Being the strict one has NEVER been my cuppa. Kind of weird. Am I any different? Has my approach changed? Absolutely not, but now I feel like the mean one because I joined an unschooling group.

But I'm working past that. I'm not hiding my Classical Tendencies from the group. In reply to my intro, one of the founders of the group said something to the effect of "it's great to get a peek into how the other side lives." That had a little sting to it, but I think I'm just still a bit sensitive. I'm going to assume that she meant the other side of the spectrum of unschooling, since she is a radical unschooler, rather than the other side of homeschooling in general. It's still hard to feel like I fit in sometimes, but again, I'm sure it's just my insecurities with "the labels." I may make a few excuses for myself now and then, but I will never pretend to be something I am not. My kids ARE happy. They are following their passions. I just gave Cameron a haircut like Link from The Legend of Zelda...
... and if that's not child-led than I don't know what is. ;)

Anyway, the park was FABULOUS. As I suspected, most of the kids there were our friends - most from Friday's science class! - and we had a blast. We talked, they played, the day disappeared in the blink of an eye. Greyson was so adorable. I don't know what it is, but his cute factor went up by about ten times since his birthday. This is how I remember Cameron being too - an emotional challenge at 18 months, adorable at age 2, and then a crazy monster at 3, lol. So if that's the case, we have a good year ahead of us. ;) But anyway, I'm very glad we went to the park. (I even got a fabulous massage after my back started hurting from sitting on the ground too long!) I'm glad I joined and I'm looking forward to lots of fun activities with them in the future. :)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Never put off until tomorrow...

Remember how I was in a blogging mood last Monday but felt that I had blogged too long and decided to save Monday's activities for Tuesday? And here it is, almost Monday again, and I never got back to it. Shame on me. Now, I am sure, last Monday will not receive the proper accolades that it deserved.

Monday was, in fact, a fabulous schooling day. The weather was gorgeous so we worked outside. We did phonics and grammar and math - though by this time I don't remember the details. I do remember that the kids were taking turns doing their work and riding their scooters around the backyard. Cassia did her phonics and math too. The really impressive thing about Monday was history. I asked Cameron if he wanted to read another library book on Ancient Greece or move on in SOTW which would come back to Greece in a chapter or two. He chose to move on so we read about Cyrus the Great. Oh boy did he love that story!! The chapter ended with a big cliff-hanger: would Cyrus the Great succeed in conquering Greece as well? Cameron just had to know. So we read another chapter. Unfortunately though, they didn't answer our burning question and just compared the differing lifestyles in Athens and Sparta. But that was still interesting and while I was pushing Cameron to prefer the intellectual lifestyle of Athens, he said that if he were living in Ancient Greece he would definitely want to learn how to fight too. He said that his Greek City would teach both academics and military training. That boy is boy through and through! There was still enough interest that we could have read the next chapter, but that was on the Greek Gods and the war with Persia was again put off until the next chapter. It was getting close to time for gymnastics anyway so we called it a day.

Cassia was distracted during gymnastics. She seemed to only do her best when she knew someone was watching. In fact, before she did a skill she would look around to see if a coach was watching her first. If they were, she did a fabulous job. If they weren't, she would either half-ass it or skip it entirely. *roll eyes* She must've forgotten that I was watching. I reminded her that during the Big Gymnastics Show (which is what they were practicing for), everyone would be watching her all the time so she had better do her best through the whole thing. Since the kids had been sick last week, I decided to have her do her make-up in the Creative Dance class instead of coming back another day for gym. The difference was amazing. Seriously, she had ten times the focus in dance class. When she did the trial class a couple weeks ago, they had started learning the first part of a dance to one of the songs in The Lion King. Well, she hasn't practiced it or even thought of it, I'm sure, since then but she remembered everything she had learned and picked up on the rest as fast as the kids who had been there every week. I think she's a dancer at heart.

Cameron, on the other hand, was a gymnastic fool! I missed most of his class because I was watching Creative Dance but in the last 10 minutes or so I saw him doing diving rolls over three other kids!! DUDE! I was impressed. And then when we were going out to the car one of the other moms stopped me and told me how amazing he had done throughout the entire class. *beam* :) The Big Gym Show has been his motivation all year. I guess he's just thrilled to be in it again.

Tuesday we had the last "boring" 4-H meeting of the year. The meeting was even longer than usual for us because first we had a committee meeting to plan the Family Night potluck dinner. Cameron volunteered to be on the Decorations and Games committees. I love that he always wants to be so involved - even though he rarely remembers what he volunteered for or what he is supposed to be doing there, lol. After the main meeting, they held the officer elections for next year which actually turned out to be pretty exciting. Most of the incumbents, some of whom had held their positions for like 3 years, were overthrown (is that the right word?). Cameron was elected for both Sergeant at Arms and Early Bird Prize Committee Chair. He had written himself in at the last second to be a Greeter as well, but was disappointed to find that he didn't get that. I told him that it was hardly a surprise since no one knew he wanted to do it, lol. He hadn't even given a speech for it since he decided to run as he was filling out his ballot. As usual, that took up our whole day and we didn't do anything else of note (that I can remember now, lol).

Wednesday.... ummmmm.... Wednesday? Not a clue what we did, lol. I know we did schoolwork but I can't remember how it went. I think we just did the basics and skipped history and/or science. We may have gone to the store as well? Oh I remember what happened of note on Wednesday! We were at our local farm picking up a couple things and there was a news crew there! They insisted on videotaping us doing our shopping, lol, but I forgot to ask when or where it would air. Oh well. Fame is fleeting anyway.

Thursday was the final Cooking project for 4-H. We made Cool Cucumber Soup and Sunrise Lemonade (think tequila sunrise without the tequila). Only a couple families showed up but it was a great last lesson. I've really enjoyed leading these kids in something that I love. I hope I've given them a little bit of adventure in the foods that they'll eat and a lot of confidence in their culinary skills. The best part, for me, though is that I've really connected with a couple of the new families with younger kids. I tend to not want to go out of my comfort zone and so I don't go out of my way to meet new people. I'm happy just talking to people I already know. The classes I've taught, however, have given me lots of casual time to interact and make new friends. The kids have too. Yay friends! Again, 4-H took up the whole day and we didn't do anything afterward except pick up the mountain of toys that had somehow taken over the house throughout the week.

Friday we left the house in anticipation of the second to last science class. Unfortunately, when we got there we found that the instructor (aka The Science Guy) had gotten held up at a school assembly and wouldn't be able to make it. :( I think the parents were more disappointed than the kids though, lol. Don't get me wrong, they love the class but they were perfectly happy to just hang out with their friends and play. And actually that was a kind of good thing because we are eternally rushing out of there to get to Favorite Park Day and the kids are always a bit sad that they can't stay and play with their new friends. So this week they got the chance to really do both. We left there after a little over an hour and headed off to the park. It was HOT! We had some sure-to-be-record highs the last couple of days. On Thursday it was 104 in the shade and 95 in the house. Gah. So the park was fun, as always, but there were no giant hiking adventures - just a giant water fight, lol. And then we had to rush off from there (though it didn't feel like a rush since we were actually pretty grateful to get in the air conditioned car) to go to a baseball game. Busy day!

Saturday was yet another baseball game followed by an entire day of the kids playing in a blow up wading pool. Grandma C had sent it for Greyson's birthday and it had just arrived Friday afternoon. Ah, sweet relief. :) Cassia seriously did not get out of the water all day.

Today is Sunday and we have another busy day. I have to go to a business meeting for our homeschool group at one and the kids have to be at a swim party at two in a different town. Luckily, DH has agreed to take C&C to the party and Grey and I will meet them there (and relieve him of birthday party duty) as soon as the meeting is over.

And that was the week. Phew! Next week - better blogging. :P

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Little Backtrack

I just couldn't move on without describing Greyson's wonderful party and then my wonderful Mother's Day.

Friday we started the day with Science Class. The topic was light and the kids learned about refraction and made three different projects to demonstrate the properties of light. First they took a cd and put a sticker with this black and white pattern of dashes on it which was meant to break up and bend light. They taped a marble in the middle and then used that to spin the cd. The spinning black lines, amazingly, turned colors. Next they made spectrometers (real spectrometers!) from a cardboard tube, a small plastic lens, and some dark tape. Tiny holes poked in the tape let light in, which the lens then refracted into the light's telltale spectral lines. The kids really just saw "rainbows" but if you take the time to appreciate it, you can see how the light from the window is different from the light from the fluorescent bulb which is different again from candlelight. Very cool project. The final project was bracelets made from UV detecting beads: colorless in the shade and brightly colored in the sun!

After that we rushed over to the park for Greyson's birthday party. The kids have never so happily left their friends at Science Class. It was a small, simple party but I can tell you that it was a highlight in Grey's short life. The food was everything he loves: mostly sandwich rolls and cut fruit. He gorged himself. And he gorged himself some more. And then we had cake. My Thomas cake actually came out better than expected and he loved it.

He cheered when he saw it. He grinned and clapped his hands when we sang to him. He had three pieces and made sure that everyone else had plenty too. Everyone really loved the cake and was surprised that is was not only entirely dairy free (including the "buttercream" frosting) but that it was made with mayo. In fact, the kids loved that little oddity and kept telling everyone about it, lol.

Next we all went on a trip to the bathroom (it's a bit of a hike from the playground) that turned into a big hike. The big kids decided to take a different trail than usual and went off exploring in the wild (ratio of about 5 adults to 10 kids, way better than a school field trip, lol) but Greyson was in an exploratory mood of his own. He had to pick up every rock and look in every nook and since it was his birthday party, well, why the heck not. So we quickly got separated from the group and had our own little explore. I think he really enjoyed the one on one time and the freedom to just do what he wanted. We were discussing later how great it is for kids to have that opportunity and how important it is to give them that time once in a while. Unfortunately, the more kids you have the harder it is to give them that - but I do think they appreciate it all the more.

So eventually everyone made it back to the playground and then Greyson opened his presents. I told everyone no toys - since we have about 300 too many - and thankfully people listened. :) Well, except me. We've managed to go all this time without ever getting one of those wooden train sets so I decided to go ahead and get him one. He loves it. He also got a super cool ball, several books, and a whole bunch of really wonderful cards. One had him portrayed as a Police Baby riding in a patrol car and chasing a robber in a black and white striped shirt, lol. Gotta love that kind of stuff. So that was a fabulous day and honestly one of the best birthday parties we've ever had: no stress, good friends, and heartfelt sentiment. He and I both felt very loved. :) My kind of party.

Saturday was a baseball game. Cam's team played great. They always do though. Actually, it was kind of funny because they were really low key the first couple innings and the coach gave them a "pep talk" (What the heck is going on?? Are we playing baseball or are we sleeping??) and after that they played great. Next we came home and the kids all disappeared with DH into the schoolroom/computer room to "fix computers." Hmmm, he's never needed their help fixing computers before. Suspicious, no? An hour or two later they came out and instructed me that I either needed to go run errands for a couple hours or glue myself to the tv without ever looking outside. I opted for the latter and caught up on my Days watching (oh and wasn't Tuesday's episode great with all those flashbacks of Sami and John, lol). And that was about it for the day. All that tv pretty much sapped all the energy out of me and all that "computer fixing" took a lot out of everyone else too.

Sunday Greyson decided that we needed to get up at 6:30. I tried to convince him differently for about an hour but finally gave in and splurged on a Mother's Day cup of coffee (ok, several of them) instead. DH went for a run and I made everyone a big breakfast. After breakfast and my shower, I was greeted by several guilty looking faces who then yelled "SURPRISE! Happy Mother's Day!" and handed me a piece of paper with several geocaching coordinates on it. I was then sent out in the back yard with a GPS unit to hunt down my presents, lol. First was a painting made by Cassia and Grey.

mother's day 2008

Next was a painting by Cameron (sketched by DH, painted by Cameron, helped by Cassia and Grey). In case you can't tell, the baby penguin is Greyson and I am the Mommy standing over him. Cassia is the one with the pink eye markings peeking out from the iceberg and Cameron is the proud and beautiful one in front. :) Happy family to be sure.

mom's day 2008 also

They have a tradition of giving me Mother's Day Paintings. I did not get one in 2006 (they thought a baby was a good enough present!) and I still give them a hard time about it to this day. Maybe that's why I got two this year. ;) Here's a slide show of all of my wonderful artwork.

So then if that weren't enough, there was another box that mysteriously showed up from Amazon last week amidst much whispering. It contained a brand new pressure cooker!! Wasn't I just saying a little while ago that I wanted one? I had only mentioned it once and he went out and got me one. Gotta love that kind of attention. That also proves that he just pretends not to hear me the rest of the time. ;)

After presents we went out for a big geocaching/hiking adventure at a local park. It was a good day for geocaching and we found five of five! The best part though is that the kids were fabulous hikers and even Cassia made it the whole way without being carried - almost three miles and a decent incline at points too.

We finished off the day exhausted with a lovely pressure-cooked dinner. :) Baby artichokes (overcooked in only five minutes, no less), Swiss-Style pork chops, and farm fresh salad in less than half an hour - including the time to trim the artichokes. After a few train books on the couch, we all fell into bed for a very, very sound sleep. It was a fabulous day. It was a fabulous weekend.

And I think that officially makes this blog entry "long enough." I will save today for tomorrow, I think. I hope everyone had as nice a Mother's Day as I did.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!!

A happy Mother's Day to all - friends and strangers, commenters and lurkers alike. As with most other holidays, Mother's Day appears to have many origins including an ancient celebration of the Vernal Equinox and an early Christian tradition of visiting your mother's church on the fourth Sunday of Lent, so that mothers might be united with all of their children at least once a year. But the origin that I find the most interesting (and thank you MomK for mentioning it Friday) came in 1870 when Julia Ward Howe proposed that all mothers unite in a call for peace.

Her Proclomation of Peace went like this

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

So on this day dedicated to mothers, I would like to make my own call for the great human family to live in peace. Peace for the nations of our world. Peace for our families. Peace in our relationships. Peace in our hearts. As Meesh says in her email sig line, "Peace- It does not mean to be where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart."

Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

I shouldn't be blogging

I should be cleaning. But oh well. ;) I feel guilty about not keeping up with blogging this week so sacrifices must be made.

Tuesday, thankfully, everyone was well enough for us to go to EcoArts. We took old fence planks, cut them up into 5"x5" squares, pounded nails around the outside edge, and voila, had ourselves some looms. We wove our "fabric" from recycled tights and nylons. Yes, you read that right. We cut discarded hosiery into rings (horizontally across the legs) and then looped each ring around the nails. We found that a pair of little girl tights works best for the 5"x5" shape. Adult nylons or tights may need a slightly larger loom. Now, the first two things DH said when he saw my sample were "What is it?" and "Why are you making that?" but the children had no such questions. Everyone had a great time and Cassia now has several new My Little Pony blankets. They have been taking a lot of naps since Tuesday. But if you really want something constructive to do with them, you could use one as a coaster or sew several together to make a pot holder. Just be careful you don't pick up something so hot with them that you melt the nylon! The adults there all raved and said it was the best project yet. :) It is quite addictive once you start weaving. Give it a try!

Wednesday was Greyson's 2nd Birthday!!!! Hooray for Greyson!! We had a great day. We met DH for lunch at a park near his work (secondary facility of his company that's about 20 min from our house, in case you were confused by the logistics there) and ate In-N-Out and chocolate cupcakes. Then we did a little hiking in the park and discovered a little pond/reservoir/natural spring. We're not sure what it was really, but it was fenced in and there were some koi and a turtle in it. It flowed down through the rest of the park in cute little streams with cute little wooden bridges over it and the whole thing was just absolutely irresistible. DH had to go back to work but we kept on investigating the water sources. Cameron figured out that there was a second stream flowing down and we had to discover where that was coming from too. And then we found another trail and hiked until our sandaled feet could not take the incline any longer. Everyone was high on the spirit of exploration and adventure. It was a good day.

On our way back to the car, we stumbled across the Marin History Museum which happened to be home to a train exhibitition! What luck!

We still had a few minutes until our meter ran out so we spent a bit in there. They had this cute little kids' section with toy trains set up and lots of art supplies. C & C both made train tracings which they cut out, decorated, and made into presents for Greyson. :) It was so sweet. He's really gotten into trains over the last month so it was incredibly thoughtful of them to do that, I thought.

Today, Thursday, we started the day with Grey's 2-yr old check up. He lost a few pounds from his illness last week but other than that all looks well. I jokingly asked the ped for some tranquilizers for C&C because they were being their usual silly selves, but she only consoled (?) me by saying that her 8 and 11 year old daughters still act that same way together. Oh goody. I really was under the impression that they would grow out of this someday. Maybe when they're 18. ;) No, they really weren't that bad - they just have no concept of either indoor voices or sitting still.

Next was ballet which we barely made it on time to and then we took a "field trip" to the farm. The kids had a great time helping me pick out the veggies and weighing them and then we went and looked at the chickens for a while. (Many of them were missing the feathers on their back. Is this something I should worry about as far as their eggs are concerned?) On the way home, Cameron asked me if I could make pancakes for lunch and I thought that that might just be the perfect use for what was left of that single pint of tiny little strawberries that we were lucky enough to get. And I was right. Mmmmmm. Strawberry pancakes!

For school, aside from all the wonderful learning that went on at the doctor's office and the farm (oh I didn't mention that at the pediatrician's Cassia and Greyson spent a lot of time learning all the fruits and vegetables on the nutrition chart and that Cameron read all the signs to them: phonics & science right there.) I read You Wouldn't Want to be a Slave in Ancient Greece to them while they played with LEGOs. I figured that was good enough for the day and then set off to work making Greyson's birthday cake. We're having a little party for him tomorrow at Favorite Park Day so I'm making him a dairy-free Thomas the Tank Engine cake. Here's the recipe I'm using. I hope it's good. :) And I hope I don't totally mangle a perfectly good cake trying to make it into a train. I really should watch less Ace of Cakes. It fills me with delusions of grandeur. ;)

OK, I can no longer put off straightening up the kitchen and getting dinner started. Hasta pasta!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Another one bites the dust

Cassia woke up this morning saying that her throat hurt and she wanted some medicine. Actually, she woke up, took off her jammies and night-time diaper, put on clean panties, and crawled into Greyson's bed. She then claimed that she was too cold to get up and fell back asleep, mostly naked, lol. But once she finally did manage to get some clothes on and get up, she said that her throat hurt and that she wanted some medicine. I gave her some Tylenol and she almost instantly fell asleep on the couch for about three hours! I guess she really didn't feel good.

I decided that gymnastics would not be a good idea today.

Cameron and I decided to do school outside but she rushed out to follow us and begged to go first. So she did. She read some more three letter words like dad and had and then a small story. Apparently she's been listening to Cameron because she said, "Oh no! Not another story!!" I quickly informed her that she didn't have to do this if she didn't want to and that I had thought she wanted to learn how to read and furthermore, I thought she loved reading that small story on Friday about Nan and the tan cat. She said, "Oh yeah," and read her story. It was very similar to last time in that I was doing the leading on the first half and by the second she was figuring it out on her own. But I could tell she was exhausted. Cameron read some Latin-derived words where "d" makes the /j/ sound (educate, schedule). I had never thought of those words as making a /j/ sound... more of a /dj/ sound if I really think about it, but whatever. He read pretty well but he was a bouncy little monster. Somebody bought him a soda yesterday and he drank the second half of it this afternoon. Bad idea. I knew I should've just thrown it out yesterday.

For grammar I read them a silly little poem and they picked out which lines were statements, exclamations, and questions. It was a fun exercise and the end of the first grade section of the book! No one even thought of asking if that meant we were going to stop doing grammar until second grade. ;) Next was math where Cameron did a lesson on counting money. He did great and the only mistake he made was by writing $6.04 as $6.4. It was an easy enough fix once he knew.

For history I read a couple chapters from a book on Ancient Greece and then read four chapters from Hour of the Olympics. Cam said he didn't want to hear anymore after one chapter but I said too bad. ;) I'd really like to move on in history since most books are talking about Classical Greece and SOTW comes back to that in a couple chapters BUT I'm still waiting for a book or two on Troy from the library. I guess I'll probably just finish this Magic Tree House book and then move on. I doubt we'll have many library books for the next couple chapters and Troy will still be relevant in Classical Greece.

Cassia starting saying she felt really sick again after that and I thought it was because I had just asked them to straighten up the living room, lol. But alas, it was not. Thankfully DH is working in town this week and was already planning on coming home early to watch Cameron's baseball game so I asked him to come home a couple minutes earlier to take him himself so that I could stay home with Cassia. She seems fine now - thank goodness. She was really bad for a few minutes there.

OK, dinner is ready. I will talk at you later. :)

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Happy May!

The May weather is gorgeous and I celebrated the day by reducing my carbon footprint. I went to a local farm and bought fresh, organic, LOCAL produce instead of buying the same thing at the grocery store for more because it had to be shipped from Chile. Less travel for my food means more lovin' for my Mother Earth. They're going to addict me though because there are new things everyday (depending on what was harvested) and he specifically said that this early in the season, you just never know about the strawberries. So it looks like I'll be making frequent trips to check out the strawberries and while I'm there who knows what else will tempt me. They had fresh eggs (too bad I just bought some yesterday), olive oil pressed at a local pressery (?) from olive grown on the farm, and marinara sauce canned (jarred) from last years crop of tomatoes. How cool is that?

I am now sufficiently motivated to go back to making my own chicken stock (in fact I picked up some yummy celery tops just for that purpose!) and baking my own bread. If only we could get that deep-freeze freezer so that I could buy beef in primal cuts instead of those pricey supermarket cuts and then we'd be in business. I'm trying to talk DH into getting me a pressure cooker too. (Anyone watching The Alaska Experiment on Discovery Channel? They've really piqued my canning and preserving interests.) And a dehydrator. OK, now I'm being greedy, but I say we're only about 6 years away from our first family backpacking trip and I need to be prepared!

But all that may be a little too ambitious considering my state of mind lately. Yesterday, I left an hour late for an hour long class. Do the math - it doesn't work out well. Thursday I was still debating whether or not C&C should go to science class but on Friday morning I decided that Greyson was doing so much better that we'd go ahead and go. I wanted to stop at the store on the way and pick up some bread and tortillas so I got everyone ready to go at 10:40. I figured that would be plenty of time to go shopping and then drive the half hour to the 11:00 class. Hmmm, again, do the math. We ended up leaving a bit late and pulled into the Trader Joe's by our house at 11:00 exactly. I was reminding the kids to hurry up because we were running a tad late and Cameron said, "Mommy, doesn't Science Class start at 11:00?" D'OH!! OMG, my heart just sank. I have never felt so much like I let my kids down as I did right then. Thankfully, they forgave me and thankfully we didn't go because Cameron ended up feeling badly and running a low fever a couple hours later. Man, I felt like a punk though. I'm glad they didn't give me a guilt trip about it because I think I might have cried. ;)

So at home we whipped out our own science books and did the entire chapter on the water cycle. We did a fun little experiment where you put boiling water in a beaker, cover it with aluminum foil, and put a couple ice cubes on top. In a few minutes, you have yourself your own little water cycle complete with "clouds" and rain. Next, mean Mommy that I am, I made everyone get into the car and run to the library because our Magic Tree House book on the first Olympics had come in. We came home and read the first chapter but that was all Cameron could handle. He was then released of his scholarly duties for the day and allowed to play video games. Suddenly he seemed much better. Hmmmm.

Today Cassia went to Mini-Mentor Day at ballet. It was a class to benefit the City Ballet and each little 4 - 6 yr old dancer was assigned their own real ballerina to mentor them as they learned the Butterfly Dance from A Midsummer Night's Dream. They followed that up with a tea party (complete with macaroni and cheese and apple juice!) and then a cute little picture with their mentor. It was so sweet and Cassia had the biggest grin on her face when we got there and she was assigned to her mentor. But alas, The Sickness caught up with her too and even though she made it through the class, she told me that she turned down the mac & cheez (!!) and then she came home and collapsed on the couch for several hours complaining of tummy pains. :( The good news is that Greyson is about 90% better and Cameron seems almost as good as new today. He's still drained and doesn't have much appetite, but it doesn't seem to have hit him too hard. *knock on wood*

Tomorrow will probably be a lazy day making sure no one gets too sick. I really should transplant my green onions before they get too big (didn't I learn my lesson from the corn?) but the thought of bending over all those itty bitty plants makes my back hurt. ;) The corn and the beans look like they've handled their transplantation quite well. They're all perky and green and happy looking. Yay! Now if only we can get everything in and flowering before the bees make their pass, we'll be good. Last year we had no corn and only a couple squash because we got things planted too late. We'll see how we do this year. The weather has been so odd - I think if I would have planted anything earlier we might have lost it because there have been several weeks of super hot then super cold weather. We'll see. Maybe the gardening gods will appreciate my trek to the organic farm today and bless my vegetables.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

going for the gold!

Four days in a row!! Look at me go!! And I'm not even behind in the dishes or laundry. (Though I should be starting dinner now instead of blogging.)

Greyson was up a lot last night so our sleep was not the best. (Actually, I slept really well in between changing sheets and taking temperatures in the middle of the night.) He finally got up around 7:45 and wandered out to play with Cameron. A few minutes later, I hear the familiar clang clang of him pulling things out of the dishwasher and then a couple minutes after that I hear someone screeching at him to stop whatever it was he was doing (turns out it was his favorite "pouring water experiment" as we like to call it). As I tried to rouse myself up and out of bed to clean up the inevitable mess, I glance at the clock. 9:50!! Cassia's ballet class was at 10:30! I haven't overslept like that in years (at least when there wasn't another adult here). Amazingly, we managed to make it to ballet all dressed and combed and me even showered just as Miss Megan was taking the girls upstairs. Phew! I hate starting the day like that though.

Cameron had had another big Monopoly mess out again, so after that was all cleaned up and my plants were all watered (the little bean plants look so happy, by the way) we started schoolwork. Cameron had a very good phonics lesson where he read about the Knight's Code of Conduct with lots of big words like endurance and courteous. Next Cassia did her phonics and I was so proud of her!! She's really trying hard and we practiced all the words from the last two lessons and then moved on to some words like man, can, and tan and the sight word the. That one little word enabled her to read her very first sentence. There were three in the "story" she read, but the very last sentence she read all by herself. Here is the monumentous word grouping: Nan can fan the tan cat. My little girl is growing up. I actually don't remember Cameron catching on this fast, but I do think he was a little younger. (Poor first child who gets pushed into everything too fast because the parent is over-anxious.)

Grammar was a cumulative review of all the poems we've memorized. They both did great. It's quite impressive how well they remember them, especially since some haven't been reviewed in months! Cameron is scheduled to give a speech at Family Night at 4-H this year and we've decided that he is going to recite Mr. Nobody. He's got the poem down but what we're going to have to work on is cutting down on the silly dramatics that go with it. ;)

Math for Cameron was the second half of the review exercise from yesterday. It also took forever but I finally figured out a trick towards the end of it. He was working on word problems today and was having a time trying to figure out which mathematical operation to use. After one or two of them, he stopped trying and just began guessing right off the bat. Is it addition? Is it division? So rather than getting annoyed, I changed the numbers in the problems to ones that he could easily do in his head and then made him really think about how he got there. He would get the right answer almost instantly but it really did take some thinking to figure out how he got there. For one of them I said, "If I have 5 letters to mail but only 3 envelopes, how many more envelopes do I need?" He instantly said 2 but when I asked how he got that he said that he added. "Two plus three is five. I added." In retrospect, I guess I should've allowed that and had him write the problem in an algebraic variable (aka fill in the blank) type of way, but we finally wrapped his head around the fact that he had done subtraction to get there. After that it was easy to plug the right numbers back into the problem and do it right. Meanwhile, Cassia was doing more work on the concept of the teens. I didn't even mention it to her, but as soon as I pulled out Cameron's math book she took out hers and started working on it by herself. I definitely think she is going to be ready for "formal" Kindergarten next year.

For history I read about the Greek Dark Ages in our history encyclopedias while the kids colored pictures of the Cyclops. As they were coloring, Cameron kept telling Cassia little tidbits of the story. (Remember, she passed on history yesterday and watched a movie instead.) I think he really liked that one. She was mildly horrified at the news that Odysseus put out the Cyclops' eye, but moments later she was coloring him red to show "all the red blood cells that are leaking out from where he got hurt." Earlier this afternoon she accidentally picked off a scab which started bleeding quite a bit. She freaked out, as usual, at the sight of the blood but I tried to explain how it was just helping her and reassured her that she wouldn't run out of blood because her body was always making more. That little tidbit of information really seemed to calm her down. I guess that's what she's always been afraid of - not the sight of the blood, but the fact that part of her body was escaping her!

We also did map work showing the journey from Greece to Troy. And then I brought out the Greek alphabet worksheets that I had printed out from Enchanted Learning. They weren't great worksheets though so the kids weren't really interested in doing anything more than just writing their names in Greek. I think I'd really like them to work on memorizing the Greek alphabet. I remember when I was about ten, my brother was pledging a fraternity and one of the things he had to do was memorize the Greek alphabet. He enlisted my help in that and I remember it being a really fun thing to learn.

Now my little family is all bonding in front of a Thomas video for Greyson's sake. Both C&C claim that they "don't like Thomas very much anymore" but they sure do run to the tv whenever I put it on for Grey and they certainly stay enthralled by it. ;) I thought the little guy was feeling better today, just some diaper trouble to round off the whole stomach virus thing, but he woke up from his nap pretty lethargic. He hasn't had a fever today, but he certainly hasn't felt good. The others seem fine (*knock on wood*) so I'm not sure what to do about tomorrow. They have Science class and I hate for them to miss it since there are only ten in the series and they already missed one a couple weeks ago when Cameron was sick. I'm torn between calling someone else to take them or dropping them off and hanging out with Grey in the car. The problem with calling someone would be that the closest person to us in the class would have to backtrack pretty far out of her way to come here and pick C&C up. Grey would most likely fall asleep in the car on the way there anyway so I'll probably just drag us all out there hoping that he won't be too uncomfortable. Ah, for a Mommy Cloning Device to go with that Self-Cleaning House I have on order!