Friday, June 27, 2008

Three days was the limit.

LOL, looks like my 3-day streak was about all we could manage. Cameron actually said today, "Funny how we got in the habit of doing schoolwork everyday for only a few days and now we're not doing it anymore." Sometimes I think kid years are like dog years... two days of no schoolwork is a really, really long time, lol. Actually we really only skipped one day because I can't remember the last time we did schoolwork on a Friday!

But since I was mentioning my blog to some unschooling friends, let me focus on the real learning that has been going on in the past two days. :)

Thursday there was a really interesting discussion on an homeschool group that I belong to. They were discussing how to make the charter school rules and regulations work with unschooling and whether or not that was worth it. It was so interesting to see how the same situation affects different families due to their different histories and different ideals. But that's what sucked up most of my day. I just can't resist a good online conversation. :)

The kids were... gosh, I cannot remember. I know they were doing something really cool while I was involved in that conversation but I can't for the life of me remember what it was. That was another thing that came up - how blogging helps this horrific memory of mine from losing all the most important parts of our lives... the little details that mean so much to me (and probably bore the rest of you to death, lol). I do know that we went to the post office, Trader Joe's, and then the library. The main point of going to the library this week, besides returning those overdue Greek books, was for Cameron to browse through the kids' magazines. We've decided that once he finishes his phonics book that we will drop all formal reading, phonics, and spelling if he agrees to read for 15 minutes a day. Knowing him as well as I do, I know that he will agree but never comply if it is books that he has to read. Several people have suggested magazines because the clumps of words are so much less intimidating and the topics are meant to grab your attention right away. So we agreed to get him a magazine subscription of his choice for reading material. The library didn't have the best selection of magazines but he was able to look through National Geographic for Kids, Sports Illustrated Kids, Ranger Rick, and a few others that he wouldn't even open (Cricket, Family Fun, etc). I think we've decided on the NatGeo. He actually picked the SI first, but when I looked at it I realized he would never actually read it. It was aimed at a much higher age range/reading level. So, fingers crossed that that works and doesn't just become more clutter laying around the house.

Once we were at home, I was just beat. Life has been kicking my butt the last few days so I just kind of crashed on the couch in front of the tv. I watched my Days of Our Lives while the big kids rode scooters out back and Grey napped. That hour just wasn't enough for me to recuperate though so I flipped on Deadliest Catch. That isn't something that I normally watch while they're awake (neither is Days but they have just about zero interest in it so I can pretty much guarantee that they'll leave the room) but I just couldn't convince myself to do anything else but sit there so I figured it would be a harmless enough show. I don't know what it was about that show but they were drawn in instantly! Within minutes they were both sitting next to me, open mouthed and begging to know what was going on. It was a really dramatic episode and they were both sitting on the edge of their seats watching. LOL, who would've known! I finally dragged myself off the couch afterward to start dinner and they both ran outside to their scooters. Suddenly I hear...

"How many crab did you catch?"
"I caught twenty hundred dozen. How many did you catch?"
"Oh, I caught a million pounds! My ship is called the American Sword Swinger. What's yours?"
"Mine is the Olympia I. Oh look, there's more crab!"

A few minutes later they pulled their crab boats (aka scooters) off to the side yard to offload their crab and then went right back out to catch more. I think there was a big storm too. LOL. Do you think public school kids play Deadliest Catch or is that strictly a joy reserved for homeschoolers? My guess is that public school kids would be more likely to imitate the bad language and poor familial relations than the actual fishing. ;) But I may be prejudiced.

After dinner, me again exhausted from the effort, I flipped on Animal Cops and we all enjoyed an hour of kitty rescues. Unfortunately, Cameron woke up later in the night saying that he kept dreaming of all those poor cats! Of all the shows to give nightmares, I never would have predicted it would be Animal Cops. It wasn't even an episode with any abuse in it. It was mostly cats stuck up in trees or down drain pipes. I guess those simple, daily dangers were too accessible to his poor little subconscious.

Friday was Favorite Park Day. We were supposed to get there a little earlier than usual because just about everyone who was going to be there was had to leave early. I planned to leave at 11:30 and get there at noon. Of course that meant that we didn't get into the car until 12:15, lol. It was one of those mornings where nothing seemed to go right and everyone was getting hurt from stupid things. (C&C hooked a leash up to Greyson's shirt to play doggie but then were too rough and yanked him over, flat on his back on the kitchen floor. Cassia was climbing through a folding chair (don't ask me why) which collapsed on her giving her a big bump on her head. Cameron ran full speed into a corner.) Finally we got everything together to go, but THEN... click, click, click. Dead battery. *sigh* The second one in about 3 or 4 months. I actually debated whether or not I should call AAA for a minute or two. Missing the park day that we had been looking forward to all week after having been kept inside by all that smoky air seemed like a perfect natural consequence for them messing around with the lights in the car AGAIN. But I wanted to get out of the house as much as they did, so I called. Good thing too because the guy, Triple A (as Cassia named him), decided to test the battery's charge and found it to be on it's last leg. The charge was down to 9 volts from the full 12.6, which isn't too horribly bad, but there was this other number that was supposed to be 550 that was only 56. He said that even if he charged it up to it's full 12 volts that it wouldn't hold the charge very long and we'd likely be calling him back in a couple weeks. So, I guess it wasn't the kids afterall and I'm glad I called.

Amazingly, after all that, we finally made it to the park by 1:30. There were three families there and they all had to leave by 3:00!! An hour and a half at the park may seem like a long time to most people, but for us, Favorite Park Day is an all day affair. We were planning on 3 hours and even that would've felt short. At about 2:45 another family showed up so that gave us an excuse to hang out a little longer - and I am so glad we did! The little boy from this family is generally very shy and rarely interacts with the big group games that usually happen there. Usually, if he interacts with anyone at all, it is with Greyson. The two of them have really hit it off for some reason. I think it's because they both speak to each other with an unspoken language, you know? I had always assumed this boy, F, was about 5 but I found out today that he's only a few months younger than Cameron! He was a completely different child today. He was outgoing and combative (have to be around my two!) and he and Cameron and Cassia had the BEST time. After more than a year of playing with this boy, we finally feel like we know him.

The best game of the day was Sea Turtle. Cassia dug a big hole in the sandbox and announced that she was going to lay her eggs there. I could not help laughing very loudly when she lifted her skirt and squatted over the hole. ROFL. She sat there for a while laying them and then hopped off and carefully covered them with sand. Next F and Greyson swooped in like predatory dogs and started trying to eat her eggs, lol. She started to get mad and take it very personally but I reminded her that that's why sea turtles lay so many eggs and so then it became a great game to see how many they could steal from her. The funniest part of the whole game was probably the very beginning when she announced that she was a jaguar laying her eggs in the sand! So, yeah, there was science. All through the game each of the kids took pride in spouting off different facts that they had picked up about jaguars, sea turtles, and predators. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the whole thing. :)

By the time we left, F was truly a friend rather than just a long-time acquaintance. Cassia didn't want to leave so I asked F if he'd like a new sister. ;) He seriously thought about it for a minute and after telling us that his mother couldn't give him a sister because she was too old, lol, he agreed to take Cassia. LOL, I think he happily would have too. She looked a bit shocked though. After a few minutes of talking, F decided to just invite us all over for a sleepover instead! It cracks me up how often these kids suggest sleepovers. It's always the entire family too. What a riot that would be - I think they live in a communal living complex (aka very small place).

I know I'm forgetting something very, very cool and very significant that Greyson did recently but I cannot remember what it was. Something to do with how incredibly brilliant he is for his age. ;) Just know that he is a boy genius and that will be fine. Oh and just for fun, here is Cassia's PicMe page from Sprout Online. Make sure you watch the video - it's just too cute.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


While I was crammed in between two snoring beauties, Cassia started coughing at around 4am. It was a nasty, congested, barking, wheezing, popping cough and it sounded like it really hurt. And it didn't let up once it started. She didn't even really wake up, she just coughed continually in her sleep for like an hour. I finally gave her some cough medicine and that kicked in after about 45-minutes, letting her slide back into a restful sleep once again. About half an hour later Greyson woke up with Mr. Sun and that was the end of my restful sleep. *yawn* I didn't lose that much sleep, but it's hit me hard today and I've had a hard time waking up and getting motivated for anything.

So I canceled our pool date and spent a slow morning at home. I'm not even sure where the majority of it went. I guess I was reading, both online stuff and homeschool magazines. The kids were watching Elmo in Grouchland - for Greyson, of course. (I won't mention who wandered outside to play after about ten or fifteen minutes of it and who was glued to the tv for the entire thing, lol.)

Finally, around 2:00, I decided that we had better get school started with and put Greyson down to nap. Cameron was not into phonics at all. It was only a one page lesson on words beginning with x and ps but I had to feed him practically every word on the page. It is so pointless to do phonics when he doesn't feel like it. I can guarantee that we could do the exact same lesson again tomorrow and he wouldn't be able to read a word of it - but he would definitely remember that we already did it. Oh well. At this point, I just want to finish the book and so does he. Not the best attitude, but it's ours and we're keeping it. ;) Cassia did pretty well with phonics. She was able to read every single one of the review words first try without any prompting, but then had a bit of trouble with the new ones and then in the sentences where they were mixing them up. She also keeps reading "the" as "ted" and "hen" as "the". Typing them out, I can see where the confusion is coming from - too many similarly shaped letters.

Next was grammar/language and we read a poem about the months of the year. The book then told us to make a booklet out of the poem with a new page for each stanza. I thought it was a dumb idea and didn't really think they would want to do it, lol, but I suggested it anyway and they jumped all over it! They're always surprising me like that. I pulled out the story paper and had them each draw a picture for January and then copy the January stanza below it. They made some really cute pictures. Cameron did a great job copying the verse, but Cassia only did the title and then asked me to write the verse for her. Considering that this is a second grade language book, I figured that that was a reasonable request.

Next should've been math but Cameron claimed that his hand was too tired after all that drawing and writing and that he needed a break first. I should have given him a writing break by doing science next and saving math for last, but I decided to go ahead and let him have a playing break. I had started reading a magazine article while they were working on their pictures anyway so I said they could have a break until I finished the article. Unfortunately, they went into the bedroom to get swords and shields and woke Greyson up. Grrrrr. Eventually I did finish my article and I did get Cameron back for math but we had to do it with a tired boy laying on my lap, but unwilling to go back to sleep. He eventually ran off with Cassia to go play somewhere (so she never got her math done) and while Cameron worked in his workbook, I took my nap. LOL, it was only about ten or fifteen minutes long but it was worth it.

Finally we did science (they had to wake me up though and tell me that we *had* to do it even though I wanted to keep sleeping, lol) and read half a chapter on water pollution. There was a picture of the Singapore River in 1977 and all I can say is Ewww!! There were also some nasty pictures from the Exxon Valdez spill and my little environmentalists were sufficiently horrified. One of the accompanying activities in the Activity Book was to go to a local source of water and rate it for pollution. It was too late in the afternoon to do it today, but tomorrow I'd like to make a point to do that. We have a little creek a couple blocks away from our house and it's a favorite teen hangout. It's not too badly polluted since there is wildlife galore still living there, but there are enough beer bottles that it will make a good subject to study. In fact, I think I'll pack a trash bag so we can do a little good deed while we're there.

So there ya go. Three days in row! Even when I didn't want to, lol. And guess what, they're not saying "no" to me when I ask them to clean up either. Now I just need to stop procrastinating with the other stuff I need to get done too. I did reschedule two doctor's appointments today, so that's progress.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Ah, it's so nice to have the freedom of a loose schedule. It's a very light week with practically nothing on the calendar at all so when I emerged from the shower this morning to find Greyson at the coffee table surrounded by a pair of scissors and four peeled and slightly mashed bananas and two other children sitting right next to him, brainlessly staring at the television as if they had no concept of what was going on around them (though one did have a banana in his mouth), I had no problem shutting off the tv, throwing a minor fit, and demanding that no one was doing anything until the entire house was sparkling and everyone started taking a little bit of responsibility for their actions and the world around them. Phew! So, the sheets got changed, the toys got picked up, and the entire house got straightened in record time. I think I made an impression. ;)

A spontaneous gymnastics competition broke out in the living room after that. Greyson started it by laying over the coffee table and doing a half-headstand. That prompted the other two to try doing their own head or handstands around the room, which led to cartwheels, which led to Greyson doing his first solo forward rolls, which led to Cameron doing his first perfect forward roll with an elevator up (aka standing up right after the roll without putting his hands down or crossing his legs). They were having fun and they were exercising so I announced that school would begin in 15 minutes. Unfortunately, things deteriorated into some strange and loud game of dogpile/horsey and I had to call things to a halt before someone got really hurt. It always amazes me how quickly things go from fun to insane.

School had actually started earlier in the morning. For some reason Cameron didn't wake up until after 9:00 and Cassia, eager to finish the last few pages in her math book, wanted to do her math before he woke up. She finished up a page on identifying one quarter versus one of four different sized pieces of a shape and then she moved on to the last section which was an introduction to adding using a number line. The new book picked up right at that point and she did another page or two there before Cameron woke up. He, inspired by the math in the air, decided to play some Timez Attack and worked on his 4 and 5 times tables. That was all before the shower and the banana incident.

Once the chaos had again subsided, Cameron did a three-page lesson in phonics on more common prefixes like un, en, uni, bi, and tri. He read exceptionally well. Stellar, in fact. But it did take a long time and Greyson was being Greyson and landed himself in both a time out and a nap during that lesson. Things were much easier then, lol. Next was grammar where we reviewed linking verbs and identified the ones that had occurred in the story of the Camel's Nose. It ended with a pretty fun game where we cut up the sentences from said story into subject, linking verb, and description parts and rearranged them to make funny sentences. My favorite was, "My nose is not big enough for the two of us." LOL.

Both kids quickly reminded me that they had already done math and so we then moved on to history. We read about the ancient peoples of the Americas, specifically the Nazca and their mysterious drawings

and the Olmec and their giant heads.

We looked at the locations of both on our wall (floor, lol) map and on Google Earth and then looked at more pictures on Wikipedia. It felt like a good little explore on the subject. I was happy and they were reasonably interested.

It was a good day, yet again, and despite the bananas we ended up with all our work done and a clean house. We even went and picked up a big box full of local, sustainably farmed meat from our new meat CSA. We got lots of steaks and chops in beef, pork, and lamb varieties. We may have only gotten 2 each of the steaks and chops but they are HUGE (at least a pound each) and should easily feed our little family, especially since Cassia won't touch a piece of meat unless it is covered in sugar, lol. Now I just need to be a good girl and plan out some menus so that I actually remember to defrost and use this local, natural goodness over the next month and don't keep running to the store for something to make at the last minute.

Monday, June 23, 2008

First Day of the 2008-09 School Year!

And we survived!! I forgot to hype it up to everyone last night, lol, but still Cassia and Greyson managed to start the day with an exceptionally educational activity. They played with the Lentil Science kit for quite a long time while I was shaking off the morning cobwebs. Granted, their lessons were more about sharing than about science or math, but it was good tactile fun. Cameron even joined in for a little while.

As Shadowlight Academy tradition dictates, we started the new school year off with a couple sentences of copywork.

"My name is Cameron Bermxxxxx. I am now in the second grade."
"My name is Cassia. I am in Kindergarten."

Cassia was more excited to start it than Cameron was, but he was more enthusiastic about getting it perfect than she was. In fact, his second try practically was perfect where as hers was actually a bit worse - though the inclusion of spaces helped a great deal in the legibility. ;)

Meanwhile I spent a long time vacuuming lentils off the carpet.

Next was Phonics. Cassia chose to go first and really, really did a great job reading. She wasn't just guessing or parroting me. She was reading. :) You go, Girl! Cameron started out well but faded about a third of the way through the lesson and just started making up random words instead of reading. I hate when he does that. I gave him a "pep talk" though and he perked up for the last third of the lesson.

Grammar/Language was reading a fable called The Camel's Nose. In the story, a camel talked his way into his rider's tent and then tricked him out to sleep in the cold. The kids did a decent job of narrating it back to me, working together to give important plot points. That's at least as useful as narrating it back individually, right? I'm thinking that rather than floundering with trying to remember the important points, the play off each other's ideas has got to be more fruitful. It's easier for me for them to work together, at any rate. ;) There was also a "discussion" section in the book which talked about the camel being like a bad habit that has pushed itself into your life which I thought was pretty good but then it went on to compare it to bad friends and how you should only surround yourself with worthwhile companions. That was kind of weird to me, I thought. I've been trying to get them to be accepting to everyone and to model good behavior instead of shunning people for whatever reason - but discussion of alternatives is always good too.

Next was math and again they chose Cassia to go first. She did a lesson on the concept of halves and quarters. The activities were so fun that Cameron wanted to get in on them too! So we spent a bunch of time making and coloring half and quarter shapes that would fold out to full shapes to demonstrate the equal proportion of the sections. I really love the way the Earlybird Math shows concepts like this. I just noticed today that they have discontinued the series in favor of one that is "in compliance with the California State Standards." Eeek. Um, no thanks. I really don't want my Kindergartener being drilled in addition and subtraction in preparation for standardized testing like the state seems to want. That's WHY we homeschool. I like Singapore because it is different. It's a different way to look at math and I'm afraid to see how that has had to be tweaked to be in compliance with the standards. Hopefully I'm just overreacting. I guess we'll see in a couple years when Greyson is ready for it. Maybe I'll just scan in C&C's old books and Photoshop out the answers, lol.

And then suddenly I noticed that it was time for gymnastics and we were going to be late again! Amazingly, we were the first ones there though and Cassia had private lessons for a few minutes, lol. Eventually four more kids trickled in. Don't you just love the lazy schedules of summer? Nothing too spectacular happened during Cameron's class except that they were working on dive rolls. He loves those.

We hit the grocery store on the way home but Greyson was sound asleep so I had to carry him through the store while Cameron pushed the cart. Wow, were my arms tired. Unfortunately, he woke up while we were checking out and had a screaming writhing fit in my arms. Yikes. Fortunately, he calmed down in the car and after a quick trip to the potty, decided to resume his nap once we were home. Then it was finally time for Cameron's math and he did a lesson on adding money. He did fabulously. He didn't make a single mistake in the entire practice section or exercise.

Now both kids are playing video games. It's so much more complicated now that she's wanting to play too! We had a minor setback when they both wanted to play (her Boom Blocks, him Legend of Zelda) and there wasn't enough time before dinner and bed for them to both have their hour, but they worked it out and decided to play Mario Galaxy with two players for one hour. Hopefully these boys we know, M & S, won't tell them that they have their mom convinced that they should get double time when they play a two player game. ;) LOL.

And that was our first day. Nothing stellar, but it was good. We didn't do history or science. I have science slated for twice a week and history for 3 or 4 times a week in our schedule. I want to ease back in without feeling behind when it just doesn't happen... but I also want to hold myself a little more responsible for getting things done when it can happen. I think scheduling and allowing for a day off here and there will help that. Besides, I haven't looked at our history books in at least two weeks so I would have no clue what I wanted to do anyway, lol. Hopefully, I'll motivate myself to glance at the Activity Guide tonight and possibly print some stuff out.

Time to get dinner on the table. Have a good evening everyone. :)

Friday, June 20, 2008

What a week!

Boy, was I right to call Summer Break for this week! There is no way we would have ever found time to do any school this week so it was nice to just be able not even worry about it.

DH and Cameron left to go do some fence building for Uncle D last Friday so Cassia, Greyson and I went to Favorite Park Day by ourselves. It was a good day and I was glad we went and was also glad to see how many kids commented on Cameron's absence. It's always good to be missed.

Saturday, the three of us went first to the local dance shop and bought Cassia her new leotard for the next class level and some new ballet slippers because I could barely squeeze her old ones on her little (big!) feet. Next we went to a birthday party and had a lovely time. They had a gymnastics course set up and a little bounce house and both of the kids had a great time. After sandwiches, cake, and foam purse decorating we headed off to the ballet dress rehearsal. I was hoping to stay and catch a glimpse but they kicked us all out and said come back in 2 hours. Hmph.

Sunday Cassia and Greyson painted a birdhouse house for their Daddy for Father's Day. They had a great time doing it and it is the brightest, most beautiful birdhouse any bird has ever seen. The boys made it back to us by dinnertime so we were able to celebrate the day a bit with presents and DH's favorite dinner.

Monday wasn't anything special except gymnastics. I remember wondering whether or not I shouldn't have have tried to do some schoolwork, but I had already told Cameron that there wouldn't be any. I had thought that MIL would be here and we would be busy either entertaining her or getting ready for her arrival but she ended up canceling at the last minute. It was fine though because that was the only day we would've had time so it was nice to just have a day to do whatever struck our fancy (which wasn't much, lol).

Tuesday I started the day with an OB appointment. Nothing exciting there, which is a good thing. Everything is measuring just fine and I found out that I passed the 3-hr glucose test with flying colors: no gestational diabetes for me! Phew! The rest of the afternoon was spent doing housework until it was time to get ready for The Big Ballet Show. OMG, I have never seen anything cuter. Seriously. If the little two-year-olds in their little tutus either standing there like deer in the headlights or dancing to their own tunes were not cute enough (and they were cute), imagine Cassia being a little Prima Ballerina on stage. Her class was the only one to perform onstage without their teacher and every one of them looked to my little Princess to lead them. She was more than happy to oblige, lol. It was so funny, the director of the ballet school got up first and gave this big speech about how they were so very young and it was the first time on stage for many of them so not to be surprised or disappointed if they froze or needed to be held by their teacher, lol. Um, not My Baby Girl. She looked as is she owned that stage. She told me before the show that she was disappointed that she had to go out with the whole class - she wanted to be up there alone performing for the masses. LOL. What a girl. We have video. Hopefully it will come off the camera and go onto the computer this weekend.

Wednesday we met our Favorite Park Day friends at a different local park to go hiking. It was really fun to interact with the same old people in a totally different environment. We spent all day there and came home tired and dirty. That always makes for a good day.

Thursday morning was the last ballet class of the spring session. Cassia and T4 were the only two girls who showed up - I guess everyone else forgot there was one last class after the show! The teacher was even nice enough to let us stand in the doorway and watch. Greyson is so enamored with ballerinas. He just loves to watch them dance. He was enthralled with the show too. He just sat and watched with huge eyes and clapped enthusiastically after every number. We hit the grocery store on the way home and then came home and spent the next hour or so perfecting my Cheddar-Apple Puff recipe for the Daily Cheese Contest at the fair. With cheesy hors d'ouerves in hand, we made our way to fair late in the afternoon and stayed there until after 8pm. The kids had a great time and my puffs won first prize in the adult category. I'm glad I decided to just take them on my own instead of trying to convince DH to go too. He hates stuff like that and spends the entire time stressed out and wanting to leave. It's much nicer when we can just go and enjoy ourselves without worrying about what a bad time he's having, lol. He was much happier that way too.

So that brings us to today, Friday. If it hadn't been Favorite Park Day, I would've just stayed home because I was worn out from all the special stuff all week and desperately behind on laundry, but I just can't miss Favorite Park Day. It was hot out there (in the 100s) but it was fun. Greyson, who had a less than ideal time at the fair because he just wasn't big enough to do the really fun stuff, especially enjoyed being back in his element - the sandbox.

Next week promises to be much less exciting. We have no plans this weekend - for the first time in I can't remember how long - and ballet is on break for two weeks. The Summer Solstice is on Saturday so that means that the Summer Quarter and our new school year will start on Monday. It will be a good thing to have a slow week to ring that in... if only we will be able to stay cool enough for things to be tolerable around the house. We might just have to have school in the pool, lol.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I think we're on Summer Break.

We must be on summer break. Not only have we not done any bookwork all week, I haven't even suggested it. No, I take that back. I suggested it Tuesday morning and was told, maybe later, which turned into never. I didn't bother suggesting it yesterday or today because it is just too darn hot and I don't feel like it. So there. It's Summer Break. What solidified my decision was driving past the local elementary school today and seeing that the first day of school will be August 20th. First of all, that means they're on Summer Break now and secondly, wow, doesn't that seem quick? That's only two months away. This week has been busy anyway and next week is Cassia's ballet recital, her last ballet class until July, and the county fair. I doubt we'll be getting anything done. So two weeks of vacation is declared, after which our Summer Quarter will officially start. (Please ignore the fact that I never got around to updating anything in the Nuts & Bolts section about our Winter Quarter.)

Back to this week, Tuesday was the big 4-H end-of-year party at the super cool local pool with the water slide, mushroom shower, and dumping buckets. That was *so* fun. I just love that pool. Not only are there fun toys there but a good third of the pool - a completely separate section - is only about three feet deep and there are tons of lifeguards so I feel perfectly confident in letting my non-to-weak-swimmers swim and play. Cameron and Cassia both are great about trying to learn to swim without breaking any safety or comfort barriers. We just don't go to the pool enough (at least we hadn't before this year, lol) to justify swim lessons just yet, so I'm happy to let them figure it out on their own. Greyson was a little fish. He would scoot back and forth all along the stairs (about a 4-ft length) over and over, propelling himself with his hands and kicking his feet. He would sit on the second step and splash and play. He even sat on the third step once, completely submerging himself, and came up with a huge grin and laugh. The friends were great too. I got to talk to a couple moms that I don't usually get to spend time with and we even ran into a mom and daughter from Favorite Park Day. We agreed that we'd like to schedule a couple "park" meetings at the pool this summer too.

Wednesday we had no plans but it was just so stinkin' hot that we didn't do a darn thing. The weather is really wiping me out. My ankles are gone. My wrists are disappearing. I have less than zero energy. I've been catching up on episodes of California's Gold. Oh the kids did do something very educational Wednesday morning though. Cassia asked if she could play "the map game" (aka Seterra) and she and Cameron spent about two or three hours playing the different geography games on there. Cameron even got in some reading practice trying to read all the country, state, and capital names. :) They followed that up with a Zoboomafoo marathon. Geography - check. Reading - check. Science - check. Good enough for me (the question is will it be good enough for DH to not give me a hard time about taking yet another break?) We also made a cherry pie with cherries from our neighbor's tree. Too bad there isn't enough left to give him some. ;)

Thursday was pretty much the same without the educational game or cooking. We did go to ballet class. Greyson loved standing at the door and watching Cassia until the teacher had to shut the door. I loved it too. ;) We hit the grocery store on the way home and the rest of the day was just spent trying to keep cool. I wanted to set up the wading pool, but I just didn't have the energy. I'll have DH do it tomorrow.

I have my 3-hr glucose tolerance test tomorrow morning. Oh joy. Wish me luck. After that DH and Cameron are going off to BIL's house for the weekend to build a fence. I'm anticipating that they'll leave pretty soon after I get back and then Cassia and Greyson and I will probably go to Favorite Park Day. The rest of the weekend we should spend cleaning since MIL and possibly Great-AuntP and maybe even cousins M8 and H5 are coming to see Cassia's ballet recital on Tuesday. We'll see what we really end up doing. My guess is that it will involve tv and a wading pool - but not necessarily at the same time. ;)

Monday, June 09, 2008

It was the best of times...

it was the worst of times. Today was a really crappy day, actually. Literally and figuratively. It started with realizing that we will be unavoidably out of town the weekend I wanted to have the kids' birthday party which means we will have to have separate ones instead of the traditional combo. Then I got a phone call informing me that I failed the one-hour glucose screen and now I have to take the three hour test and quite possibly have gestational diabetes. Fun. Then I was in my bedroom folding laundry and Cameron comes to tell me that Greyson had an accident. I come out to find him sitting on the carpet taking off his poopy underwear in the dining room. Poop everywhere. Thank god for brown carpet. Not two minutes later, when I've barely only started to get a handle on the ridiculous mess that is Greyson legs, Cameron comes into the bathroom dripping blood all over - badly stubbed toe. Shall I go on?? I'd rather not. Let's just backtrack to the good days...

Friday was the best day EVER. We spent the late morning and early afternoon at the beach with our Favorite Park Day friends. The weather was nice, though a little windy, and the attitudes were all happy. The kids dug holes, jumped in the (had to have been below freezing) surf, ate sand covered fruits, nuts, and sandwiches. The adults talked and took turns escorting kids to the shoreline, bathroom, and various digging or exploring spots. All in all, a good beach day. From there we drove all the way across the county to the birthday party of one of our first homeschooling friends. I loved being able to think back to all the other parties we've been to there... I think this is our third! S was just turning 5 when we first met him. Five seemed so old at the time too since my boy was still going to be four for another two months. Such a difference between four and five! And now Cassia is going to be 5 in another month. Anyway, the best part was that it was a small intimate party and even though we seem to rarely connect with this family anymore, we were already friends with all the guests. Funny how you can be apart from a person for a while and then come back together to see that you've really been doing the same things, just different ways. I doubt that makes much sense, but I just find it funny that we've chosen different activities which have left us both too busy for time with each other, yet we've still connected with the exact same group of people. I left there feeling very full of friendship and very grateful for those relationships.

Saturday we started the day with another birthday party. This one was for the daughter of our first friends in this area. The mother used to babysit Cameron when he was a toddler and we went through our daughter's pregnancies together. But there I didn't feel the love and friendship that was so overwhelming the day before. We've been to birthday parties for various members of this family for six or seven years now and I knew all the little girls that usually frequented the daughter's parties. But this year was different. It was her fifth birthday and she's been going to preschool. She's matured a bit faster than Cassia has. She didn't want the old friends that have been at her last 4 parties there, she wanted her new school friends. She also insisted on a Hannah Montana party (though she doesn't really even know who she is) and the goody bags were full of lip gloss and body glitter. Cassia asked, after seeing the stuffed cow, tractor stickers, and rubber ball in Greyson's John Deere goody bag, why he's the only one who got fun stuff. Apparently, even with as super-pink girly as she tries to be, I have successfully shielded her from all that public school, growing-up-too-fast weirdness (for now). Phew!

From there we went to the 4-H Family Night Celebration. Now that was a lot of fun! The rainbow decorations that Cameron and the two five-year olds on the decorating committee picked out looked fabulously festive and several people commented how they'd never had better decor. :) Five and six year olds know how to party. The potluck was delish, though a bit cheese heavy for Greyson's system, and I was proud to bring home an empty bowl of Lemon-Quinoa salad. The presentations included skits this year and that really livened things up a bit. It made for a really enjoyable evening instead of just having to sit through a bunch of dry tri-fold presentations. Cameron recited the poem Mr. Nobody and he did it perfectly. I was teary eyed, I was so proud. :D There might be a video out there somewhere of him and if I can get my hands on it I will let you know. The silent auction has some amazing offerings this year (like a 1979 bottle of wine!) and made a record $577.45!! We were all spurred on to spend in the hope that this would eradicate our need for an additional fundraiser next year (like cookie dough or wrapping paper). We more than doubled what we took in last year at the auction so that may indeed have done it! WooHoo!!

Sunday was the final birthday party of the weekend and it was for one of the boys who was at the first party on Friday. So it was basically the same people again, lol. It was a nice time - even though it was at Chuck E. Cheese. The invitation said bring earplugs and Tylenol. LOL. Greyson especially had a BLAST. He was just zooming around plugging tokens into anything and everything. He rode every car thing there at least five times and that's no exaggeration. He also managed to make it to the bathroom to pee three times at Chuck E. Cheese!! And then when we got home, he woke up from his nap to pee!! It was an amazing potty day. I don't think he had a single accident. Much different from today when I don't think he made it once. Funny how that happens.

So there's the last four days in a very large nutshell. Oh one good thing did happen today - actually two good things: Cameron and Cassia both got six stars on their Star Day testing at gymnastics! Coincidentally, that meant that they both moved up to Level 4. Cameron is now a Level 4 Roller (the last level before moving up to be a Twister) and Cassia a now a Level 4 Shooting Star (I forget what her next grouping is called though). The really cool thing is that Cassia actually aced six of six skills today. She was *so* proud of herself. Big difference from the apathetic little thing who would barely participate in class a few weeks ago. Time for tv now... if I can stay awake, that is.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Art Day

I started to write this earlier, but found myself utterly not in the mood! Can you imagine?? I frequently find myself without the time to blog, but rarely without the words. But I'm better now. No need to fear.

Wednesday was spent doing the thing we like best... nothing. ;) The day just disappeared somehow. We did manage to get up early and head out to a semi-local farmer's market. The stuff there was gorgeous and I spent a fortune (so much for saving money, lol) but to go 15 miles away for it seemed a little extreme when gas is $4.43 a gallon. We have one in our town but it is on Saturday afternoon and we are usually doing something or exhausted from having just done something. I think they start up a second one on Wednesday nights in late-June, but I don't know that I'd be able to motivate myself to get everyone out of the house for that one either. But it could be a nice walk... a nice looonnnnggggg walk. (It's on the complete other side of town.) And that would solve the parking problem (nothing but very limited street parking).

After that, the kids played. Cassia and I read a chapter or two of Charlotte's Web. I got it for her to try and get her over her crazy fear of spiders. She literally shuddered when I told her it was about a spider named Charlotte, but she is really enjoying listening to it. Wilbur is so darn cute, how can you not? I really can't remember what else was done... laundry maybe?

Once Grey went to sleep we did schoolwork. Phonics was a couple of pages of common word endings like "ible" and "able" and such. Cameron did great until he saw the second page and then he was whining and complaining and rolling around on the couch in protest. I showed him how close we were to the end of the book though and he perked up a bit. I gave him the choice of doing one lesson each time and finishing in thirteen more sessions or just doing one page at a time and finishing in about twenty. Suddenly his attitude perked up and he was more than happy to finish out the entire lesson. Grammar was a game demonstrating linking verbs. We had subject cards, descriptive cards, and linking cards and made silly sentences like "Mommy was ferocious." I especially liked that one. ;) Math was adding money. For history we read Archimedes Takes a Bath. I'm glad I decided to just go for it and read the book (and the whole thing in one sitting too) because it was a really fun story. Cameron sat next to me and drew the whole time so he was happy to sit still and listen.

Today, Thursday, started with ballet. Well, actually it started with me making everyone clean the mess that no one bothered to pick up the day before. Then ballet. Then grocery store. Then toy store. Then home by 12:30 which seemed pretty impressive since we actually got everything done that we needed to. I was pretty tired after all that so I ate lunch in front of the tv... and fell asleep, lol. The kids were being super loud playing this LEGO adventure game (Something about a 43 yr old man and his 12 yr old son and the son kept wanting to go camping but the father said he couldn't until he properly learned how to use his sword and shield. Finally the father was satisfied and they took their horses and their camping blocks (?) and went camping... on the kitchen counter where they still are. Must be a long camp out.) and all I remember was one minute I was watching Dirty Jobs, the next I was listening to this LEGO adventure, and then the LEGO guys kept saying, "Mommy! Mommy! MOMMY!!!" and I was wondering when they brought the mother character into the game when I suddenly woke up. Cameron said, "Mommy, you fell asleep!" like that was a bad thing or something. ;) You know, if one of them had fallen asleep on the couch I would do everything in my power to keep everyone else quiet and I would certainly NOT start yelling, "Cameron! Cameron, you fell asleep!" LOL. Ah, perspective.

A little bit later Cameron announced that he wanted to paint so I got out the stuff and set he and Cassia up in the backyard. Cameron painted Link from Legend of Zelda. LOL, big surprise there. Cassia told Cameron that she was painting Africa. I'll have to take his word on that one. Once they were dry the kids announced that they were going to go hang them up and took off with the Scotch tape. Then they dragged me, eyes closed, into my bedroom and showed me where they had hung them. My bed is now framed with lovely poster-paint-on-butcher-paper masterpieces. I like them. :)

Next we got to work on our decorations for the 4-H Family Night potluck on Saturday. We were in charge of making paper chains for two 12-ft tables. I had actually been kind of putting that off all week but once we sat down to do it, it was so fun! The kids really had a great time making them and since we needed two it, of course, turned into a big competition to see who could make the longest one first. We got our twenty-five feet of chain done in record time.

We have a CRAZY weekend ahead of us. Tomorrow we are going to the beach to meet our friends from Favorite Park Day. We are leaving the beach a tad early and then going to a birthday party clear on the other side of the county. The plan is that we clean up there (brrrr, beach showers) and then they will fall asleep on the drive and be nice and rested for the party. What will probably happen is that they will fall asleep about 5 minutes from the party and then be cranky the entire time. ;) Saturday we have another birthday party from 1 - 4 and then we have to be at the 4-H center by 4:15 to decorate for Family Night. That lasts until about 9pm. Looonnnggg day there. Note to self: pack pajamas to change the kids into before we drive home. And then Sunday we have yet another birthday party to go to. I should just get some insulin ready for them now. ;) We have another one next Saturday too. I should seriously make a "no sweets" rule for the month in between that last party and Cassia's birthday in July. Not that we really eat that many sweets anyway (well, ok, I do but they don't) but they are not going to need any extra ice cream or sorbet or fruit juice pops or anything. Nice mom, huh, ruin summer for them. ;)

Annnyyywwaaayyyy..... have a nice weekend everyone. Think "sane kids" thoughts for me. ;)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

What a difference a week makes.

This week is going MUCH better than last week. We're two for two on schoolwork. We're two for two on morning chores... though we seem to lose steam for the afternoon and evening chores. Laundry is caught up. Living room is not so bad. Kitchen, well, once I get the dinner dishes cleaned up it will be looking fine. Potty training is going great - only one pair of underpants used today! And... we still have the rest of the week pretty free!

Yesterday, Monday, I started the day with the lovely one hour glucose tolerance test. Oh, joy. I actually hope I pass because the orange drink seemed to hit me much more than in the past. I felt really funky, like I drank a whole pot of coffee; the world seemed a bit glossier and I could not stop tapping my foot. Weird. I never noticed any of that with any of my other pregnancies but I don't think I was avoiding high fructose corn syrup as religiously as I do now either. I used to drink the occasional Coke, meaning two to four a week, and now I have one maybe once a month, if that. I even quit drinking natural sodas made with cane sugar because the sweetness just started getting to me. My favorite drink lately is half juice and half Italian sparkling water. Mmmmm. Cran-raspberry is my favorite, but cherry juice is really good in it too. Oooh, I bet pineapple juice would be fab too. I'll have to see if I can find me some of that. (LOL at the power of suggestion. Just typing that made it necessary for me to go make myself one.)

I went for my lab work first thing in the morning and almost as soon as I got home, Cameron was asking to do school. He was very aware of how procrastination led to ZERO video games last week. He was determined not to let the same thing happen this week, lol. I guess it was a bad week for everyone. The problem was that Greyson was still awake and very rambunctious. Ugh. He and Cassia were playing with these ancient (as in from DH's childhood) letter toys. They're really cute. There are 24 little plastic things and their first letter clicks into the back. Well Cassia and Grey were pretending that they were food items and put all the letters into a bowl for alphabet soup, lol, and the other things were other foodstuff. Very cute and very creative but they both insisted on serving us while Cameron was trying to read or do math or listen to a story. I mean, they wouldn't stop! Well, Cassia finally did once I snapped at her a few times, but Grey would just keep dumping it in our laps and yelling "Eat! Eat!" I finally said that in the future we would just have to wait until Greyson was asleep to do schoolwork, even if it meant that video games had to be put off until late afternoon or evening. The interruptions were so bad that even Cameron agreed that that was a good idea. Somehow, we managed to do a phonics lesson on the "tion" and "sion" endings, a grammar lesson on state of being verbs, a math exercise on making change from $10, and read the final chapter on Greece in SOTW.

Cameron played his video games (he's currently working through The Legend of Zelda and the Ocarina of Time... and actually reading the dialog instead of just clicking through it!) and then it was time for gymnastics. Sunday both Cameron and Cassia were in The Big Gymnastics Show and did fabulously. The great thing about the show is that all the different team members do exhibitions. You get to see everything from the Level 1 - 3 kids who are "on the team" but can't yet compete (no, I don't really get that either), to the Level 4 - 6 Compulsory Teams who all compete with the same routines, to the Level 7 - 9 Optional Teams who get to make up their own routines, and the Rhythmic Gymnasts, and the Creative Dance Class members, and the Cheer Team, and it is all just really impressive. It really makes an impression on the younger kids too because I noticed everyone in both Cameron's and Cassia's classes was trying extra hard on Monday. They were all out there dreaming of someday being as good as A.J. on the rings or as graceful as Alejandra on the floor. Cameron, especially, is determined to make the team. He's still having a problem with it being hard though, lol. He wants to do it, but he doesn't want it to have to hurt. I can't really say that I blame him.

Today, Tuesday, we didn't do a darn thing except some laundry. C&C were playing Lego Zelda adventures all morning. Greyson kept finding bottles of either sunblock or lotion in random places and then squeezing them all over the floor. One time was tolerable but he did it three or four different times! I don't know what gets into him some days! And I don't know where he kept finding all those bottles, lol. I guess it's time to clean out the cabinets. Once he finally went down for a nap we pulled out the schoolbooks. Cameron did a phonics lesson on the "ture," "ible," and "able" endings and read the three paragraph story at the end of the lesson with remarkable ease and speed. I was truly impressed and I think he was too. Grammar was a lesson on linking verbs. Cameron impressed DH at dinnertime with a three-part definition of a verb ("A verb is a word that shows an action, shows a state of being, or links two words together.") but then couldn't quite remember what a linking verb really was. It is kind of confusing but I was impressed that he even remembered the name of them and that we learned them today when asked, lol. How many kids when asked, "What did you learn today?" can actually sit there and come up with something? Especially something from Grammar! LOL. I think it was the only new thing he could come up with though since math was word problems with making change from $1 or $10 and history was the last of our library books on Greece. Well, I do have one more, Archimedes Takes a Bath, but it's kind of long so I don't know if I'll bother trying to start it. I think they may be burned out on Greece. I think I am too.

And then it was time to make dinner. I made homemade whole wheat naan and this really simple but tasty bean dish. It was just beans (supposed to be chickpeas, but I used great northern), garam masala, ginger, and salt. It was also supposed to have this exotic Indian spice made from ground dried pomegranate seeds but the recipe said you could substitute a tsp of pomegranate juice instead. I was going to use cherry juice since the stuff I have is pretty tart, but then totally forgot to put it in. It was good anyway though. It was also supposed to have thin onion rings (raw) and lime wedges on top, but I knew the kids wouldn't go for that. So we just had the spiced beans and naan and it was really good. Well, I thought so anyway. ;)

Tomorrow we have nothing planned. Thursday is nothing but ballet. Friday is park day and a birthday party. I think it's going to be a good week.